What Is The Black Diamond On A Measuring Tape For? (Find Out Now)

Gary Evans
by Gary Evans

The tape measure is probably one of the most frequently used tools in and around the home. Whether you’re making repairs or creating something in your workshop, a tape measure can prove very useful. It’s something that must be present in any toolbox.

Still, do you consider yourself very familiar with your measuring tape? Do you know all about the symbols printed on there? For instance, you may have thought that the black diamonds are just decorative, but the truth is they serve a purpose.

The black diamonds on a tape measure are supposed to help with finding studs and specific points between them. They are meant to be used together with the red numbers to find the studs and other relevant spots. It’s important to note that the black diamonds will help if your home was built using the standard stud placement pattern.

Your tape measure is more than useful enough if you just it purely for measuring. However, you can still get more out of it if you’re aware of what its many markings mean. Get to know your measuring tape better by reading on.

Do You Need Handyman Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

What Do the Black Diamonds on the Tape Measure Mean?

How many times have you pulled out a tape measure while working on something inside your home? It’s probably happened countless times at this point, right? The tape measure really is an essential tool to have. But here’s the thing: You may not actually be getting the most out of your tape measure.

Your roll of measuring tape can do more than just its namesake. One of the ways to get more uses out of it is to understand its different symbols. Those black diamonds in particular are hinting at something important.

In order to understand what the black diamonds are for, we first have to find out the purpose of the red numbers. Those red numbers aren’t just for show.

You’ll notice that the red numbers are spaced 16 inches apart from one another. That kind of spacing is in line with how studs are typically positioned inside a standard home. Basically, those red numbers should clue you into the location of the studs.

Going by those measurements, there should be six beams found along a length of eight feet. Now if you divide eight feet by five, you will get 19.2 inches. The black diamonds represent every 19.2 inches of length along the measuring tape. What that means is that they’re highlighting the center points of the studs installed in your home.

Why the Black Diamonds on a Tape Measure Can Be Very Helpful

Whenever you want to install something along your home’s walls, you’re often told to find a stud first. That is a necessary step because many walls are not designed to bear additional loads.

Something like a small picture frame is not going to be a problem. Most walls should be able to support that with no issue.

The problems arise if you’re trying to install something with some weight to it. TV mounts, shelves, and numerous kinds of decorations are too heavy for walls. They need to be suspended another way. The studs are what you must use if you want to hang heavy objects on your wall. They possess the strength and stability you will need.

You can pinpoint the location of a stud inside your home using a stud finder. Not everyone has that tool on hand at all times though. If you don’t have a stud finder, you can turn to your tape measure and use the black diamonds.

The Limitations of Using Your Tape Measure as a Stud Finder

It’s true that you can use your tape measure and the black diamonds printed on it to locate studs. Crucially though, the tape measure can be somewhat limited when used for that specific purpose.

You see, while a lot of homes have studs that are spaced 16 inches apart, that’s not a universal practice. If your home doesn’t follow that design convention, you won’t be able to use the black diamonds on the tape measure. Using the stud finder will be your best option in that scenario.

Deciphering the Other Symbols and Markings on Your Tape Measure

We now know the purpose of the black diamonds, but they are not the only curious markings on the tape measure. In this section, we’ll talk about the other markings found on the tape measure and discuss their significance.

Black Numbers in House Shapes

Search your tape measure and you may find some black numbers positioned inside a marking that looks like a house. The black numbers are usually positioned above the other numerals that denote measurement.

Those black numbers are actually somewhat similar to the diamonds in that they note spacing. They are spaced 12 inches apart from one another and they should come in handy for stud placement as well.

Roman Numerals

Some Roman numerals may also be present on your tape measure. You can usually find the Roman numerals contained within shapes like circles or rectangles.

Those Roman numerals are important because they let you know about the quality of the tape measure. The Roman numerals usually go from I to III. A Class 1 tape measure is denoted by the Roman numeral I. Tape measures in this class are regarded as the most accurate. Accuracy decreases as the class number increases.

Do note however that some tape measures feature no Roman numerals altogether. That does not mean that they are the most accurate. Instead, the lack of a marking means that the tape measure has not been tested according to certain standards. There is no guarantee that an unmarked tape measure will be accurate.

Four-Digit Numbers

The tape measure you’re using may also have a random four-digit number printed on it. That’s not a misprint. The four-digit number is a mark left behind by the agency responsible for certifying the tape measure. You can use the number to look up the agency online.

Temperature and Force Markings

Homeowners may also find numbers positioned alongside letters including C, F, or N. Those marks actually refer to temperature and force. They indicate that the tape measure was measured under certain temperature conditions with a specific amount of force applied.

Those markings hint at how accurate the tape measure is as well. If the current temperature is far from what’s noted on the tape measure, you’re more likely to get an inaccurate result.

Manufacturing Marks

The year when the measuring tape was manufactured is noted on the product itself. You can find this mark by looking for the letter “M” with two numbers next to it.

The two numbers correspond with the last two digits of the year when the tape measure was made. Refer to this marking if you want to find a tape measure that is relatively new.

Other Tools Present on the Tape Measure

Tape measures can be multiple tools all rolled into one. Detailed below are some of the tape measure features that also double as useful tools.

The Tape Measure Hook

Most tape measures have a hook installed on one end. The hook has two intended purposes.

First, you can use the hook to grab hold of edges. Latch the hook properly and you can pull out the tape measure using only one hand. The odd shape of the hook is what makes it compatible with a variety of surfaces.

The other use of the hook is to grab on to nails. The little opening along the hook can be used to catch nails. It offers a convenient way to hold on to nails before you need them.

The Tape Measure Magnet

Found inside the end of the tape measure is a small magnet. The magnet is a smart little addition that makes it easier for you to gather items.

Just like the hook, you can use the magnet to pick up nails. The magnet works just as well on other bits of metal including nuts, bolts, and screws.

The Tape Measure Scribing Tool

Another tool you can find on the tape measure is one that can be used for marking. Take a closer at the hook of the measuring tape and you should find a portion of serrated material there.

Those serrations are supposed to be used for marking materials. Rub them against a wooden surface to create a mark you can refer to later.

Using the serrated edge is not always a good way to mark objects because it leaves damage behind. Even so, it can prove very helpful if you don’t have any other marking tools on hand.

Do You Need Handyman Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

Why Is the Tape Measure Curved?

The tape measure blade being curved is a given so we’ve grown used to it and don’t see it as unusual. When you think about it though, many other measuring tools aren’t designed that way. Why then is the tape measure designed differently?The idea behind the curved design of the tape measure’s blade is to help users read the numbers. When the blade is extended out of the housing, it becomes more rigid. That will make it easier for users to read the measurements.On top of that, the curved design makes it easier to align the tape measure to certain angles. The curve will make it easier to measure your stairs and other similar items.

How Do You Fix a Tape Measure with a Bent End?

The end of a tape measure may bend if it’s used all the time. You can correct that misalignment with the help of some pliers.

Why Are There Black Circles on the Tape Measure?

In some cases, the black diamonds on the tape measure are replaced with black circles. The black circles still have the same purpose as the diamonds so go ahead and use them the same way.

Gary Evans
Gary Evans

Gary Evans is passionate about home improvement. He loves finding out how to make improvements in the easiest, most practical, and most affordable ways. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his ongoing hobbies. Gary is also a long-time content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.

More by Gary Evans