Wallpaper is sold in bolts containing 1 to 3 rolls. The roll is a somewhat variable unit of surface area and not necessarily an actual roll of paper.

If the paper is American-made, the standard single roll is 36 square feet. The most usual widths are 20 inches and 27 inches, but wallpaper is also made in widths of 18″, 20½″, 24″, 26″, 28″, and so on up to 54″. The length is whatever brings the surface area to 36 square feet, so a single roll 18″ is 24 feet long, one 20 inches wide is 21 feet long, and so on. Most vinyl wallcovering is 27 inches wide.

Historical American wallpaper and current wallpapers from Europe are usually narrower than today's American papers. A single roll is usually not 36 square feet, but about 28 square feet. Physically, English wallpaper is typically 22 inches wide and 36 feet long and French paper 18 inches wide and about 27 feet long.

To estimate the number of rolls required for a room, assume that each standard roll will cover 30 square feet (28 if the paper is European). Multiply the room's perimeter by its height, divide by 30 (or 28), and round up. Subtract 1 roll for every 50 square feet of door or window openings.

The ASTM sets certain quality requirements for wallcoverings, such as that no piece shorter than 9 feet is allowed in split bolts, and that the total area should be at least 10% larger than that specified on the label. It allows no more than a 1/8-inch variance in pattern match at eye level between two 8-foot strips.

The ASTM also defines tests of colorfastness, washability, scrubability and abrasion resistance, on the basis of which a wallcovering is placed in one of six categories. The higher the category, the more colorfast the wallcovering. Under the exposure specified for the test, category II wallpaper only needs to show no fading after 23 hours, but category VI must show no fading at 200 hours. There is no scrubability requirement for categories I and II; no abrasion resistance requirement for I, II and III.

Category Description
I Decorative only.
II Decorative with Medium Serviceability.
III Decorative with High Serviceability.
IV Type I Commercial Service.
V Type II Commercial Service.
VI Type III Commercial Service.

Only the last three categories meet Federal Specification CCCW-408C.


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