Learn More About Wallpaper Pattern Repeats

If you’re new to wallpapering, one of the terms that’s sure to have caused a few concerns will be ‘pattern repeats’ or ‘repeating patterns wallpaper’. Sure, you’ll have a firm understanding that some wall-coverings have repeating patterns, but how do go about matching them and budgeting for waste – and which types are easier to hang?

In the latest edition of the Home Flair Decor blog, we break down the answers to all these questions and useful wallpapering tips, so you can order the correct number of rolls for your job with complete confidence, and hang your repeat-patterned wallpaper like a true pro.

A bit of background

All wallpapers, even those with little or no design have a pattern repeat, and this is due to the print rollers used during production. The pattern repeat refers to the vertical distance between the identical pattern occurring again, and whilst some repeats can be rather large at over one metre, most are a more conservative size. However it’s well worth being aware, that some aren’t always visible at a glance, so you must be sure to check the direction of hanging before you cut anything! The ‘design repeat measurement’ is usually printed on the roll label or on a separate label at the end of the roll, and tells you in centimetres the distance between the pattern until it identically repeats itself again. Patterns with no repeats, will of course, result in very little wallpaper waste. Understanding the pattern repeat is really important when it comes to ordering your rolls, so if you need any help at all with your calculations, please feel free to give us a call on 0161 729 1686, or drop us a line via our contact form, ensuring you include your room measurements and the wall-covering of your choice.

For your information

There are four different types of pattern repeats, each of which poses varying levels of difficulty when it comes to hanging and matching. Here, we’ve split them into three categories based upon your level of wallpapering experience…


  • Random pattern / Free match: When a wallpaper pattern is truly random or free from any visible pattern, you don’t need to worry about matching the pattern at all, which makes them a great choice for beginners!

With pattern match wallpapers, the pattern looks good however you position the wallpaper. A great example of a these are texture wallpapers, such as a grasscloth design, or a stripe. If your room is the same height all the way around, measure your floor-to-ceiling height and give yourself 10cm (4 inches) extra to allow for trimming, and cut your first strip to this size. You’ll then need to use this strip as your template to cut all other strips required. There’s no need to mark or number the reverse of these lengths, as they should all be identical.

Top Tip: Before you open a roll, hold it up to your wall, and using a finger to mark the previous position, simply walk it across the wall to count how many strips you will need.

  • Reverse Hang: A slight twist on the random/free match is a technique called reverse hang; this can mainly be found on plain or plain textured wallpapers but is not exclusive to this category, so check those labels prior to hanging! This technique is used to keep the colour, tone and texture evenly matched across your walls, and to do this, we recommend you cut all your lengths in one go and then mark each length you cut to show a single direction. (Make sure you roll out each length the same way as they come off of each roll). You could achieve this with a simple pencil mark (arrow) or by chopping a small piece from the corner of each strip.

When it comes to hanging, you need to concentrate and remember the direction mark from your previous length of paper to ensure you hang the next one in the opposite direction. A simple reverse hang example would be this paste the wall glitter texture.


  • Straight across/straight match: A wallpaper with a straight-across match is a pattern that matches across the width of the wallpaper. This means that the design has to match the strips on either side of it, which takes a touch more planning than free matches. Fortunately for the intermediate decorator, they don’t typically come in overly complex patterns.

These patterns tend to have a distinctive feature on the edge of the roll so you can easily spot what you need to match up to. If your room is the same height all the way around, measure your floor to ceiling height and give yourself 10cm (4 inches) extra to allow for trimming and cut your first strip to this size. It is wise to leave the ‘blankest’ area of design (pattern permitting) at the ceiling end, as this will compensate for any slant on the ceiling (…otherwise you may find yourself cutting through a motif as you progress along a wall).

You can now use this strip as your template and cut all other strips required, making sure you are carrying across the match. Again, there should be no need to number the reverse of these lengths as they should all be identical in size.


Drop match patterns are the most ‘complex’ pattern matches, but as with any wallpapering – practice makes perfect.

Using a drop match requires a little more planning and perhaps a double check before you start cutting because the patterns need to be aligned both horizontally and vertically. Be sure to order enough rolls to allow for the necessary pattern matches throughout the room, as repeat purchases cannot always be guaranteed.

  • Half-drop/Offset match: Half-drop patterns repeat at the ceiling line on every other strip. The common theme with these is that the design tends to run through them diagonally, so they require three strips of wallpaper to ensure a consistent repeat of the vertical design.

In essence, a half-drop match is a ‘straight match’ that has been split in half, and steps with each strip. You’ll need to get your decorating-head on here and plan your cutting. Measure your floor to ceiling height and give yourself 10cm (4 inches) extra to allow for trimming (if your room is of an even height – open spaces may require the measurement of each individual length). Use this measurement to cut strip one and number the back of this strip with a pencil. To match the pattern, you need to move the roll along ‘strip one’ until your pattern flows correctly (half a pattern repeat). Once this matches, cut off any excess that protrudes above the top of your first strip and cut the rest of the strips to the same length – numbering the back of each with a pencil, and taking care to stack them on top of the previous strip.  Top Tip: If you are decorating a large area, open two or three rolls at a time and use these to try and match the pattern on the last strip you cut. You may find your wastage reduces significantly.  

Next steps

So there you have it; everything you need to know about pattern repeats, together with all the peace-of-mind you need before tackling your next project. Of course, if you’ve got any further questions, or find yourself in a repeat pattern predicament at any stage of your project, our friendly team of experts are always happy to help.  Call us during contact hours on 0161 729 1686, or drop us a message.

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