Getting to Know Wallpaper-Removal Techniques
New wallcovering can transform a room, going from boring to beautiful. But before you can determine the best approach to removing wallpaper, you need to know the type of wallcovering and the type of wall surface that's under the wallpaper.
Knowing what you're up against
In most cases, walls are either drywall (gypsum sandwiched between layers of paper) or plaster smoothed over lath (either strips of wood or metal mesh). You can usually tell what you have by the feel (plaster is harder, colder, and smoother than drywall) or by tapping on it (drywall sounds hollow, and plaster doesn't). When in doubt, remove an outlet cover to see the exposed edges.
Drywall is more vulnerable to water damage; you must avoid overwetting it. And use care when you're scraping because drywall gouges more easily than plaster.
What about the wallpaper? Be optimistic — assume that the paper is dry-strippable. Lift a corner of the paper from the wall with a putty knife. Grasp the paper with both hands and slowly attempt to peel it back at a very low angle. If it all peels off, you're home free.
If the wallpaper doesn't peel off, or if only the decorative surface layer peels off, you must saturate the wallpaper or the remaining backing with water and wallpaper remover solvent and then scrape it off.
Some papers, such as foils or those coated with a vinyl or acrylic finish, are not porous. If you're removing such wallpapers, you must scratch, perforate, or roughen the entire surface to permit the solution to penetrate below the nonporous surface to the adhesive. You can test for porosity by spraying a small area with hot water and wallpaper remover. If the paper is porous, you should see the paper absorb the water immediately. After the paper is wetted, you can scrape it off.
Now that you know what you're dealing with, you can choose an appropriate removal technique for the entire surface. Depending on your situation, choose one of three wallpaper-removal approaches: dry-stripping, wallpaper remover, or steam.
Choosing a removal technique
The technique you use for removing the old wallpaper depends on what kind of paper you're taking down and what kind of surface is underneath (see the previous section, "Knowing what you're up against"). The following sections outline the steps involved in the different approaches. (For a video explanation of wallpaper removal, check out How to Remove Old Wallpaper.)
If a wallpaper is dry-strippable, you just need to loosen each strip at the corners with a putty knife and slowly peel it back at a 10- to 15-degree angle.
Don't pull the wallpaper straight out or you may damage the underlying surface, especially if it's drywall.
After you remove all the paper, follow the adhesive removal procedures the next section describes. If only the top, decorative layer peels off, leaving a paper backing behind, it's a peelable paper. Dry-strip the entire top layer and then follow the steps in the next section to take off the backing and adhesive.
If you plan to repaper and the old backing is secure and in good condition, you may be able to hang the new wallcovering right on top of it. Discuss this option with your wallpaper dealer.
Soaking and scraping it off
To remove nonstrippable paper or any paper backing that remains after dry-stripping a peelable paper's decorative layer, turn first to warm water and wallpaper removal solvent. Soak the surface with a wallpaper remover solution. Although a spray bottle works, the most effective way to get the solution on the wall and not all over the floor is to use a paint roller. Then scrape the sodden paper off with a wide taping knife or a wallpaper scraper.
Don't wet a larger area than you can scrape off within about 15 minutes. You shouldn't let water soak into drywall for longer than that, or it may cause unnecessary damage. Usually, you can wet about a 3-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling section at a time.
If the wallpaper is nonporous, you must roughen or perforate the surface so that the remover solution can penetrate and dissolve the adhesive. To roughen the surface, use coarse sandpaper on either a pad sander or a hand-sanding block. You can also use a neat gizmo called a Paper Tiger or another perforating tool devised for use on wallpaper applied over drywall. Rounded edges on these tools help ensure that you don't cause damage that may require subsequent repair. Don't use the scraper after the wallpaper is wet, though; you may damage the drywall. (Check out How to Take Off Wallpaper from Drywall by Soaking and Scraping for the details.)
If you're successful in using the soak-and-scrape approach, you can finish up the job. If not, it's time to pull out the big gun: a wallpaper steamer.
