How to hang patterned wallpaper

Updated February 21, 2017

Hanging wallpaper requires patience and attention to detail. When the wallpaper is patterned, this only makes it that much more important to pay attention to every step and work with extreme caution. There are four main types of patterned wallpaper: random match, drop match, straight-across match and free match. Whichever type of wallpaper pattern you are working with, aligning the pattern elements between wallpaper strips is the name of the game.

Measure a distance out from a doorway or corner that's 2.5 cm (1 inch) shorter than the width of the wallpaper, using your measuring tape. Make several light marks with a pencil at this distance.

Draw a vertical line from the floor to the ceiling along the marks you made in Step 1, creating a plumb line. Make the mark as light as possible so it won't show through the wallpaper.

Cut a strip of wallpaper, using scissors, about 10 cm (4 inches) longer than the wall it will be papered on. If the pattern on the wallpaper is very large, you may need to leave more than 10 cm (4 inches) to allow room to match up the pattern between strips.

Lay the wallpaper roll next the strip you just cut and align the pattern of the first strip with that of the roll. Account for the extra 10 cm (4 inches) of overlap at the top and bottom of the strip. Cut the second strip accordingly so the patterns match up.

Apply wallpaper paste to the first wallpaper strip. If the wallpaper is pre-pasted, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Align the paper with the plumb line you recently drew on the wall, starting at the ceiling. Leave roughly 5 cm (2 inches) extra against the ceiling and 5 cm (2 inches) against the bottom baseboard.

Repeat Step 4 before adhering the second strip to the wall. Continue cutting strips from the roll to match the previous strip before you adhere it to the wall. After several strips, you should develop a clear idea of where you need to cut each strip for it to match up.


Smooth each strip of wallpaper accordingly before moving onto the next. Some patterns don't have specific match points and are more like textures. With these types of wallpaper it works to reverse the strips, alternating the tops and bottoms of adjacent strips.

Things You'll Need

  • Wallpaper paste
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
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About the Author

Ariel Phillips is an editor and writer living in Portland, Ore. He has written for "n+1 Journal" and "The Rumpus Magazine," among others. He maintains an interest in a variety of subjects, including art, culture, the environment, media, the sciences and sports. He earned bachelor's degrees in art and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara.