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How-To Calculate Flooring Square Footage

Posted: Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Calculating the Amount of Flooring You Need.Determining how much flooring you need for your upcoming project is not as straightforward as you might think or hope. However, there are flooring calculators available that should help your estimates become a little more exact.

Still, even with calculators, you need to know what it is you’re measuring out. Here’s a guide to how you can calculate the right amount of flooring you need for your upcoming project.

It Begins with the Plan

Before you get too deep into tape measures and calculators, you need to start at square one. And when it comes to calculating the amount of flooring you need, square one is your plan. What exactly are you reflooring to begin with?

This plan includes two things:

  1. The number of rooms that are included in your flooring project
  2. The size of these rooms

Armed with this information, you can determine your square footage.

But how do you determine your square footage? Simply, you multiply the room’s width by its length. This provides you the square footage of your room.

But what if you have areas of your room that don’t need flooring, such as an area in front of a fireplace? You’ll have to calculate those areas as well and deduct them from the total. And while you’re at it, don’t forget areas like closets. You’d hate to leave those out.

It’s important that you keep track of each of your room’s measurements separately, as well as tally up the total square footage. This is particularly important if you plan on getting different types of flooring for your rooms, as your measurement needs might change as a result.

Click here to use our flooring calculatorsNext Up - What Type of Flooring will you Get?

Now that you know the square footage of your rooms, you can order your flooring, right? Not so fast.

It’s important to know what type of flooring you’re getting, because each type comes in different forms. For example, vinyl flooring is sold off a roll, with widths varying from 6 feet to beyond 13 feet. Once you know what style of vinyl you’re going for, determine if the width of your floor is less than the width of the vinyl. If it is, you need to do some special calculations to avoid a nasty seam down the middle of your room.

What you do is multiply the width of your vinyl by the length of your room. So, for example, let’s say that you have a room that’s 10 feed wide and 18 feet long, and you want a vinyl flooring that comes off a roll with a width of 12 feet. See how your room is not as wide as the roll? Here’s how you tackle that obstacle. You’ll multiply 12 (roll width) by 18 (flooring length) to come up with 216 square feet. And let’s say you have a closet that’s 3 square feet. Again, multiply 3 (length) by 12 (width of vinyl) to come up with 36 square feet. So, in total, you’ll need 252 square feet. You’ll also want to add 2 inches for doorways.

For your best bet with vinyl, and most other floorings, add 10% to your needs. This helps with pattern matching.

For something like hardwood, which comes in cartons, you’ll calculate things a little differently. Let’s take a room dimension of 210 total square feet. Let’s factor in 10% waste allowance (it could be more for lower grade hardwood, and as little as 7% for installations of 1000 square feet or more).

Many types of hardwood come in cartons of 20 square feet, so, if we add up our 210 square feet, plus the 10% allowance, we need 231 square feet: 210 + (210x.10), but that doesn’t tell us how many cartons to get. To determine that, divide 231 by 10 to get 11.55. Yikes, 11.55? What do you do now?

You round up, of course, and buy 12 cartons of hardwood.

There are separate calculations for other types of flooring including bamboo, tile and stone, cork, and laminate. Click Here to view our flooring calculators.

Need to calculate moldings, underlayment or glue? Click Here to view an article on this.