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How to Paint Faux Grasscloth the Easy Way

How to Paint a Faux Grasscloth Treatment on Walls using Paint and Glazing Medium

When I decided to use a dark color for the top section of the walls in the “hallway of darkness” I knew I would have to do a paint technique that would add texture to disguise the fact that the surface of the walls is rough. After thinking of all the faux paint treatments that I used to paint on walls and furniture back in the 90’s using paint and glazing medium, I decided to paint the walls using a faux grasscloth paint technique.

I have the painting tutorial for you today, but more in the form of an overall process since I accidentally deleted some of the photos of the steps from my camera. :-(   Not all, but some, so I wrote the post more as an overall process so that you can see how I did it. I even made a video to show you what is involved in painting each section of the wall so it will resemble grasscloth.

Painting walls using an easy faux grasscloth technique

Here is what the walls looked like before. There is still wallpaper on the walls in the photo, but it was easy to remove since it was already peeling off.

how to make a fake transom for over a door or window

Covering the bottom section with bead board hid a lot of the problem, the top however needed something creative to make it look good.

how to paint faux grasscloth walls

Painting faux grasscloth in a dark color worked perfectly.

Different types of grasscloth wallpaper

If you are not familiar with grasscloth, it is a wallpaper that has a woven texture made from a range of materials, some natural, including hemp, reed, arrowroot, jute as well as man made materials.  They have a similar look and feel, with a pattern that is primarily horizontal and tactile. Most grass-cloth wallpapers have a single linear texture, although some may have a basket-weave pattern that offers both vertical and horizontal patterning.

Hallway-wall-treatment-ideas-for-decorating

The faux grasscloth I created is very subtle.  I painted it on the walls using the basketweave style that was much easier then the standard horizontal only method of taping off sections with painter’s tape, dragging a brush horizontally through the wet paint/glaze mixture, letting it dry, removing the and re-taping to do the next panel.

Instead I pencil marked off the sections and dragged the brush vertically first. This created a vertical line that made an edge that resembled a seam in wallpaper, no vertical taping needed.

How To Create Faux Grasscloth on Walls the Easy Way

How to paint faux grasscloth on walls

What is Glazing Liquid or Medium?

To create any faux finish you need paint and clear glazing liquid. It is sold where paint is sold. I have bought it in bottles as well as quart sized cans. Glaze is white, but will dry clear.

The name “glaze” often confuses many people who mistakenly think glaze will add a shine, but glaze is not shiny. All it is, is an additive to add to paint that offers translucency and a longer drying time so that you have time to work and re-work the paint to create texture or faux finishes.

supplies needed:

  • 2 colors of paint that are the same shade, but one slightly lighter than the other. I used Behr Nobility Blue PPU15-01 in a Satin finish and Clark and Kensington (Ace Hardware) Heirloom China 37C-7 in a Flat finish.
  • White semi-gloss paint if wall you want to paint over has a flat finish.
  • Clear glazing liquid/medium
  • Paint roller and roller tray
  • 1″ – angled paint brush
  • 12″ long wallpaper paste brush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Measuring tape and pencil

You can use any type of brush from a whisk broom to a shoe shine brush to create the texture and horizontal or vertical lines in the paint to resemble the texture in grasscloth. I think wallpaper smoothing brushes work the best though.

Before starting:

Start out on a wall that has semi-gloss paint on it. This is needed so the paint/glaze mixture glides over it. If doing this over a wall with flat paint, the new coats of paint will sink into the flat finish and not sit on top. You want the paint to sit on top so it creates texture.

Since grasscloth does not match up, I did not worry about keeping things perfectly straight, but you could mask out each section with painter’s tape and do every other section, let dry, remove the tape and then do the remaining sections if you want all your lines to match up.

Use a wide strip of painter’s tape along the ceiling where it meets the wall. This will allow you to place the tip of the dragging brush bristles right up to the ceiling edge and then drag it down through the paint.

I used two colors and sheens of Navy paint to create a subtle contrast between the colors:

  • The first coat/color that I dragged the brush through vertically was Behr Nobility Blue PPU15-01 in a Satin finish.
  • The second coat that I dragged the brush through horizontally was Clark and Kensington Heirloom China 37C-7 in a Flat finish.

I mixed each of the paint colors with glazing liquid:

  • 1 cup of paint to 2 cups of glaze.  If you want a more transparent look, add more glaze to the paint.

I marked 29″ wide sections on the wall. Each section to resemble a sheet of 29″ wide wallpaper. Where the sections met became the seam. I painted each section separately.

