What better time to learn a new skill than when we’re all home, practicing our social distancing? Most designers leave estimating wallpaper quantity to their paper hanger, but it’s not as difficult to do as you might think! With a little practice, you can do it yourself.
I’m Caroline, I work with Jeanne here at Cozy Stylish Chic, and before I came to work at CSC, I spent the last five years selling designer wallpaper! This method of estimating wallpaper quantities was taught to me by an installer who has been using it for decades. It’s proven reliable over the years, and now it’s my chance to share that with you! All you need is a piece of paper and a calculator. Ready? Let’s go.
First, gather information. Get an accurate measurement of the wall (or walls) you want to paper. Ignore all doors, windows, or other obstacles unless they stretch completely from ceiling to floor. If multiple walls are connected to each other, you can combine the widths as your wallpaper hanger will wrap the paper around corners instead of cutting it. Convert all of your measurements to inches.
Continue step one by gathering information on your wallpaper. What is the length and width of the roll? Does this paper come in a double roll? If you aren’t sure, check the roll length. If the length is 5.5 yards or less, it should come packaged in a double roll. What is the vertical pattern repeat? If the repeat is listed as a half drop or drop match, divide that number by two. Convert all of your measurements to inches.
Follow along in the example below:
Wall size – 8’2″ high x 10’4″ wide – converted to inches = 98″ x 124″
Roll size – 20.5″ x 11 yards – converted to inches = 20.5″ x 396″
Pattern repeat – 36″ half drop – divided by two because of half drop = 18″
Next we will determine how many “drops” (ceiling-to-floor strips of paper) are needed to cover your wall. Divide the total wall width by the width of your wallpaper roll and round up. If this divides exactly, add one. This is your number of drops per wall.
124″ wall width divided by 20.5″ roll width = 6.05 drops, which we round up to 7 drops
Then we need to determine your “finished height”. This is the length each drop needs to be in order for your installer to pattern match on the wall. You will need extra for breathing room. The drops can be trimmed to precise size once they are applied to the wall.
Divide your wall height by the vertical pattern repeat. Round up. Then multiply this number by the pattern repeat. This is your finished height. If your finished height is less than four inches above the wall height, add one more vertical repeat to this number. Note your finished height before moving on.
98″ wall height divided by 18″ pattern repeat = 5.44, which we round up to 6 repeats per drop
Multiply 6 repeats by the 18″ repeat size to get a finished height of 108″
Next we need to determine how many drops you can get out of each roll (or double roll) of wallpaper. Divide your roll length by the finished height and round down. If it divides exactly, subtract one. This is your number of drops per roll. **If you are using double rolls, keep in mind that this is the number of drops per DOUBLE roll, not single roll.
396″ roll length divided by 108″ finished height = 3.67 drops per roll, which we round down to 3.
Lastly, we can now determine how many rolls you need! Divide your total drops needed (from step two) by the “drops per roll” number we got in step four. Then round up. This is the total number of rolls (or double rolls) needed!
7 drops on the wall divided by 3 drops per roll = 2.33 rolls needed, which we round up to 3 rolls. This means we have 2/3 of a roll leftover in case of any issues during hanging.
This may seem complicated, but it does not take long to get the hang of it! Drawing each step as shown above can help this turn from an equation into something you can visualize and understand.
Some additional tips and tricks:
- If your wall height is about 8 to 9 feet, you will usually get 3 drops per European roll (20.5″ x 11 yards) or American double roll (27″ x 10 yards). This means you will need a roll for each 5 feet (Euro roll) or 6.5 feet (US double) of wall width. It is a quick way to get a rough estimate.
- When estimating quantity for something with no vertical repeat, like a texture or a stripe, just add 4 to 6 inches to your wall height to get your finished height during step 3.
- If a pattern is sold by the yard or meter on one continuous roll, multiply the finished height (step 3) by the number of drops (step 2) to get your total inches needed. Just divide this number by 36″ (if sold by the yard) or 39″ (if sold by the meter) to get your total yards or meters needed.
- It’s always a good idea to have at least one extra drop of paper in case of emergency. Sometimes mistakes happen or there are small flaws in the wallpaper. This way the installer will have enough should he have to cut around some areas.
- For any natural product, like grasscloth, it is a good idea to have at least one or two extra rolls on hand. Natural products are prone to shading, and sometimes the installer will have to work around parts of the paper that are darker or lighter than the average.
- For custom murals, always provide precise wall measurements to the manufacturer to get a custom quote.
- Most of all, I always recommend double checking with your installer when possible!
I know it can seem daunting at first, but I believe anyone can learn this skill with a little practice. So go out there and start making your walls beautiful!
Keep in mind that this is our technique of estimating wallpaper. It is only an estimate. We use this technique to determine approximate cost so that we can present options to a client. We ALWAYS recommend that a professional installer measure and verify for accuracy. Each installer has a different technique of estimating wallpaper and they can better determine how much they will need.
All of the images shown are from lines that we carry and were taken at various trade shows that we attend, such as Heimtextil, or are of our own projects. Feel free to contact us should you need more information or wish to purchase.
Hi Jeanne, that’s not my favorite part of wallpaper application and you make it easy and simple! Thank you so much for breaking it down – I always leave that job to the installer, lol!
This is great! We often send out our estimates direct to the wallpaper installer but I hate to wait! And typically they over estimate which can cost a lot if the paper is expensive! Thank you for the advice! We will try it!
This is so informative and I may need this skill in the coming days. Thanks for the informative post.
This is a great breakdown of the steps for measuring wallpaper!
Wow, what a wonderful and helpful breakdown of how to measure wallpaper! Thank you!
It has helped us in a bind so I hope it will come in handy for you, too!
It’s been pretty accurate for us so far so I hope it’ll help you out when you need it.
We hate waiting too…so it’s great when you need a quick estimate to make sure what you’ve chosen is in the budget.
Haha – it’s never anyone’s favorite thing to do! But worse yet is waiting for the installer to measure and get back!
Are you doing a DIY wallpaper install too? I think I’ll have to because I need a major family room refresh STAT!
This is such a great guide! Love the detailed explanation! 🙂
While this math always makes my head hurt, this is GOLDEN! Thank you so much for sharing this!
Wow Jeannie! To say that you do everything is such an under statement! What an informative post for those who actually do this but for myself, I know that I would mess it up and have to eat my measuring mistakes. But you being you, this would never be an issue!
Math always makes my head hurt, too. I have a bad habit of adding zeros onto everything…🙄
Ha – I wouldn’t do it unless I absolutely had to, and you know how the saying goes – desperate times calls for desperate measures. If I have to look at my walls for another 3 weeks, no one in my house will survive this, so I am going to go for it.