Imagine that you're shopping for carpeting. In order to decide how long a roll you should buy, you must be able to express the area to be floored in terms of the carpet roll's length, which is measured in linear terms. The trick is remembering to take the width of the carpeting roll into account as you shift from area to a linear measure.

The same technique for calculating linear measurements can be applied for anything that is sold by the length, from bubble wrap to shelf coverings to linoleum. Simply calculate the total area, then divide that by the roll's width to get your linear length. All three measurements – area, width and linear length – must be expressed in terms of the same unit, e.g. inches, yards, meters, feet.

If all you need to do is convert from a different linear measure to linear meters, use the following conversion factors: To convert from feet to meters, divide by 3.280840. To convert from yards to meters, divide by 1.0936133. To convert from inches to meters, divide by 39.370079. To convert from centimeters to meters, divide by 100.

Convert your area measurements to square meters, if necessary, by using the following conversion factors. To convert square feet to square meters, multiply by 0.09290304. To convert square yards to square meters, multiply by 0.83612736. To convert square centimeters to square meters, divide by 10,000. To convert square inches to square meters, multiply by 0.00064516.

Divide the area measurement by the width of your carpet roll to get the length in linear meters. The most common width for carpeting is 12 feet, or 3.66 meters. So, if you're buying carpet for a room that measure 32 meters square, you need a roll that is

Consider the common-sense implications of your calculations; after all, no practical math problem is complete without examining how it actually plays out in the real world. In this case, you might want to add an extra 10 percent to your linear measurement to account for wastage, oddly shaped corners and careful placement of seams.

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References

Tips

- The same technique for calculating linear measurements can be applied for anything that is sold by the length, from bubble wrap to shelf coverings to linoleum. Simply calculate the total area, then divide that by the roll's width to get your linear length. All three measurements -- area, width and linear length -- must be expressed in terms of the same unit, e.g. inches, yards, meters, feet.
- If all you need to do is convert from a different linear measure to linear meters, use the following conversion factors: To convert from feet to meters, divide by 3.280840. To convert from yards to meters, divide by 1.0936133. To convert from inches to meters, divide by 39.370079. To convert from centimeters to meters, divide by 100.

About the Author

Lisa studied mathematics at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and spent several years tutoring high school and university students through scary -- but fun! -- math subjects like algebra and calculus.