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How to Measure for Carpet in 4 Simple Steps

By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate


Some carpet salespeople are not well trained at the art of Carpet Measuring and may try to sell you more carpet than you actually need!


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 only need say... just 95 yards of carpet, then you may be overcharged by 5 yards of carpet, 5 yards of padding and 5 yards of installation which can add up to you over-paying as much as $250 or more.  See my Recommended Carpet Stores Near You




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


For this reason some salespeople intentionally add-on a few extra yards of carpet to the invoice to make sure they have enough. This is bad news for your pocketbook. You should not have to order any more material than you actually need. To protect yourself from being overcharged for materials and labor, you need to find out approximately how much carpet you need to buy. But remember, having a carpet professional measure your home for you is always the best way to go!


Notice that I said "Carpet Professional", I did not say "Carpet Salesperson" as while some salespeople measure very accurately and can help minimize the amount of material waste, other salespeople have absolutely no idea what they are doing and can add hundreds more to the final job cost. Recommended Carpet Stores Near You


If you get several 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. Some just give you a one-price for the whole job that includes everything from materials and labor to moving furniture and haul away of the old carpet and pad. I think you would be wise to as for a simple breakdown of the charges. Especially ask for the cost of the carpet to be shown separately from the pad and installation. This information is required by the manufacturer should you ever have need to make a warranty claim.


More about Carpet Warranties - Carpet Stain Warranty - What Homeowners Need To Know



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


After you follow all four steps below and measure your home for carpet, you can take your diagrams to the carpet retailer and they can help you verify how much carpet you need based on your diagram and the carpet you select. (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 require)



Step One - Make a Drawing


Grab a  25-foot or longer 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.


The drawing doesn't have to be perfect, but the measurements need to be fairly 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:



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 it should look after you measure:



Notice that 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




Step Four - Add extra for seams


Add 5% to the total. This makes allowances for seams and other extra carpet needed to complete the job.


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 difficult floor plan it will be more difficult for you to measure yourself. 


(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 require.)




Measuring Carpet for Stairs:


Measuring 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. 


See my free Forms Page for more information about how to measure for stairs.



More 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 could hire an independent expert to measure your home to verify the amount a material you actually need. You can discuss room sizes, carpet styles and types, best carpet nap direction, seam placements and other money-saving options. 


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 can help determine if purchasing a carpet wider than 12 feet would be cost effective for you. 


The cost to hire a Carpet Installer to measure your home might be $75 to $125 or more for a large or complicated home, but could be well worth the investment, save money overall and give you peace of mind. How to find a qualified Carpet Installer





  • 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.

  • You must have seams if your rooms are wider than 12 feet. (unless you order carpet that is wider than 12 feet)

  • All similar carpet in connecting rooms must lay down in the same direction. The carpet nap lays down one way and stands up the other way. The carpet tends to look darker one way and lighter the other way. It will look bad if you don't have every carpet nap running in the same direction from room to room.

  • (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 require.)



To calculate your total square footage for a room, just multiply your room width and length together.


Example 1 

Here is what a 10 x 10 room would add up to 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 just getting a basic estimate of your material needs, you will most likely need a few more or less yards than you figure here, so don't be surprised if you are quoted 5 to 10% more or less than you calculated here and using my yardage chart. It is always wise to get a professional to measure your home accurately before ordering carpet. Carpet installers are good at measuring. 


Take a look at my Free Carpet Room Yardage Chart. This helpful chart will give you a basic estimate so you can know about how many yards of carpet you will need to buy before you begin shopping for carpet. 




You usually have to buy carpet in widths of 12 feet. If you have a room that is 10 feet by 10 feet you will have to buy a rug that is 12 feet by 10 feet. If you have a room wider than 12 feet you will need to have a seam. For example: A room 15 feet wide by 16 feet long will require a 3 foot by 16 foot seam along one side of the room. Want to see some seam placement diagrams?


Visit my Blog: How Much Extra Carpet is Needed to do the Seams?


When you take all this information into consideration, then you 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 for you. 


You might need to adjust a few things 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 half of the house now and do the other half after you save a little more money.


Read more about How Much Does Carpet Cost?

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