Posts Tagged ‘grasscloth’

Warping Wallpaper – Grasscloth

June 17, 2020

Well, this was a first for me. I can’t say that I remember having a grasscloth that stretched and warped out of shape this badly.

What’s odd is that, after I pasted and booked the wallpaper, it was perfectly lined up and flat. It was only after the paper had sat for the resting period, and then I unfolded it and took it to the wall, that it started warping out of shape.

My first strip laid against the wall nice and flat, but did not line up against my laser level’s red beam, moving to the left the farther down the wall the strip went. The subsequent strip to its right, naturally, would not butt up against the first strip. However, this second strip did line up against the laser plumb line, on both the right and left sides. So I left it on the wall.

But I had to tear off and discard that first strip.

I had problems with many of the strips. As you can see, there was major warping and wrinkling. I was unable to smooth out most of these warps.

Some of my colleagues have suggested that my trimmed edges were not straight. And I admit that I sense that my ($200!) straightedge is not true (perfectly straight). But a 1/8″ discrepancy over a 9′ drop should not result in wrinkles of this magnitude.

I think that the substrate that S&L is using is absorbing moisture from the paste unevenly, and thus creating the warps and twists.

The only way I could make this work was to do a double-cut (spliced seam). I smoothed the grasscloth onto the wall as best I could, even though both the right and left edges still presented wrinkles.

I carefully pulled away from the wall the left edge of the previous strip (having applied extra paste, to keep everything wet and “open”). Between that edge of the strip and the wall, I placed a “Boggess Strip,” (invented by a fellow WIA member) which is a thin strip of 2″ wide polyethelyne plastic, that will protect the wall from my razor blade.

Now hanging the next grasscloth strip, I then covered the underside of the right (wrinkled) edge with blue plastic tape (also invented by the same WIA genius member). This would keep paste off the surface of the strip I was overlapping it onto. Then I smoothed the paper onto the wall, allowing the right side of the strip to overlap on top of the previous strip, by 1.5″.

I worked out wrinkles as best as I could, but some insisted on remaining. I then took my EuniTool straightedge (invented by yet another WIA member), and used it as a guide, along with the red light line from my laser level, and a new, fresh razor blade, to cut a straight, plumb line between the edges of the two strips.

The grasscloth was thick, and I had to press really hard to cut through both layers. The Boggess strip prevented scoring into the wall. This is important, because an un-intact wall can delaminate under the stress of drying / shrinking wallpaper, and this can cause the seams to pop open.

Back to the double-cut. Once the cut was done, I removed the plastic Boggess strip from the wall, and the protective blue plastic tape from the edge of the grasscloth, as well as the two excess strips of paper that I had just cut off. (Do a Search here to see pics and read more about the double cut / splice process.)

I could then smooth the newly-cut edges of the two strips together.

All this takes a lot of time.

I still had more strips to hang – and each required the same procedure. You only have so much “open” time before a piece of wallpaper starts sticking to the wall and cannot be jacked around with anymore.

I had to jump to the left edge of the current strip I was working with, and add a Boggess strip behind it. And then I had to paste and book my next strip, and apply some blue tape to the area that would overlap the previous strip. Wait a few minutes for it to book and absorb the paste.

Then repeat the double cutting procedure used on the first strip.

All this caught me off guard, and it threw off my engineering of the wall and my planned width of the strips. It also took a lot more time … I spent 5 hours hanging just these 5 strips.

Bottom line – I got ‘er done … But I am definitely NOT going to recommend Serena & Lily grasscloth to future clients.

And I am VERY grateful to my WIA colleagues for inventing tools and gadgets that help with these tricky situations, which I’m glad I bought and had stashed in my van, and for sharing their knowledge and experiences so I knew what techniques I might try.

Serena & Lily Silvery Grasscloth on Master Bedroom Accent Wall

June 15, 2020


Every wall of this brand-new home in the Houston ‘burbs is WHITE. The homeowners have opted to warm up their master bedroom – as well as add a little dazzle – with this silver metallic-backed grasscloth by Serena & Lily.

I have striped on the wall with a similar-hued paint, where the seams will fall, so any gaps between strips will not show white wall primer.

Note that with grasscloth, there is no pattern to be matched, so you will always see the seams. The S&L grasscloth I have hung has been pretty homogeneous in color, as you see above, so not much paneling or shading as with other brands and posts I have done.

Still, this was NOT an easy install. See future post(s) for info.

The home is in the brand new Pomona subdivision in Manvel, south of Pearland, both a bit southeast of Houston.

Rich, Multi-Hued Grasscloth in North Houston Powder Room

May 21, 2020

Iridescent interwoven hues of gold, red, rust, neon blue, green, navy, and more play tricks on the eye, because the colors change depending on the direction from which you are looking.

