Cubic Yard Calculator — Start Here Before Purchasing Materials

Construction worker measuring cubic yards for pea gravel
Whether you’re pouring a concrete slab or adding gravel to a project, you’ll need to calculate the space’s cubic yards before purchasing construction materials. (DepositPhotos)

Common home improvement materials, ranging from concrete in construction to mulch for your garden, are measured in cubic yards. That’s why it’s important to measure an area’s volume before making purchases for your next project. You can skip to the cubic yard calculator or keep reading to learn more. 

About Cubic Yards

Under the United States’ Customary System, 1 yard is equal to 3 feet or 26 inches. And a cubic yard is the volume of material that fits in a space that is 1 yard wide by 1 yard deep by 1 yard high.

This is important because quite a few common materials are measured in cubic yards — here are some of them:

  • Concrete
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Rock
  • Fill dirt
  • Topsoil
  • Mulch
  • Compost

Regardless of the project, you will need a cubic yard calculator to find out how much of these materials you’ll need. Determining how much pea gravel you’ll need for hardscaping, for instance, is as simple as multiplying a space’s length, width and depth. To do that, you’ll need to convert all three dimensions to the same unit of measurement.

But first, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • 3 feet are in 1 yard
  • 27 cubic feet are in 1 cubic yard (3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet)
  • 46,656 cubic inches are in 1 cubic yard (36 inches x 36 inches x 36 inches)

Now that you understand the basics, you can skip to the cubic yard calculator, or follow along with a sample project as we put this math into action!

Pouring a Concrete Slab

So you’re sticking around? Great!

Now, let’s pretend we’re purchasing concrete to create a patio. To measure how much concrete we need for a slab 6 inches thick by 12 feet long by 12 feet wide, you’ll need to do this:

  1. Convert the dimension in inches to feet (6 inches ÷ 12 feet = 0.5 feet)
  2. Multiply the three dimensions together to find the number of cubic feet (0.5 feet x 12 feet x 12 = 72 cubic feet)
  3. Divide the cubic feet by the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard (27) to find the number of cubic yards (72 ÷ 27 = 2.67 cubic yards).

Now, let’s convert all three dimensions to yards. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Convert the dimension in inches to yards (6 inches ÷ 36 inches = 0.167 yards)
  2. Convert the dimensions in feet to yards (12 feet ÷ 3 = 4 yards)
  3. Multiply the three dimensions together to find the number of cubic yards (0.167 x 4 x 4 = 2.67 cubic yards)

Or, simply type your dimensions in our handy calculator below, then click “calculate” to find the number of cubic yards.

Whether you need a gravel calculator or want measurements for concrete, sand, rock, fill dirt, topsoil, mulch or compost, this tool does it all!

Calculate It! 

 

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