20 Types of Levels Used in Home Improvement


Whenever the time comes to renovate the house, or at least engage in some form of home improvement, using the right level for the job is essential. Levels are optical tools, used to determine what course of action is the best to take in order to make sure the project you’re undertaking is performed and completed without complications. Like all products currently available on the market that’s designed to meet the needs of home improvement goals, there is more than one level a home renovator can work with. Levels are an essential tool when it comes to doing any kind of work that revolves around construction, reconstruction, and decoration. Too often, it is one of the most overlooked and underutilized tools used among the trades that should really know better. For example, the Millennium Tower, (https://www.businessinsider.com/is-millennium-tower-safe-still-leaning-sinking-2017-9) which is located in San Fransisco, California, is what happens when failing to use a proper level for the job.

Let’s Be Level

Levels are simple enough instruments that also happen to be among the most crucially needed for people who are in the industrial trades of bricklaying, carpentry, masonry, metalworks, and a variety of other professions that need to be sure whatever job they’re doing is done properly. Even professionals who have careers in decorations and photography benefit from the usage of levels, as the best among them understand how important it is to have their work balance itself out properly. Within the cluster of these trades, the most common levels used are known as bubble levels and spirit levels.

Believe it or not, the usage of level devices has been around for thousands of years. How do you think the Egyptians built their infamous pyramids? Granted, the types of levels we use today mostly stem from France’s Melchisédech Thévenot and his 1661 invention of the bubble level. As ingenious as it was at the time, the trend of using bubble levels didn’t really catch on until approximately a century later. In 1939, the Fell All-Way precision level was introduced by William B. Fell of Rockford, Illinois. The popularity of this remarkably precise level device was banned as an export during World War II in fear of potential overseas distribution causing complications in the combined efforts of America and its allies in their fight against Nazi Germany and its allies. This oddly controversial tool has been manufactured, stopped, and manufactured again between the 1970s until the 1990s until it was officially discontinued. Although no longer in production, there are still Fell All-Way precision levels being used today by people and companies who still regard it as an indispensable tool. Today’s leveling tools are mostly available in the accelerometers of smartphones, as well as application programs that can get the orientation of these types of cellphones. Among the level tools, the four most commonly used are bubble levels (also called spirit levels), water levels, optical levels, and laser levels. In total, there are twenty-one known types of levels, but among them, there are twenty that can effectively be used when it comes to handling the project of home improvement or renovation. Working down the list, starting with the four most commonly used, they are;

1. Bubble/Spirit Level

Contained within a small glass tube that is filled with clear alcohol is a small air bubble that is securely sealed inside. Normally, the top of the glass tube is bowed, allowing the bubble to rest at the exact middle when this tool is placed directly on top of the surface it’s resting on. The accuracy reading of this type of level depends entirely on how flat the bowed top of the tube is. This tool can be downloaded as an application from the likes of Google Play, allowing it to become part of your smartphone so it’s always at your disposal.

2. Laser Level

As a tool, laser levels use the projection of laser beams that usually emit either a green or red line onto a surface as a means to set up a leveled surface plane to work with. The more sophisticated laser level tools have been known to feature horizontal and vertical laser beam projections, which allows better accuracy, something of which more discerning home improvement workers appreciate.

3. Optical Level

Whenever there is a need for a horizontal surface needs to be perfectly leveled, the optical level is the ideal tool of choice within the construction trade. The fate of an entire building rests in the level plane determined by the bubble placement within the vial of the optical level device. This placement can be seen through the lens of the optical level and have its reading recorded before proceeding with whatever job needs to be done. While most home improvement enthusiasts may not exercise this option, professionals find this type of level to be among the handiest, as well as a must-have to be as efficient in their line of work as possible.

4. Water Level

When a bubble/spirit level may not be sufficient enough to determine the proper balance measurement, water level tools can cover this as its design consists of two cylinders that are set on top of two different surfaces so that the desired task at hand can be worked out. This is the same technique that’s been used since ancient times, going as far back as the estimated timeline of those great pyramids previously mentioned. Nowadays, most of these tubes feature clear plastic tubing that can help you read the water level within them. When placed on two different surfaces, even if they’re in different rooms, these are tools that can be used to work out the math so that both water levels are the exact same. This is the primary tool of choice used among carpenters, construction companies, landscapers, and plumbers whenever they need to perform tasks where anything less than perfectly balanced measurements will likely result in a disastrous outcome.

5. Angle Level

When there is the need to create a slope, such as a sloped roof or a wheelchair ramp, angle levels allow anywhere from a zero to a ninety-degree angle. The bubble vial makes it easier for the project to adjust the angle to the desired position before proceeding with the task at hand. This is also a favorite tool used among plumbers who need to install drain pipes that are slanted properly enough to ensure there is no sewage backup, nor any other unpleasant mishaps.

