Ultimate Guide On How To Read A Tape Measure

Needless to say, a tape measure finds wide applications in a range of industries. Apart from being a must-have for construction professionals, tape measure also finds an array of applications in our day to day life. A tape measure is a flexible ruler that can be used to measure the distance between two points or the length of any unit used in construction.

But how many of us know the procedure of measuring using a tape measure? Do you know what different denominations and markings are and what they represent? So in this article, we will be having an in-depth look at how to read a tape measure.


​But before that, let us take a look at some of the applications of the tape measure and the different types of tape measures that are available in the market.

Tape Measure Applications

Measuring tape is not just a crucial component of the construction industry. It is also widely used in the textile and automobile industries. Basically, any work that requires the precise measurement of a length needs a tape measure. That is why it forms an important tool of all the households.

Thankfully, there have been a lot of advancements in the tape measure. Tap measures based on laser and ultrasound technology are readily available. But the overall mechanism and working of a tape measure have remained the same.

​The conventional measuring tape used in tailoring and stitching industry was made up of flexible plastic or cloth. But today, these have been replaced by fiberglass tape measures as they are less prone to damage and everyday wear and tear.

​Tap measure used in the construction industry is made of a stiff and metallic ribbon with a floating hook. Such a tape remains stiff and straight when extended and retracts as a coil for storage.

​That said; there is a range of tape measures available with us today. Let’s have a quick look on a few such tape measures.

Different Types Of Tape Measures

Based on the material that they are made from, tape measures used in surveying can be classified into 4 types:

  • Linen or cloth tapes
  • Metallic tapes
  • Steel tapes
  • Invar tapes

These measuring tapes have copper reinforcements in them that prevent the fiber from stretching and twisting. This makes it more suitable for harsher conditions due to its durability.

The Markings On A Tape Measure

Even though a large number of markings and numbers on your tape measure might seem complex and tough to understand, each of them has its own importance and value in the field of construction. In a tape measure, the biggest marking and number is generally used to represent an inch. And as the number of increments increases, the length of the marking is also reduced. A ½ inch marker will be bigger than a ¼inch one and so on.

The space between two of the largest markings in the tape measure is 1 inch. The length between the biggest mark and the closest second biggest mark in a tape measure represents half an inch. Similarly, you can find out lower denominations on the tape measure, depending on the number of divisions.

Now, take the object that you need to measure and I will show you how to read a tape measure

How To Read A Tape Measure?

Measuring a length with the help of a tape is an easy task that anyone can do.

  • To measure the length of an object with a measuring tape, take the zero end of the tape and place it on the edge of the object that you want to measure. Extend the tape till you have covered the entire length of the object.
  • To read the length of an object, find the closest marking on the tape measure that covers the object completely. This marking will give you the length of the object.

For example, if the last marking ends on the half inch mark that comes after the 25th-inch marker, then the length of the items is 25½ inches. 

Note: To find a length that is less than 1 inch, just read the tape measure of the length. If the increment on the tape measure is not labeled, then determine the marking’s increment and calculate the respective fraction and length.

Wrapping Up

A tape measure finds wide importance and uses in our daily life, not only in construction and tailoring but also in our home. It is one of those tools which we all have at our home to meet the measuring needs. There are many accurate and reliable tape measures available with varying divisions and increments which are designed for specific purposes, like the Black truss marking which provides better visual cue and improves the measuring process’s speed and efficiency.

​Using a tape measure is an easy and simple process. But to read the length in the tape measure, it is important to be aware of the different markings and increments on the tape.

​I hope that all of you have learned what you hoped for in the beginning of this article. With just the know-how and idea about the increments in the tape measure, you can easily find the length, breadth or height of anything that you want.

Abigail Jones

Hi, I'm Abigail. I like spending time tearing my house apart and putting it together back again. Join me on home improvement tutorials, tips on my blog.

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