Getting the Correct Measurement Every Time

Anyone who has any experience with doing their own home repairs, or improvement projects has heard the phrase, “Measure twice, and cut once”. That’s great advice as long as you are measuring correctly in the first place. It does you no good if you are not. Here are a few things to keep in mind when measuring for a project.


Too often when measuring for a project, the do-it-yourselfer will be so focused on measuring from point A to point B, that they will ignore any obstructions that may alter the path, or the measurement. Before measuring take a look at the location that you will be working in and see if there are anything such as thermostats, light fixtures, outlets, or architectural elements that will interfere with your plans. It is better to discover these obstacles before cutting so that you can make any modifications to your plans ahead of time. This will save you in materials and time.

Accurate Measurements

Even the best carpenters have an off day when taking measurements for a project, so don’t feel badly if you don’t get it right the first time. Practice makes perfect. When measuring a wall or doorway, make sure you can reach the farthest point of the measurement. If not, find a helper.

To get an accurate measurement the tape measure needs to be taught and the end placed as close as possible to the point where you will be butting up against something, like a corner for moldings, or a door frame when installing a door. As you extend the tape measure to find your measurement keep the length of the tape measure straight and level. Any slope or twist in the measuring device will add to your measurement, causing you to have an inaccurate cut.

Beginners should add about an eighth of an inch to tight measurements just to be safe, until you get familiar with the measuring process. This will provide you with additional wiggle room in case your measurements were short, and can easily be filed down if the extra length is not needed.


Different materials respond differently to heat, cold, etc. Keep this in mind as you make your measurements and install your project. If you are using a material that may swell and shrink with the weather it is best to make these cuts when the weather is neutral, not too hot and not too wet. Store materials in a moderate temperature, dry area so that your materials will not already be shrunken or swollen from moisture when you make your cuts; if materials have been compromised by weather and used that way, you may end up with bulging or gaping once the project is complete and the weather changes.

Measuring for any project is a tedious and frustrating activity if you don’t keep in mind some basic measuring protocols like checking for obstructions and keeping materials protected from the elements. It doesn’t have to be though; with a little foresight and extra attention you can be measuring like a pro in no time.