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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Handy Home Improvement Tools in Wolfram|Alpha

June 16, 2010 —
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“It’s a quick and easy Saturday afternoon project!” We’ve all stood in the middle of our favorite home improvement store reciting that same line. Ty Pennington, Mike Holmes, Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor—they know how to make the most elaborate home improvement projects look as simple as tightening a bolt. Often the challenging part of the project is picking the perfect color of paint, or deciding between hardwood and tile flooring. But just as soon as those decisions are settled we’re faced with deciding how many feet of flooring to purchase for the kitchen or how many gallons of coral paint are needed for the north wall of the living room. But you don’t have to let a little bit of tricky math cut into your project time. Wolfram|Alpha has a number of math tools that come in handy for many common home improvement projects.

You can make quick computations and conversions from Wolfram|Alpha’s website or from the Wolfram|Alpha app for iPhone or iPad while standing in the flooring department. Wondering how many 8 x 8 square inch tiles you’ll need to cover a 12 x 14 square foot kitchen? Compute it with Wolfram|Alpha by entering “(12*14) square feet / (8*8) square inches”:

Computing the number of 8 x 8 square inch tiles you'll need to cover a 12 x 14 square foot kitchen

Need to know how many square feet you can cover with vinyl flooring that’s sold by the square yard? Tap into Wolfram|Alpha’s large collection of units to convert 60 square yards to square feet.

Converting 60 square yards to square feet

Thinking about livening up the living room with a splash of color? Query the name of your favorite hue and Wolfram|Alpha will give you a color swatch, properties, and a breakdown of related colors

Properties of the color coral in Wolfram|Alpha

Wondering how many gallons of paint you’d need per coat on a wall that’s 90 square feet?

Computing the volume of paint needed to cover a 90 square foot wall

Need a quick reference guide for choosing the right drill bit for a screw? Wolfram|Alpha provides a number of properties for threaded fasteners such as wires, screws, and bolts.

Properties of a fine number 4 bolt in Wolfram|Alpha

Does that old tire swing in the backyard need some work? Wolfram|Alpha can help you to determine the proper replacement rope based on factors such as the required safe load, shock load absorption, surface abrasion, and rot and mildew resistances for four types of rope (manila, sisal, polyester, and nylon).

Properties of size-18 manilla rope

These are just a handful of examples of how Wolfram|Alpha can be a great tool when tackling home improvement projects. We invite you to visit the Examples page to explore Wolfram|Alpha by topic area. So what’s on your home improvement project list? We’d love to hear how Wolfram|Alpha came in handy for you.


Can W/A give answers based on building codes? For example the maximum load or span of a given beam?

Also, is it possible to compare ropes directly?

Posted by PaulCuth June 17, 2010 at 12:36 am

What about metric screws and bolts? See “ISO metric screw thread” in Wikipedia!

Posted by Ingolf Dahl June 23, 2010 at 12:02 am

If I give you the dimensions of a frame, for instance, can you provide me with a cutting plan?

Posted by Ron Karten June 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

Thats really clever. Maybe next time I paint i will have enough paint to finish:)

Posted by Christian June 25, 2010 at 8:02 am

Thank you for all your hard work. I always enjoy seeing who is picked and enjoy reading that post.

Thanks for explaining all that about Handy Home Improvement Tools in Wolfram|Alpha. I was wondering. Thanks for sharing about this topic. Keep it up!!

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Posted by Susan July 30, 2010 at 1:48 am

Amazing, I am always blown away when I read about what Wolfram|Alpha can do.

Posted by Rick Jones October 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm