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Everything You Need to Know About Ordering Wallpaper Online

Words by Olivia Lidbury
a dining room with a table and chairs

Photography by Eric Piasecki; Design by Andrew Howard

There’s wallpaper out there to suit every room, and every aesthetic—even the most minimalist.

…But with choice so abundant, the selection process involves more than simply picking a pattern and a color. Should you opt for a textured grasscloth? Or a dramatic mural? And what about a graphic print on paper?

Our Experts can help you to whittle down ‘the one’, but there are a few considerations to make before you commit. From measuring like a pro to calculating repeats, here’s your crib sheet for curating the best-dressed walls around.

a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photography by Joshua McHugh; Design by McGrath II

What types of wallpaper are out there?

‘Non-pasted’ is the most commonly available (and long-lasting!) type of wallpaper. Applied using an adhesive paste or glue, it’s a meticulous process you may want to leave to the professionals. With pre-pasted wallpaper, the adhesive is activated on contact with water but overall, tends to be less durable.

The other style to know is self-adhesive: this genre simply peels off like a sticker and doesn’t leave any trace behind, making it a savvy option for renters who simply want to spruce a space up short-term.

a black and white drawing of clouds in the sky
Cole & SonNuvolette WallpaperSHOP NOW
a beige and white striped fabric
SchumacherLinen Stripe WallpaperSHOP NOW
a beige rug with leaves on it
Rose TarlowBay Leaf WallpaperSHOP NOW

a dining room with a rug and a painting on the wall

Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg; Design by Zoe Feldman

Are they all made from the same material?

No—and this is where things get fun. Many high-end designs are made from 100% paper, which lends a classic, matte finish. But grasscloth is popular with many interior designers for adding unrivaled texture to walls. These are woven from natural grasses and dried weaves, and are laid with the seams visible. Other similar options include sisal and even linen.

Then there’s vinyl, which is made from recycled plastics and which is a durable choice for withstanding wear-and-tear. Another finish to consider is non-woven, which is a combination of natural and vinyl fibers, which has a flexible backing.

a living room with a fireplace and a desk

Photography by Read McKendree; Design by Katie Rosenfeld and Co.

Which wallpaper is right for my space?

This all depends on lifestyle factors and how the area you’re planning to wallpaper will be treated. A pale grasscloth is closer to fabric, and so it will show up wear and tear rapidly and best avoided in a high-traffic spot. A dark, geometric pattern on paper will be more forgiving.

Don’t assume you can’t wallpaper a kitchen or bathroom because of practicality’s sake: there’s nothing more cocooning than bathing amongst a forest scene—just take the time to research the best sealant to help it withstand moisture. Our procurement team can help answer some questions pertaining to your specific space.

a close up view of a white wallpaper
Winfield ThybonySimply Sisal WallpaperSHOP NOW
a group of fish floating on top of a black surface
Cole & SonAcquario WallpaperSHOP NOW

a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photography by Dylan Thomas; Design by Rita Konig

How much will I need?

Work out the square footage of the area you wish to cover by multiplying the width and height of each surface. Do this for every wall (and ceiling, if applicable) you wish to wallpaper and add them together to get your total. We recommend using a metal tape measure over a fabric style for accuracy.

Remove any large areas from your sums which won’t require coverage, such as doors and windows. Double and triple-check your calculations to be sure, and add 10% to account for any waste—it’s always better to have too much than not enough. If you’re opting for a pattern, keep reading.

a bedroom with floral wallpaper and a bed

Photography by Lauren Miller; Design by Ashley Montgomery Design

What about patterned wallpaper (and what’s a repeat)?

OK, here’s where your high school math may come in handy: when hanging patterned wallpaper, you’ll need to understand how the pattern repeats when placing strips next to each other. With a ‘straight match’, the print will line up the same from the ceiling. With a ‘drop match’, the pattern repeats diagonally from panel to panel. ‘Random match’ wallpaper is very straightforward, as panels can be lined up in any orientation and the final look won’t be affected (this usually applies to stripes and solid colors).

Application gets a tad trickier with a ‘repeat’—this is the distance before the pattern is identical again. Repeats can be as small as an inch or the entire width of the panel. The larger the repeat the larger the pattern, so always order generously to account for waste.

a green wallpaper with keys and leaves
Cole & SonChiavi Segrete WallpaperSHOP NOW
a beige and white wallpaper with palm trees on it
SchumacherAcanthus Stripe Sisal WallpaperSHOP NOW

a bedroom with a fireplace and a bed in it

Photography by Simon Upton; Design by Max Rollitt

Can I hang wallpaper myself?

If you’re experienced, of course. If you’re not, a designer wallpaper may not be the moment to test out your skills. Consider hiring an installer and communicate photos of the space, its square footage, and the specifications of your covering for an accurate estimate on how many rolls you’ll need and what the labor cost will be.

a bedroom with yellow curtains and a white bed

Photography by Felix Forest; Design by Handelsmann + Khaw

What do I need to know before ordering?

Aim to order your chosen style all at once so that your rolls are coming from the same batch—this will help ensure any nuances in color are consistent, as papers are usually dyed in large batches.

Check if your style is ‘single roll’ or ‘double roll’: dimensions between vendors vary, but the latter is usually twice the length than a single, which may be reflected in the price.

a bathroom with a sink and a mirror

Photography by Lauren Miller; Design by Ashley Montgomery Design

Have more questions? We’re here to help!

Shop more wallcoverings on The Expert.