Today most home and DIY items ranging from kitchen units to floor coverings are sold using metric measurements; though there are some exceptions, such as co-existing metric and imperial sizes for screws and paint brushes. The majority of estimates and measurements in the home are much easier for you to make using metric.
Despite this, many British people continue to use imperial measurements either out of habit or a lack of confidence in using metric measures. This unfortunately can lead to problems, for example:
- Getting kitchen planning wrong because the kitchen units are based on standard centimetre-based widths.
- Having difficult calculations to do in order to use feet and inch measurements to estimate areas in square yards/metres.
- Awkward conversions which require the use of a calculator and which can lead to errors.
One reason why many Britons continue to use imperial measurements is because of their tools for measurement. A surprising number of people have imperial-only measuring tapes – making the job of planning a kitchen or a new floor covering difficult. Most tapes on sale today are dual unit tapes with an imperial scale on the ‘top’ edge and metric on the ‘bottom’ edge.
Unfortunately, using the bottom edge of the tape is generally awkward – no wonder some people end up using the top edge!
The answer of course is to use metric-only tapes having a metric scale on both the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ edges. Unfortunately most DIY retailers do not sell these products. Some people have resorted to buying metric-only tapes on holidays abroad, but UKMA has identified some British tool manufacturers who supply metric-only products.
If you do not feel confident in understanding dimensions in metric, UKMA recommends that you simply try to measure familiar spaces using a metric tape measure. If you know your kitchen, living room and bedroom dimensions or the width of your kitchen units in metric you will soon get familiar with metric quantities. Converting back to feet and inches will probably slow you down in understanding metric.