Posts Tagged ‘matched’

Grasscloth Engineering and Logistics – Technical Details Post

August 21, 2022
Grasscloth is a natural material that cannot be matched from strip to strip, so all the seams will be visible . In addition, there is usually a slight but noticeable color difference between strips / panels (called shading or paneling ) . So it’s important to plot the layout of the strips to give the most visually pleasing overall look. Usually this means balancing the width of strips so they are all equal , at least on the same wall . We call this engineering .
This wall presented particular challenges , due to the widths of the elements. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide . You can use your straightedge and a sharp razor blade and trim it down to any width you want.
The width of both the large wall spaces to the right and left of the bank of windows was 34.” The width of each window was about 35.” The width of the two spaces in between the windows was 7.”
So you’d think I could trim my panels on either side of the windows, and then over the windows, to about 34″-36″ – give or take a few inches (or fractions thereof).
But that would leave me with two 7″ wide strips between these 35″ panels. Although the look would be uniform and mirror-image from the center outward, moving from right to left you’d have: 35,” 35″, 7,” 35,” 7,” 35,” 35,” … those 7″ breaks were just not going to look right.
One option was to determine the width of the wall (189″) and make each strip an equal width. This worked out to six strips, each at 31.5″ Not good, because this would mean a seam down either far side. And since those sides were 34″ wide, that would mean a 31.5″ wide strip and a strip 2.5″ wide. Not attractive at all, and it would use up an extra strip of wallpaper.
This six strips @ 31.5″ wide scenario might also land with a seam smack in the middle of those 7″ wide interludes in between the windows. Not attractive at all.
So I decided to make the two outer strips 35″ wide. That left 119″ of wall space above the windows to be covered with wallpaper. Do some math and you get four panels of 29.75″ wide. This gave a balanced and uniform look to the area over the windows, and also prevented seams from landing between the windows.
Moving right to left, I cut and hung the full length outer strip first. Then I cut and hung the strip over the window on the right. Then I measured to find the centerpoint of the window in the middle. Turns out it was a bit less than 29.75″ away. So I trimmed that next over-window strip accordingly.
Once that was in place, I measured from that center point above the middle window out to where my left full-height panel would fall, 35″ out from the wall. Took the resulting measurement and divided by 2. Lo and behold, each of the next two panels over the window was going to be a bit wider than 30.” No problem. No one (but a paperhanger or maybe an engineer) is going to notice a 1/4″ or even a full 1″ difference in widths between this strips over the windows.
Another thing to point out … it’s important that I took measurements before cutting these strips for this second left-hand section. Because, since grasscloth comes at 36″ (and walls can be wonky), if my strips had been narrower (say, 28″), that last full-height panel on the left might have ended up needing to be 37″ wide – and that wouldn’t work because it only comes 36″ wide – plus you need at least 1/8″ to wrap around the corner.
Luckily I had the flexibility to be able to trim the panels over the windows to any width needed, to accommodate all this.
If you’ve followed all this so far, let me also toss in that we also need to figure how to get paper in between those windows. More on that below.
In this scenario, I’m moving from right to left.
Area beneath the windows needs to be treated in the same way, and preferably with widths that match what’s going on above the windows. In addition, it’s tricky because after you move across 12′ of wall space, the strips above and below the windows are going to twist and torque out of shape, so that last full-length panel on the far left might not butt up perfectly with the last strip under the windows.
The grasscloth is black , and my wallpaper primer is white . It’s common for teeny gaps to appear at the seams . In this case, it’s likely that white wall would peek out from those gaps. So I like to stripe under where the seams will fall with dark (diluted) paint . This takes measuring , plotting , and also a heat gun to get the paint to dry before the wallpaper hits it, to avoid staining. You can do a Search here to read more about this technique .
Now let’s talk about getting wallpaper in between those windows.
