How to Measure Artificial Trees

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Artificial Christmas tree decorated with red-gold balls and tinsel
Image Credit: megaflopp/iStock/GettyImages

We've all seen a Christmas tree that is too small or too large for the space. You can always trim a real tree, but what about artificial trees? How are artificial Christmas trees measured, and how can you know which to buy?


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How to Measure for a Christmas Tree

Artificial and real Christmas trees are measured in much the same way. You will need a stepladder, measuring tape and something to record the measurements on. Start by measuring the distance from the floor to the ceiling, and subtract 6 inches from that. Measure your tree topper and tree stand, and subtract those, as well. If your ceiling is 10 feet tall, the topper is 5 inches in height and the stand is 5 inches off the ground, the equation is 10 feet minus 1 1/2 feet (including the 6 inches, topper and stand). Thus, the tree should not be taller than 8 1/2 feet.


Now, determine the required Christmas tree diameter. Measure the width of the floor area that is available for the tree and subtract 1 foot for extra clearance. Then, measure the length of the same space and subtract 1 foot from that, as well. Multiply your width by the length to get the total square footage available for a tree; this is the maximum diameter. For example, if the space measures 10 by 12 feet, multiply 9 feet by 11 feet for the maximum tree size your area can accommodate.


Shopping for a Tree

It is wise to measure Christmas trees before buying them, so take a measuring tape when shopping. It is not hard to measure the height with a measuring tape, but getting the diameter is a bit different. The base is the widest part, so you will have to get down on the level of the tree's base to determine this measurement. Note that this procedure will only work for an artificial tree that is on display or for a live Christmas tree.


Next, measure the width of the tree. On one side, pull out branches at the widest point and hold them flat; measure that distance to the trunk, record the number and repeat this on the branches directly across from that. Add up the two numbers to get the tree's diameter.

When tree shopping, remember to take with you the measurements for your available space. While it may be possible to exchange an artificial Christmas tree for the right size, you probably won't have that option if you purchase a real one. No one likes seeing the top of a Christmas tree scraping the ceiling or worse, bending over.


Artificial Vs. Real Christmas Trees

There are some key differences with measuring for and choosing an artificial tree compared to a real tree. Some artificial trees come with their own stands, so check the label to see if it includes measurements for the stand. Artificial trees can also come in different shapes besides that familiar triangle.


These trees are also sold with straighter, slimmer profiles and have much smaller diameters. Fuller types can be up to 50 inches or more in diameter, and narrow varieties might be 19 inches or less; these are great for when you have limited room.

Just like natural Christmas trees, artificial varieties can be trimmed. However, instead of using shears or a saw, use wire cutters. Don't toss out the extra pieces, though. They are great for recycling into other holiday decorations. Use them for wreaths, miniature-tree decorations or creative napkin wreaths.



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