No matter the view point, this grasscloth by Scalamandre is gorgeous. And there was very little paneling (color difference between strips).

The third photo shows me rolling the material out on my work table.

The last photo is the best to show the true color and texture.

I hung this wallpaper in the powder room of a townhome in a new development in north Houston.

Recycling Unused Wallpaper – Don’t

May 19, 2020

I haul off the trash from my wallpaper jobs. The vinyl and grasscloth go in the trash bin, but I have been putting the scraps of clean paper wallpaper into the recycling bin. After reading this, I won’t do that anymore.

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/can-wallpaper-recycled-79274.html

Apparently, the inks and papers used for wallpaper are not the same that the recyclers are able to process.

A shame.

Sticky Dots

May 7, 2020


This grasscloth wallpaper by Thibaut is called Union Square. It has not just the texture from the natural reeds of grass sewn onto the backing, but also 3-D square “dots” of thick plastic or resin or vinyl … Doesn’t matter what the material is … There are raised, textured “dots” marching across this paper in a neat, orderly fashion.

But plastic can be sticky. On all of the bolts, the paper labels stuck to the plastic dots. Unrolling the grasscloth caused the labels to tear off strips, which remained stuck to the plastic dots. These scraps of paper could not be removed, so I had to cut off and discard the top 16″ or so of each bolt.

The really sad thing about this is that the wall height was such that I could have gotten three strips out of each double roll. But with having to discard paper from the start of each bolt, we were left with only enough remaining paper on the bolt for two strips.

Even worse on a few other bolts, the plastic dots stuck to not just the paper label, but to the paper backing of the grasscloth itself. This left strips of paper stuck to the dots, and also peeled bits of paper off of the back of the wallpaper – leaving the possibility of paste leaking through and staining the surface.

This sticky defect went through the entirety of each bolt, so there were three bolts that were unusable.

This meant that I could not finish wallpapering the remaining walls. And that we’ll have to send back the defective paper, and the homeowner will have to wait for the company to find non-defective paper, and ship it, and for me to have an opening on my schedule to finish the job.

The Thibaut Customer Service rep has told me that the company is aware of and has worked on this problem. (Thibaut is one company that actually LISTENS to us installers, and makes changes as needed.) Their solution is to place thin plastic wrap inside the bolts, to prevent the dots from coming into contact with any other material, like the paper backing.

I hope the replacement paper comes with this new innovation.

Hanging Wallpaper Strips Sequentially – Stumbling Block

May 6, 2020


You can expect color variations in grasscloth (and other natural material) wallcoverings. These products are made from authentic natural elements, like grass and reeds and hemp and other such materials.

Because each individual blade of grass absorbs dye differently, and because different fields of grass, or even different handfulls grabbed by the worker women, are of differing thicknesses and porosities and thus take the dye differently, there will be differences in the color of these reeds as they are sewn onto their paper backing.

So, you often (usually) end up with an effect we call “paneling” or “shading,” which are differences in color between strips of wallpaper (see third photo), or even within the same strip – such as being darker at the top but becoming lighter at a lower point on the wall.

To minimize this, many manufacturers are labeling their material in the sequence that it came out of the factory. The idea is that, if the strips are hung in the order they came off the dye machine, the strips that are the most similar in color will be next to each other on the walls.

The problem with this particular job is – the vendor didn’t send bolts that came in any sort of correct sequence at all. See second photo.

Luckily, this room is chopped up enough that I can plot the layout so that on most walls, only strips off the same bolt, or closely within the same sequence, will be touching each other.

Unfortunately, even strips within the same sequence can fall prey to paneling. In the last photo, the narrow strip on the far right is from sequence 14-9. The two strips to the left of it are from bolt 14-10. And the two strips to the left of those (next to the door frame) are from bolt 14-11.

As you can see, 14-9 and 14-10 are very close in color / shade. But there is a big difference between the shades in 14-10 and 14-11.

Note that this is not considered a defect or error. These color variations are considered part of the “inherent beauty of these natural materials.”

Lotsa Color, and a Nice Faux Silk

April 16, 2020


I have worked for this couple in their charming 1929 bungalow in West University (Houston) several times since the 1990’s. They definitely are not people to go with the all-white or all-grey or minimalist trends that are popular today. These folks like COLOR!

The dining room walls were originally upholstered in a botanical print on blue (which the homeowner did himself, and did a mighty find job of, too). So the room never was bland white. 🙂 But now, 20 years later, they were ready for an update.

Their contractor removed the fabric and then skim-floated the walls smooth. Usually I have to go back and re-smooth the walls … but this guy did a really good job, and I was able to simply prime, and then hang the paper.

This is a vinyl product named “Wild Silk,” and is by Thibaut. It’s much more stain-resistant and durable than real fabric. Unlike real silk and other natural materials like grasscloth, this product has a pattern match. This means that you are not going to see each separate panel or visible seams, like you do with real silk. So the walls have a much more homogeneous and pleasing look.

