The cost of materials represents a good portion of construction project expenses, and they can increase unexpectedly, leaving you with potential shortfalls in your project budget. It was as recent as 2019 that material costs increased by 10%. If you don't have an accurate idea of how much material will be used in a project, you could lose some or all of the profit you've built into it.That's just one of the reasons why it's so important to accurately determine the quantity of materials that you need. As the construction industry goes through digital transformation, construction calculator apps have been developed to deliver solid, accurate calculations on your smartphone. A construction calculator app provides the ability to quickly and easily determine the amount of material needed to complete the project. However, the many available apps provide a range of unique capabilities. Here are 12 top construction calculator apps, with information on how each app works, its strengths and weaknesses.
Construction Calculator Apps: Pros, Cons and Pricing
1 All-in-One Calculator (Free)
All-in-One Calculator is a free construction calculator app available on Android as well as on iOS, that's optimized for construction-related measurements and calculations. It features over 75 different calculators and unit conversions, including unit and currency conversions, percentages, proportions, area and volume.
The built-in geometry calculator makes it easier to determine the area of odd shapes, while the unit converter includes torque and pressure converters if you have equipment with limitations that isn't in the format you're used to.
For electricians, an Ohm's Law converter is on board, for moving from amps, watts or volts to another unit. Other calculations including estimating the number of bricks needed, tile calculator, concrete volume, lumber volume and land area. As with many free apps, there are a few ads that show up, but they're not overly intrusive and don't impact the functionality of the calculator.
2 DEWALT Mobile Pro (Free)
Created by the same company that gives you tough tools for your job site, DEWALT Mobile Pro provides full-featured construction calculations as well as a range of references, including examples and illustrations. The main app is free, but includes available in-app purchases for hundreds of available add-on calculations for specific trades, including concrete, construction math, trim carpentry, site work, carpentry, finish materials, landscaping, electrical and general business. These features tend to run a few dollars each, though the Master Pack includes all of the separate calculators for about $25. This allows you to purchase only the calculations you need for your business without cluttering up your calculation space, or pick up all of them for a single low cost.
Potential issues include rounding to the nearest 64th inch, which isn't found on standard measuring tapes, and the wallpaper calculator only figures area without accounting for pattern repeats. However, it's very handy for a wide range of industries and provides solid options for onsite calculations. It also features the ability to access the computation history to see past calculations, and you can share your calculations by email and save your favourites for future use. You can find it in the iTunes store or on Google Play. From the professionals: “As a Project & Safety Coordinator for a structural steel company I found this very useful. As a homeowner, I find it indispensable!”
3 Construction Calc Pro (Free)
With over 80 construction calculators that include 32 material estimators and 15 measurement calculations, Construction Calc Pro is available at a relatively low cost, at about $5 for Android or $14 for iOS options, though a free version with ads is available--Construction Calc Pro Ads for iOS systems and Android devices, which has a banner ad at the bottom of the screen as well as occasional pop-up advertisements.
This calculator makes it simple to work in feet, inches and fractions of an inch. Unfortunately, the values you've entered will be cleared when the screen is shut off, and the process of converting units can be time-consuming. However, it's generally a good option for pros who are checking math and is a common tool for inspectors.
4 Construction Calculator - Materials Evaluation (Free)
Formerly known as Building Calculator, Construction Calculator, Materials Evaluation provides Android users with a solid construction calculation app that makes it simple to calculate the quantity of materials required for a project. Whether you need to calculate bricks, flooring, paint or lumber, this calculator does it all, along with measuring volume, armature weight, required wall blocks for a project and more. But one of the best features of this calculator is that it's able to be used offline, making it a great option for those remote locations where nothing else will seem to work. This app is available free with ads.
5 Construction Calculator (Free)
If you're looking for a solid construction calculator app for iOS, Construction Calculator delivers solid performance for a free, ad-free app. It has great capabilities for framing and carpentry work, with a stair and rafter solution finder, easy conversion between units and works well with both fractions and decimals.
6 Construction Master 5 (~ $20 USD)
This construction calculator app comes from the minds at Calculated Industries, the manufacturer of the IRL construction calculators that have been so popular in the field. Now, instead of having to lug a separate component around to handle your calculations, you can simply download the app to either your Android device or your iOS device for around $20. If you prefer an app that provides help in an instant, pressing and holding any button on the construction calculator pulls up the help menu, including a real-world example of the measurements to put in. However, some users have run into licensing issues and it doesn't seem to have a back button, so once you've started entering information, you're committed unless you want to start over. But let's take a look at what the pros have to say in a review: “I have been using a Construction Master calculator for years as a concrete business owner. After breaking and losing so many of these I finally just downloaded the app and boy was I pleased. It’s crisper, easier to use and honestly going to save me money and heartache when I can’t find my calculator.”
