how to use a faux painting technique to achieve the look of linen or a grasscloth wallpaper…
Let’s play a little word association game. When I say something, yell out the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?
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Best meal of the day?
Dessert? ME TOO! What a crazy coincidence!
Favorite DIY blogger in the universe?
Awww, that’s SO sweet.
Faux painting technique?
If you said sponge painting, ala 1985, you’re not alone. The 1980s definitely did a disservice to faux painting techniques. That said, I still fervently believe that there are TWO faux paint techniques that are still fantastic to use today.
One of them, we’ve written about already, and that’s denim faux painting. Today, we’re going to talk about the other one, which is linen faux painting, i.e. how to get the look of grasscloth wallpaper on a paint budget.
While denim gives a bolder look, the linen technique is more subtle. In the image above, can you see the vertical line toward the lefthand side? The technique gives the impression of showing seams between runs of wallpaper.
And there are horizontal lines as well. With BOTH the denim and linen looks, without exception, people who walk into the spaces where we’ve used these will think we wallpapered the rooms.
**If you decide to try this awesome linen faux painting technique, make it easy on yourself. Grab a free printable PDF copy of the supply list and step-by-step instructions. Click here or on the picture below, and I’ll email your copy immediately⤵️
People have to touch it to believe it’s really not wallpaper. It gives a gorgeous textured, dimensioned look to an otherwise pretty ho-hum neutral paint job.
Not to mention the cost savings! If you wanted to buy a linen or burlap grasscloth wallpaper, it could cost hundreds to well over a thousand dollars per room…and that’s just for the material. This faux painting technique only costs a fraction of that.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here’s a brief video showing you the technique being done. In this video, we are doing a denim color, but, THE TECHNIQUE IS IDENTICAL…only difference in the two is the paint colors we select 🙂
Denim & linen faux painting technique video tutorial
Supplies needed for linen faux painting technique:
- Base paint, in desired color*, eggshell or semi-gloss sheen (we used Behr Vermont Cream)
- **Faux glaze also called tintable glaze (see ** below)
- Desired top coat color, eggshell sheen (this paint will be mixed with clear/tintable glaze) (we used Ralph Lauren Canvas Natural)
- Paint roller/cover
- Paint Tray
- Ralph Lauren Denim Weaver Brush (Purdy also makes one, but I haven’t used it personally)
- Painters Tape – (THIS is our favorite size and brand)
- Paintbrush (THIS is our favorite shape and size for cutting in)
- Measuring Tape/Pencil
- Level (recommend 4ft)
- Clean, plastic paint pail (about 3 gallons) with lid (to save any remaining glaze/top coat mixture if you did NOT purchase a pre-mixed glaze)
- Clean rag(s) to wipe weaver brush on while weaving
*I have noted and linked the paint to the colors we used in our room in case you want those exact matches.
**As I write this post, the tintable glazes are getting harder and harder to find. I do not believe Home Depot is carrying the Behr or Ralph Lauren varieties of this product anymore. True Value has one available in its’ stores or via Amazon. Lowe’s carries a Valspar glaze (only sold in 16 oz. container).
Don’t forget to grab the free printable instructions for this project! Click here or below, and I’ll send them right away⤵️
Also, it used to be that you could find Ralph Lauren faux glaze that was pre-tinted/pre-mixed, but I have not seen this available for a while. It is now more common to buy the clear, tintable glaze which is then mixed with the topcoat color of your choice.
When mixing the glaze and topcoat at home, make sure to follow the proportions of glaze: paint as prescribed on your tintable glaze instructions.
linen faux painting how to:
1. Paint base coat(s).
In our room, we chose Vermont Cream by Behr. It’s a light khaki/off-white color. We used an eggshell sheen. Ralph Lauren suggests using semi-gloss as the base coat, so choose whichever you prefer. Allow the base coat(s) to dry overnight before proceeding.
2. Measure/tape off panels.
Math time. Yuck. Since this technique is achieved by painting sections of the wall individually, we need to figure out how large those panels will be. The panels are made to resemble fabric, so the width of each panel should be somewhere in the 24″-42″ range. The width of these panels may be slightly different from wall to wall, but should be the same on any given wall.
Example: In a room measuring 9′ x 10′:
9′ wall = 108″ / 36″ = 3 panels
10′ wall = 120″ / 24″ = 5 panels OR 120″ / 30″ = 4 panels
The room will look best/most cohesive if the sizes of the panels are as similar as possible, considering the overall dimensions of each wall. So in the above example, I would divide the 9′ walls into (3) 36″ panels, and divide the 10′ walls into (4) 30″ panels.
With your panel sizes calculated, it’s time to mark the panels and prepare to tape them off. For this step, you will need a measuring tape, pencil, and 4′ level.
*NOTE: Don’t forget to tape off your baseboards and crown molding or ceiling as well around the entire perimeter of the room.
Once your panels are taped off, it’s almost time to begin the glazing. A good thing to do before proceeding is to simply place some “X’s” using your painter’s tape, on EVERY OTHER section in your room. Because the process involves painting the sections in stages, this will help remind us to skip adjacent sections so we don’t make a mistake.
