Grasscloth – A General Info Pack

Grasscloth is popular right now – but I am not a fan of it. Please read the info below.

For one thing, because it cannot be matched from strip to strip, you will see all the seams. For another, it’s very common to have noticeable differences in color between strips, and even within the same strip, even when they all come off the same roll. Sometimes the grasscloth is darker at the outer edges, than it is in the center area. And other times there is a lighter stripe along the outer edges.

These are called “paneling,” and “shading, and “color variations.” Manufacturers call it “the inherent beauty of this natural product.” I think it looks horrible. Many homeowners say they won’t mind, but once they see it on the wall, they are disappointed. The manufacturer will not refund your money if you are unhappy with it.

You can go to my blog and do a Search on those terms above. Here are a few posts to get you started.

For a severe example of shading, all in the same run, see the second attached photo. For dark fibers running through a strip, and the material darkening toward the bottom of the strip, see the third attached photo. NOTE: To see these photos, please send an e-mail to

Even high-end brands such as Schumacher and Phillip Jeffries have these issues. In fact, Dorota, the gal I like people to buy their paper from, called me to tell me that she was sending photos from a PJ website, showing some very unflattering color variations and other issues with their natural fiber wall coverings. And these are photos they show on their website, so you know that it’s considered “normal” to have these issues.

In addition, grasscloth is a natural fiber, so it stains easily. Even clean water will stain grasscloth over time. See the first attached photo, where the color has bled away where water has puddled along the top of the sink. Some have unstable dyes on the surface, so if water splashes on it, the color may blotch or run. And pets love to “dig their claws into it.”

A lot of vendors would not allow returns on grasscloth (fragile edges) and the ones that do, charge a hefty restocking fee – Astek, for example, charges 60%.

Hanging grasscloth calls for meticulous care to prevent any paste, water, or even fingerprints from touching the material. The 36” wide width factored against the dimensions of your room calls for experienced installation techniques. For the same reasons, measuring should also be done by a professional.

Luckily, there are realistic alternatives that do not have the color problems, and that are much more durable. One is a textured vinyl product with a strong woven fabric (scrim) backing, which is strong, water resistant and practically indestructible. The brand is Thibaut and the book is Texture Resource Volume 4. Bankun Raffia is the most popular choice, and comes in about 30 colors.

Another is a newish product in a book called Grass Effects. The manufacturer is Wallquest, and it is in their EcoChic line. It is a stringcloth that has a texture that people like. Some of their patterns have a realistic grasscloth pattern, and it can even be matched from strip to strip, so you will not see the seams. The color is uniform, so no shading or paneling. It is also more cleanable than real grasscloth.

All of these papers can be purchased from my favorite source (below). And if you still want to try real grasscloth, she knows which brands have the better track record.

My favorite place to buy wallpaper is the Southwestern Paint near the Rice Village, at 2726 Bissonnet, just west of Kirby at Wakeforest. Talk to Dorota Hartwig, who is THE wallpaper specialist in town, and knows what’s in all the books. Call her first, and make an appointment, to be sure she can give you her full attention and that no one has checked out the books she wants to show you. (713) 520-6262. She can’t always get to e-mail quickly, so a phone call is better. Her hours are usually Tues – Fri, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sat. 9:00 a.m. – noon. (Saturdays can be very hectic, and are difficult for looking through the wallpaper books.)

Tell her what you are looking for – your decorating taste, colors, age of kids who may be sharing a bathroom, etc., and she will go through the books and pull some suggestions for you, so you don’t waste your time going through books that are not suitable.

You can bring her samples of your bedding fabric or bathroom tile, and even e-mail her info or photos of your room and ideas. You can check out books, and if you have them at your home when I come to measure, I can look at them with you and give my opinion – I see a LOT of papered rooms ! 

All prices are competitive with retail. She can even get designer papers at lower prices, and if you see something on the Internet you like, she can track it down for you – or find something similar at a better price. Schedule an appointment and bring my paperwork with you for an additional discount. She has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, and can help coordinate your colors, papers, fabrics, etc. My clients love her!

Buying local is a good thing. It may be tempting to look through a store’s books, and then try to hunt down the paper on-line to find a lower price. But remember that by buying from one of the sources I recommend, you have someone giving you personal attention, who is knowledgeable about paper quality, single / double roll lingo, discontinued patterns, backorders, shipping time frame, and who can act as an advocate for you if there is a problem. When you use someone’s sample books, facility, expertise and time, it really is right to buy the paper there, too. And by buying local, you are helping the economy right in our area. 

Julie Young
The Wallpaper Lady
(713) 528-5614
P.O. Box 66283
Houston, TX 77266-6283

Proud member of the Wallcovering Installers Association

(formerly the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers)
Oh, and please check out my website and my blog:

%d bloggers like this: