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Your floor area is square feet, which means you'll need a minimum of that much carpet to cover it. (Divide by 9 to get the number of square yards.) But that's not all you'll need to buy.

At the very least, you'll need to order one extra foot of length so that you'll have 6 inches on each end to get a proper ''tuck'' where the carpet meets the wall. You'll also need at least an inch on each side so the installer can cut a perfect edge for you. (Factory edges won't fit your walls squarely.)

If your room is wider than the roll of carpeting (usually 12 feet) you'll also have to order enough to account for waste and seams. In a standard rectangular room, a basic ''T'' seam is fairly efficient, with one seam along the longest length and a shorter one connecting two smaller pieces. But if your carpeting runs from one room to another, or through a hallway, you can't create a patchwork of seamed pieces. You'll need to make sure the nap is all running in the same direction, or you'll end up with carpeting that looks like two completely different colors. Buying the right lengths of carpet with correctly oriented nap does mean a bit more waste, but it gets you the best results.

Take an accurate drawing of the area to be carpeted with you when you place the order, so your dealer can help you. Don't be surprised if the total you need to order is as much as 30 percent more than the area to be covered.

Thanks to Ellen Morton of Carpets & More in Thomasville, Georgia, for contributions to this calculator.

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