HomeDIY Craft7 Mistakes You're Making When Using a Measuring Tape

7 Mistakes You’re Making When Using a Measuring Tape


Learning how to use a tape measure is an underrated skill to have as a DIY-er. Nevertheless, measurement errors are bound to occur often. Learning these mistakes will help you save material and production time.

7 Common Mistakes When Using a Measuring Tape

Types of errors when using tape measure

There are three types of errors – errors, systematic errors and random errors. The method used for measurement should aim to remove systematic errors and mistakes.

The effects of random error are often challenging to correct for. Instead, you should make sure they are within acceptable limits.

1. Wrong

Mistakes are also known as errors or gross errors. They include reading the wrong tape measure reading or making a measurement with a stripped tape measure. When processing measurements you will likely read and transfer incorrect values ​​from a form.

2. Systematic errors

Systematic errors refer to repeated mistakes and are easy to account for during processing. An example of a systematic error is when a tape measure measures a long distance from a known value. This is easy to solve during measurement processing.

3. Random error

Tape measurements made under the same conditions will not give identical values. The tension and tension on the tape will vary depending on the strength of the tension. Random error is the change after removing the systematic errors of inaccuracies and repeated measurements.

Common mistakes when using a tape measure

Some common mistakes include inconsistent pressure, snapping the tape back, incorrect end points, and more.


1. Bend the tape for measuring from inside to inside

Inside-to-inside measurements, such as when measuring the inside of a window frame, are challenging to take. You will likely bend the tape measure at an angle or eyeball the measurement, which will lead to inaccuracies.

To solve this, add the base width of the tape measure to your measurements. Most tape measures are printed on the base width tape measure, three inches being the most common.

2. Uneven stress

The amount of pressure you apply when stretching the tape measure affects the accuracy of your reading. This bends the tape measure, causing inaccurate readings.

Low pressure causes the tape measure to loosen, which can give inaccurate measurements. You can solve this by maintaining a consistent, gentle tension while stretching the tape measure.

3. Snapping back tape

It is common to accidentally slam the tape back into the housing after taking the measurement. Slamming can damage the tab resulting in less accurate measurements. You can avoid this by placing your finger under the tape while retracting to slow it down.

4. Wrong end point

One of the parts of a tape measure is the hook. It’s basically a metal tab that lines up with the edge of your subject.

Failure to hold the tape measure against the object may result in skewed measurements. Avoid this error by properly positioning the hook against the edge. Also, hold the tape measure upright to get an accurate reading.

Another option is to skip the hook using the one inch mark as the “0” point. However, remember to add an inch when processing the final measurement.

5. Poor alignment

If your tape measure is tilted or not perpendicular to the surface you will get incorrect readings. It is very important to ensure proper alignment of the tape measure with the object or surface you are measuring.

6. Not using a stable base

When measuring long distances, place a stable base or support for the tape measure. Holding the tape mid-air or relying on someone creates room for error. Consider using a sturdy object or a measuring partner to ensure stability.

7. Ignoring parallax error

Parallax error occurs when you are not looking directly at the tape measure. So the measurement is different due to the angle of your line of sight. Make sure you look at the measurement markings to avoid this mistake.


Tips and tricks to avoid mistakes when using a tape measure

Use the letter V to mark your measurement

Avoid using a line, letter X, or other symbols to mark your measurements. These symbols confuse where that critical point should be. Use a V, as it provides greater visibility and accuracy. The exact measurement is the point where the two lines meet.

Always measure twice

Double check your measurements before making cuts or permanent changes to your project. The tip can save you from costly mistakes or rework.

Always read from left to right

Reading the tape measure from left to right allows for precise readings. Reading from right to left affects reading accuracy.

Practice consistency

Apply similar measurement units throughout your project to avoid confusion. Mixing metric and imperial measurements will introduce errors in your readings.



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