Giving it a steam bath
You're talking major work if you must remove more than one layer of wall-paper or remove wallpaper that has been painted over. And if the wallpaper was not applied to a properly sealed surface, removing it without damaging the wall can be next to impossible. For these tough jobs, you may have to rent a wallpaper steamer (about $15 for a half-day) or buy a do-it-yourself model (about $50). A wallpaper steamer is a hotplate attached to a hose extending from a hot water reservoir that heats the water and directs steam to the hotplate.
Although you can use a steamer and wallpaper scraper with relative confidence on plaster walls, use caution on drywall, which is much more vulnerable to water damage and is more easily gouged.
Fill the steamer with water and let it heat up, and keep a baking pan handy to put the hotplate in when you're not using it. Starting at the top of the wall, hold the hotplate against the wall in one area until the wallpaper softens. Move the hotplate to an adjacent area as you scrape the softened wallpaper with a wallpaper razor scraper and let it fall onto the plastic as described in the preceding section. When you're through scraping one area, the steamer usually has softened the next area, depending on the porosity of the paper. (The process is explained in How to Take Off Wallpaper from Drywall with a Wallpaper Steamer.)
Both steam and the water that condenses from it can drip off the hotplate and burn you. To prevent hot water from dripping down your arm, stand on a stepstool when you're working above chest height. Wear rubber gloves and a long-sleeved shirt, too.
A 5-in-1 tool is a specific type of tool that has at least five uses. The tool acts as a scraper, a putty knife, a nail puller, paint can opener, a hammer, and a tool to squeeze out the excess paint from the paint roller. The pointed edge can also be used for widening cracks.
ABS piping is easier to work with and less expensive than metal piping. It also doesn't rot, rust, or corrode.
These ceiling tiles are specially designed to improve sound quality and reduce noise levels.
ADA-compliant showers are designed to allow individuals with disabilities greater freedom to access the shower. Some showers are made so a wheelchair can roll in, and some are designed for transferring to a seat in the shower.
The Adirondack style (1890s-present) embraces rustic, natural, often made of bark-covered logs or simple planks.
Adjustable shelving systems involve open wire shelves that can be adjusted to suit your individual needs.
A power tool for painting that uses high pressure to force paint through a small tip very quickly.
A device that helps you to eliminate squeaks in floors by placing nails at the right depth and breaking them off below the floor's surface.
A paint that has an oil base. Alkyd paint is extremely durable and easy to clean; however, it requires mineral spirits to remove.
American country style that stresses antiques and folk art, basically pieces and fabrics from America's past.
The Southwest look blends the colors and styles of the Native American cultures and the west.
The ADA is a law signed in 1990 that requires buildings and businesses to provide equal accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
A color scheme using colors that are located next to each other on the color wheel.
A type of bolt used to anchor or mount something securely.
A narrow paintbrush that is angled to allow more control in corners and other tight areas.
A wardrobe that has drawers and shelves. It can be used for either clothing or as an entertainment center.
The Art Deco Style (1918-1939) is fashion-oriented and influenced by primitive art and cubism.
The Art Nouveau style (circa 1900) was the first new style not using any historical reference was based on flowing lines of leaves and vines and influenced by Japanese art.
The Arts and Crafts style (circa 1900) uses simple designs executed in natural wood. Emphasized hand craftsmanship, quality materials, and strong, clean lines.
A stiff bristled broom that is designed for working with asphalt.
A tool with a handle and a long, sharp pointed end used for punching holes into things like wood or leather.
Awning windows are hinged at the top and swing outward via a crank or lever.
The gravity-operated valve that controls the flow of water into the toilet tank.
Baseboards are the finish strips between the floor and the wall and range in width from 3 to 18 inches.
Made out of insulating fibers that are woven together to create a continuous blanket of material with a moisture barrier (either paper or foil) that is glued to one side. Batt insulation is available in 16 and 24 inch wide rolls (or 8 foot strips) to fit between the framing in ceilings and walls.
Bauhaus design (1919-1933) is based on unifying art and technology. Little ornamentation. Function, form, and materials (metal tubing, glass, and other technological, machine-made materials) most important.
A bay window is a large picture window that projects outside the walls of the building.
A line of caulk that has been applied to a seam. Use a finger or tool to smooth out the bead to seal the surface.
