DIY Geometry for Beginners

A measuring tape on a plank of wood

Math plays an important role in our everyday lives; after all, it is considered the universal language. It also plays an important role in home improvement and construction practices. While DIY enthusiasts do not need to be a genius in mathematics, they would be wise to become familiar in the most common mathematical practices used in basic home repair.

Measuring Tools

Laser level and measuring tape

Depending on your project, it is almost certain some level of measuring will be involved. Learning how to handle a measuring device is critical when it comes to home improvement projects. You must know how to take and read measurements accurately to achieve a professional result.

A retractable tape measure should be included in every DIY enthusiast’s tool box. Available in many lengths, some up to 35-feet, it is one of the most important tools in home improvement projects. The tape spans its applicable length displaying inches and feet allowing you to easily take an accurate measurement. Other common measuring devices used in home improvement practices include:

  • A laser/digital tape measure ideal for measuring large rooms or runs without the hassle of a clumsy retractable tape.
  • A 12-inch ruler and 3-foot Yard stick are convenient tools used to take quick, short measurements.
  • A carpenter’s speed square is used to make quick, accurate marks when cutting lumber. It is also practical for taking quick measurements.
  • A T-square is used to mark sheet goods, such as drywall, with straight, square marks and is also equipped with a measuring scale imprinted on its face up to 48-inches.

Determining Total Square Footage of an Area

Speed square, ruler, and wood pencil on a plank of wood

In addition, becoming familiar with common conversions used in construction practices will help to simplify your project by streamlining material purchases. The most common conversion used in home improvement projects is determining the total square footage of a room. Square footage is crucial in many projects such as floor installation, roof installation, painting and many others. It allows you to size the project and figure out material amounts necessary without any guesswork.

  • To determine the square footage of an applicable area, multiply its width by its length in feet. The resulting sum is the total square feet of the area.
  • The same applies when working with inches. Multiply its width by its length in inches. The resulting sum is the total square inches of the area.
  • You can also do the math in inches and divide by 144 to determine square footage. For example, if you multiply 60-inches by 60-inches, the sum will total 3,600 square inches. If you divide this sum by 144, you end up with 25 square feet.

Additional Home Improvement Math Skills

For some projects, you may need to become familiar with other, more complicated formulas such as:

  • Converting decimal equivalents into inches, feet, or yards or vice versa.
  • Determining the area of a triangle
  • Determining the circumference and diameter of a circle.
  • Determining the total cubic yards of an area.

Math plays an important role in home improvement projects. It allows you to take accurate measurements, determine accurate project costs and helps to purchase material quantities more accurately, thus eliminating waste and keeping costs down. So what are you waiting for? It is time to break out those high school and college math books and become reacquainted.