“I’m not going back in the house”

Just over a week ago we started on the kitchen. Most of the dark brown patterned tiles came off and we starting stripping the ceiling of its wallpaper. Yep. Ceiling. Wallpaper. Who in their right mind would do that? Anyway, it had to come off. We couldn’t plaster over it because the weight of the plaster would bring the whole ceiling down and we weren’t prepared to leave it there in as, although it was white, it was patterned and there was physically no way to disguise it.

So we set to it, steaming away as we had done in most other rooms by now, dust masks on and thinking we were invincible. But as we started stripping we noticed something different to every other room. This wallpaper was thicker and stickier with bits flaking off. Solution: google.

We found that apparently vinyl wallpaper was the quite common in the 1950/60’s and it was common to contain asbestos.

Cue me running out of the house refusing to enter until we’ve had an asbestos survey and removal (if necessary) carried out. It was a Friday evening so if I’d stuck to my word I would have been camping out in the front garden. (Panic level: 9/10)

Anyway, using our brains we remembered that the structure of the house was basically rebuilt in the late 70’s which meant that the wallpaper/ceiling must have been put up post then. It was much less common for asbestos to be used in wallpaper by the 70’s so we felt a little bit more comfortable that it wasn’t, but still I stood on the front lawn in the pitch black refusing to go indoors (Panic level: 7/10).

With more googling we identified it was very common for ceilings to be wallpapered (ours had lining paper underneath as well) and then artex’d over – followed by painting. All in, this meant that on removal it would appear sticky (which ours did). (Panic level 5/10).

Nevertheless, you have to be careful with some artex as some did contain asbestos.
After a lot of research and once I’d frozen my socks off outside, we decided that it was a) probably not asbestos b) even if it was, the steaming removal means that no/few dust particles are released (the kitchen was very steamy so any dust would be trapped) and c) if you’re careful in the removal, cleaning up process and wear appropriate PPE, you should be fine.

So we bagged it up and got rid pronto. (Panic level restored to 1/10).

Safe to say we’ve learnt our lesson for future projects.



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