How to Square a Room
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How to Square a Room

A guide for squaring a room for construction. Make sure the layout is square.

One of the biggest mistakes an amateur will make when building something is not squaring the layout before starting. Squaring is the process used to ensure that everything lines up and the corners are at a 90* angle to each other. Not squaring a room before starting can lead to major problems later on. This is most obvious during the flooring stage. An example would be a tile floor that starts with a full tile at one end of the room and finishes with a cut piece at the other end of the room.

Simple geometry can be used to square a room. A triangle with sides that measure 3' X 4' X 5' is a triangle with a right angle. Larger rooms should use a 6' X 8' X 10' triangle. Using this method to square a room is easy and quick. Pick the longest wall. Mark out a 4 foot section of that wall near a corner. Make a line 3 feet out from the wall at the far end of the 4 foot mark. From the other end of the 4 foot mark measure 5 feet. At the place where the 5 foot and the 3 foot measurements come together make a mark. A line from this mark to the end of the 4 foot mark will form a right angle. Extend this line across the room with a chalk box. Use this line and the long wall as check lines to square a room. When laying out the room use these check lines for all of your measurements.

Another option would be to buy a tool that uses lasers to square an area. Professional carpenters often use these. This tool shoots two beams of light at a right angle to each other. When used during the construction phase simply aim one beam down either an exterior wall or a previously checked wall. Then use the other light to lay-out the remaining walls.

Windows and doors need to be installed square for them to open and close properly. Shims can be used but it is easier if the opening is framed out correctly during the construction phase. Use a bubble level and a hammer to accomplish this. Simply tap the studs and plates with the hammer until they are level and plumb. Work on the side of the door that the hinges will be on. A window is easy to install when one side and the top are square to each other.

A top quality construction job is always square. This is often the difference between a professional looking job and one that looks amateurish. The amateur eye might not catch something that is out of square but it will stand out like a red thumb to a pro. By following these steps there is no need for a construction job to be out of square.

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