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.

About Cubic Yards

Under the United States’ Customary System, 1 yard is equal to 3 feet or 36 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
Today’s Homeowner Tips

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 use this cubic yard calculator or follow along with a sample project as we put this math into action!

Determining How Much Concrete To Use For a Concrete Slab

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 inches = 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)

Additional Resources

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

Learn More