How to Calculate How Much Wallpaper You Need

  • 30 October 2010

Residential Wallcoverings: Rough Estimate Guide

Square Foot Method:

1. Measure the square footage of the wall, rounding up to the nearest foot.
2. Do not take out for doors and windows unless it is a wall of windows or a wall of doors. If this is the case, measure the square footage of the header and add to the total SF.
3. Determine the pattern match. A paper will be described as having one of the following matches:
- Random. Also called “reverse hang” – A “random match”, or “reverse hang” has virtually no waste as you match one strip of wallcovering to the next.
-Straight Match – A straight match uses the most, and the entire amount of the repeat will be lost from strip to strip.
-Half Drop – A half drop pattern drops down the wall, and uses half as much paper as a straight match. In other words, a 24 inch repeat with a half drop match will lose 12 inches per strip.

4. Determine the pattern repeat: 6, 12 or 25 inch repeats are common.

5. Divide your total SF in the room by the metric roll formulas below. For example:

For a pattern repeat of 0 to 6 inches divide by 25 square feet per SINGLE ROLL
-7 to 12 inches = 22 square feet
-13 to 18 inches = 20 square feet
-19 to 23 inches = 18 square feet

Most wallcoverings manufactured in the US or Canada are “metric or Euro rolls. Residential wallcoverings are always ordered and priced in single rolls, but come packaged in double roll bolts, so don’t forget to round up or down to the nearest double roll bolt.

Strip Method
For 9 + foot ceilings, accent walls, stairwells or commercial vinyl

Most SF formulas take into account that there will be places to use the short bits and pieces. However, most accent walls or stairwells have no such places and the higher ceilings have more waste, which the installer might not be able to use.

1. Take the linear measurement of the room and convert into Linear Inches
2. Divide the total Linear Inches of wall space by the width of the wallpaper to determine the number of strips needed.

Use the formulas below to determine how many double roll bolts you will need. Don’t forget, that wallpaper is ordered in single rolls. So, if your calculations or your installer tells you that you will need ten bolts, you will need to order 20 rolls.

1 If the wallpaper is 20.5 inches wide, a double roll bolt will be 33 feet long
2. If the wallpaper is 27 inches wide, a double roll bolt will be 27 feet long
3. If the wallpaper is 36 inches wide, a double roll bolt will be 24 feet long
4. If it is 54 inches wide it is packed in continuous bolts that are either 30 or 50 linear yards long.

Commercial Vinyl

1. 54 inch commercial vinyl comes packed in continuous bolts ( 90-150 feet) to minimize waste
2. It is ordered in linear yards. A linear yard of commercial vinyl is a rectangle that is 52- 54 inches wide and 36 inches long. It has 13.3-13.5 actual SF per yard.
3. For estimation purposes we estimate at 12 SF per yard on a “random match” or “reverse hang” and 11 SF per yard on a 25 inch straight match.
4. The yardage packed on the bolt is determined by what one man could comfortably carry. Vinyls with an ounce weight of 12-15 oz) are normally packed in 50 yard bolts. Vinyls whose ounce weight per linear yard is 20-21 ounces will be packed in 30 yard bolts.

Common Mistakes

1. Commercial: Confusing Square Yards ( as in carpet, with 9 SF per yard ) with 54 “ Linear Yards (13.5 SF) and ordering too much commercial wallcovering. Or failing to give the installer a pattern repeat and match in commercial goods which will result in ordering too little;

3. Residential: Thinking you received half of what you ordered. When paper arrives, it will be packed in double roll bolts. Therefore six single rolls will arrive as 3 bolts.


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