In the image below, we’ve taped off and are working on the denim faux paint technique, but the process for the linen technique is IDENTICAL.
3. Mix your glaze, if not pre-mixed.
If your glaze was not pre-tinted, now is the time to mix your chosen top coat (blue) color with your clear faux glaze. Different brands may have different recipes, so check the label/recommendation for the proper proportions for your brand.
For Behr, which is what we used in this space, the recommended recipe was 1-quart paint: 1-gallon faux glaze. We mixed this in our clean, empty 3-gallon paint bucket with lid.
*NOTE: If your room is large, and you know it will require more than 1 gallon of paint/glaze to cover, it is best to pre-mix ALL your material at the same time to avoid any minor tint differences that would occur with multiple batches.
4. Prep switches and sockets.
Remove covers to all light switches and sockets, then simply place painter’s tape over the top of the plugs and switches. You will be glazing right over top of these, so make sure they are adequately covered with tape.
5. Glaze and weave the first panel.
With a standard paint roller and nap, choose your first panel, any panel. Paint the glaze onto the first panel. Do not just paint TO the tape on either side of the panel. Paint OVER the tape, in order to make sure that every millimeter of that panel is covered with glaze. DO NOT GET ANY PAINT ONTO THE ADJACENT PANELS!
You will have to glaze relatively quickly because the weaving is done IMMEDIATELY after the glaze is applied.
*REPEAT: Glaze ONE and ONLY ONE panel at a time!!
A) HORIZONTAL SWIPES: Once the panel is completely covered in paint, grab your weaver brush. Starting at the top of that panel, do 2 side to side strokes at the top of panel. Push enough so that the bristles on the weaver brush bend slightly, and try to retain a consistent amount of pressure as you are weaving. Have your rag handy, because you will need to intermittently wipe the excess paint off your weaver brush as you go.
Continue this side-to-side brushing with the weaver down the entire length of the panel. Be sure to swipe ALL THE WAY TO THE TAPE ON EITHER SIDE. DO NOT END YOUR SWIPE BEFORE THE TAPE. If you do, you’ll see odd bristle marks on the panel…not good.
*NOTE: If you encounter a light switch or socket (which should now be covered in painter’s tape) BRUSH RIGHT OVER, DON’T STOP!!! If you stop at these obstructions, you will again have odd brush marks on your wall. Not good. Swipe right over top those suckers with your weaver brush.
B) VERTICAL SWIPES: Once the whole panel has been swiped side to side, you will continue using the weaver brush, and wipe the panel vertically. Start at the top of the panel, with weaver overlapping tape. Make one continuous swipe from top to bottom of the panel, trying to maintain as straight a line as possible.
Use consistent pressure on the brush. Continue this process across the width of the panel. The last vertical swipe should overlap the tape on the other side of the panel.
6. SKIP one panel, and continue the glazing/weaving process.
DO NOT glaze the adjacent panel to the one you just completed. Instead, skip one panel, and continue the process above. Glaze and weave the 2nd panel, following the same procedure as described above in Step 5. Once the 2nd panel is complete, again skip one panel, and continue the glazing/weaving process around the room until every other panel has been glazed and wiped with the weaver.
Allow 24 hours to dry. Your progress should look similar to the shot below at the end of day one.
7. After 24 hours, remove the tape. Then re-tape to allow painting of the remaining panels.
Leaving baseboard/ceiling tape in place, go ahead and remove all the vertical panel taping from yesterday and discard.
You will now re-tape those vertical panels in preparation for round 2 of painting/weaving. As you re-tape to paint the remaining panels, pay attention to place the tape back from the edge of your painted line by about 1/8″ or so. This overlap of the fresh paint with the edge of the panels we painted yesterday is what creates the “fabric” look. You’ll just barely be able to see these “seams” or vertical lines we’re creating with the paint.
If you want those seams to be more dramatic and pronounced, move your blue tape back even further to about 1/4″ or whatever you think will work best for the aesthetic you’re trying to create.
Take your time taping off the panels throughout that room, remembering to place the tape back slightly from that painted edge. It’s a bit time-consuming to do it properly, but this step, done right, will really help your efforts turn out beautifully!
8. One panel at a time, glaze and weave remaining panels.
Round two of glazing and weaving is exactly like the first, now that we have our panels re-taped. One panel at a time, we glaze (all the way to those tape lines, and make sure you actually hit/overlap the painters tape a bit),
then weave our back and forth horizontal swipes, followed by one vertical swipe, ceiling toward floor.
Make sure to keep that rag handy again to clean off the excess paint from the weaving brush now and again. And remember to never stop a swipe until you’re atop the painters’ tape (for horizontal swipes) or on the baseboard/floor or ceiling (vertical swipes).
9. Once the paint is dry, remove the remaining tape.
We’re done! Remove that tape, and take a look at your linen walls! Looks like grasscloth wallpaper!
We hope that you’ll enjoy this lovely linen look as much as we do.
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