How to Read a Steel Measuring Tape

This would not work exactly the same for a metric tape measure. Metric tape measures are based on a different system of measurement.

Steel measuring tapes come in different styles. For measuring rooms, or large areas, the heavy duty style, in a case that pulls open and snaps shut is often used. Understanding what measurement it shows, is important, in any project.

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Steps of Reading a Steel Measuring Tape

The distance between each measurement with a red dot. Extend the tape measure, the tape is in increments of 16ths, 8ths, 4ths, 1/2's and inches

1. A 1/16 of an inch, is usually the smallest measurement on a tape measure. The distance between every line on the tape measure is 1/16 of an inch.

2. An 1/8 of an inch is twice as big as the 1/16 of an inch. It is every other mark.

3. 1/4 of an inch is every four marks on your tape measure.

4. A 1/2 (half) inch is exactly what it sounds like: Half of 1 inch.

5. Inches are the long lines that cross either half of, or all of the 1" width of the tape. They usually are preceded or followed by numbers.

Measure with a Steel Measuring Tape

 - Hold the front of the steel tape at the point you wish to start the measurement from, and extend it to the point where you want to stop.

 - Read the first large number before your stop point - this will tell you the number of inches.

 - Read the smaller lines of various sizes (remembering what the various sizes mean) up until your stop point. This will tell you your fraction of an inch.

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