Monday, June 17, 2013

Every Day Is Like Sunday

If Friday night is for the girlfriends, and Saturday night is for the wives...

Then clearly, Sunday is for scraping wallpaper.

Fortunately for me, I get to spend ALL THREE days scraping wallpaper.  Somebody pinch me.

From the archives:

This animated .gif allows me to compress 5+ hours of  pure misery into  about 5 seconds, so I can enjoy  over, and over, and over

Yes, loyal reader, that took me about 5.5 hours to remove about 5 square feet of wallpaper.  In looking at that .gif, the first slide looks more than 5 sf.... Let's say, for the sake of round numbers, that the number is 11 sf.  Doing the math, we can estimate that I have a wallpaper removal rate of (11 sf / 5.5 hours ) = 2 sf/hr.

Now, my conscience tells me that the 2 sf/hr might be a little low because that particular wall in my bedroom was pretty stubborn.  However, that wallpaper in the bedroom was all very reachable with a ladder from a solid surface. This weekend, I had to plank between two ladders over my stairs and scrape wallpaper off the ceiling on a springy 2x10.  Trust me when I say: 2 sf/hr is starting to sound like a pretty fast pace.

Walking the plank matey (above stairwell)

When I bought this house, my one major reservation was the amount of wallpaper. It honestly was a serious consideration because I know how horrible removing wall paper can be.  Even with that moment of pause, I still underestimated the true horror of wallpaper.

This is what success looks like

Let's take a moment to do a quick-n-dirty analysis on the time component of removing the wallpaper in this house:

1) I'll use my recent appraisal of this house as my layout drawing (it's loaded with even numbers).
2) Let's ignore all interior walls for now; instead, we will only focus on wallpaper on the party walls, exterior walls, and the ceilings.  I've taken down (re: demolished) some walls and ceilings, which has allowed me to forgo wallpaper scraping... even though I think that this assumption is generous (since interior wall have wallpaper on both sides), let's leave this as assumption #2.
3) Wallpaper removal rate is 2.0 sf/hour as calculated above.  Obviously, this number is a scalar and could be used as a sliding parameter in the final calculation.

Appraisal sketch

Height = 9.5 ft
SF = (46*16 - 4*16) = 42(16) = 672 sf
Perimeter = 46*2 + 16*2 = 62(2) = 124 ft
Ceiling SF = 672 sf
Wall SF = (9.5 ft)*(124 ft) = 1178 sf
Total Downstairs = 1850 sf
Height = 9 ft
SF = 672 + 7*8 = 728 sf
Perimeter = 124 + 7*2 = 138 ft
Ceiling SF = 728 sf
Wall SF = (9 ft)*(138 ft) = 1242 sf
Total Upstairs = 1970 sf

Total SF of Wallpaper = Total Upstairs + Total Downstairs 
= 1850 + 1970 = 3,820 sf 
Hours to scrape walls = (3,820 sf)(2 sf/hr) = 1,920 hours

OK, so I'm not feeling so bad about this.  Wait---how many work hours are there in a year again?

Man hours in year = (40 hrs/week)(52 weeks) = 2,080 hours
Work in a couple weeks of paid vacation and/or holidays, and you're certainly there.


There is enough wallpaper in this house to keep one full time person employed for over a year.
I'm not making these numbers up.

Should I double check that rate again?

This weekend, I scraped the area starting at the  top  of the stairs

Then draw a level line from about 4ft above the upstairs floor all the way across.   Everything above that imaginary line, and  the ceiling above the stairwell.

Going back to the sketch, it looks like this week I pulled down:
= (12 ft)(4 ft) + (2 ft)(6 ft) + (3 ft)(12 ft)
= 96 sf 
of wallpaper.

Hours of project time:
Fri = 8
Sat = 6
Sun = 5
Future = 5 (I'm certainly not done this area yet)
Tot =  24 hours

Thus, this weekend, I accomplished the following rate:

(96 sf)/(24 hours) = 4.0 sf/hr

Which is double the guestimated rate from the animated gif.

Weekend results. (I just realized that the light fixture in the hall isn't even closed to being centered+

Looking up to the high point of the ceiling above the stairs.  This is the end result of spending a weekend  scraping wallpaper. Sad, right?

So, what have we learned?  The rate of scraping wallpaper on the occupy site is somewhere between 2 and 4 sf/hr. Meaning that it would take a full time person somewhere between a half a year and a full year to complete the job.

Using a blended rate of about 3.0 sf/hr and adding in all the interior walls.. we're looking at the better part of a full year (if I didn't have a day job)

If that's not enough to put me on Prozac, let's get real:

If I can squeeze two (2) eight hour days in on every weekend, and use the superstar rate of 4 sf/hr, we get the following

(16 hrs/week)(4 sf/hr) = 64 sf/week rate of removal
(3,820 total sf of wallpaper)/(64 sf/week) = 59.7 weeks 

to remove all wallpaper from house, which boils down to 1.15 years if I can manage to work every weekend.

Well, that mathematical analysis really cheered me up. Please check the math as I was just doing the calculations in my head as I typed.   For a back of the envelope analysis, I think I'm pretty close.

Bottom line:
1) I'm a terrible wallpaper scraper; I need to increase my removal rate.
2) It is definitely cheaper to just knockdown every wall and ceiling, if time has any monetary value at all.


  1. HOLY F*%K! I know what to get you for Christmas...a couple day labor dudes that stand outside Home Depot in the morning. Seriously, this shit is CRAAAAAAAAZY!

  2. Hang in there Jay... all I can say, after having scraped wall paper in 50% of the rooms of my house is... sometimes you get lucky and it just comes off in huge sheets! Helps if you have 6-8 layers, with paint on top. May the force be with you. Have you tried a steamer? I never bothered, just used warm water in a spray bottle but yours looks more stubborn.

    1. Stacey: it is crazy

      Kate: I do have a steamer, but it works about the same as the fabric softer + water solution in the spray bottle. In fact, the steamer kind of just turns the old wall paper into a paper and glue type pulp, which winds up getting all over everything. The end result with that method is a lot of scraping as well, unfortunately!

      I honestly didn't set out to do any math on that post.. I was just thinking about the time investment per ft^2 this past weekend. I knew it was pretty bad--- but this is like a whole new level!

      Oh well. One room at a time.