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How to Cut Strips of Wallpaper

2 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Hanging Wallpaper

Cutting wallpaper into strips involves two steps: First, you rough-cut the wallpaper and then trim the wallpaper in place for a precise fit. When you rough-cut, first draw the paper, design side up, onto your table. Then, cut a strip to size with a pair of large scissors. Always pull the top of the strip up to the same end of the table for cutting and leave a 2- to 3-inch allowance at the top and bottom of each strip.

Keep these other points in mind, too:

  • For papers without a vertical pattern repeat, such as woven coverings and those with vertical stripes, or for papers with a vertical repeat of less than 3 inches, just measure the height of the wall and add about 5 inches (total) for top and bottom allowances. For example, cut 101- inch strips for a 96-inch wall.

    When installing every other strip upside down is called for (such as for grasscloths and other woven wallcoverings), clip the upper-right corner of every top as you cut it so that you know which way is up (or down) when you hang it.

  • For papers with a vertical pattern repeat of more than 3 inches, place the paper on the floor at the base of the wall and, while holding the paper against the wall, carefully pull up enough paper to reach the ceiling. Move the paper up and down to adjust the position of the most dominant pattern, such as the largest flowers in a floral pattern. Then mark the paper at the intersection of the ceiling. Take it down for cutting. First, cut the top 2 to 3 inches above your mark. Then measure and cut the bottom so that the full strip is 5 to 6 inches longer than the height of the wall.

    If the vertical pattern repeat is more than 3 inches, always use the pattern as your guide instead of just cutting a measured amount from the end of the roll. You'll be less likely to make errors or generate unnecessary waste.

  • For a straight-across pattern, cut all full-length strips so that they're identical to the first — that is, the same length and always starting at the same point on the pattern.

  • For paper with a half-drop pattern, every other strip (strips 1, 3, 5, and so on) are cut at one point on the pattern. To determine where to cut the alternating strips (strips 2, 4, 6, and so on), roll out the paper side by side with the first strip and align the patterns correctly, making sure that the top of the uncut paper extends above the top of the odd strip. Then mark and cut the top and bottom of the even strip in line with the odd strip. Measure and cut all future even-numbered strips from this point above the dominant pattern.

    When you're cutting alternating strips at different points on the pattern, as you do for drop patterns, keep the different strips that have been cut in separate piles, all oriented the same way.

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