Posts Tagged ‘color differences’

Grasscloth Repair Today

April 14, 2021
Whoops! Somebody dropped a bottle of nail polish and look what happened!
Damaged area removed.
First approach – trimming replacement piece along horizontal grass reeds.
A better approach – splicing in the replacement piece. Blue plastic tape keeps paste off the paper on the wall.
Splice has been made, excess grasscloth and its paper backing below the splice have been removed, and I begin smoothing the patch into place.

The spliced area is undetectable.
Bottom is trimmed at the baseboard, push pins removed – done!

Good thing this family kept their scraps left over from the original install. They had a roll that had about two 8′ strips on it, plus a shorter piece that was maybe 4′ long.

Often, a repair means that you replace the whole wall, from corner to corner. For one thing, it eliminates the worries of color differences due to the existing paper fading from exposure to light over time. And the potential of buggering up one strip while removing the damaged strip next to it. And other issues like variables in the rate of expansion of wallpaper when it gets wet with paste, between what’s on the wall compared to the new replacement piece. Lots of factors.

Replacing the whole wall also would have eaten up all of the left over paper. I wanted then to keep that paper, in case something else happens down the road.

So I figured a way to use just 18″ or so of the shorter scrap they had left over.

First I took a razor blade and trimmed along a horizontal grass fiber, from the seam on the right, moving to the left and around the corner to where the paper meets the vanity. Then I peeled off the top layer, which was the grasscloth. That left the paper backing remaining on the wall.

I used a sponge to apply water to this backing, being very careful to touch only the paper and not the grasscloth that was to be left on the wall – water will stain grasscloth. After a while, the water reactivated the paste, and I was able to use my “dull” stiff 3″ putty knife to gently scrape the paper backing off the wall, making sure to get every bit that butted up to the grasscloth left on the wall, to be sure the replacement paper would sit flat against the wall and not on top of bumps of paper residue. All the while making sure to not damage the existing paper.

I cut a piece of replacement paper off the 4′ roll, cutting it a little longer than I might need, because I wasn’t sure if my first technique would work, and I wanted to avoid having to cut a whole new strip from that precious 4′ roll.

My first approach was to trim the replacement piece horizontally along the top reeds of grass. I hoped that this would butt up against the bottom of the strip on the wall. It did not. This is because the reeds of grass are uneven, and there were undulations between the top and bottom pieces that left gaps and overlaps between the two strips. (sorry, no photo)

I have used this technique successfully in the past. But that was with grasscloth that was coarser and had more distance between the reeds, so the eye would see the gaps as “normal.” Didn’t work with this finer textured grasscloth.

So my next option was to do a splice. What we in the trade call a double cut. A double cut will give you a perfectly fitted seam. But I try to avoid them, because there is the potential to score into the wall, which can cause an un-intact area that may delaminate over time, resulting in a “popped” seam.

(When hanging new wallpaper (not doing a repair to paper already adhered to the wall), it is possible to use polystyrene strips under the seam area to protect the wall when you make your cut. You can do a Search here to learn more about that.)

So a double cut was my best option. I had cut the replacement piece long enough that, after the failed attempt at butting the strips, I still had enough length to do the splice. I pasted the strip, let it book a few minutes to relax, and then unfolded it and ran a strip of blue plastic tape along the top edge. This tape will keep paste off the existing wallpaper. (Remember – grasscloth stains easily, and it’s difficult to wash, so it’s important to keep paste and other substances off of it.)

(The blue tape, and also the polystyrene strips and a lot of other cool tools, are available from fellow paperhanger Steve Boggess in Virginia. http://boggesspaperhangingtools.com/index.php )

Then I put the replacement strip in place, butting it up against the existing strip to the right, and overlapping the strip above it by about 3/4.” I used push pins to keep the strip from sliding. See 4th photo.

Next I took a single-edged razor blade and cut horizontally through both strips. Grasscloth is much thicker and harder than regular wallpaper, so I had to press hard to get through both layers – while still trying to not cut into the wall itself underneath.

Normally I would use a straightedge as a guide, but because the grass reeds are not straight themselves, I chose to free-hand the cut, following the horizontal line of one of the fibers of grass.

Once the cut was made, I removed the sections of paper that had been cut off. On the original piece that was already adhered to the wall, I had to pull off the grass, and then, once again, use my sponge and water to wet the remaining paper backing, reactivate the paste, and then carefully scrape that backing off the wall.

Once all that was done, as you see in the 5th photo, I peeled away the blue tape, and smoothed the two pieces together. They butted together perfectly!

