Renaissance Rooms Wallpapering Grass Cloth FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions About Grass Cloth Wallpaper
Recently there has been a huge resurgence in the use of grasscloth wall coverings. These wallcoverings are special in that they can require special treatment in hanging techniques, adhesive use and later care. I deal with these questions on this page. But after all, grasscloth is still wallpaper and the general rules of priming for wallpaper, wallpaper removal, etc, still apply. So if you want some general questions answered about the use of wallpaper, take a look at my "general questions" FAQ Page About Wallpaper. The following questions actually come from my web site:
Berfore you read this page note that the term "grasscloth" can be a catch-all word that includes other types of natural products which look like and behave like grasscloth but they are called hemp, reed, arrowroot, jute and other names. I put these into the main category of grasscloth because:
•They show a "panel effect" where you see each piece as a unique, hand-made panel.
•They are backed with a rice paper or other plain paper and care must be taken to avoid pastes that stain.
•They have natural dyes and finishes where you MUST avoid water contact. You may only vacuum them.
Can grasscloth be used in a bathroom?
This is, by far, the #1 question.
If you have a small bathroom where a lot of humidity builds up the answer is "no." If it is a full-length powder room or bathroom where the grasscloth is close to a toilet bowl I would definitely say the answer is "no." Grasscloth is absorbent and cannot be cleaned with any type of standard bathroom cleaner. Most instructions that come with grasscloth advise that all you can do to clean it is to use a vacuum cleaner. However, if you're referring to a very large bathroom often found in today's large houses where moisture never builds up and the walls are never touched, you could probably get away with putting grasscloth in a bathroom if you keep the room dry.
Are there any good "grasscloth look" fakes for bathrooms that can take shower steam and be cleaned and disinfected around a toilet?
Definitely. There are some companies that are making really "fabulous fakes", i.e. vinyl wallcovering that really looks a lot like real grass cloth. Phillip Jeffries "Natural Illusions" collection (www.phillipjeffries.com) would be a good place to start looking for a faux grass. I've hung a lot of it in bathrooms with showers that have no exhaust fans — also in high traffic areas.
Can grass cloths be hung in a high traffic area?
Grasscloth comes in many varieties. But most of them are single strands of sea grass held in place by thin cotton thread and a very light adhesive to a rice paper backing. That adhesive is almost always water sensitive which is why most manufacturers tell you to never wipe it with a wet sponge. In high traffic areas, like a center hall, it is easy to damage a grass cloth by hitting it with a vacuum cleaner, or a suit case, or moving a dresser or bed frame.
(I also should mention here that cats love to climb up thicker grasscloth types.) If you absolutely have to have a grass cloth for a high traffic area, choose a "basket weave"-type like the photo to the left here. The cross weaving gives it much more strength .
How do you match grass cloth wallpaper?
You don't. Natural grasscloth, the non-dyed type, is not designed to be matched. Even the dyed type almost always has a disclaimer accompanying the rolls which says," Don't expect this material to be uniform in color."
Can I get a pre-pasted grasscloth?
I don't ever recall seeing one. Remember that pre-pasted wallpapers were originally designed to dip in a water bath to activate the pre-pasting. You can't get natural grasscloths wet like that.
What is the best paste or adhesive to use with grasscloth?
For those in the USA and Canada my own product testing shows thatthe best pre-mixed paste for grasscloth type papers is Roman Decorating Products' Professional 838 Clear Adhesive used full strength. The reason I emphasize that is because when you dilute a pre-mixed paste you are gambling on the quality of your tap water which may contain minerals that stain. When diluting pastes (or mixing your own potato starch) you can't go wrong if you get a gallon or two of distilled water from the store.
What should I do If I get paste or something on the grasscloth that doesn't vacuum off?
Well the first thing is to not panic. If you get some paste on the surface scrape off the glob of paste with the corner of a spackle knife and then gently blot that area trying not to smear any residue around. Never wipe with a wet cloth or sponge because you will likely remove the sheen that give some grasses their "glow." The same goes for any other kind of stain--blot with a dry paper towel.
I have a beautiful grasscloth in my dining room and when I was out, my husband had his friend over and they smoked cigars. What do I do?
Divorce? ...Murder? Many people do not realize that grasscloth on walls is like having fabric drapes that cannot be sent out and cleaned. I don't know what to tell you. Fabreze, maybe? (But always test a small inconspicous area first.) How about this one: I hung 22 single rolls of grass in a bedroom on a two day job. When I arrived the next morning I asked the woman customer how her husband liked it. She said that he is allergic to grass and had to sleep in the guest room.