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How to Measure for Carpet in 4 Simple Steps

©Alan Fletcher - 30-Year Carpet Expert & Trusted Consumer Advocate


To protect yourself from being overcharged for materials or labor, lets 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". Anyone can be hired to sell carpet, but it takes years of experience to learn how to measure carpet accurately and be able to limit the amount of material waste. You could also have an independent carpet installer measure your home for a nominal fee. The best way is to get several estimates or bids from locally own carpet retailers and compare the estimates side by side.


Learn how to measure your home for carpet in four simple steps. Avoid being overcharged for carpet, pad and installation. Use my Free Carpet Yardage Chart. This will give you a basic estimate so you can know how much carpet you will need to buy before you begin shopping for carpet. 


After you do all four steps and measure your home for carpet, you can take your diagrams to the carpet retailer or other carpet seller and they can help determine how much carpet you need from your diagram. This will help you confirm how much carpet you need and prevent you from being overcharged. More about Carpet Measuring Scams




Step One


Draw a simple diagram of your home. I did this drawing on my computer using a simple "paint" program, you have a paint program on your computer too, look in "accessories" in your program files. The drawing doesn't have to be perfect but the measurements need to be accurate. Just a simple drawing with all the rooms shown is all you need. If you have a two story home, then do two drawings, one for upper, one for lower. Your drawing should look something like this:





Step Two


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. 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 round it up to 16 feet or 16.0 

Always mark the length first, then the width to make everything uniform.  (example 15 x 10.5) How do I know which is length and which is width? It doesn't matter, just choose a direction and measure each room the exact same way.



Here is how it should look after you measure. 




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







Step Three


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:



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

Total                                             788.5 square feet





Step Four


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



+39    = 5%

827 square feet


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


827 divided by 9 = 91.55 square yards.


That's it! If your home is larger or has a difficult floor plan it will be more difficult to measure. If you have stairs you can access my stair yardage chart in my ebook  Visit my Room Yardage Chart - a helpful tool for helping you calculate how much carpet you need to buy.



Measuring For 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 very difficult to measure, some have landings that must be considered. I have included a stair yardage chart in my eBook to help you measure a simple flight of stairs. The nap of the carpet must be going in the same direction on each and every stair. It is best for the nap to be going from the back of the stair to the front of the stair in a water-fall scenario, for best aesthetic appearance and long-term durability. 



Large-Looped Berber Carpet Styles Installed on Stairs


Carpet Nap Direction is especially important when installing large-looped Berber styles on stairs. To prevent what is called the dreaded Berber "Smile", certain steps must be taken to ensure that the carpet is installed in the right direction. The Berber "smile" is a common condition where a looped Berber carpet is installed backwards on a stair and causes the Berber loop to open up and expose the carpet backing and create a "smile" as it flows down over the edge of each stair. Basically, the large loops of the Berber carpet are forced apart and open up to show the carpet backing where the loops fall over the stair edge. It doesn't look good! If the carpet is installed in the correct direction, flowing from the back of the stair to the front, then there will be no "smile" and the problem is avoided.


How To Measure For Carpet Seams | Carpet Seaming Diagram






4 Important Points To Remember about Carpet Seams:


  • Carpet usually comes in rolls 12-feet wide. 

Other widths that may be available are 13.5 and 15 feet. These widths are much less common and may or may not be a good choice for you depending on your room sizes. Before you make your final selection, ask your carpet installer or carpet salesperson if a wider roll of carpet might be more cost effective for your specific application in the long run.

  • There will be some material waste if your room is less than 12 ft wide. 

  • You must have seams if your rooms are wider than 12 feet. 

  • The carpet "Nap" in every Room and any connecting rooms must run in the same direction. 

Every plush style carpet pile has a "natural" direction where the nap "lays down" when stroked in one direction and will "stand up" when stroked in the opposite direction. It's like petting a cat, every cat's fur lays down naturally when petted from the head towards the tail and the fur will stand up when you stroke the cat from the tail towards its head. The same thing applies when seaming together two pieces of carpet. When seaming together two pieces of carpet, the nap of both pieces of carpet MUST be going in the exact same direction or the seam will look horrible. This fact must be taken into consideration when measuring for new carpet. 


