December 2009: Toolbox

December 2009: Toolbox

The wallpaper scorer’s teeth punch tiny holes in the paper, which make it easier for stripping agents to do their work. Easy removal still not guaranteed.

Stuck on the scorer

When my significant other and I moved into our first home, we spent the first few weeks cursing the previous owners for their bonehead D.I.Y. moves. We lamented their shoddy electrical work and bad design decisions—from covering the original 1924 kitchen cabinets with robin’s egg blue paint, to hiding the fir floors with laminate—but mostly we shouted their names in vain for taking the easy way out on the home’s vintage wallpaper: painting over it. That was until we tried to remove the floral fiasco in the one room they hadn’t touched.

Let’s just say, they don’t make wallpaper glue like they used to. While newer wallpaper often strips off without the use of water or chemicals, this older stuff could hold a space shuttle together. What we finally discovered after days of steaming, scraping and swearing at ourselves to no avail was the wallpaper scoring tool.

On the underside of this round object that fits in the palm of your hand are rotating disks of metal teeth. As you run the scorer over the wallpaper in small circles with light pressure as if sanding it, the teeth perforate the paper without damaging the wall. The holes allow steam or special stripping liquid to seep through the paper to the glue beneath, making removal possible. Not easy, just possible.