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Create Perfectly Flat Surfaces With High-Quality Levels
A level is a tool designed to ensure that vertical surfaces are precise and horizontal surfaces are straight. While hammers and screwdrivers may rank high on your list of tools, the absence of a quality level can ruin your efforts entirely. From hanging shelves and portraits to more hands-on tasks, like laying tiles or mounting bricks, you should always use a level to ensure you’re doing things correctly. There is a clear difference between a task completed with the proper use of a level and one carried out by simply eyeballing the structure. So, if you need a level, whether it’s for simple home improvement tasks or full-fledged professional use, you’re sure to find the one you need in the following review.Show contents
Buying Guide: Levels
We’ve all been in an awkward situation where we try to hang pictures on the wall only to realize they are slanted despite our many attempts. With high-quality levels, you can utilize these hand tools whether you’re a surveyor, mason, bricklayer, or even casual DIYer. This buying guide will give you a closer look so that you can pick the best level for your needs. Let’s start by explaining the different types of levels, how to select the right one for you, and the right way to use a level once you purchase one.
What Are the Different Types of Levels?
Levels are divided into four main types, including spirit, optical, water, and laser.
Also known as bubble levels, spirit levels usually come with a sealed glass tube, known as a vial. The vial contains liquid, usually alcohol, as well as an air bubble. The top of the glass tube is bowed so that the surface under the level remains horizontal. Spirit levels are one of the most widely used types of levels.
Optical levels are commonly used when surveying. Construction professionals use optical levels to establish or verify points in the same horizontal plane. An optical level can also be used for measuring height differences, setting measures, and transferring heights.
Water levels operate on the popular principle that water will always find its level wherever it is placed. A water level comprises two cylinders positioned on top of two surfaces, both of which need to remain level. A plastic tube placed below links the two cylinders together. The water inside of the cylinders will be level if the two surfaces are the same height. If they’re not, there will be a disparity. This type of level is particularly useful with objects separated by trees or other obstacles.
Laser levels come with a laser projector that emits a beam onto the surface. This is intended to establish a level plane. For enhanced accuracy, some laser levels also show the plumb level. Note that the types listed above are broad types of levels, and there are other sub-types of each type.
How To Choose a Level
This section discusses the various factors that you should consider before choosing a level tool.
The size of the level that you’ll ultimately choose should depend on the kind of tasks you want to accomplish. Levels come in various sizes, and choosing the size that is best suited to your needs is important. For instance, a professional mason requires a longer level than your average DIYer. A professional working in tight spaces will prefer small-sized torpedo levels. To bridge this gap, most brands will offer levels in multiple sizes, while some even sell levels in sets of different-sized levels.
The vial gives you your result, and that makes it an important consideration. You need to consider two core aspects of the vial, including numbers and accuracy.
Number of vials
While it is true that you’ll find vials in all spirit levels, the difference lies in the number of vials. Most spirit levels have a minimum of two vials, which are usually 00 and 900. Also, certain manufacturers go above and beyond by including three or four vials in one. Spirit levels with more than two vials offer you a certain amount of versatility that you simply won’t get with two vials alone. However, levels with only two vials may just be enough for you if your work doesn’t require 300 or 450 vials.
With the number of vials sorted out, consider their accuracy. What is the point of having multiple vials if they cannot offer you any accurate results? The vial’s accuracy tolerance will usually be indicated on the label, so ensure that you check it before making a final decision. The ease by which you can check the vial’s reading is another consideration worth making. Some levels have magnified vials for enhanced visibility while others offer multiple viewing angles.
Like any other work tool, you should always opt for a level made of highly durable material that will hold up to heavy use. Apart from a durable metal body, some levels also have shock-absorbing rubber caps on the ends for enhanced durability
You should consider the availability of a digital display as part of a level. Without a digital display, you’ll have to rely on the bubbles alone for your reading. When a level is equipped with a digital display, you can view the reading on a display screen. Of course, this means you’ll need extra batteries to power the display unit. As such, you should consider the ease of finding replacement batteries and ask yourself if it is worth the additional effort.
Some levels have magnets underneath them for a hands-free working experience when working with metal surfaces. Although it is not a core consideration, if you work on metallic surfaces often, this is a good feature to look out for in your tool. It is not enough for the level to have magnets, so check the type of magnet used. For instance, levels with neodymium magnets will offer you unparalleled firmness because they are the strongest magnets that are currently commercially available.