As you can see in the photo, if I hang a 30″ wide strip, a whole lot of paper is going to be cut off and thrown away. Also, a whole lot of sticky, pasted paper is going to bump against that window molding and maybe even the window glass. A lot to clean up! And unwieldy, to boot.
My solution was to stop the wallpaper just a little below the tops of the windows. Then I would patch in a 7″ wide strip in between the windows. This is trickier than it sounds, because, if it were a paper wallpaper, I could simply cut along a design motif and overlay the 7″ wide piece. But grasscloth is thick and overlaps don’t look good. Also grass has no design elements , and the reeds of grass don’t necessarily fall perfectly horizontal , and even if you cut everything perfectly true to square , if the window molding is a teeny bit off-plumb , then your edges won’t butt up perfectly.
So that’s a good reason for striping the black paint under where the butt join will occur.
Same thing for the sections under the windows. I measured and positioned the strips so that the top edge (which I had trimmed to be perfectly horizontal) fell between the narrowest part of the windowsill molding, for less visibility.
I admit, instead of butting the two pieces, here I did overlap the 7″ wide strip about 1/4″ onto the piece under the window, right at that narrow junction. It’s only about 3″ wide, and I figured no one is going to be examining it that closely, anyway. This saved me about a half an hour of measuring, trimming, testing, repeat, repeat.
This is my second window interlude, and by this time I had realized that it’s hard to trim stiff grasscloth around intricate moldings precisely . So I used paint to fill in the edges around the window molding, just in case there might be any gaps between the grasscloth and the molding, so you would see black instead of the white molding paint. I did this with a small sponge; if I had used an artist’s brush it would have been a bit neater and tighter to the conforms of the molding. But sometimes you’ve gotta relax and realize that no one’s going to be scrutinizing the insides of moldings below shin-level.
Area over windows finished, with drapes back in place.
Turns out this particular grasscloth is so uniform in color (quite unusual, I will add), that you can’t really see the panels , nor their equal widths , anyway. I’m still glad I took the time to do all this math and trimming.
Area below the windows, done. That last seam on the left bears some explanation, too. Moving across the top of the windows, I measured that that last strip – the full-length strip – would need to be exactly 35″ wide. It butted up nicely to the last strip above the windows.
But, due to twisting , shifting , expansion , unlevel and unplumb walls and ceilings , and other factors, there is a really good chance that that last 35″ wide strip would not butt up perfectly with the last 30″ wide strip under the window . So I planned to splice these last two strips together.
Yeah, the drapes are hanging there, I coulda overlapped the two strips about 1/2″ and the drapes would have covered it. With a thin wallpaper, I probably would have done this. But grasscloth is thick, and an overlap would be visible , and also the adhesive / paste can’t be trusted to adhere as well to grass as it would to paper .
So I plotted for a splice. Instead of trimming my last strip under the window to 30″ (read above), I trimmed it to 32″ wide. That way, when I hung the last full-length strip to the left, which was 35″ wide, it overlapped the piece under the window by a few inches. Then I did a double cut and spliced the two pieces. See below for details about that technique.
Grasscloth is 36″ wide, and this wall area is wider than that. So two strips were needed. This means you’re going to have a seam, and since grasscloth seams are always visible, it looks best to plot to have the seam fall down the center. It uses more wallpaper to do this, but it looks much better than having, for example, a 36″ wide strip next to an 8″ wide strip.
As mentioned above, in case you get thin gaps at the seams, a dark stripe of diluted craft paint under where the seam will fall, will prevent white wall from showing through.
Rounded / bull-nosed edges and corners have been popular in new construction for at least 10 years. I wish they’d go away. They’re very difficult to trim around, and hard for the paper to conform to and adhere to.
It’s very hard to trim around that rounded edge, because the paper is hanging over and blocking your view, because grasscloth is thick and stiff and your fingers can’t feel through it, and because the edges aren’t necessarily true and plumb so a laser level or other level won’t help you much.
I use this little gadget as a trim guide. It’s actually a small section of the same corner bead material that drywallers use when they assemble these walls. Cut to about 1″ long and notched in different places where you might trim along the edge of the wall.
