Wallpaper Estimating

You want easy? Figure every 50 square feet is a double roll of standard paper- there, that's easy.

It is important to correctly figure how much material you will need on any project. With wallpaper this is a crucial matter. Too little paper means that you have to stop the job partly finished and if you order more there is a possibility that you will get a different run number with slightly different dye lots. If you order too much paper, there is likely to be a restocking fee for any returned rolls.

It is important to understand a couple of concepts that are integral to wallpaper.
The first thing is that wallpaper comes in several different sizes. Most popular are American Rolls and European Rolls. The difference is that American Rolls are approximately 27 inches wide and Metric Rolls are about 21 inches wide. This makes a big difference in the amount of square footage you'll get out of one roll or the other. The other concept concerns the REPEAT of the printed pattern. As wallpaper passes over the print rollers it repeats itself on a regular basis. Because of this repeating pattern, the person hanging the wallpaper must align the wallpaper to the repeating elements in order to look right and any excess must be trimmed away from the top and bottom edges. Longer repeats require trimming away more of the paper and result in more waste. The amount of paper that is actually used and applied to the wall is called usable yield.

There are a number of different ways to estimate how much wallpaper you are going to need. My favorite estimating chart uses measured square footage and is called USABLE YIELD. On this site I will also give you another chart to help figure it out.

To use the chart below, you will need to know how much square footage of wall space you are going to cover. I suggest you do not subtract windows and doors from the total unless they make up a significant amount of area. You will also have to know the repeat of the paper you intend to use on that wall. Use the chart below to determine how much usable square footage your pattern is going to yield. Divide your measured square footage of wall space by the usable yield to determine how many rolls of wallpaper your project is going to require.

Random (0) - 6 inches 32 sq. ft. 25 sq. ft.
7-12 inches 30 sq.ft 22 sq. ft
13-18 inches 27 sq.ft 20 sq. ft.
19-23 inches 25 sq. ft. 18 sq. ft

To give an example, let's say you want to do 10 x 10 room with 8 foot high ceilings.
You have looked through the books at O-Gee Paint and really like two patterns. The first pattern looks like clouds and you want to put this on the ceiling, on the back of the page you see that it has a repeat of 16 inches and is made in American Rolls. The other pattern is a beautiful stripe for the walls. Repeat on the stripe is random and it comes in European Rolls.
Your 10 x 10 room has 320 (= 4 walls *10 ft. l * 8 ft.h) square feet of wall space and 100 (= 10 * 10) square feet of ceiling area. The chart indicates that usable yield of the cloud pattern is 27 square feet. Dividing 100 sq.ft by 27 sq.ft. usable yield tells you that you will need 3.7 single rolls of the cloud pattern for the ceiling. Pattern two, the stripe, has no repeat and the usable yield is 25 square feet. 320 divided by 25 gives 12.8 single rolls. Most consumer wallpaper is available only in double rolls, so you will have to get 4 single rolls (2 double rolls) of the cloud pattern and 14 single rolls (7 doubles) of the stripe to ensure you have enough wallpaper to complete the room.

The chart below is provided by SUNWORTHY Wallcoverings. It will also give you an estimate of the amount of paper you will need but it is not as flexible for figuring odd sizes. Since wallpaper is sold in double roll bolts their chart gives the number of double roll bolts per room.

Distance Around Room in Feet 20
Ceiling Height
8' 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
10' 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 14 15
12' 6 7 9 10 12 13 15 16 18
Note: No allowance has been made for window and door openings. Number of bolts required may be less than the chart indicates

Using the same room above, the perimeter of the room is 40 feet and the ceiling is 8 feet up. According to this chart, we need six double rolls or 12 single rolls. The ceiling space might be considered to be a 10 foot wall with a 10 foot ceiling height. That gives us three double rolls or six single rolls. A slightly different number than the first estimating method.

48" & 54" Commercial Coverings

If you have ever been into a commercial application you may have seen 48 or 54 inch goods. These large size bolts are measured and sold by the yard. To estimate the number of yards needed to cover a given area, divide the measured square footage by 12 for the 48 inch size and 13.5 for 54".


Borders can give your rooms a designer look. Instead of measuring square footage, simply measure the perimeter of the room or the area you are bordering. Allow a little extra for matching or to compensate for walls that are not straight. Borders are typically 5 yards long (15 feet). Divide the length in feet of the area to be bordered by 15 to determin how many rolls you will need.