Interior Flooring

Solved! How Much Flooring Do I Need to Buy?

New flooring can refresh and change the whole feeling of a home, but it’s key to properly calculate how much material is necessary at the start.
Meghan Wentland Avatar
How Much Flooring Do I Need


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Q: I’ve recently purchased a wonderful older home that’s full of charm—but all the flooring is worn and badly out of date. Before we move in, we’ll need to replace most of it. I’m trying to keep the budget within reason, and I’ve looked at a few hardwood and laminate flooring calculators online, but I’m struggling to put all the pieces together. How much flooring do I need for each room? Is there an easy way to figure this out?

A: Congratulations on your new home! Flooring is often one of the first big projects new homeowners consider tackling, as the style can heavily impact the look and feel of a home. There are many different types of flooring to choose from, and buyers can select the flooring that suits the purpose and style of each room: tile in the mudroom and kitchen, hardwood flooring in the living spaces, smaller tile in the bathrooms, and wall-to-wall carpet in the bedroom, for instance. It’s your home, so decide how you want it to look and feel as you consider your flooring options.

Knowing the type of flooring you want is an important first step, as this is key to successfully using an online flooring calculator or manually calculating how much of each type of flooring you’ll need. Tile, hardwood, laminate, and vinyl flooring all have different installation processes, so the amount needed will differ, especially when you’re considering the need to order extra materials. When the flooring type for each room has been chosen, it’s time to get out a tape measure or laser measure (which is a great floor measuring tool for larger areas) and a pencil to do some measuring and math—and then it’s time to go shopping. The best flooring companies, such as Empire Today, are a good place to start.

Empire Today Flooring

Carpet, hardwood, tile, vinyl, and laminate flooring.

Bob Vila has partnered with Empire Today® to help you easily get beautiful new floors at a great price.
Free In-Home Estimates

The first step in calculating how much flooring is needed for a room is to measure the space.

How Much Flooring Do I Need

The easiest way to measure a room, hallway, or open space is to make a quick sketch of the area. This is especially helpful if more than one room will be covered by the same flooring. The sketch will make it easier to measure a room and calculate the square footage, and then to total the square footage of all the rooms that will have the same flooring.

  1. Start by drawing the rough shape and composition of each room, including walls, doorways, and hallways or connecting spaces. If a space is L-shaped, treat each block as a separate space.
  2. Next, use the tape measure to carefully measure the length of each space and the width of each space, noting the floor measurements on your sketch. If part of a wall is angled or uneven, measure to the widest part.

Tip: When measuring for flooring, it’s better to slightly overestimate than to underestimate the amount needed—having a little extra flooring material is fine, but having not quite enough is a huge hassle.

For carpet, hardwood, laminate, or vinyl plank flooring, the next step is simply to find the room’s square footage. 

Flooring is almost always priced and sold by square foot. Boxes of planks will be labeled as to how many square feet of material they contain, and rolls of sheet laminate or vinyl will be labeled by width and then by square foot. Carpeting is measured in square feet based on the width of the roll or the size of the tiles. Laminate is sold in sheets or planks, as is vinyl. Hardwood and bamboo are sold in boxes of planks that come in four standard widths:

  • Narrow (2 to 4 inches wide)
  • Standard (about 5 inches wide)
  • Extra wide (6 to 12 inches wide)
  • Random width (anywhere from 2 to 5 inches wide)

Because unit packaging and flooring cost are determined by square foot, flooring shoppers will need to determine how many square feet need to be covered by each type of flooring material in order to calculate how much of each type of flooring to purchase. Using the sketch created to measure the spaces in the home, it’s relatively easy to calculate how many square feet of flooring will be needed. Here’s how to determine the square footage of each room.

  1. Multiply the length of the room by the width of the room to find the square footage of that room. Jot down the total for each room. If the space has an irregular shape and was measured as separate spaces, be sure to include all the pieces of the room.
  2. Add up the totals for each room that will be covered with the same flooring. That’s the square footage that will determine how much flooring to buy.

If the plan is to use several types of flooring, the same calculation applies per type that will be used, if those are carpet, hardwood, laminate, or vinyl plank.

  1. Consult the flooring packaging information. Each package will have a number that indicates how many square feet the contents of the box will cover.
  2. Divide the total square footage of flooring needed by the number of square feet the box will cover; that is the number of boxes that need to be purchased.
  3. Carpet and sheet products are sold by the foot based on the width of the roll, so a little more math is required. Divide the square footage needed by the length of the roll; this is the number of feet of product you’ll need.
Empire Today Flooring

Carpet, hardwood, tile, vinyl, and laminate flooring.

Bob Vila has partnered with Empire Today® to help you easily get beautiful new floors at a great price.
Free In-Home Estimates

For tile, some additional calculations will need to be made based on the size of the individual tiles.