It’s intended that you place your trimming knife in one of the notches and slide the gizmo along the edge and make your cut. I find that awkward and also inaccurate. So I prefer to use the notches as a guide and mark where I plan to trim with a pencil. Since this wallpaper is black, I used this marking pencil from my home sewing kit instead. Chalk might work, but I was afraid it might now wipe off completely.
The pink pencil line was barely visible, but it was enough for me to use a scissors to trim along the grasscloth. I like this better than using a razor blade as I can see better, and also less chance of scoring into the primer or wall. Which raises its own set of issues – do a search here to find previous posts.
Inside view of the trim guide.
Finished arch. Note the four panels of equal width above the arch. And two flanking full-height panels also the same widths.
I was lucky that there was no pattern to match, so I was able to butt my two flanking strips right up to the edge of the bull-nosed corner. No trimming needed! Then I measured the remaining width between these two strips (the area over the arch), divided by four, and cut four strips of equal widths.
I hung the two on the left, and then one on the far right. This left one strip still to be positioned to the right of center. So the pieces are going to meet over the arch, rather than the last strip falling in a corner.
Same as the last strip under the window (discussed above), it’s really difficult to get your last piece to fit in here perfectly. I’ve done it, but it takes a lot of measuring, trimming, testing, retrimming, and often starting all over again.
So I did a double-cut / splice.
A double cut involves cutting each strip an inch or so wider than it should be, and overlapping the two. Then you take a straight edge and sharp razor blade and cut through both layers. This handy tool is a wonderful non-slip guide for this process. It was invented by an installer colleague in the Wallcovering Installers Association ( WIA ) and she has them fabricated in various lengths (along with other cool tools ) and sells them on-line. Contact me if you’re interested.
Anyway, it takes a lot of strength to cut through two layers of grasscloth, so somewhat difficult for lil’ ol’ me.
You also want to be sure to not cut / score into the wall, because the tension of drying wallpaper can tug at the wall and cause it to actually come apart, leaving an open seam that’s difficult to repair.
So you’ve got to put some padding under the wall where the cut will take place. I use special strips of polystyrene (hard but flexible plastic) to pad the wall. Also invented by a colleague in the WIA , who also sells other cool tools and supplies. Contact me if you’re interested.
This black grasscloth was printed on a white substrate. If the seams aren’t absolutely tight, there can be worries about the backing showing through to the front. So sometimes we’ll take a piece of chalk or pastel (never oil pastel or permanent markers because they bleed and stain ) and run it along the edge of the paper – from the back, and taking care to not get chalk on the surface.
I do this frequently with dark papers ( do a search here to see previous posts ) but opted not to do it with this grasscloth. It wasn’t necessary, and might have stained the porous reeds of the grass. It was beneficial, though, to have striped dark paint on the wall under the seams, as mentioned above.
Ugh. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide, and this section of wall is 38″ wide. It’s not visually pleasing, nor is it easy from an installation point of view, to have a 36″ wide strip next to a 2″ wide strip. Or to use scraps and put a 25″ wide strip next to a 13″ wide strip.
So best to plan two strips of equal widths. Two strips, each 19″ wide, with the seam down the middle.
Actually, the strip on the left was 19″ wide, but I trimmed the strip on the right to 21″, because I like the wallpaper to extend 2″ over the top of the door molding. This provides a more stable surface in case of shifting foundation or walls, and less likelihood (knock on wood) of the seam opening up should the house / drywall experience shifting.
Note that design “rules” caution against seams down the middle of spaces. But it would have been more visually distracting (and used up more paper) to have made three strips of each 12.75″ wide. And would have looked even dumber to have used scraps left from other walls and put together two strips of disparate widths.
So the homeowner and I discussed during our initial consultation , and she was happy with the center seam. Once it was all finished, this particular grasscloth was so even in tone that you barely see the seams, anyway. Win-win!
This did use up additional paper, though, as noted in a previous photo above.

