Room Measurement Basics

  • Be sure your metal tape measure is at least 25 ft. Fifty feet is better. And it’s always a good idea to have a friend help you measure. The measurement will be more accurate when two can hold the tape straight.
  • Measure the height and width of each wall in the room.
  • Measure from one corner to the opposite corner to confirm the room is square or has crooked angles.
  • Measure your windows, doors and how high the windows are from the floor.
  • Note the location of each electrical outlet.
  • Note the location of wall studs. You can pick up an inexpensive stud finder at your local hardware store. You will need to know the location when you hang art or mirrors.

Now you will know exactly how much room you have (or don't have). No more buying a six-foot sofa for a four-foot space!

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How to measure right:

The German Living Space Regulation (Wohnflächenverordnung) valid since 2004 states which areas may be included in the determination of the living space.

Of particular relevance to rooms with a sloping ceiling is that areas where the ceiling height is less than one metre are excluded from the measurements entirely. Where the ceiling height is one to two metres, 50 percent of these areas are included in the living space calculation. The deviation proves to be practical for all those who place low furniture, like a floor-level sideboard, below the sloping ceiling and can therefore include more space in their planning. In the case of terraces, balconies and loggias, only a quarter of the determined size may be included in the living space. That is why, here too, it is better to measure twice to avoid having to buy twice, for example when it comes to floorings.

Apartments in old buildings are known for not always having straight walls or ceilings. Over the course of time, the floor may often start to sag. If the room length is measured on the floor, this may falsify the result. To be on the safe side, measure horizontally (with the aid of a spirit level) along the wall.

At a maximum length of three metres, however, all traditional tools reach their limits. In view of the emerging trend towards open living areas, room lengths are quickly emerging that go beyond the scope given here. Modern problems require modern solutions. A laser can not only detect a speeding driver, it can also be used to measure the size of a room.

How to Measure Irregular Rooms

Irregularly shaped rooms can prove to be a bit of challenge. It might seem counter intuitive to figure the square footage of a room that isn’t square, but just as before, this can be done in a few easy steps.

Step One: Split up the Room

The first step is to divide the room up into multiple square sections. Separate complex areas or nooks into separate areas that can be measured separately from the rest of the room.

Step Two: Calculate the Area of Each Section

When the room has been divided up into several imaginary square sections, figure the square footage of each one separately using the method above.

It might be easiest to sketch a simple floor outline of the room. Then, cross-section the room and identify the square sections.

Next, measure the edges of each each square section and calculate the square footage of each one just as before. Take note of the results of each section, you’ll need that in a moment.

Step Three: Add the Areas Together

Once to total of each section has been figured, they can be added together. Add the area of each section to the total until you’ve accounted for all of the floor space on the sketch.

These steps are a great way to estimate how much material would be needed to complete a flooring project, for instance new carpet or hardwood.

However, this method of measuring a room will not work to estimate the area of walls or wall coverings. Estimating for drywall, paneling, paint or wallpaper will require a slightly different method of measuring.

Measuring the square footage of the walls in a room utilizes the same principles, but in a slightly different way.

Expert tips:

From an expert’s point of view, plastic folding rules prove to be particularly reliable over a long period of use. Because, unlike wood, the material does not warp over time. High quality gauges offer accuracy class III – this corresponds to a measuring tolerance of 1.4 millimetres over a measuring length of two metres.

Flexible measuring tapes are particularly practical for fast measurements, but are not the measure of all things: They tend to expand after frequent use. Eventually, they can no longer guarantee precise results. The results of ultrasound measuring instruments should also be treated with caution. The speed of the sound waves can be affected by the room climate, such as humidity.

Smartphone apps can be used to quickly draw up a floor plan of a room. Many programs offer impressive results but are not intended for precise measurement. Deviations of several centimetres are not unheard of. The information is thus not really suited to calculating flooring requirements.


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