If the tiles purchased come in a box, there is only one calculation needed. Since each box of tiles will more than likely list the square footage it will cover, it’s simply a matter of dividing the total square footage needed by the square footage the tiles in the box cover.

It’s a little more complicated when purchasing individual tiles, as the size of the tile will determine how many are needed.

  1. First, measure the size of the selected tile.
  2. Then, based on the tile size, divide the total square footage needed by the percentage of a square foot that each tile represents:
  • For 4×4-inch tile: Divide the total square footage by 0.1089
  • For 6×6-inch tile: Divide the total square footage by 0.25
  • For 9×9-inch tile: Divide the total square footage by 0.5625
  • For 12×12-inch tile: Divide the total square footage by 1
  • For 12×24-inch tile: Divide the total square footage by 2
  • For 18×18-inch tile: Divide the total square footage by 2.25

The number resulting from this floor tiles calculation formula will be the number of tiles needed to cover the space. This number will help determine how many boxes of tile are needed.

How Much Flooring Do I Need

For any flooring type, it’s a good idea to purchase 5 to 10 percent of extra material to account for waste and errors.

In an ideal world, the room size is such that planks or tiles line up end to end with no cuts, making installation is a breeze, and carpet and sheet flooring roll out perfectly and fill the space with no seams or odd cuts. However, in reality, almost every room will require the flooring material to be cut. Thresholds and doorways must be accommodated, planks must be offset to stagger a pattern, and most rooms aren’t perfectly square. In addition, most flooring jobs require cutting to accommodate certain home features, with pipes, toilets, cabinets, and radiators being just a few examples.

Some type of flooring can get damaged during installation, too, as it might be accidentally scratched, cracked, or torn. To save the frustration and expense (and in some cases, the impossibility) of ordering more flooring to finish a job after the fact, it’s wise to buy 5 to 10 percent over the exact calculation of flooring needed to accommodate for these events. If the extra material is not needed, some flooring manufacturers will accept returns of unopened boxes. This also takes some pressure off the need for a perfect installation, as even the most seasoned pros can make a mistake or two in the process.

While the customer may spend a little more money than necessary, having some extra material on hand is usually the better option. This prevents the need to scramble for additional supplies or the possibility of the flooring material being out of stock, which in turn prolongs the extent and cost of the flooring job. Plus, having a little extra on hand in the event a repair is needed isn’t such a bad idea.

A flooring professional can take the guesswork out of calculating how much new flooring is needed. 

If all of this feels like more math than you’re willing to do, there are flooring calculators available online. However, using those calculators puts the onus of doing some estimation and guesswork on a customer. If that’s the case, getting a quote from a flooring professional can make the process smoother.

Flooring pros will have a wealth of information to share that’s not limited to how much flooring is needed. They will also be able to explain what else needs to be purchased, as some types of flooring require underlayment as well as the flooring itself. Other types need adhesive, clips or spacers, or in the case of tile, mortar and grout. A professional can also help homeowners decide on what type of flooring will ultimately be best for their home and help determine a reasonable flooring estimate that is more accurate than a “how many boxes of flooring do i need” calculator.

Empire Today Flooring

Carpet, hardwood, tile, vinyl, and laminate flooring.

Bob Vila has partnered with Empire Today® to help you easily get beautiful new floors at a great price.
Free In-Home Estimates

Hiring a top-rated flooring company is the most efficient way for homeowners to ensure that the project goes smoothly and can help prevent costly mistakes.

Some flooring can be a DIY job for knowledgeable and skilled homeowners with the right tools. However, the average homeowner may not be well equipped to take on such a large project without some professional input. While there’s an abundance of online tutorials on how to measure flooring, how to cut a perfect arc out of tile to fit around an oddly shaped corner, or how to restretch a carpet, it’s well worth mentioning that the internet may not be the most reliable source of information. Unless a homeowner is very confident in their experience, working with a flooring company that has a great reputation and excellent customer service is the easiest way to design, plan, and install a new floor while anticipating challenges and avoiding expensive accidents. Empire Today is an excellent choice and a nationally renowned company that carries a wealth of carpet, laminate, hardwood, vinyl, and tile flooring choices. Empire Today offers potential customers a free estimate, and an in-home consultation is possible. The company even has a handy room visualizer; when used on a smartphone, this tool can assist customers in “seeing” their vision before committing to a consultation. When choosing a top-tier flooring company to work with, customers may want to consider any promotions offered. Empire Today has many coupons available at various points throughout the year, making the best time to buy flooring less restricted.

Ultimately, a homeowner looking to determine how much flooring they need for a renovation or a remodel can certainly try calculating and estimating themselves. However, with companies such as Empire Today offering excellent products and stellar service, it might be worth letting a professional tackle the task.