A form of paneling, traditionally made of wood, with tongue-and-groove boards running the height of the panels. Also called wainscoting.
Boots, the rubber seals that are around the electric service and plumbing vent pipes, air vents, and exhaust fan flashing.
A type of nail with a very small head used for securing molding.
Most towns or counties require a permit to build on or change a property. During different stages of the job and at its completion, the work is inspected to ensure that it meets the building codes.
A thick block of wood made from laminating several strips of wood together. Butcher blocks are often used as a cutting surface.
The fat end of a shingle.
A faucet with a cartridge filter built in to filter drinking water.
Casement windows have hinges on one side of the sash and swing outward when you turn a lever or crank. Because the entire window swings out, these windows provide full ventilation and unobstructed views. Casement windows are commonly used in areas with extra heat or humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and on walls that connect to porches.
Commonly used before 1960 for the vertical drain, vent stacks, and sometimes the horizontal drain lines. Cast iron is durable, but can rust over time.
Caulk is a filler material that seals a crack where two nonmoving components meet, such as where a house’s siding meets the exterior window trim.
The housing for the electrical wiring that provides power to ceiling light and fan fixtures.
Cellulose insulation is an organic, loose-fill material made from recycled paper. It has to be chemically treated to resist attack from moisture and pests. Moisture absorption can make cellulose heavier, causing it to become compacted and lose its insulative value.
Chimney pots are decorative flues that sit on top of the chimney in older homes and in Tudor or Medieval styled homes.
A glazed floral fabric often used in the English Country style.
A chip brush is a small paintbrush used to paint in tight spaces.
Protective switches that enable you to fix short circuits without turning off the power
A combination primer/sealer seals the surface material and allows the finish paint to have a strong bond.
A color scheme made up of colors that are at the opposite ends of the color wheel.
Compression fittings are used to bond two pipes made of different materials. The fittings also allow the water flow to be turned off to a single faucet instead of having to turn the water off in the entire house.
Contemporary design combines influences, trends, and new technologies without strict adherence to any one design philosophy.
A special carpeting tool shaped like a cookie cutter. Twist it back and forth in a circular motion to make the cut.
Copper pipe is long lasting and resistant to corrosion, and so it is commonly used pipe in water supply lines. It costs more than plastic but it lasts and lasts! There are two common types of copper pipe: rigid copper and flexible copper.
The mechanism that allows double-hung windows to open easily, stay open (without a stick propping them up), and shut.
You countersink a screw by driving it in below the surface of the wood.
CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipe has PVC's strength but is heat-resistant, which makes it acceptable in many regions for use on interior supply lines.
Decorative embroidery made by manipulating wool yarn in designs and patterns.
Curing paint is the process of the paint taking its final shape. Curing happens after the paint dries and until the curing is complete the painted surface can still be damaged.
The curtain heading is the top of the curtain that attaches to the curtain rod.
A paint that has been mixed to make a specific color that the customer has requested.
Cutting in is the process of painting the edges of the wall (or other surface to be painted) before painting the rest of the wall with the larger brush or roller.
A chemical that destroys the smooth, glossy finish on a surface so that the surface is rougher, allowing the paint to grip the surface.
An artificial canopy, usually in a half round, which is draped above a bed in place of a headboard.
Distressing is the process of making a piece of furniture look artificially aged by adding nicks and scratches to the finish.
The dormer valley is the point at which the dormer meets the rest of the roofline.
The most popular window style, which has an upper and a lower sash that move vertically in separate channels. The sashes are separated by a small piece of wood called a parting strip; the upper and lower sashes also have meeting rails that helps keep the seal tight between the rails. A lock secures the sashes together to create a tight seal and minimize air loss.
Pleats, ribbon, welting, and other trim as might be used by a dressmaker.
A drop cloth is a piece of fabric or plastic that is used to protect items from paint or splatter.
Dropped-pattern wallpaper calls for careful planning, because the pattern needs to be aligned both horizontally and vertically with the strip of wallpaper on both sides. Because of the dual alignment, dropped patterns incur a good deal of waste in order to have enough paper to make all the necessary pattern matches. There are two different kinds of dropped patterns: half-drops and multiple drops.