Certain extra features could improve your experience as you use the level. Features like tape measures and rulers will allow you to take metric measurements with ease.
Comparing the Top-Rated Levels of 20231– Best Overall
When you choose to work with the Qooltek level, what you’ll get is a premium product that comes equipped with a measuring tape. It also features a laser that will make your work even better. This tool is everything you need to square away your projects with utmost ease. This top-of-the-line product also comes with a six-inch ruler at its base, which makes it easy to create quick and accurate markings wherever you need them. Even more interesting is the fact that the measuring tape has both metric and imperial linear measures. Ultimately, the combination of the triple-positioned leveling bubble, tape measure, and laser beam places this level option at the top of our list!2– Most Durable
You won’t be visiting your local hardware store for a new level anytime soon after you buy the Swanson TL043M level. This body of this level is made out of precision-machined solid billet aluminum that is three times stronger than the build of your average level. The anodized finish of this level gives the tool a polished look while also adding to the level’s durability. Furthermore, this tool has SAE and metric rules engraved at the base of the device. The versatility of this level is unmatched, and the tool comes with four different vitals, including 00, 300, 450, and 900. All of the features of this level make for an easy-to-use, all-in-one device that can surely assist you with your projects.3– Best Length
With the Craftsman level, you can get your hands on a tool that meets your desired length. There are three available models, including nine-inch, 24-inch, and 48-inch levels. However, the multiple-length options are not the only aspect that makes this product as eye-catching as it is. There are also vials that give accurate readings up to 0.0005 inches per foot, which is music to every artisan’s ears. The aluminum construction of this level gives you confidence knowing that you can trust the level to stand the test of time. The level comes with shock-absorbing rubber end caps that let it hold up to heavy use without leaving any scratches behind.4– Budget-Friendly Option
The Winnsty level is one of the most budget-friendly options on the market today. Available at less than $10 per device, this level almost feels like a total steal. Not only can this bargain of a product be used for a variety of home improvement projects, but it’s also suitable for much more professional tasks as well. From trimming a door to hanging kitchen cabinets and fixing an array of other construction-oriented projects, this level should be on your list of tools that are worth buying. This first-rate level has three acrylic vials, including plumb, level, and 450. The vials are not only easy to read, but they also provide accurate readings.5– Excellent Precision
The WORKPRO three-piece level set is the ultimate measuring device that everyone who frequently performs construction-related projects must possess. The set comes with a nine-inch pro-cast torpedo level and two box beam spirit levels. The spirit levels are two different sizes, with one level that is 16 inches long and the other level that is 24 inches long. You can ensure that these levels will leave you hands-free when using the nine-inch level on metal surfaces because the level is equipped with magnets at its base. The smallest level has two vials and the larger levels have three vials. The high-visibility green bubbles in the vials included are easy to read as well.
Levels FAQQ: How do I use a level?
A: A spirit level is pretty straightforward to use. First, you need to understand how the tool works so that you can use it accurately. When a surface is at level or plumb, the bubble in the vial will sit between the two lines on the tube, meaning your surface is level. For best results, ensure that the level’s base sits firmly on the surface. If the level is not long enough to cover the distance, you can place a straight edge over the surface before placing the level above it.Q: How much do levels typically cost?
A: Depending on the size and features available, levels typically cost anywhere from $7 to $100 or more. Note that levels that come in sets are more expensive than single levels.Q: What is the liquid inside a level tool?
A: You’ll usually find different types of liquid inside the vial of a level tool. Alcohol, like ethanol, is used on some levels, while other manufacturers opt for oil. Lately, there has been a rise in the use of other types of alcohol as an alternative to ethanol.Q: What is the difference between level and plumb?
A: Essentially, level and plumb refer to flatness. However, they differ in terms of the orientation of the flatness. Level refers to horizontal flatness from end to end. On the other hand, plumb refers to vertical flatness from top to bottom.Q: How do I maintain my spirit level?
A: Ensure you clean up the level immediately after use. Make sure mortar and other specks of dirt do not block your view of the vials. Do not place heavy items on them, and always store them in a cool, dry place.Related Reviews