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Level Buying Guide

Checking level and plumb is essential to a lot of DIY home improvement projects. From plumb bobs to laser levels, choose the right one for your next job.

Checking for level.

Before Shopping for a Level

Decide what type of projects you'll need your level. Length is particularly important if you're working with lumber, paver projects or drywall – a long level gives a better measurement.  Most levels do double duty as a ruler or straight edge.  Some levels are magnetic to allow hands-free use on metal surfaces.  Some models feature lights for use in low-light areas. Here are the most common hand tools for finding level and plumb.

Cross-Check Level

Cross-check level.

Small level used to check horizontal and vertical at the same time.

Digital Level

Digital level.

Battery operated level displays in degrees, percent, and inches / feet.

Laser Level

Laser level.

Finds level and plumb as well as distance. There are handheld versions for DIYers or tripod-mounted for larger jobs and jobsites

Line Level

Line level.

Designed to attach to mason's cord or other string to determine levelness of the string over a distance.

Plumb Bob

Plumb bob.

This is not a traditional level with liquid-filled vials, but a tool that uses gravity to find plumb. Normally used to locate posts or align wallpaper.

Post Level

Post level.

Finds level and plumb simultaneously when used to plumb posts, flag poles, water pipes, railings, and decks.

Standard / Carpenter's / Mason's Level

Standard level.

Most common type of level, they range from 24 to 96 inches in length and are available in a wide variety of materials such as wood, aluminum or ABS (high impact resin).  Can be named Box Beam or I-Beam (If viewed from the end, a box beam looks like a rectangular box and an I-beam looks like the letter "I".)

Torpedo Level

Torpedo level.

Measures level / plumb / diagonal in tight spaces.  Range from 6 to 9 inches; designed to fit in a tool belt or pocket.