A large machine used for sanding floors that is roughly the size of a lawn mower.
The damage caused by a fungus that eats away at wood causing extensive damage.
Drywall is a construction material that is made of plasterboard in the center with a heavy paper on the outside. Drywall is used to finish the walls in most houses made since the mid-1960s.
Dye lot refers to the color pass that is used to make a certain batch of tiles or wallpaper rolls. There can be color variations from dye lot to dye lot even though the pattern name and number do not change.
A smaller hand-held disc sander, to refinish the perimeter of the room and inside closets.
A paint finish that is often used for decorative finishes because it provides a low luster.
A substance that has the ability to remain flexible after drying and won’t crack when weather changes.
Electrical tape is used to secure the electrical connections and to keep the wires attached to each other.
A houses energy envelope refers to the seal within which the homes heating and cooling is maintained.
English Manor House is a decorating style that uses traditional furnishings and florals to capture the feel of an old English manor.
The faucet aerator forces water though a fine mesh to increase the force with which the water comes out of the faucet. The aerator lets you use less water while still maintaining the same force.
A painting technique that employs different styles and techniques to give a wall more interest than a standard flat finish.
To feather the edges means to apply the materials (paint, drywall compound, and so on) so that it’s thinner on the edges to allow it to blend into the surrounding material.
Fiberglass insulation is the most common type of insulation and is available as either batts or loose fill. It is relatively inexpensive, and the batts are very easy to install. It is non-flammable and resists damage from water.
The fixture base is the part of a ceiling lighting/fan fixture that contains the wiring. The fixture base secures to the ceiling box to provide electricity to the fixture.
The valve at the bottom of the toilet tank that controls the flow of water into the tank.
Roof flashing creates watertight connections between the roofing and items that penetrate it, including plumbing pipes, furnace flues, skylights, and chimneys.
An opaque latex paint finish that works great on interior walls and ceilings.
Flexible copper, which is often used for dishwashers, refrigerator icemakers, and other appliances that need a water supply. It’s easy to bend, but if it becomes kinked, you must cut the piece off and replace it. Sections of flexible copper pipe are joined using either soldered or compression fittings.
A float is a board with a handle that smoothes thick compounds such as concrete.
The floatball is a ball that is inside the toilet tank that prevents the tank from overflowing. When the water level rises, the floatball rises which shuts off the water supply.
The flush lever is the part on the outside of the toilet tank that you push to cause the toilet to flush.
The flush lever rod connects the flush lever and controls the flapper valve or tankball.
The flush valve is the controlling mechanism for the flush lever on a toilet tank.
The soldering paste used to sweat copper pipes.
This is the point of visual reference to which the eye always returns—a home base.
The French country look embraces the warmth and grace of the Provence region for France. French country has the warmth of American country but its furnishings tend to have a less homespun feel.
Furring strips are narrow strips of wood used to raise the surface, level the surface, or otherwise smooth out a rough surface to prepare it for paneling.
Galvanized steel pipe is common in older homes for supply lines and branch drain lines. Galvanized pipe is strong, but only lasts 50 years.
The Gothic Revival style (1851-1914) emphasized natural materials and was usually used in large pieces.
A swirling geometric pattern common in Greek design.
The Greek Mediterranean look is a decorating style that evokes the feel of homes in the Greek Islands. Traditionally, the Greeks preferred to spend their time on things other than decorating their homes and filling them with fancy things. So, their homes tend to be simple and uncluttered.
Pliers that can be adjusted to fit the size and shape of pipe fitting that you want to turn.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) was developed to help keep people from getting shocked by electricity. The easiest way to think of a GFCI is to remember that a normal circuit breaker protects property, while a GFCI protects people.
A hacksaw is a saw consisting of a fine toothed blade in a frame and is used to cut through metal.
Half-drop patterns repeat at the ceiling line on every other strip and the design tends to run diagonally. It requires 3 strips of wallpaper to repeat the vertical design. A half-drop match is a straight match that has been split in half.
The bar at the top of a set of mini blinds. The header bar contains the mountings for the blinds themselves as well as the mechanical pieces for adjusting the blinds.
