Shoji (障子) are a characteristic element of Japanese architecture that encompass important cultural ideals of not insulating the house from heat or cold and being very fragile and easily destroyed. If you are like me, you may have been introduced to them by this episode of the Simpsons.
My apartment came with six shoji doors, which over several years have accumulated stains and holes.
A while back, the wife and I took it upon ourselves to fix these busted, yellow-stained shoji with some nice, clean new ones. I will give a step by step run-through of how you too can do this without the help of a professional.
Shoji-gami (the paper)
hagashi (adhesive remover)
cutting guide or heavy ruler
Roll the hagashi across the edges on each section where the wood touches the paper (where all the glue is).
Once you've rolled the hagashi on all sections of paper touching wood, then you can peel off the paper. This part is pretty easy. If any parts rip, you can go across with a towel and wipe them off.
After the paper is off let the frame dry for 15-20 minutes.
So, there are two types of shoji paper. One requires gluing and one is iron-on. We got the iron-on one, since it looked a lot easier. The downside is if you don't properly iron the paper on, it will come loose in areas and be impossible to make stick again.
It is important that you get a paper size that fits your doors too. The standard width in Japan is 94 cm (I think) but we have another set of doors that are 118 cm which I have not been able to find paper for.
The paper should be wider than the door frame. First roll it over and pull tight, ironing the corners to keep in place. Next, iron everywhere that the paper touches the wood. You have to be very careful on the outside not to iron all the way to the edge. Our frame had a very shallow groove about 1cm from the inside edge all the way around to help with the next step, which is...
This is solely for looks, but the whole purpose of shoji is for looks, so it is semi-important. Get your ruler or cutting guide and cut in a straight line around the outside. They make these cutting guides the right size to place solidly at the edge to help you cut straight. Ours, however, had a convenient little shallow groove that we were able to use as a guide.
I don't know the purpose of this, but the instructions said to do it so we did.