How to read the tape measure used for construction

If you are performing some type of home remodeling, which requires you to use a tape measure, you need to know exactly how to read the information printed on the tape. Although the inch lines are clearly marked, you will not always be measuring objects by the inch – and a measurement rarely falls exactly on one of the marked numbers. Fortunately, the numbers are pretty straightforward, and once you understand the tape measure, you’re not going to have a construction measurement problem again.


  1. Look at how each inch is marked with a large number. This allows you to easily see which inches you are in. Although the measure cannot fall into the exact mark, it prevents you from counting every inch of your starting position.
  2. Notice the lines more directly between the solid inch marks. These longer lines are 1/2 inch marks.
  3. Look in small lines running along the length of the tape measure. There are 16 of these small lines within 1 inch. The 1/2 inch mark is the eighth line between the 2 inches. This allows you to measure up to 1/16 of an inch.
  4. Flip the tape to measure more. Measuring tape sometimes has between meter measurements. These measures are not often used in the United States, but numbers are much easier to split. A meter (a little more than a foot) is composed of 100 cm. Each centimeter is composed of 100 mm. Each centimeter is typically marked with a number, while the millimeters are the smallest dashes between centimeters.