What is a Measuring Tape? How to Read a Tape Measure in Meters?

A measuring tape is sometimes also called as a tape measure is basically a ruler that is ductile and is utilized to measure the distance or size of places and objects. Let’s explore how to read a tape measure?

Generally, it consists of a ribbon made of cloth, plastic, fiberglass, or metal with markings that represent linear measurements along its length. This is a very common measuring tool that is used for many purposes. Due to its design, the tape can be easily carried in a pocket or toolkit and it can be used to measure around corners and curves, as well as to measure large distances. 

What exactly is a Measuring Tape?

A tape measure is used when measuring the distance between two objects or the size of an object. Indicating the measurement of the tape along the edge of the tape are inches and fractional inches, usually in increments of quarter-, eight-, and sixteenth-inches. A tape measure may have a marking on the edge of one of its edges in millimeters, centimeters, and meters.

  • As far as the length of tape measures is concerned, the most common lengths are 12 feet, 25 feet, and 100 feet. When it comes to convenience, a 12-foot tape measure is the best option for customers.
  • A builder’s tape is a 25-foot-long piece of tape that is marked on every 16 inches of its length in feet. With this tape, you are able to measure the typical distance between wall studs more easily.
  • You can use the 100-foot tape, which is often constructed of reinforced cotton, to establish property lines and take other outside measurements in order to determine your property boundaries.

Accuracy and Standardizations of Measuring Tapes

The accuracy of a tape measure is largely determined by the markings that are printed on the tape measure’s ends and the markings on the tape itself. Depending on the sliding mechanism on the hook and the thickness of the hook, the accuracy of the retractable tape measure at the end is determined by these factors.

In order to ensure the accuracy of tape measures, the European Commission (EC) has standardized a non-compulsory classification system that provides three levels of accuracy for certified tape measures. These levels are called Classes I, II, and III, respectively.

  • It is important to remember that if a tape measure has been certified, the class rating will be printed on the tape along with other symbols including the nominal length of the tape, the year the tape was manufactured, the country where the tape was manufactured, and the manufacturer’s name.
  • When it comes to retractable tapes, Class I tapes tend to be the most accurate and tend to be more expensive, while Class II tapes tend to be the most common and more budget friendly.

Varieties of Measuring Tapes or Tape Measures

Measurements made of cloth, metal, or fiberglass ribbon differ from rulers in their materials. In terms of tape measures, there are four basic types: case tape measures, long and open-reel tape measures, diameter tape measures (D-tapes), and sewing tape measures.

Cased Tape Measures

DIYers and contractors can use this classic measuring tape to measure 25 feet. Featuring a spring mechanism that recoils the blade, they are retractable. The compact and portable design of this tape measure type makes it the best tape measure for woodworking applications and a must-have tool for building and crafts.

Sewing Tape Measure

Sewing tapes, sometimes referred to as tailor’s tape, are incredibly flexible and conform well to the body. They are used to take precise measurements for designing and altering garments. They are between 60 and 120 inches long. Additionally, they are marked with both imperial and metric measurements.

Diameter Measuring Tape

In the same way as a case tape measure, a diameter tape measure (D-tape) has an incredibly flexible blade that is very convenient to wrap around pipes and poles, since the blade is incredibly flexible. Using the reciprocal of the diameter of a circle, it is possible to determine the circumference and diameter of a cylindrical object using the reciprocal of the circumference of the circle divided by its diameter.

Open Reel Tape Measure

This type of measuring tape is generally used by surveyors, as it does not have any spring mechanism to coil the blade to make it easier to use. Rolling up the blade is done by means of a hand crank, which is operated by a hand. With this tape measure, you will be able to measure distances that are far apart, since it is a long measure. It is most common for professionals to use a measuring wheel when measuring large areas or distances.

Double Hook Tape Measure

If you are choosing a magnetic tape measure, you will often find that the double hook on the tape measure is where the magnets are located.

In addition to the smaller second hook, you are also sure to enjoy an additional benefit when you choose a magnetic tape measure if you pick this smaller second hook. The tape measure may look like it is too big, but if you have ever contorted your body to see the measurement on the tape measure, then you know that sometimes it is handy to be able to measure with the tape measure underneath something in order to see the measurement.

There is no doubt that this is true when you are working in tight spaces, such as under a house as an electrician. In the case of a tape measure that has a double hook, you will be able to measure using the top tang of the tape measure. It will be much easier for you to see the distance marked on the tape if you don’t have to contort and twist your body to see it.