The homeowner is going to paint over the little dabs of nail polish on the baseboard. (I told her I’d read her the riot act if she used remover or solvent and got any on that delicate grasscloth! 🙂 )

(Mostly) Nice Faux Grasscloth

January 10, 2021

Even though it’s quite popular right now, I am not fond of real grasscloth, for many reasons. See my page to the right. Or click here https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/grasscloth-a-general-info-pack/

So I’m always happy when clients take my advice to consider other options. These homeowners chose a faux grasscloth with an embossed texture (that mimics the tactile appeal of the real stuff), a pattern that can be matched (eliminating jarringly visible seams), on a non-woven substrate (easier install / easier removal when it’s time to redecorate), with a surface that is resistant to stains (as opposed to real grass, which can be stained easily by toiletries, cleaning agents, or even plain water), and, because it’s man-made, greater assurance of homogeneous color – effectively eliminating the woes of paneling and shading and other color variations between and even within strips.

I was pleased with most aspects of this product. For some reason, my camera made the texture look zig-zaggy, but in real life, it really did mimic real grasscloth. The close-up photo gives you a good idea.

One thing that surprised me – and disappointed me – is that, even though this is a man-made material controlled by factory standards, there ended up being a slight color difference between the right and left side of each strip. Look at the fifth photo, particularly the top, and you will see what I’m talking about.

Since this is made in a factory using inks that are mixed at the same time, poured into the printer at the same time, and applied to the wallpaper at the same time, I really don’t understand how the material can have this color variation. Especially since virtually all of the products I have hung by Brewster have been very consistent in color.

In this case, the color variation was fairly minor, was less noticeable when I removed my 100 watt work light, and pretty much reflects what real grasscloth looks like, anyway. The homeowners were fine with it.

The wallpaper is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, which is made by Brewster. It is on a non-woven substrate, and can be hung via the paste-the-wall or paste-the-paper methods. The home is in the Memorial / Beltway 8 / Briarpark area of west Houston. I hung this in a guest bathroom.

I would call the home’s style as contemporary / industrial. This faux grasscloth really softened the room. The horizontal lines in the wallpaper complimented the lines in the shower’s tile. The overall look went from cold and commercial to soft, inviting, and almost spa-like.

A Really Nice Vinyl Faux Grasscloth

February 8, 2020


Originally, this downstairs bathroom in a newish home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston was painted a mocha brown. It looked OK, but lacked luster and life. The homeowner envisioned more texture and color, plus a tiny bit of dazzle. She was considering grasscloth.

During our initial Sunday afternoon consultation, luckily she heeded my warnings about the problems with grasscloth – visible seams, color shading differences between strips, staining from water splashes or little ones’ hands, etc.

She chose this textured vinyl faux grass pattern by York instead. What a winner this turned out to be! Because there is no pattern that can be matched, you still see the seams. But, because the color is so homogeneous, there are no jarring shade differences. In the sink photo, note that you are seeing a shadow, not a shading of color.

The color variations within the grass-like design are more pronounced than in other brands (for instance, the Thibaut versions), and so it looks more like real grasscloth, and you can see the various colors even from a distance.

There is a pleasing texture that can be seen and felt. And, because the material is a heavy vinyl, it’s quite durable and water- and stain-resistant. What’s more, because there was no pattern to match (that’s called a random match), there was very little waste – in a room with a tad less than 9′ ceilings, I got three strips out of a 27′ long double roll bolt (usually you only get two strips).

I did follow typical grasscloth-installation techniques for this product.

Because the lack of a pattern match meant that the seams were visible, I took precise measurements and “balanced” the width of the strips in the various areas in which they were hung.

Because there was still a bit of a color difference between the right side and the left side of each strip, I also reversed the top and bottom of every other strip – a little trick that minimizes visible color differences by placing the right side, for instance, of each bolt of paper next to itself on subsequent strips. That sounds confusing, but it’s valuable trick of the trade.

The navy blue brings a welcome shot of color into the room. The gold metallic touches add sparkle, and coordinate smartly with the light fixture (not shown). The homeowner will soon trade the chrome faucet for one of brushed gold.

All the Same Run, Please

February 7, 2020


This homeowner measured her walls and ordered paper before I came by for a consultation. As often happens, she ordered too little paper.

When the additional bolts arrived, unfortunately, they were a different run.

Run number refers to all the bolts that were printed from the same batch or dye lot of ink. The next time the manufacturer prints a run of this wallpaper pattern, the inks will be ever so sightly a different shade.

You cannot place strips of wallpaper from different runs next to one another on the same wall, because you will see the color differences for the entire length of each strip.

