How do you measure furniture dimensions? The answer to this question may sound simple, but there are various methods used by different retailers.
As a buyer, it’s important to know that not all retailers will list their products with the same measurements. For example, a bed frame may be listed as having a width of 59 inches and a height of 39 inches on one retailer’s website, while another retailer lists the dimensions as being 60 x 40. This can make it hard for consumers to find products without having to go through multiple websites just to compare sizes and specifications. Here is an easy guide for identifying dimensions on furniture so you have more confidence when purchasing your next piece of furniture!
Before you make a purchase of your furniture, it is essential to know how furniture dimensions are listed and described. Dimensions listed are usually the size of the furniture when the item is fully assembled. One inch is equal to 2.5 centimeters (1 inch = 2.54 cm), so it would be easy to convert centimeters to inches or vice versa if needed; however, do not assume that all furniture stores use measurements in inches and centimeters. Some stores use feet and inches for their listings, and others use height and width; therefore, it is better to measure the space where your furniture will be placed before you purchase anything.
The way ready-made furniture is measured: There are some standard dimensions used by manufacturers when they make furniture ready-made. Let us have a quick look at how furniture dimensions are listed globally
How are furniture dimensions listed?
Furniture dimensions are listed by their length, height and width. The measurements are listed in inches and are followed by three letters which represent the scale of the drawing. For example, in a floor plan, the dimensions of a room will follow this format: (8’W x 10’H x 5’D)
For furniture drawings all surfaces are measured in square feet. This includes the face of upholstered furniture and any shelves or drawers built into its structure. For example:
The letter “K” means “one thousand”. In other words, one square foot equals 1 X 1 X 1 = 1 square foot. Similarly, an upholstered piece with dimensions of eight feet by ten feet would have an area equal to one thousand square feet (8 X 10 x 1000) = 80 square feet.
The letter “M” is used to identify the number of cubic feet in a given space. (8’W X 10’H x 5’D) X 1 = 50 cubic feet. This is abbreviated as 50 (cubic) X 1 = 50 cubic feet.
When the letter “V” is used, it designates a “linear foot”. The terms “linear foot” and “square foot” are interchangeable in furniture industry jargon. (8’W X 10’H X 5’D) / 1 = 5 linear feet equals five square feet.
This information is printed on the drawings to aid craftsman and manufacturers in producing furniture correctly. When scaled drawings are given to the cabinetmaker, they need to know ahead of time if a piece has 90 square feet of upholstered surface area or 80 cubic feet volume.
Standard Furniture Sizes and Dimensions
Manufacturers often have standard sizes for all kinds of furniture components such as drawers, case pieces, tables, desks and chairs. When your dimensions are given to a cabinet designer or manufacturer, the first thing they will want to know is what standard-size furniture components you want to use. For example, if your desk requires a drawer front (not just a door), you will be asked what size of drawer front you want. The standard sizes are usually 1″, 2″, 3″ and 4″.
Standard furniture dimensions that can be obtained from your plans include:
- The overall height of a piece of furniture (from top to bottom)
- The overall width of a piece of furniture (from left to right)
- The height of each individual shelf in a bookcase or filing cabinet (for example 11″, 12″ and 14″)
- The depth of each individual shelf in a bookcase or filing cabinet (for example 16″, 18″ and 20″)
- The width between legs on desk or table legs
This information is critical in preparing your plans for the manufacturing process. Once the plans have been approved by the architect, they will be sent to a cabinet design and manufacturing company. The designer will use a CAD system to create an exact copy of your drawing (with all of your notes and dimensions). The designer will then have to decide on what choice of materials to use in order to achieve the required aesthetics, functionality, durability and price point you set out in your design brief. The first thing they will do is consult any standards they may have that list recommended material thicknesses for each item. For example, if you drew a 1″ thick drawer front and told them that it was essential that there was no visible gap when fully assembled or installed, then the designer can refer to their standards list of recommended material thicknesses for various items such as drawer fronts and find out what standard size sheet material would be required in order for this requirement to be met (usually 2″.)
There are three main types of furniture dimensions:
- Length: The distance from one end to the other.
- Width: The width of a piece of furniture is the measurement from one side to the other.
- Height: The distance from the floor to the top of a piece of furniture.
