How much flooring do I need?


Installing new flooring can be just the makeover your home needs. Whether you decide to repair smaller sections or completely replace your existing floors, you might be asking, "How much flooring do I need?"

In many instances, these tips can help you measure your space and figure out how much flooring to buy for your project:

  1. Before you start measuring, make sure you have a tape measure, calculator, pencil and some paper.
  2. Divide the space into smaller rectangles and squares, especially for unusually shaped rooms.
  3. Measure each shape’s dimensions in inches and always round up. 
  4. Calculate the area for each shape and add it all together. 
  5. Convert the units to square feet or square yards.
  6. Account for at least 5%-10% of material waste when ordering materials.

Below is a more in-depth guide you can use to figure out how much material to buy for your wood, vinyl, tile or carpet floors.

Wood flooring.

wood floors

Wood flooring is typically sold by the square foot in a case, carton or bundle. It's best to divide your room into smaller rectangular sections and measure every section where you'll be installing wood floors:

  1. Measure the width and length of the rectangular sections in inches for precision.
  2. Convert the inches to feet.
  3. Multiply the width by the length to get the total square footage. 

For example, in a room that’s 96 inches (8 feet) wide and 120 inches (10 feet) long, the total square footage is 80. That means you’ll need to buy enough cases of wood flooring to cover at least 80 square feet. And don’t be afraid to round up. If your room is 8 feet and 7 inches wide and 10 feet and 8 inches long, round up to 9 feet wide and 11 feet long. So, the total square footage would be 99 instead of 80. 

If you want to install solid hardwood floors, it’s often recommended that you add up to 20% to the total square footage to account for waste, defective materials and extra pieces for future repairs. So, in the previous example where the total square footage is 80, you’d need to buy 96 square feet of solid wood flooring. 

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Vinyl floors.

man installing vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is known for its durability, affordability and easy installation. Sheet vinyl comes in 6- or 12-foot widths that are either cut to fit as one big sheet or come in prepared rolls. On the other hand, plank vinyl comes in a wood plank style and is installed plank by plank. Vinyl planks are typically 4 to 6 inches wide and 3 to 4 feet long. Vinyl flooring is typically sold by the square foot, but some retailers sell sheet vinyl by the square yard.

Measuring a room for vinyl flooring is very similar to measuring a room for hardwood flooring. First, find out the total measurements in inches and convert them to feet (remember to round up). Then, find the area of each space you'd like to cover by multiplying the length by the width. For oddly shaped rooms, break the space up into smaller rectangular areas. Measure each small section, calculate the area, and add it all together to get the total square footage of material you’ll need. If you’re buying sheet vinyl that’s sold by the yard, divide the area in square feet by 9 to get the right measurements. 

It's a good idea to buy 5% to 10% extra material to account for odd shapes that require you to cut the material to size. Vinyl is made out of synthetic material, so defective material is not as common as it is in materials like natural wood.

For example, let’s say you want to buy sheet vinyl. If the length of the area is 84 inches and the width is 156 inches, you can: 

  • Convert 84 inches to 7 feet, and convert 156 inches to 13 feet. Then, multiply 7 feet by 13 feet to get 91 square feet. 
  • Or, multiply 84 inches by 156 inches to get 13,104 square inches. Then, divide it by 144 to get 91 square feet.
  • If you need the total square yards instead, divide 91 by 9 to get 10.11 square yards. 
  • Add 5%-10% to account for waste. So, you’ll need at least 96 square feet of sheet vinyl (or 10.6 square yards).
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Tile floors. 

tile flooring

Floor tile comes in all shapes and sizes, but the most common tile shape is square. For example, ceramic floor tiles are typically 12-by-12 inch squares or larger. Other shapes such as rectangular (subway), octagonal and hexagonal are also available. Floor tiles are usually sold by the square foot in boxes, cartons or cases.

Measure each room and multiply the length by the width to find the area. Then, add each area together to find the total square footage of tiles you’ll need. When you’re shopping for floor tiles, look at the product description to see the cost per square foot and how many tiles come in a box. That will help you figure out how many tiles and boxes you’ll need for your project.

You should buy at least 5% to 10% more tile than what you measured — it all depends on the size of the tiles you use and the type of design you want. For example, if you have a fairly simple rectangular room and relatively small tiles, it's probably safe to get 10% extra tile material to account for breakage. However, if you’ll be using large tiles, you should buy up to 30% more tile than you measured. That’s because larger tiles may be more likely to break during transit before you get a chance to install them.


girl laying on carpetCarpet is sold on a roll in pre-cut widths. The most common widths available for carpet are 12 feet, 13.5 feet and 15 feet. Once you have your measurements, the flooring provider will choose from one of the width options available and cut the carpet accordingly. 

Start by measuring the length of your space from one wall to the opposite wall, and then measure the width from wall to wall. If you have doors, measure to the middle of the doorway. This will add 2 to 3 inches to your measurement. When you’re done measuring, multiply the length by the width to get the room’s total square footage.

Like with all materials we've covered so far, expect at least 10% of your carpet to go to waste. If you have a unique layout, your waste may increase up to 20%. 

Here’s something important to keep in mind when buying carpet: you have limited options when it comes to width sizes. This means you won't be able to buy the material in the exact measurements you need. Instead, you will need to buy a wider piece of carpet.

Pro tip: With carpet installation, you will have seams from where the different pieces of material come together. You’ll want to keep seams out of sight, like under a doorway. If you measure each room to the midpoint of the doorway, it will keep all seams hidden under the door.

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When to call a professional.

If the thought of installing flooring yourself sounds daunting, we get it. Getting help from a professional installer is a great choice if you don't have the time, if your room is oddly shaped or if there are numerous obstacles you have to measure around (fireplace, hearth, island counters, etc.).

Consider hiring a pro who can accurately measure your rooms for new flooring. Use Thumbtack to start searching for a flooring company near you today. 

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