Facility Support       8036 Madison Blvd. suite S105

                                                            Madison, AL 35758         .


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Calculating square footage


     “Hhmmm… now I gotta remember what they taught me thirty years ago in grade school!  Well… I just don’t, so now what?”


So lets just review the basics…..


     Actually, the Commercial Cleaning Industry isn’t really all that demanding and our calculations don’t need to be calculated down to the inch like some of the other professions, but it’s still important to get it right.  The good news is that it’s easy when you remember the rules and learn the short cuts that can make you look professional and experienced to your prospect, client or your boss.


     The even better news is that we provide a Free sq. footage calculator!  All you have to do is measure and we’ll figure it out for you.  But you should continue to read further down and learn the easiest way to use it.

Author—Thomas Anthony

Founder - Facility Support client/contractor communication team


     OK, lets start with the basics.  Luckily most areas are either square or rectangular and that formula is easy.  It’s just the length of the area “X” (multiplied) by the width of the area.  If the area  is 20 feet long and 10 feet wide, we just multiply 10 X 20 and get 200 sq. feet.


     Many people in our industry use measuring wheels or laser rulers with the little red light beams.  Some use long tape measures like the landscape contractors do.  And then there’s the guy that takes those really dramatic long steps that equal an approximate yard.  Most of those methods are professional and industry appropriate but they’re way to dramatic for me.  It’s been my experience the dramatics are truly wasted on the prospect because he’s seen three shows before yours already.  Let me quickly share my experiences with you and maybe save you a little grief.  The measuring wheels are useful, but they seem to start conversations with the prospect’s employees and interrupting their employees isn’t a good thing.  The prospect is considering your interaction, or lack thereof, with his employees as well as your ability to estimate the size of his facility.  The laser measuring devices initiate a lot of conversations and they haven’t been very accurate for me anyway.  The landscaping tape measures are more accurate but they require two people.  After about a year of all that grief I quickly learned two things.  I first learned to count fixed, repeated items, in a facility like drop ceiling tiles (usually 2’X4’ or 2’X3’) or sheetrock/paneling (4’ wide) or vct tile (usually 1’X1’) or any repeated item in a facility.  I carry a small tape measure in my pocket and measure the repeated item one time and then count the number of times it’s repeated. The same works for the exterior of the building with windows, cement walkway/curb sections or parking spaces.  The second thing I learned was the length of my step walking at a slow casual pace.  It was just about two feet so I then trained myself to walk with 2’ strides.  It looked and was natural.  Now I’m not an event or show when I estimate a building.  “Look good tip”:  When I go to a building for the first time, I first walk the perimeter of the building counting my steps and arrive at a real close number to the square footage of the entire facility.  If asked what I’m doing, I explain the perceived level of cleanliness of a building to it visitors, is first determined by the “approach” to the building, and I’m just assessing the future maintenance.  But shortly after meeting my prospect, I will casually mention the size of the building in the form of a question: “I would guess you have about 10,000 feet here?”  The same holds true for any area inside the facility.  If I’m walked through the lobby, I will count as I go.  I will have taken 50 steps in one direction and 25 steps in the other and learned the lobby is 100’ X 50’ and so on.  The prospect doesn’t have to know your counting your steps or his floor tiles.

     The next concept I learned was that it was easier to subtract one small area from the larger area, then it was to let one smaller area divide up the larger area into something I couldn’t figure out.


     In this top drawing the area is just rectangular so the math is easy:

10” X 20’ = 200 sq. ft.   

     This second area isn’t quite as easy at first, but when I subtract the “non-serviceable” area, it’s still just simple math:

The length X the width of:


(entire area) :                                         10’ X 20’ = 200 sq. ft.

Minus (-)

The non-serviceable areas                           5’ X 10’ =  50 sq. ft.


Serviceable area =                                                  150 sq. ft.


Hint:  The area can have any number of non-serviceable areas.  Just add them altogether and subtract the same way.

     The third is just another example of non-serviceable area.


(entire area) :                                         10’ X 20’ = 200 sq. ft.

Minus (-)

The non-serviceable areas                           5’ X 10’ =  50 sq. ft.


Serviceable area =                                                  150 sq. ft.






     The fourth example is a circle.  It’s the most complicated and it’s

easier to use the calculator, but here’s the formula:

Circle area = the radius X the radius X 3.14.


Radius = the diameter divided by 2.  10 /2 = 5 ft.

Circle area = the radius (5’) X the radius (5’) X 3.44 = 78.5 sq. ft.



Finally we have a triangle.  To use this formula, and the one in the

calculator, the triangle must be a right angle (90 degree corner).


The triangle is the same as a square or a rectangle, divided by 2.


Area = length x width / 2.


10 X 10          = 100

Divided by 2       = 50 sq. ft.

For all other shapes (the odd shapes)


I just take the longest measurement in both directions and use those numbers for the calculations for a square area.  I then estimate (guess) how much of the square is actual surface area and calculate that percentage.  Guessing probably isn’t a good idea for anything with higher material expenses than the cleaning industry.


10 X 10    = 100

X 80 %     = 80 sq. ft.