How much fabric,paint or wallpaper do I need?

Services for Real Estate Pros with The Historic Interior

I thought since many had written me and asked about the basics of what they needed to “do it themselves” for either drapes or wallpaper and also paint I decided to use the blog for this week to give you this basic information. You can find so many fabric sources on the web, either use one of the ones featured under “Textiles and Trim” or “Window Treatments” on our site or use the company’s products as a guide to find similar fabrics at your local fabric store.

I hope this helps you for whatever project you might have, don’t forget to email me if you need any other advice, I am always happy to help if I can

How much Fabric do I need?Fabric

For Throw Pillows:

The general rule of thumb is half a yard for 14 to 18 inch pillows and 1 yard for 19 to 24 inch pillows. If you want to add a ruffle, you will need at least another half yard.

For Upholstery:

CHAIR SEATS: 3/4 yard of 54" wide fabric is enough to re-cover 2 standard chair seats. So 3 yards will be enough for 8 chair seats. Each 3/4 yard gives you two 27" by 27" pieces of fabric to work with. If the repeat is large or a pattern has to be centered, you may need more.

3 cushion with arms 5 to 7 yards CHAIR 5 to 6 yards
6 ft sofa 10 yards Upholstered Back
7 ft sofa 11 yards and Seat
8 ft sofa 13 yards 3 yards
add an extra 2-3 yards
if you want a ruffled skirt
or if the back is taller than usual

6-7 yards 7-9 yards 2-3 yards


For Curtains and Draperies:

For curtain width, measure window or door plus any additional coverage outside of casing. For fullness the window/door width should be, at minimum, doubled. For extra fullness and a custom look, multiply the width by 2.5 or 3. Add another 2 to 3 feet for hem and to match pattern repeat. (The larger the repeat, the more you need to add.) Divide your final width measurement in half to get the finished width for each panel. If the width per panel is wider than the fabric (usually about 54 in.) you may have to sew two lengths of fabric together to get enough width. For example, if you are making draperies for an 82 in. wide window area, you would need 2 pieces of fabric for each panel, and 4 pieces for the pair.

For length, measure from the top of your rod to the point where you want the panel to end. Add approx. 30 in, to this measurement for the rod pocket, heading, and hemming. To measure for the rod pocket or casing, take the diameter of the rod and add 1 inch. To add for the heading, or the part of the panel that sits above the rod pocket, take the height you want it to be, double that and add an extra half inch for seaming. So if, for example, you want a 1 inch header, you need to add 2.5 inches. For a 4 inch header, you would add 8.5 inches.

For Round Tablecloths with 10" drop: For Round Tablecloths with 29-30" drop:

30" diameter Fabric = 1.5 yards Trim = 4.5 yards 30" diameter Fabric = 5 yards Trim = 8 yards
36" diameter Fabric = 3.25 yards Trim = 5 yards 36" diameter Fabric = 5.5 yards Trim = 8.5 yards
48" diameter Fabric = 4 yards Trim = 6 yards 48" diameter Fabric = 6 yards Trim = 9.5 Yards

Estimating How Much Paint to BuyPaint colors

 Before you begin painting your home's interior walls, ceiling, woodwork, doors, or windows, you need to estimate the amount of paint you'll use. Estimates require specific calculations for each surface you want to paint.

To estimate the amount of paint you need in order to cover the walls of a room, add together the length of all the walls and then multiply the number by the height of the room, from floor to ceiling. The number you get is the room's square footage. Is that math class coming back to you now?

Now you have to determine how much of that square footage is paintable surface area. Because you use a different paint on the doors and windows, subtract those areas from the room total. No sweat, just subtract 20 square feet for each door and 15 square feet for each average-sized window in the room. You end up with a number that is close to the actual wall area you have to cover with paint.

In general, you can expect 1 gallon of paint to cover about 350 square feet. You need slightly more than a gallon if the walls are unpainted drywall, which absorbs more of the paint. You also need to consider whether to paint more than one coat. If you're painting walls that are unfinished, heavily patched, or dark in color, plan on applying two coats of paint

When painting a dark color, pros often add a color tint to the white primer. Tints for both latex or alkyd paints are available at most paint stores. For best results, choose a tint shade that's closest to the top coat color.

