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HomeTools AdviceWhat Is A Tape Measure: Features, Types, and Usage

What Is A Tape Measure: Features, Types, and Usage

What Is A Tape Measure: Features, Types, and Usage

There is at least one tape measure that can be found inside every tool man’s box. Why not? It is very compact and inexpensive and can be used for various purposes such as repairing, building, and maintaining a house or craft. Still, there are those new to this world who asks, “What is tape measure?”

We always take tape measures for granted, which is why this article is specially written to look into the details of this indispensable tool. We will examine its features and types as well as how to use it to take accurate measurements. Let us begin!

What Is A Tape Measure?

Also called the measuring tape, a tape measure is a portable and flexible ruler that is used to measure distances or length of an object or area. It is made from various materials such as plastic, fiberglass, cloth, or metal strip etched with linear measurements.

Tape measures are very portable that they can be carried inside the pockets. Today, they now come in smaller sizes in different forms such as keychain fob and other novelty items.

Different Types of Tape Measure

Tape measures with case come in two types: long tape measures and spring-return pocket tape measures.

  • Long Tape Measure

This one comes in different lengths: 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 300, and 500 feet, which are all designed for professional builders and engineers. Since surveying is done in rods, long tapes of 33 feet or two rods, as well as 66 feet or 4 rods, are utilized. Compared to the self-retracting tape measures, the long tape measures are turned by a hand crank.

  • Spring-return Pocket Tape Measure

This one comes in a small, pocket-sized case that is approximately three inches. The case is built with a spring mechanism that draws the tape back in. The tape usually measures one foot to fifteen feet in length and ¼ to ¾ inches diagonally. This is the most common type of tape measure that is used in many applications.

There are other types of tape measures that are designed for particular uses. Among these tape measures is the so-called sewing tape that is generally made from very flexible plastic or cloth. They are used for dressmaking and tailoring specifically for measuring the waistline of the person. Sewing tapes today are now made of fiberglass, which is more durable and does not stretch easily.

For carpentry, tape measures have a stiff, curved metallic ribbon that can stay firm and straight when prolonged but retracts back in the case for easy storage. It has a hook at the end to help secure the length while measuring.

Common Tape Measure Features

Tape measures come with markings that are confusing at first look. When it is your first time to use a tape measure, these markings might be a pain. So, to help you get familiarized with these markings, here is a list of the most common tape measure features that you need to know:

  • The Hook End

The hook is bestowed to the tape measure with three rivets. This metal hook is used to help secure the length of the tape measure on the other end of the object or distance that is being measured. It can slide, which means that you can either hook it on the edge of the object or butt it against the object.

  • Designated Foot Markers

Most tape measures clearly indicate each foot mark. This makes it easy for the users to determine each foot designation. In this way, you don’t have to calculate 36 inches to mark three feet.

  • Hash Marks for Joists/Studs

With some tape measures, you may notice the red hash marks every 16 inches. These are the markings for wall studs or joists, which are usually 16 inches separately.

  • Inch Marks

These are the most prominent markings along the tape measure that indicate measurement by inches. These numbers begin at “1” and may go as high up as 300 for the 25-foot tape measure.

How to Use Tape Measures Accurately?

Measuring an object or distance is the major factor that makes the project successful or fail. Determining the specific measurement saves you from repeating a task. Therefore, knowing what is tape measure is not enough; you also have to learn how to use it the right way.

In this light, we have compiled some tips and tricks to help you learn how to use the tape measure effectively. Here they are:

  • Some hooks are not reliable enough, and they may slide back into the case. Make sure that the hook is securely attached to the other end of the object being measured.
  • Take the measurement of the object or area twice or thrice. This is to guarantee that you get the right measurement and avoid repeating a task.
  • Do not let the tape retract back inside the case at full force. This movement might cut your finger or break the tape measure. Instead, slowly roll it back.
  • When taking multiple measurements at once, stick masking tape on the tape measure case. You can use this masking tape as an accessible notepad to jot down multiple measurements.

Hidden Features of Tape Measures

There are also some of the hidden features that even the experienced users do not know. Knowing these features will make your life easier. What are these features? Check them out below!

  • Nail Notch

If you can notice, there is a small opening on the hook of the tape measure. This is the notch where you can tap the nail through and hook the tape measure on to it. It is very helpful when you need a helping hand to hold the other end of the tape.

  • Lose End

The metal end of the tape measure is adjustable because the first one inch is short by 1/16 inch. The loose end allows you to take precise measurements when you measure on the outside or inside edge of an object.

  • Tape Housing Measurement

On the outside of the case is the imprinted measurement of the housing from where the tape retracts back in. This is helpful when you measure corners. Why?

To put simply, this feature means that you don’t have to bend the tape and guess the measurement in the center of the curve. Instead, you can extend the tape from one end with the tape flat and the tape housing touch the other edge.

Take the measurement on the tape and add the measurement of the housing to get the accurate measurement of the object or area.


Tape measures are a very useful tool in every building project or craft. It might be confusing to use at first, but when you get used to it, it will be easier. In fact, most models boast more to offer once you discover its hidden features.


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