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How to Accurately Read a Tape Measure

 Jul 8, 2020    Fireplace Doors


Reading measuring tape is quite simple once you know what the lines mean. When measuring it is important to be precise in order to make your purchase correctly. This can save a lot of time and hassle when ordering a fireplace. There are specific measurements needed to order a fireplace or fireplace doors and this knowledge can be used elsewhere also. Within this blog, we will be showing you the correct way to read your measurements and how to measure your fireplace.

There are different types of measuring tape but all measuring tape is basically set up the same way. This information can be used on your fabric measuring tape as well as your standard metal measuring tape. There are many lines and numbers shown on your measuring tape and this can get confusing trying to figure out what is what. Especially, if you’re not used to using measuring tape.

To get started let’s investigate what the lines on your measuring tape mean. There are some longer lines than others and two sides to your measuring tape. The top side usually shown with large bold numbers is your inches side and the bottom side with the smaller lines and number is in centimeters. As most measurements are made with inches, we are going to focus on this aspect.

Looking at the top portion of your measuring tape, you will see several things. You will have long, medium, and short lines shown with bolded numbers. The bolded numbers are your inches. Each bolded number reflects one inch and is the easiest way to show a measurement when even. The next set of lines show the 1/16 of an inch, 1/8 of an inch, ¼ of an inch, ½ of an inch, then the full inch as shown below in the diagram.


As listed in the diagram, the foot line is marked with a block-like shape and reflects the number and F for foot. This is where each foot is marked on the tape measure. The inch is marked by a bolded number in either black or red and a line that crosses the width of the measuring tape. The small line directly next to the inch reflects the 1/16” line then goes down the line to the midway line reflecting the ½ inch. These lines are what you will utilize to make your measurement.

Now that we have gone over the line structure of the tape measure, we can go forward to how to measure your fireplace correctly. This is important when placing your order and making sure that your measurements are precise, and your order will fit. The first step to start your measuring will be to determine the type of fireplace you have. There is a masonry or prefab fireplace option. To determine the type of fireplace you have refer to this informational blog below.

Measuring Your Masonry Fireplace

Because masonry fireplaces are man-made, and due to a home settling over the years, there are bound to be subtle differences in the measurements at different areas of your fireplace.  Therefore, we need to make sure we have measurements in multiple areas of your fireplace.

We have many guides, videos, and help to make sure that you are measuring correctly. This will save you time and issues later. We want to make this experience perfect and easy for our customers. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions!

You'll need to measure the width of your masonry fireplace in 3 spots.

A1: The width of your firebox at the top.

A2: The width of your firebox in the center.

A3: The width of your firebox at the bottom.

You'll need to measure the height of your masonry fireplace in 3 spots.

B1: The height of your firebox on the left side.

B2: The height of your firebox in the center.

B3: The height of your firebox on the right side.


When submitting your measurements for your fireplace door, use the SMALLEST measurement from the width and the SMALLEST measurement from the height as your firebox measurements.

Hearths can be at various levels.  The diagram here shows the different ways a hearth can be placed by your firebox.  It is very important for us to know where in relation to your fireplace your hearth is.

Measuring Your Zero Clearance Fireplace

Measuring your prefab fireplace is different from a masonry fireplace. Using the images and information below, can help you make it easier to measure your fireplace.

85% of pre-fab fireplaces can be measured using this image here.
Measurement A: Width of the firebox at the opening.
Measurement B: Height of the firebox at the opening.

Look up into the track.  If there are no screws in the track, and the piece seems to be a molded piece to the actual fireplace, you will not be able to remove the track. In this case, measure to the very bottom edge.  For this picture, it would be just about where the red 9 is, or the spot this arrow is pointing to.

If you look up into the track and see 1-3 screws in it, use a screwdriver and remove those screws.  With just a little work, that track should pop out.  This will allow you to now measure to the top of where that track was - where the red arrow is pointing to in this picture.

Most pre-fab fireplaces have a manufacturer's tag on them.  Getting the information from that tag can help us to make sure we're getting the right type of door for you.

 Some fireplaces, like the one here, have to be measured differently than the others.  With this type of zc fireplace, you have to measure to the absolute outside area of metal - top and bottom - left and right.  This is not the "norm", but there are ones like this out there.  That is why it is always best to send us a photo so we can help you.

Please DO NOT tear your fireplace facing entirely off like this. We cannot legally sell you a fireplace door for a fireplace that is in this state. This is dangerous and could compromise the entire structure of your fireplace. The only part that you should have to remove is the door and the track for the mesh curtain. Before removing anything, please call us and we can walk you through the process.


Last updated on March 9th 2022.


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