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Hanging Wallpaper | Roll calculation & preparation

part one Welcome to our guide to hanging wallpaper.

We have split this tutorial into two parts, in this part we will cover roll calculation, wall preparation, order of hanging, marking out and cutting the lengths.

If you intend to hang lining paper and haven't yet, then see our guide to hanging lining paper.
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To complete this task you will need the following items:

  • Wall Covering (wallpaper)
  • Suitable Wallpaper Paste
  • Wallpaper Pasting Brush
  • Decorating table (pasting table)
  • Suitable filler (if required) along with a suitable applicator
  • Wallpaper Seam Roller
  • Tape Measure
  • Spirit Level
  • Blunt Pencil
  • Paperhanging brush
  • Suitable Scissors
safety first When working at heights always ensure that the structure is safe and secure. Never stretch out, always get down and re-position the scaffold.

Buying wallpaper

If you have already purchased sufficient wall covering, then scroll down to the next section.

First a few notes about buying wallpaper.

When you buy a wall covering ensure that each roll is exactly the same as the rest, including batch number and shade number.

Wallcoverings come in a variety of types, including self-pasting, washable, peelable and so on. Most manufacturers use symbols to indicate wallpaper type, you can find a list of common symbols in our guide to wallpaper product labels.

Roll calculation

It is important to know exactly how many rolls of wallcovering you need for your project. If you buy less than required it will interrupt your work and you may find the batch with the exact same shading has sold out. If you have too many then it is simply a waste of money.

It is always a good idea to have one extra roll for spare. Wallcovering can get damaged, either during the initial work or at a later date, having the extra roll gives piece of mind.

To calculate how many rolls of wall covering are needed use the following formula:
  1. Measure the perimeter of the room
    • Measure each wall (horizontally) and add the measurements together, take into account any alcoves or door/window recesses. Label this figure P.
  2. Note the width of the roll
    • Measure the width of the roll or check the packaging for the measurement. Label this figure W.
  3. Calculate the amount of lengths (drops) required
    • Divide the perimeter measurement (P) by the width of the roll (W). If the result is fractional then round-up to the nearest digit. Label this figure LR.
  4. Measure the drop
    • Measure the wall from top to bottom, this is referred to as the drop. Add 10cm (4 inches) for trimming, also check the packaging for any special matching criteria that may be required. Label this figure D.
  5. Note the length of the roll
    • Measure the length of the roll or check the packaging for the measurement. Label this figure L.
  6. Calculate the drops per roll
    • Divide the length of the roll (L) by the drop figure (D). Label this figure DPR.
  7. Final calculation
    • Divide LR by DPR to give the number of rolls needed.
An example:
If the perimeter of the room (P) is 14m (46ft) and the width of the roll (W) is 0.6m (2ft). To calculate the lengths required (LR) we divide 14 by 0.6 which gives 24 (rounded up).

and let's say the roll length (L) is 10m (33ft) and the drop is 2.6m (8.5ft). To calculate the drops per roll (DPR) we divide 10 by 2.6 which gives 4 (rounded up).

Dividing 24 (LR) by 4.4 (DPR) gives us 5.45. So we need 6 rolls to complete the project.

Order of hanging

The next step is to decide the best place to start hanging the wallpaper. Patterned wallpaper is best hung starting at a window, and working your way around the room (see fig 1.1).

Whether you work around the room in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction is down to your personal preference.

To get your starting point
  1. Measure the window recess and add 2cm (1 inch) for trimming. Label this measurement RS.
  2. Deduct RS from the roll width W. Label the result SP.
  3. Then measure out from the window the amount specified by SP, this will be your starting point (see fig 1.2).
An example:
Let's say the window recess (RS) is 17cm and the roll width (W) is 60cm. That means our starting point (SP) will be 43cm (60cm - 17cm = 43cm) out from the window.

Use a pencil to mark your starting point, and then use either a spirit level or a chalk line to mark a vertical line to use as a guide.
Fig 1.1
Fig 1.2

Prepare the lengths

Once you have your starting point you can work out how many drops it will take to reach the nearest corner, this is how many pieces of wallpaper we need to prepare ready for hanging.

When you know how many drops you need to reach the corner, the next step is to work out how long to cut the lengths. Free match wallpaper is just a case of measuring the drop and adding 10cm for trimming, other wallpapers may need a larger surplus in order to match the pattern correctly (see manufacturer's instructions).

After working out how long to cut the lengths, take your decorating scissors and cut as many lengths as you need (always check that the pattern matches and you have 5cm at both top and bottom for trimming).

note: Usually wallpaper paste takes about 15-20 minutes (see paste packet) until it is ready to use, if you mix it just before you start cutting the lengths it should be ready when you need it.
next Next part: Pasting and hanging