Komelon SL2825 Self Lock 25-Foot Power Tape
  • Self locking mechanism allows blade to be extended smoothly
  • Push button allows blade to be retracted smoothly
  • Nylon coated blade for maximum durability
  • Impact resistant rubberized case

Anatomy of a Tape Measure or a Measuring Tape

Getting to know the different components of a tape measure is the first step toward learning how to read it.

  • The tape cases are square-shaped housings that are used to house tapes. Most of the time, they are made out of plastic or metal and they are about three inches long.
  • Hooks are a bent pieces of metal that hook over the edge of a board or counter, and the hook is a bent piece of metal. By using this device, the tape can be extended from the case and held in place for measuring purposes by extending from the case
  • Tapes and blades are generally yellow or white in color, depending on the manufacturer. It’s a tool that has an extendable and retractable length that can be adjusted. There is a high likelihood that the blade will be made out of metal coated with plastic.
  • On the case, there is a thumb lock that can be activated by pressing a button. By pressing the thumb lock, you will be able to extend the tape measure to the length you require. The tape will retract into the case once you release the thumb lock on the tape case.
  • On the side of the case, there is a belt clip that fastens the case in place. It allows you to attach your tape measure conveniently to your belt, tool belt, or pocket, making it easy to use.

How to Read a Tape Measure or Measuring Tape?

  • The markings should be easy to find/read if you pay attention. As a general rule, the largest marking on a standard tape measure is the inch mark (which is usually the largest number on the tape measure if it has one).
  • The length of the mark increases as the increments decrease. For instance, the mark on a 1/2″ is larger than a 1/4″ mark, which is larger than a 1/8″ mark, and so on.
  • When One inch is to be read. There is a space of one inch between the largest mark and the next largest mark.
  • When half an inch is to be read. There are the same principles that apply to reading one inch, except that this time the space between the second-largest mark and the largest mark is read instead. In other words, you can think of a half-inch mark as being halfway between a full inch and half an inch.
  • The remaining inscriptions have a similar layout. 14 is equal to 1/2. Half of an inch is 18″. The smallest marker on a tape measure is 1/16″. One additional division, to 132′′, is performed by this tape.

Properties to Consider for Buying the Best Measuring Tapes

There are several key characteristics that all measuring tools share, regardless of the type you need. When it comes to selecting a tape measure, there are a few features that you should consider:


Depending on what you plan to use it for most of the time, you will need to choose the appropriate length for it. Most tape measures are 25 feet long, which will cover most of your measuring needs and is the most common length of the tape measure.

A short tape would probably be ideal for hobbyists who do small projects on a regular basis. There are short tapes that run up to 12 feet in length. It is necessary to use a long measuring tape if you are going to measure on a large scale. The term “long tapes” refers to tapes that are over 33 feet or more in length.

Material of the blade

Stainless steel, steel, and fiberglass are the three most common materials used for the blades of tape measures. The advantages of steel blades include their durability, their practicality, and their affordability. It is great to have stainless steel blades because they don’t corrode and will last for many years, however, they are more expensive than regular steel blades as they would not corrode in wet or muddy environments. Long tape measures often use fiberglass blades because of their high tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to heat and abrasion. This makes them an ideal choice for long tape measures.

Material of the casing

The case and body of a tape measure can also be an important factor in choosing the right tape measure for your needs. A high-quality tape case will be constructed from materials that are highly durable, as well as impact-resistant plastic, a stainless steel case, or a rubberized case.

Hook of the measuring tape

At the very tip of the blade of a tape measure, there is a small part called a hook. A hook is provided at the end of the tape that enables the user to hook it in place on an object. The hook is an essential component of almost all tape measures (with the exception of tailors’ or long tape measures).

In general, hooks are made of metal (steel or stainless steel) but they can also be made of other materials, such as plastic. There are some hooks that have been partially coated in rubber for the purpose of adding more grips to them. It is also possible to measure metallic objects with magnetic hooks which are useful for measuring metal objects such as steel.  The hooks on a tape may be facing either upwards or downwards, although most tapes have hooks oriented downwards. 

The belt holder or clip

There is a clip attached to the cased tape measure and it can be attached to your tool belt or pocket if you wish. There are two main types of materials used for clipping, steel, and nylon. It is possible to remove the belt clip or you can buy a clip-less belt if you aren’t a fan of the clip or holder on the belt.

Automatic lock

The tape is able to be locked into place when extended and maintains a fixed point when extended. In tight spaces or when working alone, the tape is protected from getting bent or damaged by using this device when taking measurements.

