How to Install Grasscloth on a Coffered Ceiling

Add sheen and texture to an architectural ceiling with inlaid grasscloth panels.

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Materials Needed:

  • grasscloth by the roll
  • wallpaper paste
  • wallpaper smoothing tool
  • wallpaper table
  • retractable blade
  • measuring tape
  • ladder
  • sponge or damp cloth
  • pencil
  • note pad
  • 3" paint brush
  • roller handle
  • roller sleeve
  • straight edge
  • primer
  • painter's tape

Count and Measure Coffers

Coffers are best described as sunken panels along a ceiling, separated by molding and trim. While ceiling coffers may appear to be the same exact size, it’s likely each differs as little as 1/8 inch. Count the number of coffers, then jot total down on a note pad. Next, use measuring tape to measure each coffer individually, also jotting dimensions down. Add an extra inch to each side of the dimensions to ensure none of the strips are cut too short.

Note placement of light fixtures, junction boxes or other obstructions, then remove before proceeding.

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Prime Ceiling

The key to any successful wall covering installation is the proper preparation. Primer prepares the drywall surface to ensure easy grasscloth installation and mess-free removal down the road.

Apply painter's tape to protect the finish of molding and trim. Next, apply primer inside each of the recessed coffers using a 3-inch paint brush or a roller handle and roller sleeve, depending on the coffer’s dimensions. Allow at least six hours for the primer to dry.

Tip: Most wallpaper professionals suggest priming surfaces the night before installation to allow ample time for the paint to cure.

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Mark, Cut and Paste Grasscloth

Referring to measurements taken for coffers, use pencil and straight edge to mark the backside of each roll of grasscloth, adding an additional inch all the way around. Use pencil to note placement of light fixtures or air returns on the front of the grasscloth. Next, use retractable blade to cut grasscloth to size. Once properly cut, use roller handle and roller sleeve to coat the back of the grasscloth with wallpaper paste.

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Fold and Book Grasscloth

The term "booking" refers to how each cut strip of grasscloth is folded over and onto itself to cure prior to being installed. To do this, fold each end of the cut and pasted strips of grasscloth over and into the middle of the strip. Next, fold each end one more time, creating the "booked" look. Allow approximately 10 minutes for the paste to cure before moving onto the next step.

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Position and Adjust Grasscloth on Ceiling

After 10 minutes, unfold the booked strip of grasscloth, then stand on ladder and position it in place along the inset coffer. Reposition until the lines of the grasscloth are perfectly straight in relation to the surrounding molding or trim, then smooth out any air bubbles using a wallpaper smoothing tool. Use a retractable blade to cut a hole for light fixtures or air returns, if necessary. Once properly in place, the 1" border should hang from the coffer and onto the millwork.

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Trim Edges and Enjoy Finished Product

Once grasscloth is securely in place along coffer inset, use retractable blade and straight edge or wallpaper smoothing tool to cut it to size along the edge of the molding or trim. Repeat steps 3 through 6 until are coffers are covered with grasscloth. Once all grasscloth is installed, use damp cloth to wipe away any excess glue. Reinstall light fixtures or air returns, if necessary. Now, look up and enjoy the designer-quality ceiling treatment!

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