The challenge lay with the old house and its un-plumb walls and un-level ceiling and window/door moldings. Since the ceiling was not level, if I hung the wallpaper true to plumb, then it would start “tracking” off-kilter at the ceiling line, and appear to be running either uphill or downhill. This effect was further complicated by the way the pattern ran along the window and door frames.

I decided to keep the pattern parallel to the ceiling molding line. This meant letting it go crooked along the door and window frames, if that’s how it turned out. The ceiling line was more visible and more important.

Since the pattern was tracking off-kilter, I used a razor blade and a straightedge to trim off a wedge-shaped chunk from one side of the wallpaper. This forced the pattern to move up (or down). After a few strips, I had tweaked it enough that the design was moving straight across under the crown molding.

Even though the strips were not hanging plumb, it looked wonderful along the ceiling line. This “silk” pattern was very accommodating of that. If it had been a design with a prominent motif that the eye wanted to see marching straight across the ceiling AND straight down along a door frame, it would have been much more difficult to pull off – maybe impossible.

Going around the window (no pic) was even more complicated. Because I was tweaking the three strips above the window to follow the crown molding, and also the three strips below the window – and you can’t guarantee that these will all adjust at the same rate. So getting the strip to the left of the window (no pic) to match up with the strips above AND below the window would be pretty impossible.

So I was extremely pleased when the pattern on all these strips did match up, within about 1/16″.

This is a vinyl material and was somewhat difficult to push tightly into edges and corners, and to cut through. I was glad that I didn’t have intricate decorative moldings to cut around. I used orange chalk to color the edges of the material, to keep the white substrate from showing at the seams.

I love the way the salmon color coordinates with the painted trim. Who paints door moldings orange??! THESE people do – and I highly applaud it! No boring all-white rooms in this house!

The look is bold, but surprisingly warm. The orange moldings against white walls would have been jolting. But with the salmon colored wallpaper, the whole effect is unified, inviting, and invigorating!

Stuck in the Dots

April 11, 2020


Thibaut’s “Union Square” is a smart-looking and much more affordable alternative to Phillip Jeffries’s “Rivets” grasscloth.

Unfortunately, today, both the white label and the brown cardboard from the protective “end caps” got stuck in the raised plastic “dots.” The residue could not be removed completely.

In today’s job, with the low ceiling height, I could normally get three 8′ strips out of each 24′ bolt. But with this issue, because I had to discard the first 6″ or so, I could only get two strips.

Maybe if they wrapped the bolt in plastic or waxed paper before adding the label, it would prevent this.

I emailed their customer service rep … Thibaut is much more concerned and responsive than lots of other companies, so let’s hope they listen and put some thought into this.

Fabulous Fake / Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 10, 2020

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


These young homeowners of a new townhome in the Houston Heights were originally considering natural grasscloth for this 35′ long wall in their kitchen / dining / living room. I told them of my disappointment with grasscloth’s visible seams, shading, paneling, and color variations (do a Search here). I was happy when they took my suggestion of this faux grasscloth alternative.

This is a printed horizontal grasscloth pattern on a paper substrate, with a vertical stringcloth material on top. The strings give the paper the texture that people are loving these days. But unlike real grasscloth, this product is more stain-resistant and durable. And it has a pattern that can be matched from strip to strip, so, unlike the real stuff, you don’t see the seams. (See photo) And there is virtually no shading, paneling, or color variations (do a Search here on those terms).

The end result is a beautiful, textured, homogeneous, warm and cozy living space.

The bull-nosed (rounded) corners on the windows gave me some argument and took a lot of time, but turned out great.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and in their Grass Effects book. It 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.

Textured Vinyl Faux Grasscloth in West U Powder Room

February 28, 2020


The homeowner waited 13 years to do away with the classic damask wallpaper in the powder room of their home in the West University neighborhood of Houston. That’s what happens to your plans when you buy a home and get sidetracked by kids, career, community, yada.

There was nothing wrong with the original gold damask pattern, but it was dark and it didn’t suit the homeowners’ taste. They were originally looking at grasscloth – but, luckily, listened to my many reasons to avoid that material (see page link at right).

They took my suggestion and went with this textured vinyl faux woven grasscloth by Thibaut called Bankun Raffia.

This material has the texture and depth of color that people are loving these days, but is (mostly) free of the color variations and fragility of real grasscloth.

Bankun Raffia is a commercial-grade material, so it is resistant to dings, splashed water, stains, fingerprints, and little boys with bad aim. 🙂

It’s harder to work with than regular wallcoverings, because it is thick and stiff and hard to cut and hard to make turn corners or work into tight spaces.

The finished look is tailored and serene, and a lot brighter. In the photo with my finger, you can see the textured surface and fauxed color application.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.