How to Measure Square Footage

by Shelley Frost
Critical case for a major plumbing and drainage repair

Curious about the square footage of your home? Whether you want to dispute a tax assessment or you're preparing for a remodel, knowing how large your space is can be important.

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Find out how to measure square footage for square and irregular rooms to make the task easier.

Why Might You Need to Know the Square Footage of a Space?

Home Improvements

If you're putting in new flooring, tiling a shower surround or painting a wall, you'll need to know the square footage of the area to buy the right amount of materials. You can also use the calculations to choose materials that fit your budget. For example, if you know you need 100 square feet of tile and your budget is $1,000, you can choose tile that costs up to $10 per square foot to stay within your budget.

Property Tax Disputes

Property tax assessments are based partially on the square footage of your home. If you feel your tax assessment is too high, you might dispute specific details, such as the amount of space they're counting as finished. Measuring the square footage can help you determine whether the number they're using is incorrect.

Property Listings

When you're getting ready to sell your home, an accurate listing can help attract more buyers. Describing how much finished space you have or talking about the square footage of a bonus room could be a selling point.

Tax Calculations

In some cases, you can take deductions on your income taxes based on the square footage of a certain space. For example, if you have a dedicated home office used for business purposes, you might be able to take a home office deduction based on the square footage. An accurate calculation is important to avoid getting in trouble with the IRS.

Building Permits

If you're applying for a building permit for your home, you'll need to provide details, including the square footage.

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How Do You Calculate Square Footage of a Rectangular Wall or Space?

It's easiest to calculate the square footage of square or rectangular spaces. You simply multiply the length times the width to get the total square footage. Let's say your room is 12 feet long by 14 feet wide. You multiply 12 by 14, which comes out to 168 square feet. If you want to know the total square footage of the entire home, you can calculate the square footage of each room and add them all together.

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How Do You Calculate the Square Footage of an Irregular-Shaped Room?

Calculating square feet for an irregular-shaped room can be a little more challenging. If the room is essentially square or rectangular but has a few nooks, you can divide the space into smaller squares and rectangles. Calculate the square footage of each section and add them together.

If you have a triangular section in the room or the entire area is a triangle, remember that a triangle is half of a square or rectangle. Using that logic, you can start by measuring one side of the room. Then, measure from the middle of that side to the opposite corner. Multiply those numbers and divide by two. If the side is 10 feet and the distance to the corner is 15 feet, you multiply 10 by 15 to get 150 and divide by 2 for a total of 75 square feet.

For a rounded room, think back to geometry and the area formula for a circle, which is pi times the radius squared. The radius is halfway across the circle. To calculate the radius of your room, measure across the circle and divide that number by 2. If the room is 10 feet across, that number would be 5. Then you have to multiply that number by itself. In this case, 5 times 5 is 25. Multiply that number by pi, which is 3.14, for a total of 78.5 square feet.

Tips for How to Measure Square Footage

Accuracy is important, and even a little bit of variation could lead to mistakes. These tips can help when figuring out how to measure square footage:

  • Repeat measurements: It's always a good idea to double-check your measurements to ensure they're correct.
  • Get help: Measuring large rooms is easier with an assistant. This ensures you keep the tape measure straight.
  • Use drawings: A sketch of the room with the dimensions added helps you keep track of the measurements.
  • Try online calculators: You can find square footage calculators online for various shapes. You just need to input the measurements, and it does the calculations for you.

With a tape measure and a calculator, it's simple to figure out how to calculate square feet.

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