How To Estimate Cubic Yards For A Dumpster Rental

cubic yards are needed to estimate cost of a roll-off rental

There are many factors that go into calculating the price of a dumpster rental. One of the direct factors that affect the cost is the size of the roll-off container you decide to use for your project. For an accurate estimate, you need to estimate cubic yards, which is the volume of waste being disposed of in your dumpster.

A 40-yard roll-off container is 40 cubic yards

This isn’t just about being cost-effective. Keep in mind that the material you’re hauling impacts the volume you can carry away in one load. To ensure a smooth and cost-effective transaction regarding your waste disposal learn how to estimate cubic yards for your dumpster rental (this is different than calculating the cubic yards needed for commercial trash service for businesses with weekly pickups all year round).

What does one cubic yard mean?

The trick to calculating the correct size needed is to understand the approximate volume of waste being disposed of in your dumpster. To do this accurately, it’s important to know what one cubic yard actually means in terms of volume.

The cubic yard is a 3-dimensional measurement. It is calculated by multiplying length times with times height. Does this bring you back to math class? If so, this equation will look mighty familiar: L X W X H

estimate cubic yards accurately with this formula: L X W X H

To make this easier to visualize, let’s assume you’re installing an in-ground pool in your backyard. A big portion of the debris you ultimately dispose of will be the dirt you dig to make the hole for the pool.

volume of a pool is measured by L X W X H

If you know the dimensions of your pool, it becomes an easy estimate of the volume of dirt you will be hauling from your property. The average pool size is 15 feet by 30 feet with an average depth of 5.5 feet or 15 feet X 30 feet X 5.5 feet

Convert your measurement in feet to yards

On a straight line, one yard equals 3 feet.

This means the dimension of your pool in yards is the same as:

15 feet/3 X 30 feet/3 X 5.5 feet/3


5 yards X 10 yards X 1.83 yards

Multiply the L X W X H together and you get 91.67 cubic yards.

5 yards X 10 yards X 1.83 yards = 91.67 cubic yards

That’s A LOT of dirt.

Selecting your dumpster size and frequency

What do these calculations mean for selecting your dumpster size? Nothing yet. They are incomplete without knowing the type of material you’re hauling. The next step is to check the average weight of the material per cubic yard. The truth is that just because you’ve got the correct volume, doesn’t mean it will match the dumpster size.

You may be thinking that 91 cubic yards of dirt can be hauled away using two 40-yard containers and a 20-yard container. That’s simple math, right?

The problem is that in Texas, the Department Of Transportation doesn’t allow a single-axle truck to carry over 25,000 pounds. Ultimately, the weight of the dirt will determine how much of it can be hauled in a single shot. You may be forced to use a smaller roll-off container in Corpus Christi if a 40-yard violates the weight restrictions.

Chart showing approximate weight of material to estimate cubic yards needed for dumpster

As it turns out, soil weighs approximately 2,200 pounds per cubic yard depending on the moisture content (amount of water that remains in the soil). That means that you can’t dispose of more than 12 cubic yards at a time.

Divide the total cubic yards of dirt by the volume per trip and that will tell you how many container loads it will take for your project. 91/12 = 7.5

Calculating the final details

In this example, our calculations have brought us to the conclusion that you will need a 20-yard dumpster rental for this project. The dumpster can only hold 12 cubic yards at a time. To haul the dirt produced from an in-ground pool excavation. You will also need to make at least 8 trips to get the dirt from your home to the dump or transfer station.

Example of a pool excavation

In this video, the pool company hauls out 7 truckloads at 16 tons each. That’s way over the legal limit in Texas. So if you’ve decided to put a pool in your backyard, you’re looking at a few more trips to get the dirt to where it needs to go.

If the pool company takes care of the bill then you don’t need to worry about the math behind it. They will just give you a price on the construction and that’s what you’ll pay.

If you’re a DIY kind of person, you might want to wait until the DRYEST day of the year to make sure that dirt is extra light! Save yourself some money by getting more dirt in the truck for each load since less water means less weight!

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