Wallpaper pricing can be confusing. While wallpaper books list prices per Single Roll, the wallpaper is manufactured and sold in Double Rolls. (Some papers are also sold in Triple Rolls.)
While this system may seem odd, double and triple rolls provide longer continuous lengths of paper with more useable full lengths. For example, a single roll with 13.5 running feet of paper would allow you to cut only one 8 or 9 foot strip per roll, whereas 3 full strips could be cut from a double roll (9 yards or 27 feet, long).
So, keep in mind that even though a wallpaper book lists the price of a Single Roll at, say $20, you'll usually be required to purchase the wallpaper by the Double Roll, at a cost of $40 in this example.
Wallpaper is also manufactured in a variety of widths. The wider the paper, the fewer strips you'll have to hang and the fewer seams. Here are two common widths:
- European and Metric Double rolls are generally 20.5" wide and contain 56 square feet of paper.
- American Double rolls are wider, at 27" wide and 9 yards long, with about 70 square feet of paper.
- In addition, Wallpaper Borders vary in width but are typically packaged in 5 yard rolls.
Before You Buy Wallpaper
Before ordering wallpaper you'll need to determine if the paper you've selected has a "drop match" or a "straight match", since a drop match means more paper will be needed. An example of a straight match wallpaper would be a plain vertical stripe that doesn't need matching at the seams. Most other patterned wallpapers however are printed with a drop match that ranges from a few inches to a few feet. Drop match papers will require careful matching at the seams.
How do I estimate how much wallpaper will be needed?
Wallpaper comes in double roll bolts. A bolt of wallpaper (55-60 sq ft) will contain about 40 to 50 usable sq. ft, depending on the size of the pattern repeat. Most wallpaper comes either 20½" x 33' or 27" x 27' per double roll bolt. There are two popular methods of estimating:
Method #1: Calculate the area of the walls to be covered and divide by the usable sq. ft. per bolt (the usable sq. ft. per bolt estimates can be as low as 40 sq. ft for large repeats of 20-24" to as high as 50 sq. ft for small repeats of 1-2" or random matches); deduct ¼ bolt for each door or window that fully breaks a strip of wallpaper.
Example: To paper an 8' high x 12' long wall with a 20" pattern repeat wallpaper, first calculate the square feet of wall to be covered; 8' x 12' = 96 sq. ft. Allowing 40 sq. ft. per bolt, you would need 96 sq. ft. /40 usable sq. ft per bolt = 2.4 bolts, or, rounding up, three bolts of wallpaper.
Method #2: Calculate the number and length of strips needed (allowing for pattern repeats); then figure how many bolts would be required to yield the strips needed.
Example: To paper an 8' high x 12' long wall with a 20" pattern repeat wallpaper, first calculate the number of strips needed to cover the wall. If the wallpaper comes in 20½" x 33' bolts, it would take eight strips of wallpaper 20½" wide to cover a 144" wall (12'). Next figure how many bolts would be required to yield eight strips. Each strip would have to be five pattern repeats (100") to cover the 8' high (96") wall. Since each bolt is 33' (396") long, each bolt would yield three 100" long strips. To get eight strips, then, would require three bolts of wallpaper.
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