A kind of tape used in laying carpet. The adhesive is melted into place to create a tight seal.
The banded part of a paintbrush.
A decorating style (1980-1990s) that emphasizes exploitation and exposure of elements of science and technology for home use. Shows the construction of the interior. Uses industrial materials for the home. Electronic and space age details important.
A paint finish that has a shiny, polished look. It’s also stain resistant and very scrubbable.
Design styles created before the 1800s.
A hole saw is a ring-shaped saw that connects to a drill and is used to create holes.
A way of sealing a home's energy envelope to keep the heat and cool inside the house and the elements out.
Hopper windows are hinged at the bottom and swing inward.
A small paint roller roughly the size and shape of a hot dog.
Ice dams are blockages that can develop on a roof that isn't well-insulated. When the snow on the roof melts, the water runs down and freezes over the eaves, causing water to back up behind the ice and under the roofing shingles.
Infrared sensors are electronic devices that measure the infrared light and are often used in motion sensing security devices.
The intake valve controls the amount of water that enters the toilet tank.
A decorating style (1925-1947) that has no regional influences, historic references, ornamentation, or unnecessary elements is what made Modern furniture so radical in its time. Details come from the interesting use of modern materials. Emphasis is on machine-age technology — the house as a machine for living.
Jalousie windows are made of a series of horizontal glass slats that are joined so that all the glass slats open or close together when the crank is turned. Unfortunately, the cracks between the windowpanes don't allow for air infiltration.
The wood lath is installed with gaps, called keys, between each piece of lath. The plaster was forced between spaced lath, and this keying action holds the plaster in place.
The part of the latch that goes into the edge of the door.
Latex glazing putty is used for sealing window glass into frames.
Thin strips of wood used as a base for applying plaster. The strips are installed next to each other, separated by gaps. The plaster is forced between spaced lath.
A light box is a fixture mounted to the ceiling to hold a flat light fixture, usually fluorescent.
A very durable flooring material made from natural products, such as linseed oil, cork or wood dust, and tree resins. Not to be confused with vinyl sheet flooring.
The oil of the flax seed plant, which is used in paint, varnish, lacquer and in the making of linoleum.
A product that is used to make asphalt more water proof and less porous.
The part of a door look that is attached to the face of the door.
Loose fill insulation is made out of small chunks of fibers; this insulation type is also known as blown insulation because it is installed with a giant blower hose.
A drill bit that is used for drilling through masonry.
Mastic is a type of adhesive used to bond items where waterproofing is important.
The top rail of the bottom sash and the bottom rail of the upper sash meet and are slanted and weather-stripped to form a tight seal between the rails.
Triangular metal glazing points the small pieces used to hold a glass pane in position until you apply the glazing putty.
A sensor that uses microwaves to detect motion.
A chemical that will actually kill the fungus that causes mildew.
A solvent made from petroleum and used primarily as paint thinner.
Mineral wool insulation, or rock wool insulation, is similar to fiberglass. It is more expensive and somewhat more difficult to find, but doesn’t cause the same itchy reaction. It looks like dryer lint and can be dusty when handled. Rock wool comes in loose fill that can be blown in poured out of bags."
The term molding refers to larger and typically more ornamental finish strips.
A piece of hardware used to anchor drapery rods into hollow walls. The molly bolt includes an anchor plug and a screw with sides that spread out behind the wall to hold it in place.
Mortar is the bonding mixture that is used to cement bricks and stones together.
A mortise is a shallow recess in a wood frame to seat a piece of hardware flush with the wood.
The metal brace that lays across a ceiling box and to which you mount a fixture base.
A multiple drop match is the most complex pattern match. It can take four or more strips to repeat the vertical design. A good example of this is a dense paisley pattern.
A short tool with a blunt pointed tip that is used for pushing the head of a nail or brad into wood.
Low- to high-pile carpets have a nap. You have to put the patch in so that the nap runs in the same direction; otherwise, it will look different from the rest of the carpet.
The NEC is the legally defined code that determines how electricity and electrical fixtures need to be used to ensure safety.
