15 Oct 2020

Construction can require a lot of materials, regardless of what you are trying to make. One of the easiest ways to get hold of fresh materials is by buying them in bulk, but you also need to be aware of how much you need and what that amount of materials will cost. Without a proper estimate, it is very easy to end up over budget but only halfway to finishing your project.

How are Materials Measured?

There are two main ways to measure materials, and it depends on the kind of situation you are trying to deal with. While feet and yards can be used as length and width measurements, two completely different systems can both be invaluable for the average construction job. One is regular yards, used for a two-dimensional measurement, while the other is cubic yards, used to measure a three-dimensional area and judge the capacity or space on offer.

Not all companies make the size of their materials clear, especially if they only give dimensions of the delivery container rather than the size of the materials in a cubic yard measurement. Getting their email address can be an easy way to ask about the product, especially if they have a sales or support email address specifically for this kind of question. It is worth asking, even if you think you might have just missed something on the page.

Feet and Yards

In general, a yard (or a foot) is a measurement of how long a material could be. This is often used with individual physical items, like planks of wood, but sees the most use when handling fabrics and other sheet-style materials that can’t easily be measured in terms of their weight or overall volume. When you are using fabric for your project, you can use the length and width to work out how many square feet it takes up, giving you an approximate area of how large the overall sheet will be.

Since fabric often doesn’t have any depth – or at least no depth worth worrying about – you can usually ignore that part entirely, making fabric measurements almost two-dimensional. Finding out how many feet wide and long a sheet of fabric is, then comparing it with the price, can make it very easy to tell if one option is more expensive than the other when they aren’t exactly the same amount of material.

Cubic Feet and Yards

Normally, materials aren’t measured through weight. While many of us are familiar with the idea of having a ton of something or a few pounds of something else, that doesn’t work in construction, since that is not a practical way of measuring exactly how much that gives you. Different materials weigh different amounts, so a ton of one item might be almost nothing compared to a ton of another material type.

Instead, the most commonly accepted measurements can be done through capacity and area units – this makes the actual volume of the material far easier to understand and is often the easiest way to buy certain materials in bulk. For example, if you are getting a container full of concrete, you might end up with one cubic yard. If put into a cube shape, this amount of concrete would be roughly 3 feet on every side.

This can make it a lot easier to compare different material options in terms of price, too. Measuring the price per cubic yard offers a standardized way of knowing how much it will cost for a specific amount of the materials, and you can do the same thing with weight to get an idea of how difficult it might be to transport from place to place.

In smaller amounts, you might see materials measured in cubic feet or even cubic inches. There are 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot, and 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard, meaning that you can easily break down one cubic yard of material into a cubic foot measurement if you need to.

Calculating Cubic Yards

If you need to know how many cubic yards are needed to completely fill a space, there is a relatively simple formula for it.

Measure the height or depth of a space (whichever is most relevant for the project) in feet, then figure out the square footage of the width and length in the very same space. If one of the sides is measured in inches, convert it into feet, then multiply every dimension together. This gives you cubic feet. With cubic feet, you can easily calculate cubic yards by dividing the number by 27.

For example, you might have a 0.5 x 12 x 12-foot space. Multiplied together, this is 72 cubic feet. Divide it by 27, and you end up with 2.67 cubic yards. This works with any area and any material as long as you can get the proper measurements to start with.

Using These Measurements

Of course, you are not just going to need these measurements for buying materials. Being able to tell the overall volume of a certain space (or the length of an area of fabric) can be vital to making your project run smoothly. If you want the project to end up with perfect results, then you’ll need to be sure that everything you are using is properly measured and fits where it is supposed to, especially when your project requires some major alterations to a building or the landscape beneath it.

Remember that a cubic yard isn’t the same thing as a regular yard, but the two can be used to calculate one another. Mixing them up can cause a lot of issues since they aren’t the same units of measurement and mean very different things in the context of volume and area. A cubic yard represents a three-dimensional space, whereas a non-cubic yard is a two-dimensional space with no depth (or height).

How Much is a Yard of Soil?

Soil generally comes as a solid mass, but it can also be a very good way of getting used to how cubic yards work. No matter how many cubic yards of soil you are getting, planning ahead and understanding how much you might want is important.

In simple terms, be sure that the hole you have created (or plan to create) is properly measured and checked. When you try to fill dirt into an area, knowing how many cubic yards you are dealing with can make it far easier to find a fair price per yard. Use the formula mentioned above to figure out the quantity of soil you might need.

Keep in mind that it can sometimes be helpful to go over the amount you’ll need. This means that you will always have some spare when you fill dirt, avoiding the problem of you suddenly running short while trying to fill a yard or garden.

How Much is a Yard of Concrete?

Concrete may be one of the hardest materials to calculate since it isn’t a simple as planning to fill a whole area. Concrete doesn’t come as a solid mass as wood does, and you generally have to mix and pour it all by yourself. Of course, this means that you have to work out how thick you want it to be since a thicker area of concrete can use up more cubic yards to complete.

When you want to purchase concrete, calculate the amount you’ll need in cubic yards or feet ahead of time. There isn’t any special calculation concrete requires, so you can use the normal volume calculations for concrete planning without causing any issue. However, the biggest difference is in the planning. Trying to calculate concrete requires some extra thought because the amount of mixture you get isn’t going to be the quantity of concrete you get.

Calculating concrete requirements means knowing how deep you want the concrete to go. If your concrete is 1 yard (or 3 feet) deep, that means that every 1 yard by 1 yard space along the top surface creates a single cubic yard. If your concrete is only half a yard thick, then the same space would need to be twice as big to take a single cubic yard of material. This all makes it easier to tell how many cubic yards of concrete you will need to fill that depth, width, and length properly without falling short.

How Much is a Yard of Fabric?

There is no need to use a cubic yard or foot system for fabric since the materials have very little depth and you usually won’t be storing or using them in that way. However, you can still calculate the value per yard that you would be paying, allowing you to choose the best option for the project you are trying to complete.

Calculating the fabric needed (or provided) in yards is easy: just measure the top across the width and length, then convert it into yards. Nothing else is required, and you can do it fairly quickly if you have a decent measuring tool on hand.