Posts Tagged ‘grasscloth’

Foliage Update for Guest Bedroom

November 10, 2021
This small floral print was fashionable when it went up, 30+ years ago. But now it’s dated, and also some stains and dirt are showing. Time for an update!
Old paper has been stripped off, the walls have been primed with my favorite Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime, and ready for wallpaper.
Done! An accent of grasscloth was used on one wall. I love the way the greens match, and everything coordinates with the paneling / wainscoting.
Usually I place the pattern so a prominent design motif sits at the ceiling line. But in a room with wainscoting or chair rail, that horizontal mid point in the wall is more visible. So I plotted to have the bottom of the dark green, most visible flower land just above the top of the chair rail. It looks like it’s growing from the wood! The pattern also just happened to land nicely at the ceiling line, with no major design elements getting cut in half.
The material has woven fabric look to it – but that’s just the printing. It’s actually a very flat paper. It was very thin, and reminded me of papers from decades ago. It hugs the wall very tightly. I liked it a lot.
Exclusive Wallcoverings
The grasscloth accent wall. All four strips were reverse-hung, and hung in the sequence they came off the bolt. Yet you see a color difference (called paneling or shading ) between some strips. This is quite typical of natural products like grasscloth and sisal.
Close up. Bad photo … the color is actually an attractive green. The material is more of a thin balsa wood about 1/2″ wide, rather than traditional grass or reeds. I feared it would be difficult to cut through, but it turned out to work very nicely. But it would not have been good in a room with corners or intricate details to trim around.

The home is in League City, a southern suburb of Houston.

Shading Issues With Hourglass Wallpaper

October 30, 2021
There is a vertical seam down the center of this picture. Look closely, and you will see that the strip of wallpaper on the right is darker than the strip on the left. The manufacturer didn’t keep the color of the ink consistent across the width of the paper. This is called shading or paneling. Even though the pattern of the horizontal hash-type lines matches across the seam, I thought the difference in color would be jarring to the eye.
In the grand scheme of things, I believe that uniform color would be more important than a perfectly matched really tiny pattern. So I used a trick called reverse-hanging to bring an even color to the seam areas. That’s when you hang one strip right side up, and then hang the next strip upside down. What this accomplishes is to place the same side of the strip next to itself. That way, a darker area, for example, is next to a darker area, and your eye doesn’t notice any abrupt color difference. It’s a simple concept, but difficult to explain. This technique is usually used on solid textures or materials like grasscloth. I was able to get away with it on this patterned paper because the design was symmetrical whether it was right-side-up or up-side-down. From a short foot away from the wall, you can’t notice that the horizontal lines don’t line up perfectly.

Re Yesterday’s Post – Tricks to Stave off Wall Delamination

October 14, 2021
One way to (hopefully) prevent an unstable wall from delaminating to to hang a liner paper. A liner is a special paper that goes on first, and your finish paper goes on top. Usually, liners are hung horizontally rather than vertically. The idea is that the seams of the two papers will not line up, so that eliminates the worry of stress from drying and shrinking wallpaper tugging at the wall surface below. But liners add more materials cost, and also labor cost to hang it, plus time, because it has to dry overnight. This homeowner had already shelled out a lot of money for this Schumacher (high end brand) “Acanthus” pattern. So I devised a method to do a “mini-liner” effect. I took liner paper and cut 2″ strips, and applied them to the wall under where the seams would fall.
Here I am using my laser level to mark where the next seam would fall. Next I rolled paste on the wall, and then I applied the strip of liner paper. The liner will straddle the area where the seam lands, and thus disperse the tension on the wall across its width. Any stress put on the unstable wall will be covered by the liner strip and by the wallpaper, hopefully preventing any chance of delamination (the wall coming apart).
I like the product I used today because it’s “non-woven” material, which has a high polyester content and shouldn’t shrink or tear. But it’s not as thin as I thought … I had hoped the thin strips would be undetectable under the textured grasscloth. But I was disappointed that, in certain lighting, the vertical ridges from this very thin material do show a tiny bit. I was unable to go back and open the seam and remove the strips, because – you guessed it – the surfaces of the wall began to come apart. Tomorrow I will try a different material.
The next day I tried a trick recommended by colleagues on my paperhanger’s Facebook page – to use cash register receipt print-out tape, available at office supply stores. This material is a lot thinner – but it is also not nearly as strong. I hope it holds up to the tension placed on the seams by the wallpaper. It is thin, and much less noticeable under the textured grasscloth … although I did see one area where the vertical ridge was just just barely detectable under the paper.

This is a grasscloth pattern called ” Acanthus ” by Schumacher.

Grasscloth on Bookshelf Backs – Railroaded

July 29, 2021
Before, with my primer in four cubbies, two more to go, and my fan set up to get it to dry faster.
Finished.
“Railroading” means the paper was run horizontally, instead of vertically. With grasscloth, this means the reeds ran up and down, instead of sideways. This technique eliminated seams (run the usual way would have given us a seam smack down the center of the shelf area – a decorating no-no).
I was able to slide the edges of the paper under the back side of the wooden shelves. No trimming needed. And no gaps showing between the wall and the shelves.
For this stiff grasscloth material, instead of my softer, natural-bristle smoothing brush (right), I chose a stiffer, plastic-bristled brush.
Showing the texture and natural material of the grasscloth. And how the dye stained my fingers!
Manufacturer is York, a very good company.

