How to Measure for New Flooring

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how to measure for new flooring

New flooring is a great way to revitalize your home and give it a new look. You might be surprised at what installing a new type of flooring or a new color can do. 

Before you can do that, though, you have to know what your budget is and what you can afford. Having a good idea of how much new flooring you need will help you set that price. 

Flooring is sold in square feet and many times you will need to buy it in units of boxes. 

Knowing the area that you’re trying to cover will help you avoid buying too much or too little. 

There is nothing worse than covering half your home and needing to wait weeks for more materials to arrive. You also don’t want to waste a lot of money on boxes of flooring you will never use. 

In this article, we have laid out the best way to measure your home for new flooring. By getting an accurate measurement, you can save yourself money on your flooring order. 

Measuring for New Flooring: Basic Idea

Measuring your home for new flooring is a fairly simple process. The steps to proper measurements are: 

  • Break Up floor into rectangles
  • Measure the width and length
  • Convert to feet
  • Add 10% to measurement 
  • Double check with retailer 

How to Calculate Square Footage

how to calculate square footage

Calculating square footage is an easy process that almost anyone can do. Once you understand how it works, you can get your flooring measurements quickly. 

Square footage is calculated by measuring the length and width of a surface and then multiplying those numbers together. This will give you the measurement of the entire area and tell you how much flooring you should buy.

Sometimes flooring is packaged in square yardage instead of footage. To calculate this, simply take your square footage and divide it by 3. 

Break up Rooms into Rectangles

The first thing you should do when measuring your floor is break it up into rectangles. 

Not all rooms are going to be perfectly square and breaking them up is your best option. If the room has outcroppings like closets or bay windows, try to get them cordoned off into rectangles. 

If the room has irregularly shaped outcroppings, you can estimate the square footage. This is done by measuring the longest edges and multiplying them together. 

The important thing to remember is that you should always err on the side of measuring too much. Rounding up is important when measuring flooring. 

Measure Length and Width

Now that you have broken up the rooms into rectangles, you are ready to start measuring. 

Make sure you remove any obstacles along the edge of the wall such as furniture and wall art. Anything that could get in the way while you measure can potentially hinder your measurement. 

Use a standard tape measure to get your measurements. If the room is too large for this, you can also use twine and measure that twine in sections. 

Convert to Feet

convert to feet

Always convert inches to feet when calculating square footage. To do this, divide the number of inches by 12 and round up. 

If the length of your room is 10 feet and 11 inches, this will be 10.92 feet. 

If you like, you can also round up to the next foot if you don’t want to deal with inches in your measurements. 

Most flooring retailers are not going to sell flooring in inches anyway. Getting your measurements to the next foot will eliminate the issue altogether. 

Add 10%

After you have gotten a complete measurement of your floor, be sure to add 10%. 

This will help ensure that you have flooring to spare if you make a mistake during installation. It is also good to have extra should something happen like a gouge or spill once it’s installed. 

If you are installing laminate or hardwood, make sure you are leaving enough room for an expansion gap. This will help prevent cracking and buckling once the floor is installed. 

The expansion gap should be at least ⅛” to allow for expansion and compression with time. 

If your home is exceptionally large, you can cut this extra bit of flooring down to 7%. 

As with everything in measuring for flooring, make sure you are rounding up. 

Check With Your Retailer

Once you have your final measurements, check with your retailer to make sure you get the right amount. They will be able to tell you how many boxes you will need and whether to use yardage or footage. 

A retailer will also be able to help you with any questions you may have regarding installation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how to measure for new flooring
  • Do you need an expansion gap for vinyl flooring?

If you are installing vinyl plank flooring, you need to include a ¼” expansion gap.

If, however, you are simply installing vinyl linoleum, you can bring it all the way to the edge. The linoleum will flex with the movement of the floor. 

  • What is the cheapest option for flooring?

Vinyl will always be the least expensive option for flooring. While it used to be considered less attractive, it has gotten better looking over the years. 

If you are trying to save money, vinyl flooring can be a nice way to rejuvenate your home inexpensively. 

  • How many square feet is a box of laminate?

The amount of laminate in a box will change depending on the brand. However, most laminate comes in boxes that contain 20 square feet. 

Check with your retailer to make sure you are getting the right amount of boxes. 


Measuring your home for new flooring is an easy process that shouldn’t be intimidating. 

As long as you are rounding up and taking your time to measure accurately, you should have enough. Getting the right measurement can save you money and give you the right amount of extra flooring. 

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Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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