Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Remove Putty from Flat Paint

In October of 2012, I was tired of staring at this big blank wall, and didn't know what I wanted there long term, so I put up a collage of pictures. I loved looking at it

Overall, it wasn't the look I was going for in our living room. It made the room seem cluttered, and it was distracting. Anytime anyone was in there, they'd gaze over at the wall. Fine, but not great if you're in the middle of a conversation. Also, the pictures would fall off all the time. Mainly when there was only one person (me), and the sound would scare me half to death. 

So the following summer, I decided to take the pictures down. Over one hundred pictures came down, and the blue sticky tack holding them there... didn't. Since they had the habit of falling down, this surprised me. I thought it would be a piece of cake to take down (it was in college), but no. Apparently flat paint and blue putty aren't a match made in heaven. So there were tiny pieces of it, which I tried to mostly hide with this collage wall. You can't see it in the pictures and it wasn't glaringly obvious, but it wasn't a good look.

Of course when we moved, I knew the tack would have to come down, and I dreaded that. Here's what it looked like, and the mess left behind.

And here's the cast of characters I used to get rid of this mess: Dawn, water, a white cloth (anything with any sort of color I could see making further damage to the walls), various scraping tools (credit cards and a pan scraper).

I began with a credit card. It wasn't a good choice because it took the tack off but left behind markings because it was colorful. I switched to a white Starbucks gift card and had more success. The gift card took off most of the blue.

So it was time to bring out the big guns. I mixed Dawn and water in a cup, completely unscientifically, and worried that the blue color would show on the wall, so I tested it on a more hidden patch of wall somewhere else. Fine.

Then I dipped my cloth into the Dawn mixture and washed the walls. The left side had been done in this picture and I was working toward the right. It would change the color for a second because it was wet, but would remove the remnants of the tack the gift card wasn't able to scrape off, plus any scrapes or bumps on the wall.

So it worked! I'd recommend using a mixture of Dawn and water after carefully scraping larger pieces of putty to make the walls good as new.

Even though this worked for me, I do have one incident: The one problem I ran into, unique to this house, was that there was soot on the walls. I can't remember if I ever mentioned it here, but the two or three times we turned the (gas) fireplace on here, it wasn't great. It was warm and felt quite nice, but it burned our eyes and when we turned it off, we noticed soot on everything. The toilet even had a layer of it. So we used it a couple of times in 2012, and then never again (bummer). Unfortunately, I've been able to find nothing that will remove the soot. My dawn mixture might have worked, but the problem was that I'd put the pictures up and the outline of them remained on the wall thanks to the fireplace. Nearly every picture on the walls created an imprint, thanks to that fireplace. So the wall isn't perfect and isn't good as new, but that's because that stuff is stubborn. No amount of scrubbing has been able to get soot off of paint, even on glossy painted surfaces (like the trim around the fireplace).

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