THE GRASSCLOTH GUIDE IS HERE!
Natural grasscloth wallpaper has made a big comeback in the world of interior design and If you’re a client of mine or you’ve been following my posts here about this Fall’s #OneRoomChallenge, you know I love natural grasscloth wallpaper.
Recently, for the One Room Challenge, I had to reselect what wallpaper I was going to use for my own dining room’s walls and chose a black grasscloth I found at High Point Market. It’s being installed tomorrow and Friday! (If you missed the story about why I had to reselect, it’s here.)
And because I love natural grasscloth and I’ve learned a lot about it and what it takes to install grasscloth properly, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you today in my new *Grasscloth Guide*!
SELECTING NATURAL GRASSCLOTH WALLPAPER
For those of you who may not be familiar with natural grasscloth wallpapers, they are wallpapers woven from a variety of natural materials including sea grass, hemp, jute, arrowroot grass, bamboo and raffia.
They are prized for the fresh, subtle grass like scent they give off in a room and their textural richness. Woven on a loom by artisans, they are full of natural variations in color and texture.
This quality of unevenness is part of what I love about them and what gives them such character, and why I specify them so much, but some of my clients prefer more uniformity or have family members or friends who have allergies and can’t be around any scents.
For those that don’t like the natural color and texture variations, or who have allergies, I will often specify faux grasscloth papers, made of vinyl, as I did in this foyer area below for one of my clients. See how even it is? My client is so happy with the way it turned out.
With faux vinyl grasscloth wallpapers, there is also less wall preparation needed and fewer issues with the expansion and contraction of seams, making it less expensive to install. I will discuss this in more detail below.
INSTALLATION CONSIDERATIONS WITH NATURAL GRASSCLOTH WALLPAPER
Wall Preparation for Natural Grasscloth Wallpaper
Preparing the wall surface properly is consideration number one. In my own home, I’m having wallpaper liner applied to my walls, before the grasscloth gets installed on Friday.
Wallpaper liner insures the cleanest, smoothest surface possible for the paper to adhere to, and it prevents leakages from moisture already in the wall from discoloring the grasscloth wallpaper once it’s applied. A great liner to specify is this one, from Graham and Brown. The reviews are excellent!
Next, if you can afford to, paint the wallpaper liner the color of your grasscloth, before the grasscloth gets hung, so there are never any issues with the white liner paper showing through the seams of the grasscloth, which can expand and contract depending on the moisture levels in your home.
If you’re a family who has an indoor/outdoor lifestyle and it’s humid where you live, this tip will save you that aggravation, even though it’s more expensive to do this up front. (Note: wallpaper liner is applied horizontally, while your grasscloth wallpaper will be applied vertically ).
Adhesive Choices and Considerations for Natural Grasscloth Wallpaper
Natural grasscloth wallpapers don’t come pre-pasted. Your wallpaper hanger will be mixing and applying the adhesive on site. Make sure there’s a drop cloth on the floor beneath where they are working to insure it doesn’t get on your carpet or flooring.
Using the correct adhesive is important as natural grasscloth is fragile, and, if it’s particularly thin, the adhesives can leak through to the front. Powders made of wheat and potato starch usually work well, and a clear premixed adhesive can be incorporated which allows for extra work time before it dries.
Always ask your wallpaper installer for an adhesive test, first, to make sure that the adhesive they’re using is appropriate for the paper and that they don’t see any leakage when it dries. One reason my clients appreciate working with me is because I do this research for them ahead of time, so their installation is worry free.
Measuring Considerations For Natural Grasscloth Wallpaper:
Grasscloth wallpaper is sold in 36” widths versus the standard 24” or 27” widths. A standard double roll of grasscloth wallpaper is typically 36 inches wide by 24 feet long.
One double roll with these standard measurements will cover 72 square feet of wall space. Even though grasscloth is expensive, it’s always best to order at least 2 more rolls than you need, in case there is damage later on.
Because of the visible seams in natural grasscloth wallpaper, experienced wallpaper installers will measure a room from its center out so they know how to cut the drops to minimize seams.
If you’re a fellow interior designer reading my blog, it’s always best to diagram grasscloth wallpaper seam placement out before the installation, just like we do with carpet, and then to go over this with your client and installer to get their approval and written sign offs. Noone likes #seamsurprises!
What do you want to avoid? You want to avoid a dogleg, a skinny strip, as shown below, that will add a seam in a place that will draw attention to itself as being off center.
(Sorry for the fuzzy image, I snipped it from a video so I could show it to you! )
Natural Grasscloth Wallpaper Hanging Considerations:
Because grasscloth has texture, cats are drawn to it, as the below image shows. Always try to have your natural grasscloth installed above wainscoting, which also keeps it above eye level from little fingers that love to draw!