Inexplicable Pattern Match

July 17, 2022
This happens not infrequently, and it’s puzzling to me. At the top of the wall, the pattern match drops down to the right.
Yet at the center of the wall it matches perfectly.
But get to the bottom of the wall and it drops again, but this time to the left.

Yes, some papers do stretch / expand when they get wet with paste. But that’s not the situation here, because this is A.) a non-woven material, which generally do not expand, and B.) every strip was treated the same way. In other words, if every strip is pasted, booked, and left to sit for the same length of time, ALL the strips should expand the same amount, right? And the pattern should match at the top, middle, and bottom. Right?

But even that argument doesn’t apply, because this, again, is a NW / non-expansion material, and, besides, I didn’t paste the wallpaper but pasted the wall instead. So the material had no chance to get wet or swollen with paste.

I believe this is a factory trimming issue. Somewhere along the line, the trimmers got off-track, or started trimming on the bias, just enough to throw off the pattern match.

In cases like this, the rule of thumb industry standard is to match the pattern as best as possible at eye level (middle of the wall) and let nature take its course, as they say, on the upper and lower sections.

Luckily this particular pattern only had one motif area that matched across the seams, and there were only three of those per the height of each strip. So the two slight mis-matches were both way above and below eye level, so not very noticeable.

This pattern is called Palm Leaves and is by Cole & Son . Other than this printing snafu, it’s a good quality wallpaper. See previous post

Shading, Irregular Strings, Bubbles – Disappointments in Wallquest 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.)

Fudging To Get The Height Right

December 27, 2020

Because of various reasons too complicated to get into here, in order to keep the pattern matched in the corner to the right (not shown), the wallpaper strips moving to the left torqued off-plumb. And thus the pattern started tracking upward at the ceiling line, which meant that the navy blue flower I positioned just under the crown molding started moving upward and was getting cut off at its top by the molding.

I needed to pull the pattern down. I took advantage of the short space over this doorway to make adjustments. I cut the strip in two vertically, trimming along motifs in the design.

Then I pulled the section on the left down to where the flower hit the crown molding just where I wanted it to. By pulling this strip a little to the right to where it overlapped the previous strip just a bit, I was able to cover any gaps caused by the trimming.

I used my laser level on the left edge to ensure the strip was plumb. This would keep the pattern straight along the crown molding as I continued to hang strips moving to the left and around the room.

Because this is up so high over the door, and because I trimmed along the design motifs, no one will notice the slight ridge caused by the overlap, nor any small mis-match in the pattern.

Fabulous Fake / Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 10, 2020

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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.

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.

Faux Grasscloth – A Nice Alternative to Natural Fiber Grasscloth

October 4, 2019


I’m not a fan of real grasscloth (read the page to the right) because of the visible seams and the many color variations. So I’m always happy when a homeowner chooses a faux product.

Usually, these wallpapers have a pattern that can be matched, so there will be no sharply visible seams. And the color is much more consistent, eliminating paneling and shading (do a search here to read previous blog posts about that).

This pattern is a paper-backed vinyl material with an embossed (textured) surface. It is by Thibaut.

After saying all those good things, I have to admit that I was disappointed with this particular product. Some of the bolts had very obvious color differences. There were also extreme issues with a faulty pattern match. I will discuss this in a future post. The good news is that Thibaut has other similar designs that perform better.

I hung this in a newly-renovated master suite in a 2-story 1939 home near Rice University (Houston), for a family with young children.

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.

No Bungle In The Jungle – Hiding The Kill Point

December 26, 2018

When you hang wallpaper around a room, and your last strip meets up with where you started with your first strip (usually in a corner), the pattern will almost always end in a mis-match. When this can be hidden behind a door or other inconspicuous place, it’s no big deal.

But this powder room didn’t have an obscured corner – all four corners were 9′ high and very visible to anyone standing in the room. I didn’t want to kill (finish) the install in one of the corners – you would have 9’+ of chopped-in-half lions, monkeys, tucans, trees, and etc.

So I killed the pattern over the door. This way, you would have only 15″ of mis-matched design – and not many people are going to be looking up above the door, anyway.

In the top photo, you see the 11″ wide space I need to fill between the first strip on the left, and the last strip on the right. I could have just taken the next strip and cut it off vertically at the 11″ width. But if I had done that, you would see an abrupt break in the pattern.

Instead, I did a “weave.” This is where you use a scissors to cut along elements of the design, so they appear to logically mesh with the design motifs on the other strip.

If you study the area over the door, you notice that there are a few too many trees. But too many intact trees look a whole lot better than a few trees sliced in half at that final junction point.

This minor pattern discrepancy over the door allows for all four of the 9′ high corners to have their patterns match perfectly.

Faux Grasscloth / Textured Stringcloth on the Backs of Bookshelves

September 9, 2018


The homeowner wanted to use texture and color to warm up her very large kitchen / breakfast area. This faux grasscloth on the back of a pair of bookshelves that flank the fireplace was the perfect solution.

The shelves are high, and they are deeper than most, which made accessing the top areas difficult – and a little dangerous. So I borrowed the painters’ 3′ ladder, and was able to reach where I needed to.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (click the link to the informative article on the right of this page). So I try to steer clients toward alternatives. This product is about my absolute favorite! It has a realistic grass pattern, and it can be matched from strip to strip, so you never see the seams. The color is consistent, so you don’t have the paneling effect that comes with the real stuff. And it is covered with a vertical stringcloth material, which provides the texture that homeowners are seeking these days. And it’s reasonably-priced.

Wallquest is the manufacturer, and it’s in their EcoChic line. It 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.

The home is in the Fall Creek area of northeast Houston, off Beltway 8 and Hwy 59.