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


For example: 10 feet 6 inches would be figured as 10.5 feet (12" in one foot)


3 inches = .25

6 inches = .5

9 inches = .75


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.



Visit my Room Yardage Chart - a helpful tool for helping you calculate how much carpet you need to buy.


See my Detailed Room Diagram that shows how to measure, create and place carpet seams in a 15 x 20" room using 12 foot wide material.


It is always wise to get a professional to measure your home accurately before ordering carpet. You can hire an independent carpet installer to do this for a nominal fee. You could also get several free estimates from locally owned carper retailers near you and compare side by side. If you are buying a carpet that has a "pattern match" you must order enough extra material to be able to line up the repeat. This can be tricky.






Carpet Seam Placements


You should always ask lots of questions about carpet seam placements with anyone who is measuring your home for new carpet. The main goal is to limit the number of seams when possible, and be placed in areas where there is the least amount of foot-traffic if at all possible. 


An experienced carpet measurer will limit the amount of material waste wherever possible. 


Fewer seams means more material waste, more seams means you save the most amount of money. Somewhere in the middle is where most homeowners like to be. Having more seams in the closets or placed under the couch is better than having seams in main walkways. 


Some material waste can be utilized for stairs, closets or landings if they are large enough. Always keep any leftover carpet scraps in case you need to do a repair sometime in the future. Roll them up and store them in a dry place.



Invisible Carpet Seams? Not With White Carpets!


Carpet seams are seldom totally invisible, and some carpet styles and colors seam together far better than others. Seams with plush-style carpet, especially in a white, off-white or very light-colored carpets are typically the most noticeable seams of all. 


Why? It's because of shading. When sunlight or other forms of illumination shine across the seam, it creates a shadow that exposes the seam. It is the nature by design of every light colored plush style carpet. There wouldn't be a shadow with a darker colored carpet.


If you choose a white or light-colored, plush-style carpet carpet you must understand upfront that the seams will not be invisible. In fact, the seams might be quite easy to see, especially if any light source shines across the seam in a certain way. This can happen during the day when sunlight comes in from a window, or at night when you turn on a lamp or overhead light source. This is due to a common shading effect that light colored carpets are well-known for. 






With any plush style carpet, the pile surface is "sheared" to be very smooth and that means every imperfection becomes amplified when a light source shines across the seam. It's not the installers fault that the seam is visible, it is the inherent nature of the carpet, the style and the light color that makes this a common consumer complaint and an issue that has caused many installers to refuse to install white or off white plush style carpets in residential settings. 


Textured plush style carpets are better at hiding seams. It's because the surface of the carpet is not sheared. The carpet pile has tufts of varying heights. This reduces the shading problem you get with a sheared plush style of carpet. Virtually all seams with light colored carpets will be more noticeable than with darker colors. 






Continued: How To Measure For Carpet Seams | Carpet Seaming Diagram



Also See my Free Room Yardage Chart / Yardage Table






Alan's Preferred Carpet Dealers


It's hard to find an honest and reputable carpet dealer! That's why I have created a special list of hand-picked carpet retailers who I believe are reputable, locally owned, give free estimates, offer fair prices, have knowledgeable staff, provide honest measuring and hire qualified installers.

Don't take chances...  See who I recommend near you!















How to Measure for Carpet   Room Yardage Chart   Carpet Seaming Diagram


Best Carpet for Kids Dogs Cats & Pets   Carpet Q & A   Carpet Specifications


Carpet Installation Cost    Room Yardage Chart    Carpet Cost   How to Buy Carpet Wisely

Common Carpet Buying Mistakes  How to Measure for Carpet in 4 Simple Steps  Best Carpet for Stairs 

Learn about Carpet Fibers - Stainmaster, Smartstrand  How to Buy New Carpet Remnants Wisely!


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