How to "Measure Up"

While some building materials are sold by the piece, many are based on one of three measuring methods; square feet, board feet, or linear feet.  If that seems a bit confusing, you're not alone! Find a simple explanation of the difference below. 

  • Square Feet is a 2 dimensional measurement of area. Length x width = area. If you have a 10' x 12' room, you'll need 120 square feet of material to cover either the floor or the ceiling. If your wall is 12' long and 8' tall, you'll need 96 square feet of material to cover your wall. 
  • Linear Feet is a one dimensional measurement. It doesn't matter how wide or how thick the piece is for this measurement. All that is accounted for is how long it is. For example, you might consider using 1" thick by 3" wide oak battons for base trim around the perimeter of the room we described above.   By adding the length of the four sides together (12+12+10+10), you know you will need 44 linear feet of battons to go all the way around.   
  •  Board Feet:  Sorry. Here's where it gets complicated! Board feet measures volume by essentially multiplying together the 3 dimensions of a piece of lumber - length x width x height. A board foot is commonly 1 foot x 1 foot x 1 inch (12"x12"x1"=144 cubic inches), but any shape containing 144 cubic inches of wood equals one board foot. You can calculate how many board feet you have in a piece of lumber by dividing the number of cubic inches by 144. For example, stack the two, one inch thick 12" x 12" boards on top of each other. It's pretty easy to imagine that you now have 2 board feet, but to test the math take 12"x12"x2"=288 and divide by 144 to get 2 board feet.  But what if your lumber is 6" thick by 8" wide and 10' long? Ten feet is equal to 120", so 6"x8"x120"=5760 square inches. Divide by 144 to get 40 board feet. Want to know the simple way to do all this? Get a board foot calculator application for your smart phone and leave your pencil in your pocket like we do!  -  © Used Anew, LLC 2013