Posts Tagged ‘suburbs’

Grasscloth in Cypress Powder Room

February 18, 2020


The walls and ceiling in this large powder room in a newish home in the Bridgeland Creek neighborhood of Cypress (northwest Houston) were originally a dark gold. I like dark rooms, but this one felt oppressive. It needed to be a little lighter, and to have a bit more interest on the walls.

The walls had a heavy texture, typical of new homes in the suburbs of Houston. I skim-floated the walls, then let dry overnight. The next day, I sanded the walls smooth, wiped off the dust, primed – and then was ready to hang wallpaper.

The pictures don’t adequately show the color of the new grasscloth, but we have natural brown grass color overlaid onto a really deep blue paper backing. The designer had the ceiling painted a dark, sort of murky blue, which coordinates really nicely with the blue in the grasscloth.

Lighting is funny … While I was working in the room, I had two 100 watt light bulbs; one suspended from the ceiling and one attached to where the light fixture belongs. The grasscloth just looked “normal.”

But once the room’s decorative light fixture went back up, it cast light on the textured surface in such a way that the “nubs” and knots really showed up! (see photo) The homeowner loved it!

As a note … With grasscloth, there is no pattern match, and you can also plan on seeing color differences between strips. So it’s important to plot where your seams will fall.

The electrical box, the light fixture, and the faucet were all in different vertical positions on the wall. Because the mirror would take up most of the wall behind the faucet and block the seam, I chose to center the seam on the light fixture, because it would be visible above the mirror. Well – sort of visible … as you can see, light rays from the fixture are so strong that no one can see where the seam is, anyway. 😦

The room had a “floating” sink. One of the photos shows the area under the sink. This area is open to view, and, because there are so many obstacles, it is difficult and time-consuming to wrap the paper underneath and trim around all those pipes and brackets.

The grasscloth wallpaper is by York. I was pretty pleased with the consistency of the material. Although some of the strips did present “paneling” and “shading” – color variances between strips – even strips that came off the same bolt and that were reverse-hung. One strip even had a rather abrupt color change mid-way from top to bottom. (no photo)

But that’s par for the course with grasscloth, and it’s considered to be “the natural beauty of this natural material.”

The interior designer for this project is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group.

Smoothing a Heavily Textured Wall

February 9, 2020


The first photo shows the typical heavy texture that is put on many tract homes in the suburbs around Houston. You can’t hang wallpaper on these walls – it will look bad, and it will not adhere well.

The second photo shows how I have used a trowel to apply smoothing compound (drywall joint compound – I use the lightweight version, because it sands more easily).

Because the texture was so very thick, this had to dry overnight.

In the third photo, I have sanded the walls smooth, and applied a penetrating primer called Gardz.

Gardz works nicely as a wallpaper primer, too, so, once it is dry, I will be ready to hang wallpaper.

Difficult Grasscloth Install Today

October 23, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Boy, oh boy, today’s installation was a bear! To begin with, I had a 12′ high accent wall that required using my 8′ ladder, which is unwieldy and can push you away from where you want to work. The wall had a thick texture (typical in new homes in the Houston suburbs – this was near Cypress), that took hours to smooth, dry, sand, and prime.

When it was time to hang the paper, I pasted and booked (folded pasted side to pasted side) and prepared to trim a bit off each edge, which is pretty standard procedure for grass, plus I had planned to trim all the strips to 34.5″, which would make all the strips the same width, which is nice with grass since all the seams are quite visible. I got one seam that looked great. But there was some warping in the material, but I was able to smooth it out.

But when I tried to trim the next strip, the folded edges did not line up, no matter how many times I rebooked it. If the edges don’t line up perfectly, you will not get a straight cut. I dicked around with it for a while, but eventually had to get the strip on the wall, or it would become unusable – and we did not have even one extra strip.

I decided to use the factory edge and leave the strip it’s full width, which was going to screw up my balanced widths of 34.5″. I soon learned that unequal widths of strips was one of the least of my woes that day…

The paper backing had absorbed moisture from the paste, and the whole strip had warped out of shape. No way would the edge butt up perfectly against the previous strip. In the end, I got most of the strip butted and smoothed, but the bottom 1′ or so insisted on overlapping onto the previous strip, so I took a straightedge and very sharp razor blade and cut away the overlap.

This turned out to set the mood for the rest of the job. All the subsequent strips warped significantly, not matter how long or short I booked them. No way would the seams butt up. So I ended up overlapping all the seams and double cutting – the industry term for splicing.

This is not as simple as it sounds, though. For one thing, the newly smoothed wall was soft, and you don’t want to cut into it, or when the paper dries and shrinks a little, the torque it creates can actually pull the wall surface apart, resulting in a curled seam that cannot be pasted back.

So I ran out to my truck and got some special polystyrene strips that are 2″ wide and are placed behind the seam, to protect the wall from the cut. I also grabbed a really nice straightedge that is made just for this purpose, with a handle and a non-slip surface. And some blue plastic tape, because I had to protect the bottom layer of grasscloth from the paste on the strip that was to be overlapped on top of it during the double cut. This is important, because any paste that gets on the surface will stain grasscloth – you have to work absolutely clean.

All three of these special items, by the way, were invented by fellow paperhangers, and fellow members of the Wallpaper Installers Association.

Positioning all these materials took a lot of time. Making the cut itself was intricate, because I could get a good position on it for only a foot or so, then would have to climb down and move the ladder over a little, so I could get right in front of the next couple of feet as I worked my way down the 12′ high strip. Also, two layers of grasscloth are quite thick, and it takes a lot of pressure to do so – while trying not to push myself away from the wall and onto the floor. And you only get one chance to cut, because multiple swipes result in a jagged and ugly seam.

Once the cut was finished, I had to go back and remove the two excess pieces, and the polystyrene strip, and the blue plastic tape, all the while making sure that no paste got onto the surface of the paper. Finally I could take my tool and smooth the two edges together. Double cutting does make a beautiful and perfectly butted seam. But, boy, it sure does take a lot of time, effort, and you need the right equipment.

Including prep and installation, this one accent wall with just six single rolls of grasscloth took me a full 12 hours.

So the seams were nicely butted. But, as you see in the photo, the grasscloth displayed the typical color variations that I find so displeasing. We call it shading and paneling. In the top photo, you can clearly see a difference in color between the two strips, even though they are from the same batch. The second photo shows a little more of this. The third photo is dark, but if you look closely, you can see three strips (two seams), and the slightly darker area along one edge, which is quite noticeable because it butts up against the next strip which is lighter in color.

All reasons why I dislike real grasscloth. The faux products are much more uniform, and seams can be invisible.

In addition, this is a pretty finely textured grass, and on a large, tall wall like this in a large room, I really don’t think the texture shows up very much, unless you are standing right at the wall.

The grasscloth product is by Brewster, and the interior designer on this job is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs.