This Old Erie House
By Linda Martin Community Blogger
Owners of old houses have so much in common that house talk comes easy between us. Please join in the conversation as we try to fix, restore and update our old Erie houses.  Read more about this blog.
Posted: August 28th, 2009
The Old Layers of Wallpaper

Wallpaper should come right off using the special products (like DIF) out there today.  I used them, I serrated the wallpaper with that round gizmo.  I sprayed it, soaked it and when that didn’t work, I made my own product from recipes I found on the internet , some including fabric softener.  There was no getting around it.  I had to chip it away, layer by layer.  What in the world did they use for wallpaper paste?  I think maybe it was real glue, like hide glue, or maybe even the glue you make using flour.  It wasn’t affected by the products meant to remove the wallpaper of today.  I ended up gouging a lot of my real plaster walls.  But I did get it off eventually. I saved the layers I could just for posterity’s sake. I didn’t  know about the wallpaper steamers, perhaps that would have helped to rent one of those. If you have every had to remove wallpaper you will know what it is like and then times it by 5 or 6 times with the different layers.

I scanned the remnants of the wallpaper on my flatbed scanner as you can see below.  The color isn’t really right.  I’m missing two of the layers but they are somewhere in this house hiding in a save-forever box… somewhere.  The Greek key pattern is more blue.  I didn’t like the look of the Greek key at all.  I wonder how anyone could live with such a busy pattern.  I don’t care for the last one either as the pattern was so BIG.  I have done a little bit of research on the different patterns of wallpaper and tried to date the ones I had on the wall.  See photos by clicking “read the rest of this entry.”



The leaf pattern was on the bottom and is probably the original wallpaper to 1917.  The walls were never painted as it was old, yellowed plaster underneath when I got to the bottom.  The next layer had pinstripes and had a frosty embossed pattern on it.  I’m guessing 1920s to 30s on that one.  The Greek key pattern seems to have been popular in the 50s.  The top layer of wallpaper looks like some I have come across that looks like it could have been made in the 60s or 70s, however the paper is really thick.  I need to do more research on it but it has to be later than the 50s as it was on top.

Listed below are some of the websites I have come across in my search.

The above website actually sells some vintage wallpaper and linoleum.

The above website has some links to some good wallpaper sites. Some of the links are dead or don’t show much but some are really good.

I just did an eBay search for antique wallpaper and one for vintage wallpaper.  Some really intereting items are for sale. There are some 1931 sample books of wallpaper for sale.  That would be fun to collect someday but would take up a lot of room.  You can get a good idea of the patterns for certain decades going through the listings.  Wow, the 60s and 70s were very weird for patterns.  It’s one of those “what were they thinking?!” eras.  I had little dresses that looked like some of those patterns and thought they were great at the time.

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