After I removed the piece of wood from above the window, I started pulling off the picture rails from around the room. This wasn’t as easy as it might sound.
The picture rails were about 1.5″ tall, and maybe 0.5″ deep at the deepest point. There were two sizes of nail used to hold the rails to the wall. The shorter ones were about 1.75″ inches long; the longer ones were about 2.5″ long. Both nails were about 6 mm wide just under the nail head. These nails, in my opinion, are excessive for holding a picture rail up.
The walls are made of brick covered in plaster. When the picture rails were put up, whoever did it made holes in the brickwork and plugged them with bits of wood. Then they somehow got the head of the nail inside the wood of the picture rail, and hammered them into the wooden plugs in the wall. I assume they didn’t have plastic wall plugs in those days. But surely they had smaller nails.
The only tool I had to hand was a claw hammer. I used my hammer to pry off the picture rail all around the room. It was quite an effort, and I had to do some of it while up the step ladder. That scared me a bit, but there you go.
With a bit of elbow grease, I managed to get them all off. I left the strips of wood on the ceiling in place: I don’t know whether they’re involved with holding up the ceiling or just used as finishing.
Behind all the wood I took off, there was this horrible brown fluffy stuff. I have no idea what it is, but it didn’t look pretty. Some of the wood had fungus growing on it. I decided that I wouldn’t keep any of this wood because it seemed a bit skanky. And let’s not forget all those nails sticking out of it. I also don’t have the carpentry or joinery skills to reuse the wood.
Because it was so skanky behind the woodwork, I thought I should remove the skirting boards as well. I turned ninety degrees anticlockwise, and tried to stick the claw of my hammer between the skirting board and the wall. I couldn’t; I would need more tools.