I wanted a basketweave effect, so I dragged through each section twice, first vertically. Once it was dry I rolled the second color on and dragged the brush horizontally, but you may like the look of the vertical dragging and want to leave it like that. It is fine since anything goes when you DIY. :-)

I applied the paint/glaze mixture to the wall with a small roller.

Right after I rolled the paint/glaze on in one section, I quickly dragged a dry wallpaper smoothing brush through the paint while it was still wet from top to bottom of the section to create subtle vertical stripes.

Note: If you don’t get one dragged section as straight as you would like, you can simply roll over the area again with the paint/glaze mixture and then re-drag the brush. That is one reason paint with glaze mixed in is so nice to work with.

After dragging the brush, I used a rag to remove the excess paint from the brush before using it again. I continued this process around the wall, rolling the paint on with a roller for the next section right up against the edge of the just just dragged section.

When the first, vertically dragged coats I applied to the wall were dry, I then rolled on a second coat of paint/glaze over each section, but used the second color (Heirloom China 37C-7 mixed with glaze: 1 cup of paint to 2 cups of glaze) and dragged the brush horizontally across the section of wall starting along the ceiling line.

Since the ceiling line is straight, it was easy to keep the brush even as I dragged across using the ceiling as my level guide. Once I had this first horizontal strip dragged, I placed the brush right under this first dragged section and slightly overlapped the previous brush marks and dragged the brush across the wall using the previous dragged brush strokes as my guide. I repeated this process until I had all the rolled on paint in the section horizontally dragged.

When all the paint was dry, we added the bead board paneling and cap to the lower 3/4’s of the wall.

faux grasscloth painted walls made easy

I mentioned in the beginning of the post that I made a video showing how I painted the wall and dragged  the brush vertically in a section. It is not the best video and is rather dark, (still learning) but I figured I would include it to help you understand the process.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

Faux grasscloth painting technique. How to paint faux grasscloth on walls the easy way.

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54 Comments

  1. I love this look, because it’s so subtle. I’d like to do this in my guest bath, but I’m concerned about moisture. Could I use semi gloss for the first coat then satin for the second coat, instead of flat? Thank you!

    1. Hi Mari – If you are worried about moisture, you can use satin paint. I would vary the color shade a bit more though so that there is a little bit more of a difference in the color shade. Doing this will add the look of more of the woven texture look to wall since you will be losing some of this texture producing quality to the finish using paints closer in sheen.

    1. Hi Debra – If you don’t make the glaze/paint mixture too thick, you may not see any texture when you repaint. If is thick and very raised when dry, then you will see the texture. This isn’t all bad though as you can paint over it in a solid color and it will look like a solid color wallpaper.

  2. Hello! Im very interested to try your tutorial. A couple questions. My walls have mild texture already. Do you think it could still work if they are not completely smooth? Also I know you recommend painting with semi-gloss first. Would it still work if walls are eggshell or satin? Or does it have to be sem-gloss? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Melissa – Having a little texture on your wall may add to the look. I wouldn’t worry about it. As for using the semi-gloss first. It does allow for easier gliding of the brush for the second coat, but what is more important is that you use two different sheens so that one stands out from the other. It will create more of a textured look. So if your wall has eggshell or satin on it, I would use a semi-gloss on top and brush through it. The one difference though is that you will see more shine on the overall wall. Decide if that will bother you or not. It may look great.

  3. HI, Diane,
    I always follow your blog and remembered your faux grasscloth. I want to do a faux grasscloth in my daughter’s small half bath, but would like it to be a coarser grasscloth. The adjoining bedroom is a lovely DARK teal over white beadboard, so would like to carry the color and a wainscot into the bath, but not have the teal be so dark by letting more white or pale gray show through. Do you think it would work? Any suggestions? Also do you think I could snip out some bristles to give a coarser texture?
    White towels, white shade, white vanity, sink and white framed mirror. She also has a huge water heater in one corner, so thought about hiding it with two re-purposed louver doors that can she can slide out if someone needs to get to the hot water heater. The rest of the space would be white cupboards for linens and toiletries. No shower or tub.
    I am fairly handy and her Lowe’s will cut wood for free, so the wainscot from MDF would be fairly simple, trimmed out at the top with a piece of molding. Saw a great tutorial on TOH website – https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-wainscot-bathroom. Much easier than beadboard, I think.
    Would appreciate your advice since you have so much experience and your projects turn out so beautifully.

    1. Hi – What you are planning for your daughter’s bathroom sounds very nice. I think your idea to cut into the wallpaper brushes bristles is the best way to add more texture and white space in the design of the painted grasscloth. You could also make a tool to drag through the paint to remove more of it. For instance, use a piece of heavy duty cardboard and cut into the edge to make a tooth pattern. Use this tool after you use the wallpaper brush. I hope this makes sense.