7 BuildCalc (~$25 USD)
When you want a construction calculator app that does more, BuildCalc provides plenty of functionality, though at $25 for the Android version, it's a bit pricier than the competition. However, it provides you with a lot of information for calculating materials for stairs and fencing, as well as a range of functions that can be difficult to find in other construction calculation apps such as stringer throat and purlin angles. If you're also working on layouts in the field, you can email PDF files of your layouts, allowing you to use the information outside of the app. However, some users have found that the app seems to ask for a great deal of personal information during the registration process.
8 Construction Calculator Free
Available for Android users, Construction Calculator Free is a free construction calculator app that is designed by construction workers for construction workers, carpenters and engineers--basically anybody who has to work with measurements in either feet and inches or metric.
As a full-function calculator, it works as a standard calculator while allowing you to enter the information into your calculations in feet, inches and fractions of an inch as well as meters, centimetres and millimetres. You can easily complete calculations, while its included scaling features makes it simple to quickly scale your drawings. Any entered or calculated value in your history list can be reused, and you can set it to round your results to a user-defined level of precision. Fractions and fractional inches are automatically reduced into their lowest common denominator, reducing the need for you to convert fractions down in your head.
The calculator includes 50 separate memory locations that allow you to add, subtract, recall, clear and set memory functions, while a split screen provides you with feet/inch value, decimal value, memory and scaling while remaining easy to read in large fonts. This construction calculator app makes it simple to calculate your area and volume, and a range of instructions and video tutorials are available at snappyappz.com, helping you drastically reduce the learning curve.
9 Feet & Inches Construction Calculator (Free)
When you have people on your crew who have a habit of hollering off numbers in both inches and feet, it can be frustrating trying to convert between units in your head, especially when you're in a rush to finish estimating a project or ordering materials. The Feet & Inches Construction Calculator solves this problem for both Android and iOS users by providing a pair of 10-key entry pads next to each other, one for feet and the other for inches. Once you've finished entering in all of your measurements, it simply provides you with a standard output for your calculations, making it much easier to finish calculating how much materials you'll need for your projects. There is some issue moving between measurement systems, such as imperial and metric, but once the learning curve is conquered, it's much easier to use.
10 Construction Calculator: Concrete, Steel, Bricks (Free)
This app is available in Android and provides a more specialized construction calculator app for contractors who are focused on concrete and masonry work. It delivers a wide range of functions to help you quickly estimate the amount of bricks needed to build a wall of a particular area, how much concrete is needed for a column of a particular diameter and height and how much reinforcing steel you'll need for your next slab project. However, some miscalculations have been pointed out when using a mortar joint other than 3/8" or 10mm, so bear this in mind if you're making unusually large or small joints for your brick or block work.
11 Handyman Calculator (Free)
A great option if you focus on a range of specialties instead of a single area of expertise, the Handyman Calculator available for Android delivers a lot of functionality for a free calculator. As with many free apps, it does contain ads, but beyond simple area calculations, it also includes functionality for tracking your cut list, time tracking for job costing, a notepad for saving calculations and an integrated to-do list, making it easy to keep track of everything you've got going on for a complex project.
12 Drywall Calc Pro Select
Delivering a lot of capability at a small $2 price tag, Drywall Calc Pro Select is a drywall-specific construction calculator app available for Android devices. By entering a room's dimensions and whether you're also drywalling the ceiling, this app quickly provides you with not only how many drywall panels you'll need, but also how much tape, fasteners and joint compound will be required to get the job done. It includes support for both imperial and metric measurements, making it easy to quickly estimate the materials needed for a project, and its outstanding customer support helps you find the information you need quickly.
Which Construction Calculator App Works Best for Your Business?
All of these construction calculator apps deliver the best performance and functionality in the industry, at a range of price points from free to under $30. However, the one that works best for you will depend on the exact industry and work practices you put into play when you're in the field.
Try out a few of the free apps so that you can get a solid feel for which ones seem to best meet your needs, then step up to paid versions if necessary once you know what features you need to be as effective as possible in your takeoff and estimating process.
By keeping one or two of these construction calculator apps on your phone or tablet, you'll always be able to quickly finish your takeoffs and provide your customers with a fast, accurate estimate of the project's material costs.
Do you have a construction calculator you’d like to recommend that’s not on our list? Leave your recommendation for best construction calculator app in the comments below.
All screenshots by author, taken August 2020.
Images 1-12: Screenshots via Google Play Store