How to Measure & Cut Wallpaper

woman cutting wallpaper on pasting table

Where Should I Hang the First Piece of Wallpaper?

Before you begin measuring and cutting your wallpaper to length, you first need to decide where the best place is to hang the first strip? There are several factors that need to be considered: Room design, wallpaper pattern, entry point?

A Simple Room

In a room with no architectural features (fireplace, bookcase, etc), then you are typically better off starting behind the door from which you enter the room. The reason is, as you progress around the room hanging your paper and the last strip to be installed meets up with the first strip, it is unlikely the pattern will match perfectly. Therefore, you are better beginning in the least obvious location, i.e. behind the door.

Large Wallpaper Pattern/Motif

If your wallpaper has a large pattern/motif, you may wish to position your first strip in the center of the wall facing the point of entry. This will create the most balanced look.

Architectural and Prominent Features

illustration to show wallpaper placement in fireplace setting

If the room has a prominent feature such as a fireplace, mantle, or perhaps the bed in the bedroom, it is typically best to centralize a large pattern in the middle of the feature. When a person enters the room their eyes are naturally drawn to the feature, and having the pattern centralized presents the best look.

Mark Paper Widths on the Wall

illustration to show how to mark wall with widths of wallpaper

Once you have decided where to hang the first strip of wallpaper, hold a roll of wallpaper up to the wall and use a pencil to mark its position. Moving in the direction you plan to hang the paper, mark the position of the next strip in the same manner. Proceed around the room until you have marked the position of all strips. Use your pencil to number each strip on the wall. When you cut your wallpaper strips you are going to write the corresponding number on the back of the paper, so you know where on the wall it will be hung. There is no need for a tape measure and precision with this step, the lines you mark are simply to serve as a rough guide.

Measuring and Cutting the First Strip

Golden Rule: Remember to measure twice and cut once!

1. Ensure the pattern is the right way up, and never assume that the outside end of the roll is the top – it isn’t always! In the top corner on the back of the paper, write in pencil the word “top” to reduce the chance of mistakes.

2. Unroll your paper part way and hold it against the wall to determine where you want the pattern/motif to be positioned at the ceiling line. It is always better if someone can hold the paper up against the wall for you, so you can step back and better judge exactly how far down from the ceiling you want the motif to be.

Handy Tip: It is a good idea to hang your paper so the motif is not too close to the ceiling line. In this way, fluctuations in the height of the ceiling will not be as noticeable as when the motif is close to the ceiling line.

3. When you have positioned the paper with the motif in the desired position, use a pencil to mark the position of the ceiling on the back of the paper.

4. After descending the ladder, on a flat surface turn the paper over and use a level to draw a line 2 inches/50mm above the pencil mark. This extra 2 inches/ 50mm is to allow for fluctuations in the height of the ceiling line, and will be trimmed to fit perfectly once stuck to the wall.

5. Measure the height of your wall and add 4 inches/100mm. On the back of the paper, mark this distance (wall + 4inches/ 100mm) with a level and a pencil, and then cut. This allows an extra 2 inches/ 50mm of paper for trimming at both the top and bottom.

6. Before applying paste it is a good idea to tape the paper to the wall, to check the measurements and cuts you made are correct.

Cutting the Next Strips

Before cutting the next lengths you will need to ensure that the pattern matches with the previous strips.

Straight Match Wallpaper

demonstrating straight match wallpaper

1. Unroll your next strip on top of the first, match the pattern on the side furthest away from you.

2. Cut this strip to the same size.

3. Repeat this process as you continue around the room.

Drop Match

matching drop match wallpaper

1. Put your first strip on a flat surface, unroll your next strip and match the pattern on the side nearest to you.

2. Cut the paper to match the top and bottom of the previous strip.

3. Repeat this process as you continue around the room.

4. To reduce the possibility of mistakes, write the number of each strip’s position on the wall, in the top rear corner of the wallpaper.

Handy Tip: Save any offcuts as they may be useful in locations requiring shorter lengths of paper (above doors, under radiators etc).


Now that you know how to measure and cut wallpaper, it’s time to learn about the new and more efficient method for hanging the wallpaper.

Our brand new tool WallpaperBuddy™ makes wallpapering easy. The tool holds wallpaper away from the wall at an ideal angle for aligning and smoothing, and helps to reduce bubbles and creases. Its telescopic design allows you to progress down the wall easily and efficiently, working with both hands free the entire time. At a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional, why not give WallpaperBuddy™ a try.

How to Use WallpaperBuddy™

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Ready to wallpaper? Take a look at some of handy guides for more help:

Wallpapering Around Light Switches and Sockets

How to Wallpaper Behind a Radiator

How To Wallpaper Around A Window