Repeat Patterns in Wallpaper

Wallpaper pattern matches

What Does Pattern Repeat Mean In Wallpaper?

Pattern repeat is simply the horizontal alignment between two adjacent strips of wallpaper. If you don’t follow the wallpaper’s pattern repeat, then the wallpaper may be hung incorrectly, producing a  disappointing end result. When shopping for wallpaper, remember that ‘offset match’ wallpapers produce more waste when matching and cutting. If you’re anything like me, it would be pretty frustrating to run out of wallpaper before the project was complete! Aaargh!

Handy Tip: Ask if you are able to return unused rolls. If so, purchase a little extra to allow for any mistakes and return unused rolls upon completion. Keeping one extra roll however, is a good idea in case the paper suffers significant damage (think kids and cats) in the future, and a strip needs replacing. Don’t forget to make sure each roll has the same batch number! 

Free or Random Match 

This type of pattern match is random, so the wallpaper does not have to be matched at the seams. Regardless of how you position the paper next to the previous strip, the pattern looks perfect. Typical examples of a random match are simple stripes, textures, and grass cloths.

Straight Match 

In this design the pattern matches in a horizontal line across adjacent strips.

Offset Match 

With offset match, in order for adjacent strips to match up they must be offset or dropped by the distance of its drop match. Basically, the right hand edge of the wallpaper only matches the edge of the second strip when it is dropped by a specific distance.

The best technique for hanging offset match wallpaper, is to cut and align the strips of paper on a flat surface (pasting table) before hanging. Offset match designs produce the most wasted paper/offcuts.

Half Drop is the easiest of the offset match patterns to hang. Every second strip must be offset or dropped by the distance of its drop match. The result is that every other strip will be identical, the ones in between will be either slightly higher or lower than the first.

Multiple Drop Match – is certainly the most difficult of the offset match patterns to hang. Like the half drop, there is repetition in how the patterns align, but it takes three or more strips to get the full pattern. As it is easy to make mistakes it is probably a good idea to purchase more wallpaper than you need, or leave this type of pattern to a professional.

Reverse Hang

This pattern design requires each strip to be alternately hung, ‘right side up’ and ‘upside down’, in papers with a random match. This is done to avoid or lessen the effects of shading variations.

Pattern Repeat Symbols

The type of pattern repeat will be shown as a symbol on the wallpaper description included with each roll.

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