Many of our customers frequently ask “how do I calculate how much wood I need for a project?” They want to install paneling or hardwood flooring in a room and they have the price per square foot for the material they want to purchase. Without calculating the total square footage of the project though, they are still left wondering the total cost of the project. So, how do you measure the square footage so you can calculate the amount of material or square footage you need?

Measuring Walls

Let’s start with walls, as they have the challenge of windows and doors to measure around. The easiest method is usually to measure the walls, ignoring the windows and doors for now, as you can subtract them out later. Measure the length and the height of each wall, and multiply the height times the width. This gives you the square footage. For example, a 8 feet high wall that is 10 feet long is 80 square feet. Do that for each wall, and determine the total.

Now measure each door and window for height and width. Multiply height times width to get the square footage of each, and total all the doors and windows. Subtract that total from the your initial square footage total for the walls and you have your net square footage for the project.

Measuring Vaulted Ceilings

What if you have a area on the wall that is a triangle, like the part of a wall that meets a vaulted ceiling? Going back to our high school geometry tells us that the area or square footage of a triangle is the height time the width, divided by two. For example, a triangle that is 5 feet tall and 6 feet long has 15 square feet, (5X6 divided by 2). Measure each triangle you have in this manner.

Measuring Floors

Flooring presents a different challenge than walls. While there are no doors or windows to contend with, there are many other items like cabinets, fireplaces and odd nooks. The easiest method usually is to try to divide the floor into a series of squares. Start with the largest area that is a square and measure the length and width of the square. Again, multiply length times width for square footage. Measure each of the succeeding smaller squares and total all areas. Treat triangles, if any, just like we did above.

Accounting for Waste

So you now have calculate the actual square footage of the walls or floors for your project. Is this the amount of material you need then? Not quite yet. We need to discuss including an amount for waste. When cutting the wood flooring or paneling you will encounter some waste when you get to the ends of the walls or cut around objects like doors, windows, cabinets or fireplaces. Adding 5% additional square footage to account for waste is plenty for most projects. We may add 10% if there are a lot of angles or odd cuts. We can help you determine what amount to use for your individual project.