How to Measure a Room for a Remodel Project

I know that measuring a room doesn’t seem like something you’d need instructions for, but if you’re working in any type of e-design, or virtual design, you need to know how to provide accurate measurements. Knowing how to measure a room is an important part of starting any project.

Even if you’re in the midst of a remodel and have a question about whether something will fit, having accurate measurements can save you lot’s of time and money. You won’t have to guess if that new sofa is going to fit into your living room. You’ll know if it’s going to look too crowded.

Of course you’re also going to need different measurements for different tasks. Your square footage will show you how much flooring to order, your wall area is what you need to know for purchasing paint or wallpaper.

So here is how you can calculate the best measurements for your remodel project.

Helpful Tools for Measuring

What you really need for getting measurements is a measuring tape and a place to write down the measurements. Here are the items that we like to use to keep everything straight.

  • Grid Paper
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Metal Measuring Tape (25ft at least)
  • Camera
  • A Helper
  • A Stud Finder

TIP: Be sure that you measuring tape is metal. You’ll want it to be at least 25 feet. If you’ve got a helper to hold the other end it’s a lot easier to get accurate measurements!

You don’t have to use grid paper but it really helps to keep straight lines and makes the measurements a little quicker to glance at. If you’re using plain paper just be sure to use arrows to indicate any measurements.

Another quick note – be sure that you can read your numbers! You don’t want to look at this later and wonder if that’s a 1 or a 7!

Start With a General Shape

To start measuring your room draw in an outline of the square or rectangle.

You want to draw a square or rectangle of your room to begin with. You’ll add in the details as you continue on your drawing.

I like to use grid paper but you don’t have to. I have a hard time keeping my lines straight and it makes it easier for me to keep all the information looking nice.

For a simple measurement, like paint or flooring, a general sketch works. If I’m not sharing my measurements with someone and I don’t have to be too specific I’ll just use a piece of blank notebook paper. Or the back of an envelope.

When I’m working with a contractor or on something more detailed, like wallpaper, I need a much better drawing with exact measurements and I’ll use grid paper for that.

Start off by measuring the room overall, including ceiling height.

Then add in your doors, windows and other openings like closets.

Always start in one corner of the room and work your way around. It’s easiest if you work clockwise and add in one detail at a time. Add in each window and it’s measurements. Add in each door and it’s measurements, etc.

How to Measure a Room that isn’t square or rectangle

If your room is not a perfect square or rectangle finding your easy length x width just doesn’t work. The easiest way to measure this space will be to divide the area into different shapes and measure them.

You may have a bump out that’s a rectangle or even a triangle. Sketch out your room and divide it into different areas and shapes that you can measure, then just add all your areas together.

How to Measure a Wall

Just like when you’re drawing a floor plan, you’ll want to start with a sketch of your wall shape and then add in all your elements. You’ll need accurate measurements whether you’re figuring out how much paint or wallpaper you need, or you’re adding a window or a door.

When drawing a wall be sure to measure to the inside of your trim and between each item for a more accurate representation.

Measure all of the doors, windows and openings

When you’re measuring a wall you’ll need to be sure that you have the height and width of all of your doors and windows. Measure from the wall to the inside of the casing, not the trim. Be sure to write in your measurements between each item.

Measure to the height of the window sill and then if you’ve got trim, note what size it is.

Be sure to measure the height of each wall in a room. Don’t assume that they are all exactly the same. Hopefully the room is square but if you’re adding cabinetry to a wall that’s not straight you’ll need to know.

Measure from one corner to the opposite corner to find out if your walls are square.

Be sure that you also include all your outlet locations and any other items that are on your wall – switches, vents, a doorbell chime, a thermostat, etc.

Tips for Measuring a Kitchen

When you’re measuring a kitchen you’ll want to use all the above and then also add in more details. Your outside measurements should be the walls and then you’ll add in cabinets and appliances and soffits, columns or other items.

Measure from the wall to the center point of each appliance to place it on your floor plan. Be sure that you note the size of the appliance on your plans also (36″ fridge and 30″ range for example).

Measuring Tips

Remember that you can never have too much information!

Don’t forget to locate your wall studs. The easiest way to do this is to pick up a battery operated stud finder at your local hardware store. These are inexpensive and easy to use. You’ll appreciate having one the next time you need to hang up a piece or art or a heavy mirror.

Other items you don’t want to forget:

  • Light switch locations
  • Light Fixtures
  • Outlet locations
  • Crown molding, Baseboards and Wainscoting
  • Pony Walls
  • Bump out or a Bump in
  • Bay Windows
  • Islands
  • Built in Furniture or Bookcases
  • Vent placement and measurements
  • Radiators
  • Fireplace – including the mantle, hearth and trim
  • Anywhere the floor level changes (steps)
  • Anywhere the ceiling height changes

Indicate on your floor plan where your doorways lead, whether it’s to a connecting room or a hallway. You think you know your home’s layout until you’re staring at a drawn out plan and you’re in the middle of a project trying to make decisions. Things look different on paper than they do in real life so add details to help you identify your space.

It’s also important to keep notes on any furniture items that you plan to keep in a room. Note what the item is and it’s dimensions so that you’ve got all that information for planning. I like to keep a photo with my plans of any light fixtures and furniture we plan to keep in the space.

There you have it. Whether you’re planning a remodel project on your own or you’re planning to hire a designer or contractor to help you, you can measure a room in your home and know exactly where you’re starting from.

If you’d like some more help with your remodel or redecorating projects be sure to check out these helpful posts!

Follow our guide to measuring a room and  you'll be ready for your remodel project.

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