Difference Wiki

Linear Foot vs. Square Foot: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 3, 2024
A linear foot measures length, while a square foot measures area.

Key Differences

The distinction between linear foot and square foot is foundational in various fields, including construction, carpentry, and fabric sales. A linear foot specifically measures length and is used to buy items like rope, flooring, or trim, where only the length of the item matters, not its width or thickness. In contrast, a square foot is a measure of area, commonly used in real estate, interior design, and landscaping. It represents a square measuring one foot on each side. This unit is crucial for assessing the size of rooms, houses, or land, providing a comprehensive understanding of the space's size.
A linear foot is used to measure items that are sold by length, a square foot is essential for tasks requiring an understanding of surface area, such as painting walls, installing flooring, or buying land. The linear foot simplifies purchasing linear materials by focusing solely on length, whereas the square foot is indispensable for planning and executing projects that cover a certain area.
Understanding the difference between these units is crucial for accurately planning projects, purchasing materials, and estimating costs. For example, buying wood for a fence requires knowing the linear feet to ensure enough length, while laying down new carpeting demands an understanding of the room's square footage to cover the area adequately.
The linear foot and square foot serve different, yet equally important, purposes in measuring and planning. Recognizing when to use each measurement can lead to more efficient project planning, cost estimation, and material purchasing, highlighting the importance of dimensional understanding in various tasks.

Comparison Chart





Used In

Buying materials sold by length (e.g., wood)
Measuring area (e.g., flooring)


Simply measured as length in feet
Length in feet × width in feet


Carpentry, trim, pipes
Real estate, interior design, landscaping

Linear Foot and Square Foot Definitions

Linear Foot

Used in buying materials that are sold by length.
I need 10 linear feet of chain for this project.

Square Foot

Important in planning interior layouts.
For paint, calculate the room's square footage.

Linear Foot

A unit used to measure length.
The deck railing needs 50 linear feet of wood.

Square Foot

Pertains to measurements in two dimensions.
We need 200 square feet of tile for the kitchen floor.

Linear Foot

Specifies the length of materials needed.
The fence will require 100 linear feet of lumber.

Square Foot

A unit used to measure area.
The new apartment is 800 square feet.

Linear Foot

Pertains to measurements in a single dimension.
We ordered 30 linear feet of copper piping for the renovation.

Square Foot

Used in real estate to describe property size.
This office space offers 1,500 square feet for rent.

Linear Foot

Commonly used in construction and carpentry.
For the custom shelves, we'll use 25 linear feet of oak.

Square Foot

Calculates the area of rooms or land.
The garden is 600 square feet, perfect for our needs.


What is a square foot?

A square foot measures area, equivalent to a square one foot on each side.

What is a linear foot?

A linear foot measures length only, regardless of width or thickness.

When do I use linear feet?

Use linear feet when purchasing items sold by length, such as trim or fabric.

How do I convert linear feet to square feet?

Conversion requires additional width information; square footage equals linear feet times width in feet.

How do I measure linear feet for a project?

Measure the length in feet of the item or space you are working with.

What's the difference between linear foot and running foot?

They are essentially the same; both measure length in feet.

Can I use square feet to measure the exterior of a building?

Yes, for overall area, but linear feet might be used for elements like trim.

When do I use square feet?

Use square feet when measuring areas for flooring, painting, or real estate.

Is linear foot the same as foot?

Yes, a linear foot and a foot measure the same length, but "linear" specifies measurement in one dimension.

Why do some materials use linear foot pricing?

Materials are priced by linear foot when width and height are standard or irrelevant, emphasizing length.

Do I need more information to convert square feet to linear feet?

Yes, you need the width to calculate linear feet from square footage.

How do professionals use these measurements in real estate?

Square footage determines property size, while linear feet might apply to fence measurements.

Can you measure a room in linear feet?

Rooms are typically measured in square feet for area, but linear feet might be used for perimeter measurements.

How is square footage calculated?

Multiply the length by the width in feet of the area.

What if my project needs measurements in both linear and square feet?

Measure linear feet for items like trim or edging and square feet for areas like floors or lawns.

How does knowing these measurements help with home improvement?

It aids in budgeting, material selection, and space planning.

Are there tools to help calculate linear and square feet?

Yes, various online calculators and apps can assist with these measurements.

Is there a standard width assumed when pricing by linear foot?

No, linear foot measures length only; width isn't considered unless specified.

How do landscapers use these measurements?

Square footage for area coverage, like sod or mulch, and linear feet for items like edging or fencing.

Why is understanding these measurements important in construction?

Accurate measurements ensure proper material quantity and cost estimation.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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