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How To Buy New Carpet and Flooring Wisely - Carpet Professor


How to Measure for Carpet 

in 4 Simple Steps!



Tape Measure - Carpet ProfessorSome 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 show you 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 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 take your diagrams to a 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)



Free Carpet Measurement and Room Layout Calculator

Here is a powerful calculator 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 too! There is also a Video Tutorial to help you. Start the Carpet Measuring Calculator



Old School 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 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 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:





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.



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 your room looks like this... 

You need to get 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. This means you will have some material waste if your room is less than 12 feet wide. It also means you will need to have seams if your room is more than 12 feet wide. Learn more about carpet 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 locations.


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



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 or seasoned carpet sales estimator 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)

  • 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. The carpet tends to look a little darker when viewed one way and a little lighter the other way. Any seams will look bad if you don't have the 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. Don't be surprised if you are quoted 5 - 10% more than you calculated here using my yardage chart. 


It is always wise to get a professional to measure your home accurately before ordering carpet. Experienced 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?


When you take all this information into consideration, then 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. 


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 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 $500 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 estimate to make sure they have enough. This is bad news for your pocketbook.


You should not have to pay for 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.


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. 


You would be wise to ask for a simple breakdown of all the charges. Especially ask for the cost of the carpet to be shown separately from the cost of the pad and installation on the final invoice. 


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.





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