The NFPA is an organization created to establish rules and guidelines that will help to prevent fires.
A natural bristle brush is a paintbrush that uses hairs from animals. They are the best brushes for oil-based paints and varnishes.
A series of traditional geometric designs used on Navajo blankets.
Some floor paints (epoxy, for one) look fabulous and hold up to wear but are slippery when painted on concrete, even when they’re dry. Reduce the risk of slipping by adding nonslip silicate to the paint before you roll it on.
A solid covering that does not allow light to penetrate.
The outlet pipe is the pipe that connects the toilet tank to the bowl.
Mounting a blind or shade to the outside of the window casing to provide better light filtering.
A substance that is packed into a faucet through which the water flows.
The paint finish determines how bright or shiny the paint looks when it dries. Paint finishes range from flat, which absorbs light but isn’t easily cleaned, to scrubbable, stain-resistant glosses that reflect light.
A paint guard is a plastic tool used to block paint from reaching the walls or surrounding surfaces. It is usually held in one hand while the paint is applied with the other.
A solvent that is used as a cleaner or to thin down oil-based paint.
A door that has molding to create multiple panels on the surface.
This nifty gadget can scrape and perforate wallpaper applied on drywall. It has a round, knoblike handle attached to a scraping blade that cuts the paper. Solvents or steam can then penetrate to the adhesive layer but can’t damage the drywall’s paper facing.
A piece of wood that separates the tracks of the upper and lower sash of a window.
The repeat is the vertical distance between one point on the pattern and where the identical point appears again vertically.
A patch that is used to cover the gap in a hole in drywall. The solid patch has an adhesive background that sticks to the wall surrounding the hole.
A permanent furnace filter is a washable filter used to block debris from entering the furnace.
A pilot hole is a starter hole made by drilling. Using pilot holes prevents the screw or nails from causing damage to the wall.
A plaster washer is a thin metal disk that increases the size of the head of a drywall screw so that it doesn’t pull through the plaster.
Plastic pipe comes as either ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Most homes since mid-1970 have plastic pipes and fittings because it’s inexpensive and easy to use. Simply glue the joints together using a primer and liquid cement.
A vertical guide created by hanging a weighted string from the ceiling.
The plumber’s snake has a long tightly coiled wire attached to a handle. This coiled wire can slither down the pipes clearing blockages and even pulling out the obstruction.
A plumbing tool that is used to loosen clogs by using suction to dislodge the clog.
A type of insulating material made of polystyrene foam. This foam is waterproof.
Popcorn ceilings are textured, acoustic ceilings that are sprayed on and resemble popcorn or cottage cheese when they dry.
To prime a surface means to apply a primer and/or sealer to the surface to seal the surface and provide the best bond for the paint.
A pry bar is a flat steel bar with beveled edges in its ends and a hole in one end. Its design gives you leverage to slide one end in between the molding and wall while you use the other end to force the molding away from the wall.
A tool used to apply a paste or compound to a surface. The shape of the tool allows control over how much materials is applied and how thickly.
This white or cream-colored pipe is the most commonly used pipe for drain lines. It’s strong, untouchable by chemicals, and seems to last forever! The rating and diameter is stamped right on the pipe.
A rabbet groove is part of a window frame that has a groove cut into it to hold glass panels.
A rake is the part of a paint tray that allows you to roll off the excess paint on a paint roller.
When the pattern is random, you don't need to worry about match any pattern at all. For obvious reasons, random patterns are great for beginners. No matter how you position the paper the pattern still looks good. A great example of a random pattern match is a texture, such as grasscloth, or a stripe.
This push-type wallpaper-scraping tool (about 3 to 4 inches wide) looks like a putty knife but has a slot for replaceable blades so that you always have a sharp edge.
A reciprocating saw moves in an upright piston-like manner. It is used for cutting almost any material given the proper blade.
Leftover pieces of fabric, carpet, or other flooring. To patch a carpet you will need to cut out the damaged spot and replace it with remnants that you saved when the carpet was installed.
Flooring products that come in vinyl, polyurethane, linoleum, cork, and rubber materials. These floors are resilient because they are more durable and more easily cleaned than traditional floor materials.