      1. Thanks, Diane! I love the tip about making my own tool from cardboard. I’ll certainly use that idea – using it after the brush will give a nice random texture.
        I’ll experiment with it on the doors of a small cabinet that I need to re-purpose. It will provide a solution for my home and for my daughter’s home : )

  4. Beautiful! Can you paint faux grass on a textured wall or does it need to be a flat surface?

    1. Hi Julie –

      I think you would see the texture through the paint, so it would not look like grasscloth, but the texture on the wall. It works on smooth wall surfaces.

  5. I was curious as to what type of board you used on top of the board paneling? Love your ideas, just had a bid to do what you did. I have the textured 24″ wallpaper that looks like grass cloth and can be painted which we were planning to put up going across the wall instead of up and down. We were talking about putting in the beadedboard wallpaper and painting that white with a board covering up the seams for the bottom of the wall. With all of the work being done it would cost me around 2500.00! I know it’s a lot of work but I’m reconsidering doing it myself now that I’m inspired by your description of your hallway.

  6. Great idea to hide shadows like I have on my walls in my master bath. Why I don’t know, but I thought I would grow old and die trying to get them smooth. And I have the Martha Stewart Tool Kit ….. duh!!! Did I miss you telling us where and what brush you bought/used? I also need to reread. I like the wider brush, but how expensive? Thanks again for the great post. And as always, you do everything “better”!!!!!

      1. Yes, I found one after a half a dozen dropped and failed calls to Lowes!!! They do not have it. I did find them at Bennett’s Ace Hardware here in my neighborhood on the Westside of Jax, FLA! And for less than $4.

        Thank you again!

  7. I absolutely love this.. the hall is now perfect.. I have to say I laughed out loud at your arms and sweatshirt. Looks like me when I paint.. I’m not really messy, but still manage to get paint on me and my clothes! I have a painting outfit that I have used for years.. lots of different colors on them..

    1. Hi Linda – I have a few “painting outfits” some for summer and the others for the colder months. After the kitchen the shirt I had on in the video went into the trash. It could stand up all by itself it was so covered with paint. :-)

  8. This is great- thank you for sharing! Having a home built in the 1800’s has its own set of challenges, one being there is not a single smooth wall anywhere! This will certainly help when I am trying to paint-loving the look of the faux grasscloth! And a heck of a lot cheaper and easier to apply than real grasscloth!

    1. Hi Susan – All the walls in my house have very old sheetrock that is not smooth. The faux grasscloth hides it very well. My other options to hide it would be wallpaper, shiplap or bead board. :-) Paint is the fastest and least expensive option. Gotta love it for that.

  9. Wow! Really fantastic! It looks very authentic. I have always loved grass cloth wallpaper but if I remember correctly can be quite expensive. Good job!

    1. Thanks Brenda – You remember correctly…it is very expensive. In my previous house I had fake vinyl grasscloth. In the lake house, the foyer up and down and my office all have the real thing. It has been painted white, but I love the texture and interest it adds to the walls.

  10. This turned out fabulous! What a great project, and I’m not sure if I could be courageous enough to try this on my own house, but love, love yours.

  11. The new hallway is really pretty. I was wondering how difficult it was to use the wallpaper brush close to the trim around the doors. I’m sure if I tried this technique my lines would be so wavy you would get sea sick looking at it?

    1. Hi Hannah – If you tape around the door to mask them off you can get the bristles of the dragging brush right up against the trim when you are doing horizontal sweeps. For vertical, you would simply butt the brush edge right up to the trim and use it as your guide as you drag downward against it.

  12. I’ve wondered about those “combs” I’ve seen in paint stores etc. I’ve never tried them, but I’m guessing you find your method to be much better? I’ve always wanted to do this, especially in a small area. How difficult is it to get rid of if you get tired of it?

    1. Hi Marty – The combs work well, but are small and are best used to create faux finishes on furniture. The size of the wallpaper smoothing brush makes the dragging process on a large surface go much quicker. As far as painting over it. If you don’t create a lot of raised lines, you will not see much if you paint over it. If you create thicker heavier lines using more paint, you would have to sand over the surface to smooth, then paint. I made my finish very subtle so if I ever decide to paint over it, I don’t think I will need to sand over it. Another option is if you simply roll another color over it, you would have a subtle basketweave texture if you looked closely, but the color would be different. :-)

  13. Love it…so glad I watched the video! You make it look so much easier! Thanks.

  14. I love Grasscloth wallpaper but not its price! This is a great solution, thanks for sharing and thanks for the video.
    I know there must be a reason you did not remove the popcorn from the ceiling?