A press of the blade will allow you to shorten or fully retract the blade to the desired length, ensuring that the tap is secure once pressed

Standout of the tape measure

Tape measures have blades that can be extended to this length before they bend or snap. There is a correlation between the length of the standout and the quality of the tape measure. When you are measuring long objects or those that are tall or wide, you need a tape that has a long standout.

How to Do Measurements Using a Measuring Tape?

  • Measurement of length: Measure the space or object you wish to measure by placing the end of the measure at one end of the space or object. The tape measure should be read off when the length stops.
  • Calculate the length: It is necessary to add up the lengths between inches in order to determine the length. It may be noted that the following image has a measurement that extends beyond the distance between the two-inch marks (i.e., it extends a full inch beyond the two-inch mark). In order to find the length, add the length of the inch (1) to the distance between the second-and third-inch marks in order to find the length. For example, in this case, you would add 1 inch and 1/4 inch to get 114 inches or “one and a half inches” in this case.
  • If the length of the tape measure is less than 1 inch, you can simply read the length from the tape measure. There are no labels on inch increments, so determine the increment of the mark and then add the appropriate fractions to the mark.

Points to Remember for the Process of Reading Measuring Tapes

  • There will be one-foot mark every 12 inches on most tape measures. Using this method, you will no longer need to convert inches into feet yourself. It is also common for some of them to be marked every 3 feet as well.
  • There is a typical distance of 16 inches between studs in a wall on a center-to-center basis. The markings on many tape measures indicate that this is to be done in red.
  • It is common for tape measures to have small, black diamond or triangle shapes known as black truss marks on them. When you see the tape measure/ measuring tape you can see from the diagrams, they indicate the truss layout is every 19 3/16 inches.

Some manufacturers of engineered joists use this spacing as a standard measurement. It is estimated that there are five of these marks every eight feet.

Measuring Tape Usage Tips

  • It is normal for a properly functioning hook to move a little bit. In general, it is designed to slide along the metal in accordance with the thickness of the metal, which is usually about 1/16 inch. By doing so, the tape will be able to provide an accurate measurement of both the inside and outside of the box.
  • The standard length of a tape measure is usually between 15 and 50 feet. In addition to the length of 100 feet or more, other types of long tape measures are available as well. Generally speaking, these devices are made of flat steel or fiberglass and are retractable with the aid of a hand crank. It is possible to bend self-retracting tape measures in order to measure into tight spaces or around corners, as well as to measure around corners.
  • The end of your tape measure should be fixed in place by using a screw or nail as a point of anchorage
  • Anchor the tape measure’s hook slot onto an anchor point to draw a precise circle by using the tape measure. Make sure that the thumb lock is engaged. You will need to hold your pencil or other writing utensil flush against the tape measure as you measure. The anchor point should be turned in a circle around the axis of the circle.
  • The tape measure should be retracted carefully when it is being retracted. When you allow it to snap back, it can cause damage to the tape and might even cause a cut to your skin as sometimes the tape is made from metal such as steel. The tape should be retracted slowly instead of being retracted rapidly.
  • There is a possibility that you will get inaccurate measurements if you have a damaged or bent hook on your tape measure. Two pairs of pliers can often be used to adjust a bent hook if it needs to be adjusted. Alternatively, you can tap it with a hammer against a hard surface in order to break it.
  • You may want to calibrate your tape to any of several good rulers and yardsticks that are available if you are using multiple tapes for the same job at the same time. It is possible to bring the measurements of two tapes into a contract by slightly bending the hooks of the hooks until they are in agreement

Methods by which you can read a Tape measure/ Measuring Tape in meters

As we all know, that meter is the basic unit of length and is used worldwide in order to measure the length and the distance between objects. The measuring tape is a type of instrument that is used to measure meters efficiently.

In this part of the article, we will briefly explain how to measure a measuring tape in meters and to read it based on the measurements. You might find this process a little confusing at first, but don’t be intimidated, it may seem complicated at first, but once you learn what you’re supposed to look for in each step, you will be able to record and convert the figures you need in no time.

This method can be used with different types of tape measures, and the conversion will be the same regardless of the type of tape measure used.

The imperial system may be the system that you are used to depending on which part of the earth you reside in, however, the metric system is the one that is widely used around the world as well, so by learning how to read a measuring tape in meters, you’re picking up a very useful skill.

The steps to measure meters by using a measuring tape are as follows:

Locate the row with metric measurements.

As part of the metric system, meters are used. To begin you will not want to be able to read the imperial measurement and see at the metric side of the tape.

There are usually smaller numbers in the bottom row of the metric system, while larger numbers appear in the top row of the imperial system. The best way to confirm the measurement is to also check for letter labels that say “cm” or “meter”/”m” since those are metric measurements.