The standard sizes and measurements
The standard measurements for furniture in the USA are:
>> Length: Width: Height:
- 39 x 59 x 60 inches (Queen)
- 29.5 x 59.5 x 60 inches (Full)
- 24 x 60 x 60 inches (Twin XL)
- 15.25 x 69.5 x 78 inches (King)
- 13.75 x 63 x 78 inches (California King)
Widths and lengths
One of the dimensions you will see on most retail listings is the width and length. The width is usually listed first, followed by the length:
- “width: 60” (1524mm)”
- “length: 80” (2032mm)”
The most common way to measure furniture is to use inches. Measurements that are given in inches are considered standard and the world of furniture is based on this measurement (i.e. 59″ x 39″).
For larger furniture, such as a bed frame, you may see the measurements listed in feet and inches (i.e. 60″ x 40″). A foot is 12 inches, so if you multiply by 12, your measurements will be 72 x 48.
If you’re looking for a more precise measurement, some retailers provide fractions of inches when listing dimensions on their products (i.e. 58-1/4″ x 38-1/4″). In this example, 58-1/4 would be the width and 38-1/4 would be the height.
Other ways to measure furniture dimensions
1) Body length
Measure the distance from the front of the piece to the back.
Measure how wide it is on one side.
Measure how deep it is (from front to back).
Measure how tall it is.
5) Height with arms down
Take the height of the piece and measure again with the arms down.
6) Distance from floor to top of mattress
Calculate this measurement from where you want to have your bed positioned on the floor, up towards the top ledge for a mattress.
In what order are dimensions usually listed?
The order in which furniture dimensions are listed varies widely, with no one single convention being universally accepted. Where space permits, the order of furniture dimensions is determined by the location of greatest internal volume (largest width) to smallest internal volume (smallest width). This is referred to as the “traditional approach”, where height comes last if used.
Metric units are often preferred in Europe and Canada, while inches are more commonly used in the United States. In the United Kingdom, most furniture dimensions are given in inches and fractions of an inch, although those for larger items such as wardrobes might be given in feet and inches or metric units. The measurement method depends on what is available for use in a given country – for example, standard UK imperial tapes would not be very useful on a construction site in North America.
Sometimes, the same piece of furniture may have different dimensions listed for each country in which it is being sold. For example, a table might be given as:
Furniture catalogs are the most common source, and often provide a diagram that illustrates the dimensions.
The order used in listing dimensions generally depends on the type of furniture. For example:
The length and breadth measurements are sometimes given in multiples of two, three, or four units, with the last number being one or zero for even or odd numbers respectively (e.g., 9’6″ × 12′ × 14’10” × 3′ = 9′ × 12′ × 14′ × 4′, “i.e.” 9 × 12 × 14 × 4 or simply 4). These are known as fractional dimensions. For example, one-half would be written 1⅔; this is read “one and seven-sixteenths”. One could also write it ⅓ to mean “three-eighths”.
In situations where the length of an item is large compared to its width, a nominal dimension may be used which is derived from the ratio of length over width (i.e.: 2:1) such as: 2 × 3’6″.
Another common method of expressing length is in terms of the number of feet or inches it spans. For example, a bed might be listed as: “8 ft (243 cm) long”. In the United States, a foot has historically been defined as exactly 30.48 inches and an inch as exactly 25.4 millimetres so the fraction would be exactly 1/24 = 0.041666… The same bed might be described in the United Kingdom as “9 ft long” which would work out to 9 × 1/2 × 12 = 36 (pounds) or 2/3 × 2 × 5 = 20 (feet).
The metric system’s SI unit for volume, litre, matches closely many furniture dimensions for length and depth when converted with appropriate units for length; so that a 33-litre chest is about the same size as a 2-foot long by 1-foot wide by 1-foot high stack of lumber.
If you’ve ever wondered how furniture is measured, you’ve come to the right place. From measuring heights, widths and lengths to other important dimensions, we’ve got the answers you need to help you make the best furniture purchases.
To measure things like height or length, use a tape measure and keep in mind that lengths are usually given in inches and widths are given in feet and inches.
When it comes to width and height, if you cannot find the size you need, give us a call and we’ll do our best to find it for you.