    1. Hi Melissa – We have been advised by the local contractor who had done work in the house before we moved in to not remove the popcorn ceiling as we would be opening a can of worms. The popcorn is hiding a lot! It is not just a simple job of scraping it off and simply painting it with ceiling paint. :-) We would have to replace the ceiling (gut it) and that is not something we want to tackle at least for now. I try to play Pollyanna and think of a reason why I like it…. It is white. :-)

      1. I think popcorn ceilings have, for some reason, gotten a bad rap. I recall living in older houses where the ceiling was just painted wallboard and it was terrible. Lights – especially ceiling lights – would glare off the ceiling and lamps would throw terrible shadows on them. The advent of textured ceilings was, I think, a great thing for decor. There are nicer pattern textures other than the “popcorn” pattern, (my house has an abstract floral pattern texture) but as you said, it’s white and clean and looks just fine.
        Also, I’ve read and heard that if a textured ceiling has been painted, it is nearly impossible to remove. It only scrapes off easily if it is the original unpainted “mud” you can spray with water and scrape off.
        Your faux grasscloth looks really good. I have a foyer I would like to do but not sure I would want to try to do this treatment on the entire height of 8 foot walls. Your doing it just above the panels appears doable but I may pass and figure out something else. Good job ….

    2. Hi
      I’m planning to paint my half bath wall in a dark navy. I think I will just use horizontal brush strokes. Do I need 2 shades of paint or is that only for horizontal and vertical? If I need 2 do I put the darkest first or second. You have been so helpful. Painting isn’t my calling for sure but I’m gonna give it a try. Thank you.

      1. Hi Andrea –

        To paint you half bath wall you will need to base paint the wall either a light version of your dark navy. Once this is dry use the darker shade and then brush horizontally to expose the lighter color underneath. You can also do it in reverse, but I think the lighter base color looks more dramatic.

  15. I cannot tell you how much I love this post, and well, all you do actually Diane! Sharing

  16. It looks great Diane, I noticed it immediately on your original post. I may try this because my walls are pretty beat up and I think it could hide some of that. Your videos will get better and better with more practice.

  17. I really like this :-) And your video explains it very well just by watching. Nice nice nice Diane. Love it!

  18. Diane,

    I love it, it looks amazing! I definitely want to try it but I’m still a little confused. I may just need to read it through and watch the video again. You are so talented and so fearless, I love that!

    Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Hi Debbie – So sad that I accidentally deleted the photos I took of the steps. Once you have the glaze/paint mixed, you roll in on the wall in sections. My sections were 29″ wide, but you can do any wallpaper width. Once the paint is rolled on, while the paint is still wet, you quickly drag the brush through the paint vertically to remove some of the paint and make the striations. Do this around the wall. Once dry, mix up the second color with glaze and roll over each section and drag the brush through horizontally. For the size of wall I did the technique on, it was pretty easy. Doing it on an entire wall floor to ceiling would take much longer.

  19. .. On further reflection, I wonder what it would be like if I painted with glazing and a whitish color over my glossy navy blue wall?

    1. Hi again Linda – Adding glaze to flat white or a lighter navy paint color and going over the existing navy using the faux grasscloth technique will take down most of the shine. It will look great. One nice thing about glaze/paint mixes is if you don’t like what you see, you can simply wipe it away.

  20. that is an interesting technique; subtle but very nice!!
    On a related subject, I have a navy blue wall, which I wasn’t really happy with because there was so much * glossy* *shine* to it… are your final results matte or glossy? Does the glaze come in flat? I think it would be well worth while if I could keep the color but knock down the shine…let alone mix two colors. That would be very brave to try! Thanks, Diane!

    1. Hi Linda – Clear glaze is flat, it is not shiny. The paint sheen you use will determine how flat or shiny the surface will be. Glaze makes the paint transparent and dries slow so you have time to work with it to create faux effects.

    1. Hi Katen – Yes it does. If you use two navy colors that are further apart on the navy shade spectrum, you may be able to achieve just that… a denim look. :-)

    1. Thanks Ann – That is great to hear! Ed was not home the day I painted so I set up the camera and hoped for the best. I think with more practice I will be able to make the videos better and add captions and more. :-)

  21. Love it! I have two questions. Why is the horizontal paint flat? And which paint is the lighter shade, and which the darker?

    1. Hi Judy – Using two sheens of paint add to the contrast and texture effect. Both paints were pretty close on the light/dark scale. The first coat was a brighter navy, the second a dull navy.