In fact, reading a tape measure has little to do with mathematical calculations. It's more about combining your basic understanding of fractions (which you did learn in fifth grade, right?) with an understanding of how the hash-marks work on today's tape measures.
Begin: Learn How to Read a Tape Measure in 9 Steps
Common Tape Measure Features
- Designated "Foot" Markers: Most tape measures tell you where each foot mark is. This way, you don't need to calculate 36 inches as equaling 3 feet. It simply tells you.
- The Hook End: Ever wondered why the metal hook at the end of your tape measure slides around? Could it be a bad riveting job in the factory? The hook slides back and forth so that you can measure either by butting the tape against an object or by hooking it on the edge of the object. The sliding motion ensures that you get an accurate measurement in either direction.
- Hash Marks For Studs/Joists: This tape measure has red hash-marks at every sixteen inches. It's a convenient way to mark off wall studs or joists, which typically are sixteen inches apart.
- Feet vs. Inch Designations: At the one foot mark, the numbering splits off in two directions. On the top, it gives you measurements in feet (as in, 3 feet, 2 inches). On the bottom, it gives you measurements purely in inches (38 inches). Either way, it's the same measurement, just a different way of expressing it.