The amount of insulation provided by various materials.
The part of the piece of the roof that lies at the ridges and over the edges of the shingles.
Rigid copper comes in three thicknesses. Type M is the thinnest but is strong enough for most homes. Types L and Type K are thicker and used in outdoor and drain applications. To cut rigid copper, you'll need a wheel cutter, tube cutter, or a hacksaw. Pipes are usually connected with soldered (sweat) fittings and compression fittings can connect the pipe to shut-off valves.
The vertical board behind the step, which fits up to the underside of the tread.
Mineral wool insulation, or rock wool insulation, is similar to fiberglass. It is more expensive and somewhat more difficult to find, but doesn’t cause the same itchy reaction. It looks like dryer lint and can be dusty when handled. Rock wool comes in loose fill that can be blown in or poured out of bags.
The metal frame on a paint roller onto which the roller cover slides.
The piece that slides over the roller cage on a paint roller. The roller cover is the part that actually holds the paint.
Roof flashing creates a watertight seal wherever the roof meets an upright — such as around plumbing pipes, furnace flues, skylights, and chimneys.
A tool that is used for scraping ice off roofs.
A faucet that has a ball mechanism inside which controls water flow and temperature.
The first inspection on a remodeling project which occurs while everything is still at the rough-in stage of progress.
If each flush doesn’t end with a gurgle but instead continues with a hissing sound, with water running into the toilet bowl, you have a run-on toilet.
A narrow paintbrush used to paint trim and molding.
The most popular paint sheen, which is a good choice for woodwork, walls, doors, and hallways.
Schedule 40 PVC is strong enough for residential drain lines, but check with your plumbing inspector first.
Schedule 80 PVC is sometimes used for cold-water supply lines, but it isn’t allowed in some regions because it isn’t suitable for hot water.
A seam iron is a tool for heating the heat-activated tape the holds the two carpet pieces together.
A seat bolt is a heavy bolt used to hold the toilet seat to the toilet base.
Outdoor security lights use infrared or microwave sensors to light up whenever someone or something passes within a certain range.
A screw that taps (makes a hole) all by itself, with no need to drill a starter hole first.
A shiny paint finish that is scrubbable and good for moldings, doors, windows, kitchens, and baths.
A sewer rodding machine is an industrial strength auger that is motor driven and can push its way through touch sewer lines.
The design combines the elegance of English Country living with the comfortable casualness of a California lifestyle.
A decorating (1830-1850) style that utilizes designs that are plain in appearance, stripped to bare essentials (few turnings, no decorations.
The showerhead aerator forces water though a fine mesh to increase the force with which the water comes out of the showerhead. The aerator lets you use less water while still maintaining the same force.
A sink trap is a plumbing connection that is bent at such an angle as to capture items that might have fallen down the drain allowing you a final chance to retrieve them before they disappear down the pipes.
Sliding windows open horizontally and bypass each other in separate tracks mounted on the header jamb and sill.
The amount of fall or collapse in mortar or concrete.
Snap-off screws are designed so that the heads literally snap off below the surface of the floor to allow you to repair squeaks in the flooring without leaving a visible sign.
The flat boards under a roof's overhang.
Pipefittings that have been soldered to seal the connection.
Spade bit is an inexpensive wood-boring instrument that looks like a paddle with a triangular point on the end.
Spalling is when chips and chunks break off a surface, such as concrete, usually caused by weathering.
Brick that has popped out of the wall
1. Rubber or neoprene cording that holds screening material in a window or door frame. 2. Ribbon-like finishing piece that holds in sheets of cane on furniture.
Looks like a pastry cutter with a convex roller on one end and a concave roller on the other end. Use this to push spline into the grooves around a window or door frame.
A small mechanical piece at the end of an airless paint sprayer's spray gun. The spray tip is the small hole through which the paint is dispersed.
Spring clips hold the glass panes in place in steel casement windows.
The spud nut holds the spud washer in place.
Seals the gap between the flush valve and bowl.
The long vertical slotted strips fastened to the wall to attach the shelves in a wire based shelving system.
The unmovable upright on a sliding glass door.