  • Even while not all measuring tapes contain letter marks, if they do, they may be found on the very left.
  • If you are unable to see more than one row of markings on the tape measure, try turning it over. Depending on which side of the measurement marker you are looking at, there may be further markings.
  • In the case that your measuring tape only shows imperial measurements, or “inch” and “feet”/”ft” markings, then you will need to get another measuring tape.

Spot out the millimeters

A meter is composed of a number of subunits called millimeters. It is important to keep in mind that millimeters are the smallest markings on the tape measure and they are not labeled. On the tape measure, there are ten-millimeter lines between each centimeter number. Taking this into consideration, you will see exactly nine-millimeter lines between each centimeter number, since the tenth-millimeter line represents the next centimeter number on the tape measure.

  • If you look at “5” and “6,” for example, you should see 9 shorter lines between them.

Spot out the Centimeters

A centimeter is the next subunit of length before we get to the meter. On the metric row, you will see a large and numbered marking that shows which units are being used. Additionally, you will be able to see a slightly longer line halfway between the centimeter measurements. There is a line on the graph that indicates half a centimeter, which consists of five millimeters. The length of this line is larger than that of the other millimeter lines, but it is shorter than that of the centimeter lines. In addition to that, it usually does not come with a label.

  • As an example, you may notice in the measuring tape that there is a slightly longer line between “3” and “4”. This means that 3 centimeters and 5 millimeters make up 3.5 centimeters.

Spot out the meters

Firstly you must know that one meter is made up of 100 centimeters. There should be a meter marked down every 100 centimeter line, which means that it should be visible every 100 centimeters.

  • A label for five meters should be visible after a line of 500 centimeters, for example.

Make Measurement and Keep a Record of it

As soon as you have learned how to identify and read metric lines, you are now ready to take measurements. In order to find the mark those lines up with the edge of your measurement, you need to start at the far left end of the measuring tape, which may be marked with a “0.”. Look for the mark that is the furthest to the right, and note it down.

  • A measurement of 405 centimeters will give you a measurement of 4.05 meters, for example.
  • A measurement of 8 millimeter lines after the 4 centimeter mark will give you a measurement of 4.8 centimeters.

Determine whether you need to convert the measurement

The tape would already have been read in meters if your measurement was greater than 100 centimeters. As an example, if you measured 405 centimeters, you should have already measured 4.05 meters and you can stop here without having to convert your measurements. As a result, if your measurement is less than 1 meter, then you will have to perform a conversion.

  • You will need to convert the measurements in centimeters to meters if, as an example, you wish to measure an object that is 1 centimeter in length and you want to measure it in meters instead.

Calculate the conversion from millimeters to meters

In the case that you have measured something less than 1 centimeter in length, use this conversion. The length of one meter is 1000 millimeters. To find out how many meters there are in millimeters, simply divide the number of millimeters by 1000.

  • You can divide your measurement by 1000 to get 0.005 meters if, for example, you wrote down a measurement of 5 millimeters.

Calculate the meters to centimeters conversion

Whenever the length of what you measured exceeds one centimeter, then you should use this conversion. The length of one meter is equal to 100 centimeters. To find out how many meters there are in one centimeter, divide it by 100 to come up with the number.

  • The distance of 0.095 meters would be calculated by dividing the measured length by 100, for example, 9.5 centimeters would be divided by 100.

Frequently asked questions for Measuring Tape

What do you know about Digital measuring tapes?

Distance measurements can be easily made with a digital tape measure. The term “laser measuring device” also refers to these devices. According to their specific design, they are capable of measuring up to 650 feet. Most of these types are used by professionals and are accurate up to an eighth of an inch.

What are the numbers that are present in the housing of a measuring tape or a tape measure?

There are usually numbers on the housing of standard tape measures that indicate the size of the housing. There is no better way to measure accurately than to lay the device on a flat surface and lay it down flat on the surface. As a general rule, the numbers indicate how much the tape housing should be included in the total amount. 

What do the red numbers indicate that are present on a measuring tape or tape measure?

When measuring for studs in walls, you can use your measuring device’s red numbers. Modern homes place studs and supports every 16 inches, which is the standard distance between them. Despite the fact that this is not always the case with older homes, it works very well with new homes.


It does not matter if you are a contractor, a designer, a homeowner, or someone who works on diy projects, if you have a tool kit at home, a tape measure should be a part of it. Learning to measure in meters by using a measuring tape or tape measure would come in extremely handy and as a result, everyone must have the knowledge for it.


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