You can, however, use different runs on different walls, because your eye won’t notice if the run is “broken” in a corner. This method does require the use of additional paper, though, in order to match the pattern.

In this case, we had enough extra paper. I was able to keep one run on the west and south walls, and then use the other run on the north and east walls.

Grasscloth in Heights Master Bedroom

January 17, 2020


This is the 1st floor master bedroom of a nicely-remodeled-but-still-retains-many-original-details-and-all-its-original-charm 1920 bungalow in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

The textured walls started out dark green. I skim-floated and sanded them smooth. The new wallpaper is a brown grasscloth with a faint greenish tinge, and it has a nubby texture with a lot of knots (more pics tomorrow!)

The homeowner ordered her paper before I measured the room, and I told her to get two additional double roll bolts. In the 4th photo, I am checking labels to be sure we have all the same run / dye batch; we lucked out and the new bolts were the same run as the original lot.

In the 5th photo, I have cut strips for a wall, and have them lined up and ready to paste and trim. In the background, you can see how I place bolts against each wall, as a way of keeping track of how many strips I need and which bolts I will take them from.

Because there are shading / paneling issues with grasscloth (do a Search here on those terms), it’s important to not mix strips from different bolts. That way, if there are slight color differences between bolts (as there usually are) these differences will be minimized. Still, as you see in the third photo, the three strips on the right came from one bolt, and the strips on the left came from another bolt – and there is a noticeable difference in shade. This is not a defect – it’s simply the nature of grasscloth – a product made from natural materials.

This one long wall used seven strips from three bolts, so a color difference could be expected. On the other, narrower, walls, all the strips came from the same bolt, so the color differences were minimized. When I had to use different bolts on the same wall, I was able to place the “break” over a door or window, with only 1′ of color difference. That’s a lot less noticeable than the 8′ you see on the long wall in the photo.

This wallpaper was bought through Sherwin Williams. There is no brand name on the label.

More photos tomorrow!

Color In Grasscloth Changes Abruptly

June 13, 2017

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Grasscloth is very popular right now, because homeowners love the texture and natural feel of the material. However, ‘natural’ equates with ‘irregular,’ and can lead to very noticeable color differences and variations in the product. Up on the wall, these can look pretty bad.

The photo shows how the color of grasscloth can change from the top of the strip to the bottom. It also shows how darker strands of fibers can be interwoven into the material, resulting in eye-jarring irregularities.

I had this homeowner buy an extra double roll bolt of wallpaper. This gave us enough extra that I could discard this strip with its ugly dark horizontal bands, and replace it with another that was more homogenous. The 2nd photo shows a wall with three strips that are pleasingly similar in color and texture.

Note that in most grasscloth installations, ‘you get what you get.’ Which is to say, if the paper comes off the roll with dark bands or defects or shading or color variations, you just have to accept it as “the inherent beauty of the natural product.”

For more info, do a Search (upper right corner) on these terms.

“I Thought I Wanted an All-White House – But It Was Bland and Lifeless”

June 9, 2017

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I love it when homeowner say this! Because I have been crusading against all-white houses for years. While the all-white concept looks good in magazines, in real life, with real families in real homes, the look can be coldly stark and anonymous. See Photo 1. This client realized she craved more warmth and personality. Her choice was grasscloth.

In Photo 2, see how just a light, neutral color defines the room, and makes the beautiful woodwork stand out. (In the ‘before’ photo, you could not even see the woodwork.) Further, the nubby texture of the grasscloth adds warmth, while it ‘snugs up’ this large master bedroom. See a close-up of the texture in Photo 3.

Photo 3 also shows a seam. It’s important to understand that grasscloth has no pattern to be matched, and that all the seams will show as a ‘mismatch.’ There can also be color differences between strips. Happily, this product had very little of the shading and paneling and color variations that can occur with grasscloth.

Because all the seams will show, the room looks better when the walls are ‘balanced.’ This means trimming all the strips so they are equally wide for each wall they will sit on. See an example of this in Photo 4. This is called ‘engineering,’ and it takes a lot of time, math, calculating, measuring, and trimming. But the balanced, more sophisticated finished look is worth it. This homeowner noticed the even widths of the panels right away, and was appreciative of the effort I had taken.

This grasscloth product is by Thibaut Designs, pattern #5060. The Run # is 92 – which is pretty high, and it tells you that a whole lot of people have loved this particular color and material.

This wallpaper pattern was bought at below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Overscaled Flocked Damask Wallpaper Pattern in a Living Room

April 1, 2017

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Originally, this living room accent wall in a home in the Museum District of Houston was painted a deep gold/brown, and was covered with a large number of framed art pieces. The first photo shows the wall after I have skim-floated it to smooth away the texture.

