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What is a Wallpaper Repeat?

Posted on: September 07, 2016

Paying attention to the wallpaper repeat is an often skipped yet important part of shopping for new wallcoverings. hy? Because, it's beyond frustrating, for you or the installer, to start wallpapering a wall only to run out of paper halfway through. Try looking at an unfinished wall for a whole week, while you wait for your next order to come in, and tell us if it's a pleasant experience.  

The term wallpaper repeat describes the type of repeating drops pattern on the wallpaper. Some wallpapers have a very random repeat pattern that you won’t need to watch and match as you apply the wallpaper. Other wallpapers have very regimented repeat designs that need to be matched up as the wallpaper is being hung. The most complex types are very tricky and require you to pay attention throughout the duration of the hanging.

The Basics

Random Match - Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, No Waste

Straight Match - A Little Harder, Some Waste

Half Drop Match - Block Out Some Time, This Will Take A While, Half The Roll Will Be Wasted

Unless the wallpaper says "random match," or "random reversible" then it will have a repeat. The repeat lets you know how long the vertical distance is between the first instance of a specific part of the pattern and the next time it appears on the wallpaper and where you need to match the pattern. The more complex the design, the larger the repeat will be, and the more waste you will have at the end of the project. Less intricate designs have smaller, tighter repeats requiring less waste.

Why It Matters

The wallpaper repeat lets you know how much wallpaper you will need to purchase to complete a full room or several rooms. For example, let's say 50 sq.ft wall and the wallpaper that you selected has a straight match with a 20.50 inch repeat. A 20.5 in. x 33 ft double roll of this wallpaper covers 56 sq.ft. Many people will erroneously order one double roll thinking they will have some paper left over for mistakes. Wrong, that person will need to make a re-order because due to the repeat he or she will only get 28 sq.ft out of that double roll. The rest will be wasted matching up the pattern.  

Easier patterns will require very simple calculations because the repeats won’t really affect the amount of wallpaper. Things like stripes and random patterns won’t need to be restarted at set intervals to properly align each new strip, so you can calculate the total wallpaper required based on the length and width of the wallpaper without considering the repeat. The more complex the design, the more wallpaper you are likely to need, and the more important it is to know the repeat length. Most are measured in inches, so you will need to take this into account for each wall as you calculate the amount of wallpaper required to completely cover the room (including the corners).

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