How to Measure for Wallpaper Pattern Repeats

Measure for Wallpaper Pattern Repeats

The pattern repeat of wallpaper refers to the vertical distance between one point in the wallpaper’s design and where that exact point appears again. It’s a measure of how often the pattern repeats itself vertically down the length of a wallpaper roll. In other words, it’s the distance between two matching design elements on a roll of wallpaper. A pattern repeat is usually measured in inches or centimeters.

This repeat can vary greatly depending on the design. Some wallpaper designs have very small repeats that are difficult to detect, while others have large, bold patterns that may span several feet before repeating. Some types of wallpaper have no pattern at all.

The pattern repeat determines how many wallpaper rolls you need for an installation project, so it’s important to calculate it correctly before you begin applying the wallcovering to the surface.

Pattern Repeat Vs. Pattern Match

Pattern repeat and pattern match are related concepts in wallpapering, but they shouldn’t be confused with each other. The pattern repeat refers to the vertical distance between one point in the wallpaper pattern and where that identical point appears again. The pattern match is about how those repeats align horizontally across different strips when they are hung next to each other on the wall.

Pattern matches will be discussed on the next page.

Varieties of Wallpaper Pattern Repeats

wallpaper pattern repeats

There are different types of wallpaper pattern repeats, and the installation process varies significantly based on the type of pattern repeat it has—no-repeat, small repeat, or large repeat. Each type presents unique challenges and considerations during the installation process.

No-Repeat Wallpaper (Random Match)

  • Installation Ease – This is the simplest type of wallpaper to install because it doesn’t require matching patterns along the seams. You can hang consecutive strips without worrying about aligning the design, making it ideal for beginners.
  • Little Waste – There’s minimal waste with no-repeat wallpapers since you don’t need to trim the paper to align patterns.
  • Design Consideration – Perfect for abstract, textured, or solid designs where continuity of pattern doesn’t impact the overall look.

Small Repeat Wallpaper

  • Pattern Matching – Small repeat patterns (less than 12 inches) require careful alignment, but the frequency of the repeat means adjustments and matching are less complex than with larger repeats.
  • Moderate Waste – There’s some waste due to pattern matching, but it’s generally less than with large repeat patterns.
  • Versatility – Small repeats work well in a variety of settings, offering a consistent design without overwhelming the space.

Large Repeat Wallpaper

  • Installation Challenge – Large repeat patterns (over 12 inches) require careful planning and precision. Each strip must be carefully aligned with the next to ensure the pattern flows across the wall, which can be challenging and time-consuming.
  • High Waste – The need to match large patterns can result in significant waste, as considerable amounts of wallpaper may need to be trimmed away to achieve proper alignment.
  • Dramatic Impact – Large repeats are chosen for their bold, dramatic designs. They make a strong visual statement and can serve as a focal point in a room.

Which option is right for you? Choosing between no-repeat, small repeat, and large repeat wallpapers will depend on the installer’s skill level, the desired visual impact, and the practical consideration of cost.

What Happens If You Ignore the Pattern Repeat During Installation?

Ignoring the pattern repeat during wallpaper installation can lead to several issues. Here are the potential consequences:

  • Increased Waste and Additional Costs – Without proper planning for pattern repeats, you may find yourself needing more wallpaper than initially calculated to correct mismatches. This can lead to additional costs as you may need to purchase extra rolls to complete the installation properly.
  • Visual Disruption – A seamless pattern contributes significantly to the wallpaper’s visual appeal. Ignoring the pattern repeat can result in a disruptive visual experience, where the eye is drawn to the errors in pattern alignment rather than the intended design effect.
  • Increased Time and Effort – Correcting mismatches after the fact can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. It may involve removing and reinstalling sections of wallpaper, which not only takes time but also risks damaging the wallpaper or the wall surface.
  • Reduced Adhesion – Repeatedly adjusting and repositioning wallpaper strips to correct mismatched patterns can harm the adhesive’s effectiveness, potentially leading to peeling or bubbling over time.

Proper planning and attention to detail in matching pattern repeats can make all the difference in achieving a visually appealing outcome.

What Are the Ways to Determine a Wallpaper’s Pattern Repeat?

Here are several ways you can learn a wallpaper’s pattern repeat:

  1. Check the Wallpaper Label or Specifications – The easiest and most straightforward method is to look at the product label or specifications provided by the manufacturer. Wallpaper manufacturers typically list the pattern repeat information on the roll label or in the product description, often measured in inches or centimeters.
  2. Consult the Retailer or Manufacturer – If you’re unsure about your measurement or if the pattern repeat is not clearly marked, you can consult with the retailer or contact the manufacturer directly. They can provide you with the exact specifications of the wallpaper, including the pattern repeat.
  3. Use Online Resources – Some manufacturers and retailers provide online tools or guides that help in calculating the amount of wallpaper needed based on the room dimensions and the wallpaper’s pattern repeat. These tools can also help you understand how the pattern repeat will affect the overall look of the wallpaper once installed.

It’s definitely worth going through the trouble of locating this information, as the pattern repeat is vital for accurately calculating the number of wallpaper rolls needed for your project.

How to Measure Patterned Wallpaper Yourself

If the information is not available or you just want to verify it for yourself, you can measure the pattern repeat directly on the wallpaper. Here’s how to measure wallpaper with pattern repeats:

  • Unroll a section of the wallpaper on a flat surface.
  • Choose a specific point in the pattern (like the top of a particular object) along the seam and measure from that point to where the exact point appears again vertically down the roll.
  • The distance between these two points is the pattern repeat. Use a tape measure for accuracy and note the measurement.

This measurement will be used to calculate how much wallpaper you will need for your project.

Measuring a wallpaper pattern repeat

Calculating How Much Wallpaper You Need

First, determine the total length of the wall surface you plan to wallpaper. Then multiply that length by the height of the walls. For example, a 13-foot x 11-foot room with 8-foot high ceilings will have 384 square feet of wall space.

Example Room

Example Room

Take your total square footage and divide it by usable square footage per roll of wallpaper:

No Repeat

No Repeat = 25 Sq. Ft. of Usable Wallpaper

  • Example Room: 384 sq./25 sq. ft. of usable wallpaper = 15.36 rolls
    Round this up to 16 rolls (8 double rolls)

Small Repeat

Repeat Less Than 12 Inches = 22 Sq. Ft. of Usable Wallpaper

  • Example Room: 384 sq./22 sq. ft. of usable wallpaper = 17.45 rolls
    Round this up to 18 rolls (9 double rolls)

Large Repeat

Repeat Greater Than 12 Inches = 18 Sq. Ft. of Usable Wallpaper

  • Example Room: 384 sq./18 sq. ft. of usable wallpaper = 21.35 rolls
    Round this up to 22 rolls (11 double rolls)

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