The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Magazine Features Wallpaper

April 20, 2021
Schumacher’s popular “Acanthus Stripe”
The very popular Cole & Sons “Woods”

The Acanthus Stripe is a grasscloth, and, being by Schumacher, is very expensive. Adding the wainscoting 3′ up reduces the amount of paper needed, and also makes the pattern less “stripe-y” in a small room like this bathroom. An additional bonus is that the tile helps keep splashed water off the wallpaper, which can be stained easily by water, toiletries, or cleaning agents.

I’ve hung Cole & Son’s Woods many times, but have never seen this colorway. I am thinking this is a special color they are making available only through Anthropologie. I think the strong diagonal bent of the design works better in this softer color than in the black-on-white version.

In the April or May 2021 Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Shading, Irregular Strings, Bubbles – Disappointments in Walquest Faux Grasscloth

April 18, 2021
Look dead-center – the strip on the right is slightly darker than the strip on the left (Effect shows up better in person than in photos). We call this shading, or paneling. Even though the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, which eliminates the eye-jarring break in the design at every seam which you get with real grasscloth, I am disappointed that Walquest allows this color difference. I’ve noticed it on each of their colorways. It is less noticeable on this light version, but is readily apparent in their darker colorways.
At the right edge of a strip of faux grasscloth wallpaper (center in the photo), a string either didn’t get put in place, or was pushed too far to the side. Either way, when this strip on the left is butted up against the next strip to the right , this “missing string” creates a very obvious void area, which runs vertically for about 4.’

I have long loved this Walquest alternative to grasscloth, because it has the texture that clients are seeking these days. But it sidesteps many of the problems with real grasscloth. Because it has a pattern that can be matched from seam-to-seam, so you don’t get the visible breaks in the reeds at every seam as with real grasscloth. And because it’s man-made, so the color is more uniform, reducing the color differences between strips that is prevalent with real grasscloth. (Do a Search here (upper right corner) to learn more.)

Unfortunately, I am becoming disenchanted with this product. The last several times I’ve worked with it, there have been color differences (shading / paneling) between strips. And a couple of times, I’ve had issues with strings not being uniformly placed across the strips.

From Drab to Spa-Like

April 17, 2021
Before: Semi-gloss paint on bad texture job.
Virtually the same color, but texture and pattern add a warm and calm feel.
Before: Khaki paint
After: Serene, even Zen-like.
Close-up shows pattern that can be matched so seams are disguised, as well as string fibers that add texture and dimension.

Nearly a full 100 years old, this cottage in the Norhill neighborhood of the Houston Heights has seen many updates and treatments. The master bath suffered from various dubious renovation attempts, as well as the aftermath of acts of nature, such as shifting foundation, leaky windows, humidity. The whole room just had a sort of “last chance” look about it.

Most of the room’s ails could be solved by ripping everything out down to the studs and then starting anew. But on most budgets – that ain’t agonna happen!

So I skim-floated the walls and sanded smooth. Just having smooth walls free of the drab khaki paint color helped left the pervasive glum feeling.

The homeowner chose this faux grasscloth, which is a stringcloth product made by Walquest, in their EcoChic line. I like this because, being a man-made material, the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, so you do not notice the seams like you do with a natural fiber material like real grasscloth. Also, the vertical strings on the wallpaper give texture and dimension, which is a look that many homeowners are craving these days.

The label insert tells you straight off that this material is not washable (they say you can gently vacuum it occasionally). Yet it is still more resistant to stains than true grasscloth.

This wallpaper was purchased from Ted at the Shade & Drape Shop on Kirby at Richmond. (They have another location on Voss near San Felipe.)

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! 🙂 )

Textured & Tailored – Great Alternative to Grasscloth

April 3, 2021
Before
After
Close-up showing texture

All too often, real grasscloth wallcoverings are a disappointment, due to their color variations, shading, paneling, and lack of durability.

So I steer clients toward alternative products made by established wallpaper companies, that should deliver more consistent color throughout the bolts.

Warner is one such of the “good guys.” The paper is on a non-woven backing, which makes it easier to install, as well as easy to strip off the wall when you want to redecorate.

In addition, the embossed (textured) vinyl products are pleasingly tactile, and are much, much more resistant to water and stains than real grasscloth would have been.

Cushioning The Ends Of Natural Material Wallpaper

February 20, 2021

Wallpaper looks best when it arrives from the vendor with its edges just as the manufacturer trimmed them. Then you can count on it to seam up on the wall perfectly.

But it’s common for packages of wallpaper to get slammed around during shipping. This usually affects the edges, creating bashed areas that don’t look good on your walls.

Natural materials (cork, as pictured above, or grasscloth, or other natural, textured materials) – these materials are particularly susceptible to dents and fraying edges.

To nip this bud before it becomes a thorny rose, many manufacturers are placing these round protective collars (see photo) on the ends of their product, before packing for shipping.

They work pretty well. Plus, the collars themselves are made of paper, and can go into the recycling bin.