Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Painting Grasscloth Wallpaper

Question: I am looking for suggestions for painting over grasscloth wallpaper. Is this possible? If so, how?

I've painted quite a bit of this material in the past! You can pick whatever color you like and still enjoy the texture associated with grasscloth. If you are looking for a smooth finish, you will need to completely remove the wallpaper. It can be difficult, so you may want to hire a contractor who specializes in wallpaper removal.

If you decide to paint:

1: Make sure all wallpaper is securely adhered to your walls. Any loose seams or bubbles will need to be glued down. You don't really need special glue for this. Lift the loose seams and squirt in a little glue. Sometimes you can use a glue syringe to inject glue into an air bubble.

2: Wipe everything down with a damp sponge. The texture can hold a lot of dust and dirt that accumulates over the years. Failing to do this may cause the dirt to be smeared around when you are painting.

3: Mask all adjacent trim and protect the surrounding area just as you would when you paint any other wall.

4: Using a 1/2" roller and a good brush, apply 2 coats of a cheap flat paint. This paint acts as a primer, but will also give a fresh, even color to the walls. If you are painting with dark colors, you may want to consider tinting this primer a couple shades lighter than the final color.

5: VERY IMPORTANT! Let the surface dry competely between coats! If you get the wallpaper too damp, it may cause the paste to release creating more bubbles and loose seams! You do NOT want this to happen.

6: After you verify that your surface is still sound (the wallpaper should not be falling off the walls!) you are ready to apply your finish coats. Using the same equipment as you used for the primer, apply at least 2 coats of paint to your walls. As always, I recommend using an eggshell or satin sheen paint. They are much tougher and easier to clean, needing only a good wiping down. Depending on the texture, you may want to use a flat paint. Flat paint will reduce the appearance of the texture. Ultimately, use a good quality paint and you'll be fine.

Any questions? Don't hesitate to contact me.


Domenichelli Wines said...

Should it be a latex or water-based paint?

Bill the Painter said...

Latex and water based basically mean the same thing. You should be fine using all latex products, there is no need for oil-based paints.

Anonymous said...

I like the texture of my grass cloth wall paper. Painting seems to cover some of this. Can I stain it a different color?

Bill the Painter said...

I have never done this so I can't tell you how it would look. If by "stain" you are talking about a solvent based wood stain, I would say no. My guess is that it would look uneven and "splotchy".

Paint wouldn't eliminate all of the texture, but it would soften it a bit. You could always try thinning your paint, but I think the protective properties of the paint would be diminished.

WolkenfeldHomes said...

If you want the texture to show, just use a semi-gloss, or for a striking show of texture use a high gloss. Trust me, you will get a lot of compliments from texture loving friends!

Jeanie said...

We are having a wallpaper guy remove our grasscloth. There is some left on the wall and he says he can prime over it and hang the new grasscloth I purchased. Is this going to work? Getting concerned...

Bill the Painter said...

Jeanie, Grasscloth can really hide a lot of defects on the walls beneath. That being said, as long as he removes as much as possible and primes it, there shouldn't be a problem.

I would ask your installer to guarantee it won't be seen after the new covering is installed. If he thinks he'll have to do it twice, he may THINK twice!

Be fair, but don't pay the final invoice unless you are satisfied!