Find out which type of level is right for your next home improvement project.
One tool you will definitely need for any home improvement project is a level. Levels are used to make sure horizontal surfaces are level and vertical surfaces are plumb. A surface, such as a shelf or counter top, is measured to see if it’s level. A wall or post is measured to see if it’s plumb. There are specific levels used for both kinds of measurements. Choosing the right one depends on what kind of home construction you’re working on. Find out which kind you’ll need for your next home improvement project.
A spirit level, also known as a bubble level, is used for many different types of work. There are many variations of the spirit level. While they’re used for different jobs, they all rely on a bubble being centered within the tool. The tool consists of glass or plastic vials, filled with liquid. An alcohol, such as ethanol, is used inside the vials. Alcohol has a wider temperature range, so it can be used in cold weather without freezing. It also lets the bubble travel through the tube efficiently and settle quickly, giving an easy reading. When the bubble lands between two center marker lines, the surface is level or plumb.
A torpedo level is used for finding level or plumb. They have tapered ends, which are great for small spaces and tight corners. They can be used on a variety of surfaces, including walls, windows and fencing. Torpedo levels are typically nine inches long and can easily fit in a tool belt or pocket.
Carpenter’s levels usually come in two-, four-, six- or eight-foot models. They are typically made with a wooden body and three bubble vials. The center bubble vial is used for leveling, while the two outer vials are used for plumbing.
A bullseye level is another type of bubble level. It’s a circular shape, and is typically used in carpentry work. When the surface is level, the bubble will be in the center of the bullseye.
Also known as an engineer’s level, these levels are used to level machines. They can also be used on large work pieces of machines.
A line level hangs on a builders string line. It can be used to level posts or stakes in the ground.
A post level is used to plumb and level posts, poles, pipes, railings and more. It’s attached to the work surface with a large rubber band for hands-free use.
A plumb bob is a pointed weight, suspended from the end of a string. It’s used to align wallpaper or find a post. A plumb bob is also used for placing survey markers.
Laser levels are used for a variety of home projects. There are a few different designs when it comes to laser levels.
Dot Laser – Dot lasers produce single or multiple dots on the surface you’re working on. The dots are used as a reference point, much like a plumb bob.
Line Laser – Line lasers produce a line on the work surface. It can be a single line or cross line, depending on the tool.
Rotary Laser – A rotary laser produces a 360 degree line, leveling an entire room. They’re typically used for indoor projects, such as installing cabinets or windows.
Water levels consist of a flexible plastic tube or hose, with rigid plastic cylinders at each end. Water (and a few drops of food coloring or dye for easier reading) are inside the tube and cylinders. Water levels don’t rely on a bubble, but rather the water leveling out. They’re used by placing the cylinders on the surfaces you want leveled with each other. The tube needs to stay below the cylinders. If the surfaces are level, the water levels in the cylinders should be even with each other. Water levels are used for foundation, but can also be used in carpentry, landscaping and more. They’re used because they can be any length, making larger leveling tasks easier.