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Building card houses and playing Solitaire are favorite pastimes of the bored. It’s no different for Movoto Real Estate bloggers. Well, maybe a little different. We tend to lean toward building card houses and passing it off as work. And while none of us are as proficient as Guinness World Record holder Bryan Berg, we’re not too shabby either (especially for earthquake-prone San Francisco).
This led us to ask, how many playing cards would it take to build a real card house? If you have nerves of steel it would take 404,355 cards to build a real-life cards house, or 7,777 packs of standard playing cards (excluding jokers and nonessential cards).
When we crunched the numbers, the price tag for this flimsy abode came to $31,030—not including land and paying your merry band of steady-handed friends. This isn’t an overwhelming price for a home that’s essentially a fire trap and prone to toppling at the slightest tremor or gust of wind.
But you’ll be the talk of the town until it gives way. That has to count for something. Another thing: Whatever you do, tread lightly in this house; otherwise prepare for paper cuts—lots and lots of paper cuts.
What did we build with our truckload of cards? A minimalists haven, mostly. Movoto’s imaginary card house was a two-story, single-family home with a flat roof and hollow interior.
How did we do it?
To figure out our card house, we needed to know two things: the size of a traditional playing card and the size of our fictional house. Thankfully, in both cases these numbers weren’t like a mythical royal flush.
Size of a Card
Most playing cards are the same size. According to ISO 216, the international standard for certain paper sizes, a typical playing card measures 2.5 by 3.5 inches (64×89 mm). With this in hand, the Movoto team was able to calculate the number of playing cards needed for our fictional building.
Stack it like a Brick
Of course, you can’t just stack playing cards on top of each other and expect them to last.
For a method to the madness, we turned to Berg’s card-stacking website for tips and hints. He offers ways to literally build a solid foundation for potential card-house enthusiasts.
Berg starts his intricate designs with the “four-card cell.” We used this to create a basic structure to build the walls of our imaginary house. We thought of these cells as something
similar to bricks.
It took 21 cards to build a base structure (15 for support and six to cover it). From here it was relatively easy to estimate the number of base structures it would take to build a house.
Standard Cards, Jumbo-sized House
The second problem was figuring out the real-life card house’s size. We could literally pick any house size and come up with the correct number of cards and a cost. But this didn’t seem fair. What we wanted was a realistic house—albeit it one with more than one floor. It’s just not fun to have a single-story card house.
Because of this, we found the median size of a new single-family house in America. According to the US Census, Americans have an insatiable appetite for housing space. In 1973, the median size of a new single-family home was about 1,525 square feet. In 2010, this number ballooned to 2,169 square feet.
As a new-construction home, if however flimsy, we used this figure to guide us through the process.
Movoto Real Estate’s Playing Card Calculator
We know that not everyone lives in a spacious single-family home. If you’re tired of playing Solitaire online while your boss isn’t looking, you can now figure out how many playing cards it would take to build your home with Movoto’s card calculator. Remember, paste and tape sold separately.
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