Cubic yard

A cubic yard (yd3) is a measurement of volume in the US customary and imperial systems of measurement. 1 cubic yard is equal to the volume of a cube with edges that measure 1 yard each.

Since the volume of a cube is calculated as length × width × height, the volume of the cube is 1 yd3. The above cube can be referred to as a unit cube, where the unit in this case is the yard. One way to visualize volume is through use of unit cubes. For example, there are 16 unit cubes in the figure below. Since each cube has a volume of 1 yd3, the volume of the object is 16 ft3.

In this manner, the volume of an object can be estimated as the number of unit cubes that fit within the object. In the above example, since the rectangular prism can be broken down into whole numbers of unit cubes, its volume can be calculated exactly. In cases where this is not possible, volume can be estimated using a combination of whole and partial unit cubes. Also, there are numerous formulas (such as length × width × height) that can be used to measure the volumes of various shapes.

Units of volume

A cubic yard is just one of many different units of volume. It is primarily used in the United States. Although it is also used to some degree in Canada and the UK, it is not common, since both Canada and the UK have adopted the International System of Units (SI). Cubic yards may be used when discussing larger volumes, such as the volume of cement necessary to make enough concrete to build a tunnel, or the amount of mulch needed to cover the soil in a garden.

Most of the rest of the world uses SI units of volume. The SI base unit of volume is the cubic meter, but the liter, an SI derived unit of volume, is also commonly used. There are many other measurements of volume in various systems of measurement, but most countries use either SI, the US customary (or imperial) system, or some combination of the two. Below are the relationships between cubic yards and some commonly used units of volume in various systems of measurement.

Being able to convert between various units of volume can be helpful. Below is an example converting a value in cubic yards to cubic meters.


How many cubic meters of concrete will it take to fill in Jim's pool if he needs 545 cubic yards of concrete?

Since there are approximately 1.308 cubic yards in 1 cubic meter:

545 ÷ 1.308 = 416.667 cubic meters