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How to Measure Rugs

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Knowing the correct dimensions of a rug will come in handy when you’re decorating any room, or if you want to sell an old rug from the family storage unit. Knowing how to measure rugs will make both experiences more successful.

There are a lot of different rug shapes available today, so it’s not as easy as putting a tape measure down along straight lines. There are squares, rectangles, circles, and even ovals. 

By the time you finish reading this article, you should feel better informed about how to measure rugs to ensure they’ll fit in your available space.

Man on standing on beautiful rug at the bed

How to Measure Rugs

There are four main rug shapes and two basic techniques for measuring rug size. You can measure rugs that come in squares, rectangles, and ovals using the traditional technique of finding the rug’s area. However, round rugs are measured using one simple measurement. 

To get the size of a square or rectangular rug, use a tape measure along the outer edges and first measure the length and then measure the width. Length will always be the longest measurement.

If you know the dimensions of the space you need to fill, you don’t need to go any further. But, if you need to know the area, you’ll need to do a little math. Multiply the length times the width to get the total area.

For oval rugs, you’ll still measure length and width, but you’ll need to get these measurements at the widest points. However, you won’t be able to get the total area because the cut corners shave off some space.

You measure round rugs using their diameter.

Measuring floor with tape

Step-by-Step Instructions for Measuring Rugs Correctly

To get the most accurate measurements of a rug, there are a few things you’ll want to do first. Not only will this help you get the measurement right, but it’ll spare the rug a little unnecessary wear and tear.

If the rug is rolled when you want to measure it, unroll it and let it sit for a few minutes to flatten out. If the rug has sat rolled up in storage, it’ll take some time for it to settle down to the shape it’ll be on your floor.

Place the end of a measuring tape on the side that is perpendicular to the dimension you want to measure and pull the tape to the end. Do that on both sides to get the length and the width. The length is always the longest number.

If your rug is a square or rectangle, take your measurements along the end side of the rug. If the rug is an oval shape, get the same measurements, but at the widest part of both dimensions— in the middle.

Measuring a round rug is even easier. Measure across the center of the rug to get its diameter.

Gray patterned rug in the living room

Are Rugs Measured Length by Width?

The basic dimensions of any square or rectangle are length and width, and that includes rugs. You can use those measurements to see if the rug will fit into your space. If you multiply the two dimensions, you can also get the exact area a rug will cover.

If you go shopping for rugs, you’ll see the measurements expressed as the shortest number first and then the longest. Since the shortest number is always the width, rugs are sold width x length.

Oval rugs are also measured using length and width, except that you will measure from the middle of the rug. While square and rectangular rug measurements are taken along the edges, you should measure oval rugs at their widest point.

The exception is a round rug, which is measured straight across the middle. The diameter is used to determine rug size.

Colorful striped carpet under glass table and chair

How to Measure for an Area Rug

How you measure for an area rug will depend on the room you’re going to put it in. Different rooms with different uses will have different size requirements for rugs.

Leave at least a foot on all sides in the living room, but make sure you account for any HVAC registers. You’ll also want to make sure that the rug goes under the feet of the couch so that people who sit on it will have a rug below them to warm their feet.

If you’re placing your rug in a dining room, give the rug between a foot-and-a-half and two feet on all sides of the table to accommodate people sitting around it. You’ll want the rug under the table and all the chairs.

Make sure when measuring that your table is at its full size. So, if you have an expandable table, be sure to pull it out all the way before measuring for your rug.

In a bedroom, the rug should extend out on all sides of the bed by approximately two feet. That way, you will have a rug to stand on when you get out of bed.

Cozy sofa set with rug

What Comes First, Length or Width for Rugs?

If you’re shopping for rugs, the first dimension listed is the width. The width is always the shorter number. The length— always the longer of the two— comes second. So, you probably won’t see a rug listed at 7 x 5 ft. It’ll probably be 5 x 7 ft.

Don’t panic if you see a rug with the larger number first. Just reverse them. No law says the width must go first. It’s just more common.

White wooly rug under living room table


When considering rugs, it’s important to make sure you know how to measure them. This will help you buy the right size for your home or sell one that you no longer need.

It’s not difficult to measure a rug, but you’ll want to know where and how to measure one depending on the shape of the rug. Rectangular and square rugs are measured differently than oval rugs, which are measured differently than round rugs.

If you feel more confident about measuring your rugs, feel free to leave us a comment down below. You can also share this article on your social media networks.

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