- How to choose new carpet and flooring like a pro!

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How to Measure for Carpet

(In 4 Simple Steps!)



How Carpet is Measured

Carpet is sold by the square foot, so it’s important to ensure an accurate measurement before purchasing carpet. The goal is to only purchase the least amount of material to complete the job with a little waste as possible. To determine how much carpet is needed in a space, simply multiply the length by width. This figure can be divided by nine to figure the square yardage (9 square feet equals 1 square yard).

Some carpet salespeople are not well trained at the art of Carpet Measuring and may say you require more carpet material than you actually need! Whether the inaccurate measuring is intentional or just a miscalculation, over-measuring could cost you hundreds or thousands more than necessary.


To help prevent over-measuring, let me explain how to measure your home for carpet YOURSELF in just four simple steps. Doing this can help you avoid being overcharged for the carpet, and this can also save you money on padding and installation costs too. 


After you follow all four steps below and measure your home for carpet, you can always take your diagrams to any reputable carpet retailer. They can help you verify how much carpet you need based on your diagrams and the type of carpet you select.


Important Note: If you need carpet seams in any room, the Carpet Pile must be laid out in the exact same direction. Let me explain: Every carpet has a "nap" that lays down one way and stands up the other way, it's just like petting a cat. The cat's fur lays down from the head to the tail and stands up from the tail towards the head. For seaming and in all connected rooms, the carpet pile direction must be going in the same direction, you can't turn the carpet to the left or right or in the opposite direction to put together the seams. The seams will look really bad if you do. 



 Measuring for Carpet Yourself - Option 1 


Tape Measure - Carpet ProfessorThe Old School Method of Carpet Measuring... If you want to learn how to measure for carpet the old fashioned way, here are 4 simple steps to make that happen. 


Just grab a tape measure and something to write with.





Step One - Make a Drawing


Grab a 25-foot tape measure and a pen and paper. Draw a simple diagram of your home, or use a computer program. I did this drawing on my computer using a simple "paint" program, you likely have a paint program on your computer too, look in "accessories" in your program files. A hand drawing will do too.


The drawing doesn't have to be perfect, but the measurements need to be accurate. Just do a simple drawing with all the rooms shown in their proper locations is all you need. If you have a two story home, then do two drawings, one for the upper level, one for the lower level. Do a separate drawing for the stairs and landings. See my free Forms Page for more information about measuring for stairs.


Your drawing should look something like this:



room diagram 1


Step Two - Measure


Now you need to measure each room and write down the measurements on your diagram. We will round up each measurement to the nearest 1/2 foot mark. if your room is 15 feet 3 inches long, round it up to 15 feet 6 inches or 15.5. (We will use the decimal .5 instead of 6" inches) 


This little bit of extra carpet will help make sure you have enough material to do the job. There is only one thing worse than not having enough carpet to finish the job, and that is being charged for more material than you actually need. If your room is 15 feet 8 inches long, then round it up to 16 feet or 16.0 

Always mark the length first, then the width to make all the measurements uniform.  (example 15 L x 10.5 W) 


How do I know which is length and which is width? It doesn't matter, just choose a direction and measure every room the same way. See the diagram below to see how I measured length east to west, and width north to south. Length first, then width. Example = the kitchen measures 18.0 (length) X  9.5 (width)



Here is how your diagram should look after you add measurements:



I have colored vinyl flooring areas yellow. The white areas will have carpet.





Step Three - Calculate


Make a list of your measurements and multiply the length by the width of each room. Then add them up for a total square footage. It should look like this:



Length x Width = ?


Living room      27.5  x  15.0 = 412.5

+Hall               16.0  x    4.5 =   72.0

+Bedroom 1    16.0  x    9.5 = 152.0

+Bedroom 2    16.0  x    9.5 = 152.0

 =                                            788.5 square feet


To calculate the total Square Footage  multiply your room width and length together.


Example 1 

A square 10 x 10 room would require 13.33 yards: (Remember, carpet comes 12 feet wide) That is 12' width x 10' length = 120 square feet divided by 9 = 13.33 yards. In this case, there would be 2 feet x 10 feet of carpet waste because the room is less than 12 feet wide.



Example 2 


A simple 15 x 20 room would add up to 33.33 yards. That is 15 x 20 = 300 divided by 9 = 33.33 yards. In this case, there would need to be a  3' ft. x 20' ft. seam along one wall in this size of a room because the carpet width is only 12 feet wide, but this extra material is already figured into the total yardage of 33.33 yards. Remember, you are measuring just to get a close estimate of your material needs, you will most likely need a few more yards for seaming than you figure here. 


Don't be surprised if you are quoted 5 - 10% more than you calculated here using my yardage chart. It is the nature of the business. It is always wise to get a professional to measure your home accurately before ordering carpet. Experienced Carpet installers are good at measuring and seaming.




Step Four - Add a Little Extra 


I always say to add 5% to the total. Some say to add 10% just to be sure. This little extra amount of material allows for cutting, seaming and trimming needed to complete the job. 


(Although adding a little extra carpet to the total is a common practice, I would rather see the amount of carpet ordered be accurate and not "estimate or make an educated guess" as to how much additional material may be needed for seaming purposes. Unfortunately every installer has their own unique way of seam preparation and sometimes mistakes are made and seams have to be redone or re-cut to make them look right. Having a little extra carpet is better than not having enough.)


788 sf

+39 sf (5%)

= 827 square feet


To get the total square yardage, divide the square footage by 9.

  • 827 square feet divided by 9 = 91.88 square yards.

That's it! If your home is larger or has a complicated floor plan it will be too difficult for you to measure yourself without some professional help.




How To Measure Square Feet?