And if your cats or kids do damage your grasscloth, by having those 2 extra rolls on hand from the same dye lot, your wallpaper installer can normally repair the damage, so don’t worry!
As I’ve already mentioned, natural grasscloth will expand when wet, so you want to be careful not to hang it in areas that are not well ventilated, like interior bathrooms – especially in older homes.
Because it does expand when wet, another challenge is that grasscloth MUST be wet before it is hung. Note that every installer works differently.
Extremely experienced installers can apply the wet paste to the grasscloth wallpaper drops on a table and then smooth the bubbles out on the wall, and other installers swear by applying the adhesive to the wall, first.
Again, whichever way your installer prefers to install, ask he or she to sign off ahead of time that there will be no bubbles present when he or she is finished with installation.
NOTE: When your installer is done hanging, you are likely to see darker/lighter color variations from one drop (wallpaper width) to another – especially in different lighting conditions.
These are normal with hand woven grasscloth wallpapers and one of the ways to distinguish real grasscloth from faux grasscloth. Color variations are not a reason for return of natural grasscloth so if variation bothers you, and you prefer more uniformity, a faux grasscloth will be a better choice.
Here’s another recent installation I completed for a client with natural grasscloth. Notice how the seam is visible, but perfectly aligned. This is what well installed grasscloth will look like when it’s up on your wall.
And her chandelier? It was installed recently, too! Do you all love it as much as my client and I do?
Lastly, all natural materials will fade and bleach out in sunlight, over time, which is why I always have my clients invest in window treatments that offer protection when closed.
However, most people don’t leave their window treatments closed during the day or on the weekends, so a clear UV film on your windows, especially with a darker grasscloth, is a smart investment.
And by the way, if all you remember about UV protection is how you used to be able to see a film on your windows, that’s not the case anymore. You cannot tell it is on your windows after it is applied, not even in the corners!
HOW I’M USING NATURAL BLACK GRASSCLOTH WALLPAPER IN MY DINING ROOM FOR THE ONE ROOM CHALLENGE!
Now that you all know about purchasing, measuring, and hanging natural grasscloth wallpaper, I want to take you back for a minute to my own home and this Fall’s One Room Challenge.
If you remember from this Spring’s One Room Challenge, this is what my hallway looks like now that it’s done. That’s not grasscloth on the walls, by the way, but it has a similar look. I couldn’t use natural grasscloth wallpaper in such a high traffic area, not with my 3 kids and their friends! Find it here!
The dining room I’m doing now for this Fall’s One Room Challenge is immediately to the right of this hallway, and I shared a lot of images of my dining room and what it looked like before in my post about Tailored Transitions, here.
Below is the window treatment fabric I’m using in my dining room and below that are the chairs I found at High Point Market, with their avocado green leather seats that took my hubby some time to get used to! If you missed the post about that (!!), click here.
So, with these two choices, and the black on the ceiling in my hallway, I decided to use a natural black grasscloth wallpaper that I also found at High Point Market to tie the two spaces together.
Here it is. As you can see, it’s a very fine weave, without a lot of heavy texture, as everything else in the room already has plenty of texture, and I needed the grasscloth to act as a backdrop and not as the focal point.
Are you able to begin to form a picture in your mind’s eye of how I am designing the transition from my hallway to my dining room?
Stay tuned for the BIG REVEAL post in 1 more week!!!
Lastly, if you would like to buy a natural grasscloth wallpaper for your own home, here are three in variations on green ( a BIG color trend at High Point Market) you can purchase yourselves, online.
Please note that if you do purchase any of these, I will make a very small commission to help me cover the costs of running this blog. Thank you!
As always, I appreciate the time you’ve taken to come here and read my blog and I hope this Grasscloth Guide will be helpful to everyone of you who also love the artisanal quality of natural grasscloth wallpaper.
Lastly, here’s an image to PIN so your friends can find the Grasscloth Guide, too. Thank you!
Jana Donohoe, ASID
Janet Lorusso| 3 November 2018
Excellent advice on grasscloth, Jana! I love love love the subtle texture it brings to a room!
Jana Donohoe| 4 November 2018
Thank you so much. I love grasscloth so much. It adds such a nice texture to a room and IMHO is just a classic detail to almost any room. I can’t wait for you to see the reveal!
Marina V| 4 November 2018
So much great valuable info! Love the look and feel of grasscloth!
Jana Donohoe| 7 November 2018
Glad you enjoyed this post. I adore grasscloth and the texture, it’s such a timeless addition to a space.
Susan Spence| 27 August 2019
I’d love to know where the chairs are from!
Nancy Wesley| 25 July 2020
I love love love the chairs. Who is the manufacturer?
Jacquie| 7 September 2020
Hi Janet, great information!
Wondering if the hallway photo with the white grasscloth and black fleck is one you used and where you got it?