Make sure that your new closet design is a success by taking accurate measurements of the space from the start. Take your time measuring. There are several rules that should be followed when measuring your space.
Use the right tools! There are four essential tools to getting accurate measurements:
One 25-foot flat tape measure and/or an electronic measuring tool (Optional, but it will help you measure longer walls more easily).
Two acrylic square finders — These will help determine whether the corners in a closet are square in order to make adjustments. Using both squares will help you find the point where two sections need to join in a corner.
Angle finder: This is critical for closets with slanted ceilings and will help you determine the angle of a dormered roofline.
Sketch pad or paper: Make sure to properly transcribe all numbers to your sketchpad, and then draw out your closet. Graph paper works best for drawing out the project to scale using your closet measurements.
Hard Measurement vs. Soft Measurement: Understand the difference between hard and soft measurements and where to use them.
A hard measurement is taken for a closet section that will be installed wall to wall. This measurement needs to be absolutely precise. Always note measurements by rounding down to the nearest 1/4-inch.
A soft measurement is for a system that either floats on the wall with space on either side or is only installed against one sidewall. This most often occurs in a walk-in closet where the system comes out of a corner. This measurement should never include fractions of an inch. Round down to the nearest whole number.
Measure the width of each wall: No one has perfectly straight walls. Measure each wall three times using three different height locations (high, middle, low). Record the smallest measurement as your width. When taking the low measurement closest to the floor, make sure your measurement is above any baseboard. Whether you need a hard or a soft measurement will depend on your closet space.
Measure from floor to ceiling: The standard closet organizer system 84 inches high. With an eight foot ceiling, this allows for storage on the top shelf of the closet. However, 84 inches may be too high for a basement or other space with low ceilings. Conversely, higher than average ceilings allow for more storage and should also be noted. If you want your closet system to touch the ceiling, use a soft measurement and then plan on installing crown moulding to cover any gaps.
Check your inside corners: Be sure to use the acrylic square finder to make sure all inside corners are square. If the sidewalls angle in, the back wall measurement should be reduced to accommodate the 14 inch deep closet panels which will sit against the sidewall at a right angle from the back wall. If the sidewalls angle out, no extra deduction is needed but there will be a gap between the system and the sidewalls. These unsightly gaps can be covered with a piece of trim.
Measure and note position of all obstacles: These include but are not limited to: electric panels, access panels, outlets, light switches, trim, vents, light fixtures, extra doors, laundry chutes, and windows. Make yourself aware of all such obstacles and create a separate sketch notating which wall they are located on as well as their position from the corner, floor and ceiling so that you don't end up covering them over with your new closet panels. If you have an access to the attic in your closet, you will want to make a sketch for that as well — even if it is on the ceiling — to ensure it won't be blocked by the new closet system.
Sloped ceilings: If you have a sloped ceiling, such as those in an attic closet, use your angle finder to find the degree of pitch. Include a sketch of the slope notating the distance from the bottom to the floor and the degree of angle to the top. If ceiling heights vary for each wall due to the slope from an eave or other irregularity, you must note the ceiling height for each wall.
Baseboards: Closet systems that go down to the floor look best when there are no baseboards. Baseboards do not matter for suspended closet systems that hang from the wall, ending above the baseboard. However, if you do not plan to remove the baseboards on your floor-based closet system prior to closet installation, note the baseboard measurements and whether or not quarter-round (shoe moulding) is included. Put this information in a separate sketch just as you would for any other obstacle. Your custom closet design can include cutouts to accommodate baseboards as long as you plan for them in advance. Drawers may also need to be raised if the baseboard is oversized.
Other Closet Measuring Considerations
New Construction: If it is new construction and you are designing off of a blueprint, it is imperative that you take final measurements on-site once the drywall has been installed. This will help avoid any unplanned changes.
MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE: After you finish your measuring, we recommend that you do it again to ensure all your numbers are right. It's worth putting in a little time and effort up front with proper measuring to make sure everything goes smoothly.