Estimate Material Weight Like a Pro

Estimate Material Weight Like a Pro

How much does that pile of concrete weigh? How about that old carpet, or all the drywall you ripped out of the bathroom? If you're tackling a DIY project, waste removal can be a big problem.

Don't worry, in this article, I'll give you some useful tips to help you accurately estimate material weight like a pro! Knowing this information will help you choose the dumpster size best suited to your project, or keep you from overloading your vehicle if you choose to discard the waste yourself.

Common Building Materials

Note: Weights below are approximate. 
Below you'll find the building materials our clients are most often discarding during a DIY project. The examples listed below are real world examples that we work with on a daily basis, which help estimate material weight.

Concrete & Asphalt

Concrete and asphalt have similar densities, therefore weigh about the same.  For every cubic yard of concrete, it will weigh about 4,000 pounds, or 2 tons.  See a visual example of a cubic yard of concrete below:

A 10' x 10' pad of concrete 4 inches thick is a little over 1 cubic yard weighs approximately 4,400 pounds.

If you want to calculate the weight of concrete by cubic foot, just divide the cubic yard weight by 27.  Coincidentally, the weight of one cubic foot of concrete weighs about 150 pounds.


Asphalt Roofing Shingles

The average 3 bedroom ranch style home will be around 20 - 25 square (2000 to 2500 square feet) of shingles and will weigh approximately 5,000 to 6,000 pounds or 3 tons.

10 squares one layer thick weighs roughly 2,500 lbs.
Note: 1 square is equal to 100 square feet, so 10 squares cover about 1,000 square feet of roof.


Drywall

In order to accurately estimate the material weight of drywall, you need to measure its thickness.
500 sq ft x 3/8 inch thick weighs 780lbs.
500 sq ft x 1/2 inch thick weighs 1,040lbs.
500 sq ft x 5/8 inch thick weighs 1,300lbs.

It's important to remember the 500 square feet is in reference to drywall, and not the square footage of a room. A 10'x12' room with an 8' ceiling, 2 windows, and a door has roughly 300 square feet of drywall on the walls.

This does not include the drywall on the ceiling, which would equal another 120 square feet. If you were removing all the drywall from the walls and ceiling of this room, you would have approximately 420 square feet of drywall to dispose of.

Note: The above weights assume the material is dry. Water-soaked material will weigh considerably more depending on the amount of water it has absorbed.


Plaster

Plaster can be extremely heavy depending on the number of coats applied, as well as the amount of plaster behind the lath keys. As a general rule, we estimate plaster to weigh around 11 pounds per square foot.

Note: The above estimate assumes the plaster is dry. Water-soaked material will be much heavier.


Carpet

1,500 square feet of carpet weighs roughly 2,500lbs. This includes the padding under the carpet.

As with drywall, water-soaked carpet can weigh considerably more than dry carpet (which is used in the weight above).


Lumber

Estimating the exact weight of lumber can be difficult. Factors such as water density (how much water the wood is holding) and wood type can play a large role in the overall weight of lumber.

An average 10'x10' deck, built with pressure-treated southern yellow pine (SYP), weighs approximately 950lbs.

A 10'x10' deck is 100 square feet, 950lbs divided by 100 square feet gives us a weight of 9.5lbs per square foot. With that in mind, a 150 square foot deck would weigh roughly 1,425lbs.

Note: The above example assumes the lumber type is southern yellow pine (SYP). SYP is heavier than commercial white fir or other similar lumber types, so using this calculation should keep you from underestimating the overall weight of your lumber.

For more information about specific wood densities, visit:
https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/weigt-wood-d_821.html


Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has helped you better estimate the weight of the materials you're removing. If you didn't see your material listed, please contact us and we'll do our best to help.

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8 Comments

  1. Happy Little Dumpsters on November 14, 2019 at 7:40 AM

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It’s been edited.

  2. Joseph Murray on December 5, 2019 at 11:47 AM

    Very informative, thank you! We were able to estimate what the plaster in our dumpster was going to weigh, so we wouldn’t make it too heavy -Joe

  3. Lora Lee Patterson on February 25, 2020 at 7:45 PM

    I’m being over billed only had wallboard and insulation and one room of carpet saying it was over 4000 pounds house is Sox 1300 square feet had a house fire so everything was wet and it rained in dumpster am I paying for water ????

    • Happy Little Dumpsters on February 25, 2020 at 7:54 PM

      Hi Lora, this sounds heavier than it should be, despite the water weight. We recommend requesting the actual weight ticket from your hauler, issued by the landfill or transfer station. Make sure to check date and time, and the location of the landfill/transfer station to cross-reference the ticket that it corresponds shortly after they retrieved your dumpster.

    • Rudy Hane on July 29, 2020 at 11:40 PM

      This information is extremely helpful I’m a fellow Hauler out here in California my company is called Small Hauls and there’s always a $ question from the owners and do it yourselfers that are trying to remodel homes. It gives me a good idea of what I can quote them for pricing thanks again

      • Happy Little Dumpsters on July 30, 2020 at 6:43 AM

        Hi Rudy, yes providing your clients accurate estimates and clear pricing is very important. It helps build trust in the community as well. If you have any feedback about our weight estimations compared to what the actual weight of the material was, let us know.

  4. Elizabeth Nass on April 30, 2020 at 12:31 PM

    Thank you so much for this helpful information!! We are taking down our old rotten deck and we’re unsure on the dumpster size/weight. Really appreciate the help!

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