Know How to Read a Tape Measure – It’s Trade Life!

Know how to read a tape measure

Nowadays, it seems like even the smallest of issues with the wiring or plumbing is enough to make homeowners call in a plumber or electrician. What happened to be handy enough to fix a circuit breaker or a repairing a leaky faucet? What’s it take to know how to read a tape measure?

It turns out that a large majority of today’s millennials aren’t handy despite being tech-savvy. In fact, they don’t know how to read a tape measure, let alone use a wrench and screwdriver to make repairs. Learning a couple of handy skills is a great way to save money on small jobs around the house, and it helps you keep your home in top condition.

Let’s start off with the most basic trade skill: know how to read a tape measure. If you’re wondering how learning a skill like this can help you, the answer is that it can help the industry collectively. Now that kids aren’t growing up with the need to do household chores like these, it creates a gap in terms of knowledge when these kids grow up and decide to pursue a career in the trades. Of course, learning how to use a tape measure will also help you when you need to make measurements to send to your contractor.

How to Read a Tape Measure

  1. Start by reading the markings on the tape. On standard types of tape measures, the largest markings indicate the inches. These will be the biggest numbers on the tape measure.
  2. The length of each mark decreases as the increments go down. So for instance, a 1/2-inch marking is larger than a 1/4–inch marking. Consequently, the 1/4-inch marking will be larger than the 1/8-inch marking.

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  • Try reading 1 inch. The space between one largest mark to another is 1 inch. This is the easiest marking to read.
  • Next up, try reading a half-inch. Apply the same principles as reading 1 inch from the tape, except you have to read between the largest and second-largest mark. If you notice carefully, a half-inch lies half-way between a complete one-inch mark.
  • Once you’ve learned how to read a half-inch, move on to learning how to read a quarter inch. This will be between the largest (one inch) marking and the smaller marking. You can also measure it as halfway between a half-inch marking.
  • You can apply the same rule to an eighth inch. The 1/8-inch marking is halfway between a 1/4 marking.  

Using a Tape Measure to Take Measurements

  1. To take a measurement of a length of something, start by placing the end of your tape measure at one end of the object or surface you want to take a measurement of. Once you’ve reached the end of the length, take a reading from the tape measure.  
  2. Then, you have to find the length by adding the figures between the inches. Take the image given below for an example. Here, we’re trying to make a measurement that’s farther than a one-inch mark but doesn’t end at the next one-inch marking. To determine the length, add one inch with the length of the space between the two and three-inch markings. In this example, you’re adding 1 inch with 1/4 inch to get 1¼ inch.
  • If you need to measure a length that’s less than one inch, just read it off the tape measure. If the increments on your tape measure aren’t labeled, first make sure to understand each increment and its marking on the tape. Then, you can add each fraction together to determine the length.
  • For instance, in the picture below, you’ll see a length that goes from an inch marking to an unmarked line. So you know that it’s more than 3/4th of an inch but less than a full one inch. You can see that the marking lies halfway between the 3/4 (6/8) marking and the 7/8 marking. Hence, the marking is half of 1/8, which is 1/16. Once you understand this, just add the fractions to determine the complete length. Convert the 3/4 to 12/16 so you get a common denominator. Then, add the 12/16 to the 1/16 and get 13/16. That’s the measured length.

That’s how you can know how to read a tape measure to measure objects and surfaces around the house in case you ever need to make repairs or installations. Once you get better at reading a tape measure and taking accurate measurements, you can move onto complex handy tasks around the house.

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