Measuring a room to determine the square footage is easy it your room is square or rectangular. You just measure the length and the width and multiply those numbers together. 


Here is an example of a 10 foot by 15 foot room. 


How to measure square feet 1 - Carpet Professor


It gets a little more complicated if your room is L-Shaped. You then have to measure the room in two parts. 



Here is an example of an L-Shaped room and how to measure the square footage.



How to measure square feet 2 - Carpet Professor




If the shape of your room looks like this... 

You might need to get some professional help!


Crazy room layout - Carpet Professor


If you are planning to order carpet using your square footage as a guide, you need to understand that carpet generally comes in 12 foot widths. 



Room Yardage Chart


This Room Yardage Chart Makes it Easy To Verify Carpet Measurements.

Room Yardage Chart (PDF)



Learn More About Carpet Seams:


Carpet Seaming Diagram


Measuring for Carpet Seams? Free Carpet Seaming Diagram (Example) for Homeowners.

Carpet Seaming Diagram (larger)



Q. How Much Extra Carpet is Needed to do the Seams?


It almost always requires additional material to create seams and most folks add an additional 10% to the total to make sure there is enough carpet to complete the job. I think it would be smarter to make simple diagrams of your rooms showing the measurements and let a carpet professional help you make sure you order enough carpet and have the seams placed in best (logical) locations. 


Most locally-owned carpet stores have talented staff who would be happy to help you verify your room measurements. You could also ask a qualified carpet installer to assist you if you happen to know one. How to find a qualified Carpet Installer.



Measuring Stairs for Carpet


carpet on stairsMeasuring for stairs can be very tricky. Some stairs are wrapped over one or both sides, some have to be upholstered which may require additional material, some are pie shaped and are more difficult to measure, some have landings that must be considered. 


Visit my Forms Page for more detailed information about how to measure stairs for carpet.



Money-Saving Options

If you get several bids from carpet retailers and are concerned you might be overcharged for materials and labor. Consider hiring a competent Carpet Installer to come to your home and measure your needs and discuss all your options. You can discuss room sizes, carpet styles and types, best carpet nap direction, seam placements and other money-saving options. You will incur a fee for measuring, but it could help you avoid being overcharged for materials and labor. 


The cost to hire a Carpet Installer to measure your home might be $75 to $125 or more for a larger or complicated layout, but could be well worth the investment or at least give you peace of mind knowing you are getting everything done properly. How to find a qualified Carpet Installer



Most Carpet Styles are Made 12 feet wide.

Wider widths may be available (i.e. 13'5" and 15' feet widths). These widths are not common and may or may not be a good choice for your home depending on your room sizes and layout. A competent carpet installer or seasoned carpet sales estimator can help determine if purchasing a carpet wider than 12 feet would be cost effective for you. 



Points to Remember:

  • There will always be some material waste, especially if your rooms are less than 12 ft wide. You have to pay for all material waste that is generated from installing new carpet in your home. That includes carpet and pad too.

  • You must have seams if your rooms are wider than 12 feet. (unless you order carpet that is manufactured wider than 12 feet, such as 13' 6" or 15' widths)

  • The Carpet Nap, in all connecting rooms must lay down in the same direction. The carpet nap lays down lengthwise one way and stands up the other way, like petting a cat.

  • If you select a carpet with a pattern match you will need to add more material to do the job and I suggest you get some expert help to determine how much extra material you will require. This can be tricky.



When you take all this information into consideration you can take a good hard look at the logistics of your lifestyle, needs, goals and budget to come up with a good estimate as to what it will cost you to buy the right grade of carpet. Learn more Carpet and Padding Price Chart


You might need to adjust your budget a little bit to make it all work. Most people are surprised at how much a good quality carpet costs. This means you might have to sacrifice longevity to keep the carpet within your budget, or you may have to do part of the house now and do the other part after you save up a little more money.



Most carpet dealers determine the total cost of the job using the amount of carpet your home requires. For example, if they determine that you need 100 square yards of carpet, they will also charge you for 100 square yards of padding and for 100 yards of carpet installation. However, if you actually need... just 90 yards of carpet, then you may be overcharged by 10 yards of carpet, 10 yards of padding and 10 yards of installation which can add up to you over-paying as much as $500 or more. For this reason some salespeople intentionally add-on a few extra yards of carpet to the proposal to make sure they have enough to complete the job. This is bad news for your pocketbook.


 "A Carpet salesperson's greatest fear is not ordering enough material to complete your job. This could be a nightmare for you and quite embarrassing for the salesperson."



Get Several Free Estimates and Compare

If you get several free estimates from various local carpet retailers you will find that they all have a different total measurement or total cost for your project, that is if they will even tell you what their measurements are. Never pay for an in-home estimate and measure, there are plenty of locally owned and reputable carpet stores that offer free estimates and measures. Carpet Comparison Made Easy


Some salespeople just give you a one-price for the whole job estimate that includes everything from materials and labor to moving furniture and haul away of the old carpet and pad. You would be wise to ask for a simple breakdown of all the charges. 


Be sure to ask for the cost of the carpet to be shown separately from the cost of the pad and installation on the final sales receipt. This is required by the manufacturer should you ever have need to make a warranty claim. They will want proof of how much you paid for the carpet only.



 Measuring for Carpet Yourself - Option 2 


Use this FREE Carpet Measurement and Room Layout Calculator


Here is a powerful FREE online calculator app to help you estimate how much carpet or flooring you need and get printable layouts of your rooms. Simply select your room shape and insert your room measurements to generate printable diagrams. 


You can also create a diagram for your stairs! There is also a helpful Video Tutorial to help you if you have any questions. Click on the Calculate button below to get started.


     Usage SF







Free To Print:

 - How to choose new carpet and flooring like a pro!


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