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How to Estimate

Measuring Before Estimating Wallcovering Needs

The most important step in estimating wallcovering is accurate measurements. Use a yardstick or steel tape measure, never a cloth tape measure. Take measurements in feet rounding off to the next highest half foot or foot. Draw a room diagram showing doors, windows and ceiling height. If a wall is unusually broken up with a fireplace, built-in bookcases, etc., a diagram with detailed measurements will be beneficial in figuring square footage of wallcovering needed.

Measure wall height from floor to ceiling. Exclude baseboards and moldings. Measure length of each wall including doors and windows. Find the total square feet of the wall(s) by multiplying ceiling height by total wall length. Subtract areas that will not be covered. (Standard doors are about 3 x 7 feet or 21square feet; standard windows about 3 x 4 or 12 square feet.)

These calculations give the total number of square feet to be covered. Using this the number of rolls or linear yards of wallcovering can be determined.

For example:

In the above figure, each wall is 12' long with an 8' ceiling. Multiply 12 x 8 = 96 square feet for each wall, then multiply 96 x 4 (since there are four walls with 96 square feet each)= 384 total square feet for the room.

Metric Single Roll

Repeat LengthUsable Yield
0" to 6"25 sq. ft.
7" to 12"22 sq. ft.
13" to 18"20 sq. ft.
19" to 23"18 sq. ft.

These figures work well for normal sized walls. For unusually short (under 3 feet) or high (over 9 feet) they do not apply.

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Square Foot Area Method

Using the above diagram as an example, figure the amount of wallcovering that will be needed to hang the room. The figure of 384 square feet has not taken into account the square footage of the doors and windows. Subtract the actual square footage of each opening - 21 square feet for the door, and 12 square feet for each of the windows. 384 square feet - 45 square feet (21 + 12 + 12 = 45) = 339 square feet of wallspace that will be covered with wallcovering. If you are using a wallcovering with a pattern repeat of 8 inches, figure that each metric single roll will contain 22 square feet of usable wallcovering, 339 square feet (the amount of wallspace from above that will be hung) divided by 22 square feet (from Usable Yield Chart) which equals 15.4, or round up to 16 metric singlerolls that will be needed to hang the example toom (8 metric rolls).

The equation would look like this:

384 sq. ft. (room size)
-21 sq. ft. (one standard door)
-12 sq. ft. (one standard window)
-12 sq. ft. (one standard window)

=339 sq. ft. of wallspace that will be hung

339 sq. ft. / 22 sq. ft. = 15.4 msr to hang the room, rounded up to 16 msr.

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Stairways or Cathedral Walls

When estimating a wall that has a diagonal, remember there will be extra waste to allow for the slope of the steps or the ceiling pitch. There are two different types of stairways to figure: one with a horizontal ceiling line, and the second with a diagonal ceiling line that parallels the fall of the steps.

In both cases, the first step is to divide the wall in either squares or rectangles to determine the square footage. In the figure given above, the upstairs ceiling height is 8", and the downstairs ceiling height is 8". These figures are the length of the wall. Next, measure wall width horizontally from the top of the stairs to an imaginary vertical line originating at the bottom of the stairs, which in the example is 15". Taking the top rectangle, figure 8" x 15" = 120 sq. ft. Next, figure the bottom rectangle, 8" x 15" = 120 sq. ft., but since a portion of this wall area is under the stairs, multiply the bottom rectangle square footage by 65%, an industry standard. Add the two figures together to arrive at the square feet that needs to by hung with wallcovering. The equation would look as follows:

8" x 15" = 120 sq. ft. (top rectangle)
8" x 15" = 120 sq. ft. x 65% = 78 sq. ft. (bottom rectangle)
120 sq. ft. + 78 sq. ft. = 198 sq. ft.

Once you have the square footage figured, estimate the amount of wallcovering just as you would for an ordinary room, finding the usable square feet for the particular pattern from the Usable Yield Chart and then dividing the total square feet by that figure.

For example, if using a wallcovering with repeat of 14", each msr would contain 20 square feet of usable wallcovering. The equation would look as follows: 198 sq. ft. / 20 sq. ft. = 9.9 msr rounded to 10 msr. If the stairway has a sloping ceiling, do as the first example in finding the width and length of the imaginary rectangle or square. The next step is to take both of these rectangle/square figures multiplied by 65% to find the square feet of wall area. The equation would look as follows:

8" x 15" = 120 sq. ft. (top rectangle)
8" x 15" = 120 sq. ft. (bottom rectangle)
120 sq. ft. + 120 sq. ft. = 240 sq. ft.
240 sq. ft. x 65% = 156 sq. ft. of wall area to be covered

Using the same pattern with a repeat of 14", each msr would contain 20 square feet of usable wallcovering and the equation would look as follows:

156 sq. ft. / 20 sq. ft. = 7.8 msr rounded to 8 msr

A cathedral ceiling would be estimated the same way, squaring the top rectangle, multiplying the square feet by 65%, then adding that figure to the square feet of the bottom rectangle.

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Estimating Commercial Square Footage

After the wallcovering has been determined from the specification, now figure the square footage and how much is needed for the job. Once the width is known, the number of square feet in a lineal yard for that particular wallcovering width can be determined. An important formula to remember is:

  • Width divided by 12 = number of feet
  • Number of feet multiplied by 3 (1 yard) = square feet/width (square feet per lineal yard)
  • Divide square feet of wall space to cover by square feet/width

For example:

  • 54-inch wide material used to cover 1500 square feet is figured
  • 54 divided by 12 = 4.5
  • 4.5 multiplied by 3 = 13.5 square feet per linear yard
  • 1500 divided by 13.5 = 111.11

1500 square feet of wall space would require 112 yards without waste.

Once the width and the square footage for the width is known, any amount can be determined. If the yardage for a particular width is known, and the width of the material is changed, to convert from one width to another, work backward to determine the yardage.

For example:

  • 150 yards of 54-inch wide material
  • 54 inches is 13.5 square feet per yard (54/12 = 4.5 X 3 = 13.5)
  • 150 yards multiplied by 13.5 = 2,025 square feet of wall space to cover

New width is 36 inches wide

  • 36/12 = 3
  • 3 X 3 = 9 square feet
  • 2,025 divided by 9 = 225 yards of 36-inch wide wallcovering instead of original 150 yards of 54-inch material.

These are exact yardage amounts and do not allow for waste caused by pattern repeat. A 10 percent waste factor is a good figure to consider; however, a matching pattern with a large repeat would require additional material compared to a textured pattern without a match. All contractors should be aware of the pattern, width, and match before submitting final cid and figures.

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