A straight across match is a type of wallpaper pattern that starts over at the ceiling line. This means that the design has to match the strips on either side. These take more planning than random matches, but they are not typically complex patterns.
Sweating copper pipe is a term used to describe the soldering of copper pipe.
A piece of cloth that is coated in a sticky (tacky) substance so that dust and particles stick to it. Tack cloths are used to remove any debris before painting or sealing a project.
The tank bolts that connect the bottom of the tank to the toilet base, and each bolt has a rubber gasket between the bolt head and the tank to stop water from leaking. The spud washer seals the gap between the flush valve and bowl.
The tankball lifts out of the drain when the flush handle is moved, allowing the tank to fill with water. It should settle back into place with the water level is restored.
The tankball rod controls the tankball which controls the water flow in the toilet tank.
A tapestry is a fabric that has a pattern created by weaving or by needlepoint.
A pole that attaches to short-handled tools like paint rollers. The pole allows the handle to be extended to the desired length.
A television mirror is a type of surface, on a television screen, that converts to a standard mirror when the television is not turned on.
Like a dye lot, the tile run is the batch of tiles that was manufactured at a specific time. The color and pattern can vary slightly between tile runs.
To toenail a shingle means to drive the roofing nails at an angle.
A toggle bolt has a mechanism that folds up so that it can be pushed through a regular drill hole, but when it is fastened the toggle opens up to clamp to the back side of the wall.
A fabric with a solid background and pastoral scenes printed in a solid color.
Track lighting is a long flexible mount that attaches to a single ceiling box and allows you to mount and direct lighting multiple fixtures exactly where you want it.
The 18th century style is created by combining fabrics and patterns that would have been available at the time.
The horizontal board on the top of a step.
Trim is an umbrella term for any kind of finish strip applied around openings to conceal surface or angle joints and raw edges where drywall meets doorways, windows, floors, and ceilings.
A trowel is a tool used for applying mortar.
TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) is an alkaline cleaning material. TSP-PF is a phosphate-free version.
A tube cutter is a tool for cutting pipe.
Tuckpointing is the process of repairing the mortar on a brick wall.
Is a form of mineral solvent used for cleaning and breaking down oil-based products.
A form of filler that activates when you combine the two materials together creating a hard finish.
Type K is a thicker type of rigid copper pipe and is used in outdoor and drain applications.
Type L is a thicker type of rigid copper pipe and is used in outdoor and drain applications.
Type M is the thinnest type of rigid copper pipe, but it is strong enough for most homes.
The usable yield is the amount of wallpaper that will actually go on the wall. The type and size of pattern repeat reduces the amount of wallpaper that you can actually use.
Vinyl composition tile. Commercial floor tiles made from chips of colored vinyl and compressed into solid sheets. These sheets are heated and then cut into 12" squares.
Vent flashing is installed around (you guessed it) the vents on your roof. The flashing is typically made of metal and has a rubber grommet around the edge.
Vintage materials are those from an earlier time. Vintage materials can be anything from clothing from the 1940s to antique furniture to old advertisements.
A tool to measure the voltage emanating from a wire or appliance.
A form of wood paneling that comes about halfway up the wall. Often built from beadboard.
A flat-bottomed paintbrush, usually 3-5 inches wide, used for painting the large main areas of a wall.
Wallboard clips are fasteners for attaching a wallboard patch to an existing wall.
Wallpaper remover: Although warm water may do the trick (and is certainly priced right), you can turn to commercial wallpaper removal solvents if you need to.
A tool that is used to push air bubbles out of wallpaper while it is being applied.
A tool used for applying steam to wall coverings so that they peel off the wall.
A weatherproofing seal for exterior electric fixtures.
Weather-stripping is material that seals the cracks between moving components, such as the crack where a window sash meets the frame or stop.
A tool for cutting glass.
The horizontal and vertical trim that holds the window sash.
The moveable parts of a window.
The trim along the inside of the window frame.
A wire nut is a small plastic fastener that can be twisted over the ends of wires to create a connection without soldering.
Plaster is installed over strips of wood called wood laths.
A product that is used to fill defects in wood, such as nail holes.
Iron that has been forged into decorative and utilitarian objects.