A tape measure is a type of hand tool used for measuring a wide range of materials, objects and distances in various professional and home DIY applications. Tape measures feature a long length of marked material with measurements along the full length and are available in a range of sizes. The measurements are often both in metric (centimetres and metres) and imperial (inches and feet) units. Most measuring tapes are flexible, which allow the tape to measure around the curves and enable it to be rolled up and easily carried. Most commonly made of a coated, flexible steel strip, other measures use plastic or fabric where the measure must be more flexible for accurate use.
Check our Tape Measures Guide for information about the variety of types available, as well as their different applications.
Tape measures used in carpentry or construction industries often use a stiff, curved metallic tape that can remain stiff and straight when extended at length. Tape widths vary and wider tapes have a greater rigid strength over a larger distance for ease of use when working alone. The tape can be retracted into a coil for convenient storage and to avoid damage. Flexible measuring tapes are intended for use in tailoring or dressmaking. Known as a 'sewing tape', these types are made from fibreglass, which does not tear or stretch and typically do not sit within a retractable housing.