Now for the clincher of the math problem. Divide the paintable wall area by 350 (the square-foot coverage in each gallon can) to find the number of gallons of paint you need for the walls. You can round uneven numbers; if the remainder is less than .5, order a couple of quarts of wall paint to go with the gallons; if the remainder is more than .5, order an extra gallon. Of course, buying in bulk is usually more economical, so you may discover that 3 quarts of paint cost as much as a gallon.


The following examples walk you through the calculations for determining how much paint you need for a 14-x-20-foot room that's 8 feet tall and has two doors and two windows.

Ceiling paint estimator

Use the following formula to estimate the amount of ceiling paint you need. Double the result if the ceiling requires two coats.

1. Multiply the length of the ceiling times its width to find its area.

14 × 20 = 280 square feet

2. Divide that number by 350 (the estimated square feet covered per gallon) to figure out how many gallons of paint you need.

280 ÷ 350 = .8

For this example, you want to buy 1 gallon of ceiling paint for a single coat.

Wall paint estimator

Use the following formula to estimate the amount of wall paint you need. Double the result if the walls require two coats.

1. Add together the length of each wall.   14 + 20 + 14 + 20 = 68 feet

2. Multiply the sum by the wall height, to find the total wall area.    68 × 8 = 544 square feet

3. Subtract 20 square feet for each door (20 × 2 = 40) and 15 square feet for each window (15 × 2 = 30) to find the actual amount of wall area you're painting.  

544 – 70 = 474 square feet

4. Divide this figure by the paint coverage (350 square feet per gallon), and the result is the number of gallons to purchase.    474 ÷ 350 = 1.4

For this example, you want to buy 1 gallon and 2 quarts of paint for a single coat.

Woodwork paint estimator

Measure the length of the trim in feet, and multiply that number by 1/2 foot (.5), as a rough size for the width of the trim. Include all the trim around doors and windows, at baseboards, along the ceiling, and for any built-in furniture.

As an example, imagine that you have ceiling molding running around a room that is 14 feet wide and 20 feet long.

1. Determine the total length of molding around the room by adding together the length of all the walls that the molding covers.

Round the numbers off to the nearest foot.

14 + 20 + 14 + 20 = 68 feet

2. Multiply the sum by .5 for an estimated width of the molding.

68 × .5 = 34 square feet

3. Divide this number by 350 to estimate the gallons of paint required to cover the molding.

34 ÷ 350 = .09

The result in this example is much less than a quart, but you may paint other woodwork in the room the same color, so buying a full quart may not be terribly wasteful.

Door and window estimator

Use the same figure for estimating door coverage as you use in your wall-area calculations — 20 square feet = one door. Multiply the number of doors by 20, doubling the answer if you plan to paint both sides. Wall paint estimates allow for 15 square feet for each window. Use about half that window area to figure trim and inside sash — the glass isn't important to the calculation.

For the room in this example:

1. Multiply the number of doors by 20.   2 × 20 = 40 square feet

2. Multiply the number of windows by 7.5.    2 Windows × 7.5 = 15 square feet

3. Add these numbers together.    40 + 15 = 55

4. Divide the result by 350 (the estimated square feet covered per gallon).    54 ÷ 350 = .16

Often, you end up needing to buy only a quart of paint, which goes a long way on doors and window trim

 How much wallpaper do I need?Wallpaper

 1. Step 1

Determine the square footage of the room. Measure each wall in the room and multiply the length times the width of each wall to determine the square footage. Subtract the square footage of the windows and doors to determine the actual square footage of the room.

2. Step 2

Determine the square footage of a single roll of wallpaper. The square footage of your wallpaper roll will depend on the width of the roll with varies from designer to style. If you order your wallpaper from a design center, they will be able to tell you how much square footage each roll covers. If you are purchasing stock rolls of wallpaper, the square footage will be on the label of the wall.

3. Step 3

Divide the square footage of the room by the square footage of the wallpaper to determine the number of rolls you need.

4. Step 4

Consider the pattern of the wallpaper. The pattern on your wallpaper roll will determine how much extra wallpaper you need in order to ensure pattern match from panel to panel. A subtle or small pattern means you will need just the normal 10 percent extra wallpaper. A large-scale pattern or bold plaid or other pattern will mean you need another 10 percent of extra wallpaper

1. 5

Remember that wallpaper is always sold by the double roll. This is important when you are ordering wallpaper from a design center. If you determine that you need 11 rolls of wallpaper, you will need to order 12 double rolls.








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