The wife wanted something updated and fun. She chose this taupe-on-silver extra large damask pattern with a flocked (raised velvet-like) surface. To top it all off, there are flecks of silver in the flocked material.

The new wallpaper really jazzed up the room. The family is very into the arts, and the wife was eager to put her paintings and photographs back up on the wall. But once the paper went up and sent waves of impact throughout the room, she hesitated.

I, personally, would rather see something large, like a huge mirror, framed in an almost-ridiculously carved and filigreed gold frame.

The paper is by Graham & Brown, and was a durable non-woven material, and entailed a paste-the-wall process; it was nice enough to work with. Seen from head-on, the wallpaper was dazzling. However, if you stood at an angle to the wall, you could see color differences between every strip.

I don’t think these are actually color differences, but rather differences in the nap of the flocked material. The look didn’t seem to bother the homeowners at all. They love the pattern, the texture, and the sassiness of the whole look.

Me, I am busy cleaning up little specks of silver dust from all my tools, drop cloths, work table – everything is permeated with them.

Trellis Pattern on Grasscloth

December 17, 2016

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This homeowner loves the texture of grasscloth, and I have already done several rooms for her in their 1930 home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. For this downstairs entry and upstairs hallway, she was originally looking at grasscloth by Phillip Jeffries. But that toney designer’s paper got mighty pricey mighty quickly. She visited my recommended source for wallpaper (read below) and found this very similar pattern by Wallquest at a much more reasonable price.

The pattern was made to be identical right side up or upside down. This was great, because with grasscloth, it’s good to reverse every other strip, so you are hanging one edge of each strip against itself, which minimizes color differences between strips, which are inherent to grasscloth. All of the full-height seams looked very nice.

Still, there were some unavoidable color differences (paneling) on some short pieces over the doors. I was able to lessen this by using a pencil to add some very light color to the halves of the lanterns that were at the seam. You can get an idea of what I’m talking about in the photo of the left edge of a door frame.

Another photo shows me using the laser level to get a perfect placement of a strip in a narrow area.

Oh, and it’s hard to explain why, but that tallest strip along the stairway’s curved wall took me over an hour, just to position and trim. It turned out great, and I was pleased that the grasscloth conformed and stuck to the curved wall very nicely.

This wallpaper is by Wallquest and was bought at a below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Fantastic Faux Grasscloth

June 29, 2016

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If you’ve spent any time on my blog, you know that I am not a fan of grasscloth. I don’t like that you can see all the seams, there are too may issues with color differences between strips (paneling) and even within the same strip (shading), plus it stains easily, and dogs and cats love to tear it up. There are faux grass products out there, and you can read about some of my favorites by doing a Search on this blog.

However, today I hung a new product, and it was fantastic! I think the surface is vinyl (at least it smelled like vinyl), and has a realistic print that mimics grasscloth. Then the manufacturer attached string to the material, as would be used to attach grass reeds onto real grasscloth wallpaper. This creates the texture that has such appeal to people, and bolsters the realistic look.

Even better, this product has a pattern repeat, so, unlike real grasscloth, the strands of “grass” can be matched from strip to strip, so you will never see a seam.

After this paper was purchased to cover one accent wall in a TV room, the homeowner decided to add a couple of walls (three, to be exact), so I had to pull out my “paper stretcher” and make one wall’s worth of paper cover four. I spent about an hour measuring and plotting and remeasuring, but managed to squeak by – with only one piece left, that was only 28″ long. !!

If I had matched the pattern, it would have used up a lot more paper, and we would have run short. So I hung the paper as if it were real grasscloth, where the seams do not match. Because the product is so uniform in color and pattern, the unmatched seams look far better than real grasscloth.

On the final wall, which needed only two strips, I was able to match the pattern, and this is what you see in the last photo. Meaning, you absolutely cannot see the seam.

The paper was very nice to work with, too. It trimmed easily and didn’t gobble up my razor blades or damage my scissors like coarse grasscloth will do. There were no strings hanging in mid-air, and the material was nice and malleable and allowed me to position it as I wanted.

Because it appears to be vinyl, and because I think the strings are treated with a sealer, I believe this product is somewhat stain resistant and washable – which real grasscloth definitely is not.

I am really happy to have discovered the paper, and I hope to recommend it to clients who are interested in grasscloth. It is in a book called “Grass Effects,” and comes in many colors and different textures, and even has some options that feature a Moroccan trellis on top of the textured paper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.