6. Bull’s Eye Level

Looking and mostly behaving just like a bubble/spirit level, the bull’s eye level has one distinct difference that gives it its own classification. This type of level is two-dimensional, which is identical to what makes up a compass what it is, as well as a tripod camera. They’re designed to accurately measure stand-alone objects are as level all around as possible where one corner won’t tip slightly higher than the other. This way, the entire surface of the object is completely level.

7. Carpenter’s Level

These level tools are commonly seen on the shelves of hardware stores and in the tool shed of homeowners. This planked tool can measure anywhere from two feet long to eight feet and is either made from aluminum or highly stable wood such as mahogany. Relying on the same mechanics as bubble/spirit levels, this type of level can either have a single bubble vial or multiple, depending on the size of the carpenter’s level being used. This is a handy tool, especially for carpenters, as the two rings indicate where the bubble/bubbles need to be to accurately determine where the level needs to be before proceeding. Also, in most cases, carpenter’s levels have a 45-degree indicator inclination featured in its design.

8. Cross Check Level

Also known as right-angle levels or 2-D levels, these pocket-sized tools feature two bubble vials that are positioned at right angles to each other, like a T shape. Ideal for household use, these angles allow the user to have something balanced out horizontally and vertically.

9. Cross Line Laser Level

Slightly more accurate than the spot laser level, the cross line laser level sends a cross projection on the wall or surface of choice. This gives the user a straight x-axis and y-axis at the same time. This is an ideal tool to use when you want something that is located on opposing walls from each other within the same room to be perfectly level with the other. For instance, the installation of a shower curtain rod in the bathroom, or a bar stretched from one end of a walk-in closet to another to ensure when the clothes are hung up that it doesn’t all slide to one side because it’s uneven.

10. Engineer’s Precision Level

Architects and engineers find this precision level to be among the most valuable tool when it comes to being as precise as possible. Where a standard bubble/spirit level may not produce a reading accurate enough for the most discerning home improvement enthusiast, the engineer’s precision level is the route to go. This is especially the case when it comes to wanting the surface of machinery needs to be as level as possible in order to perform a task where the utmost precision is required.

11. Laser Plumb Line

This tool is ideal for measuring vertical lines, much like a plumb bob, but with the sophistication of laser lighting. It also makes a good spot laser level as it shoots up a beam of its laser light. The laser plumb line is handy when working outdoors, substituting the plumb bob when the weather is windier. Winds can be enough to prevent the plumb bob from doing its task properly whereas, with the laser plumb line, the wind won’t make any difference.

12. Line Level

The popular hardware store tools known as line levels are among the favorites for hobbyists and tradesmen who do carpentry-related work, as well as various home renovation and improvement projects. The small bubble vial securely placed within this ruler-styled tool can be hung from a taut string between two points for measurement. By adjusting the angle of the level, is a helpful tool when it comes to installing suspended ceiling tiles, or perhaps setting up a patio deck. This type of level is meant to serve as a rough measurement tool, so relying on it for exact precision to perfectly balance something out is not advised.

13. Mason’s Level

Normally four feet in length or longer, the precision instrument of a mason’s level is an ideal tool of choice when it comes to the task of building and installing cabinets and shelving units. For professionals in the trade of masonry, the longer the mason’s level is to work with the better. However, for cramped corners and other tight spots, the shorter versions have proven to be just as useful.

14. Plumb Bob

Ancient Egyptians used the plumb bob as a type of level that measures vertical depths. When hanging off a string, it measures as a vertical counterpart to the water level. This is the type of tool typically used when building the footings required to install decks, porches, and room additions.

15. Pocket Level

Small and handy, a pocket level is ideal for small projects, or jobs needing its functionality in tight spaces. They can usually be mounted to a tool belt, as well as onto a magnetic surface. One home improvement project pocket level devices are especially handy is when someone is installing a tightly spaced corner closet that’s being converted into a multi-shelf pantry.

16. Post Level

The L-shaped level features a bubble level inside it, on each winged side and its spine. Normally, a post level comes with a magnet for easy attachments to a surface. This tool is used to make sure the posts are plumb level on all sides so when the time comes to build something like a deck or porch that it’s done so as perfectly even as possible.

17. Rotary Laser Level

With lasers and mirrors, the rotary laser level is the ideal tool for people installing doors, windows, skirting, batter boards, and dado rails. The green and red lights that project from the horizontal rotation, which acts as a lighthouse beam. This tool allows the user to mark more than one point by lowering and raising the rotary laser level. For home improvement enthusiasts, this is one of the best level tools to have around. There is a size range between smaller units and larger ones. The more sophisticated models have a considerably better accuracy measurement point than the less expensive models. These also make handy tools to install cabinets and shelving units.

18. Scaffold Level

For jobs that involve pipes and metallic surfaces, the usefulness of a scaffold level allows exactly as its name suggests. This tool is typically used to put together scaffolding and its magnets can attach metallic-based equipment to its surface. It is also a favorite tool for plumbers who need to work with extensive piping and other metals, especially in bigger jobs that require retrofits and upgrades.

19. Spot Laser Level

This fixed type laser level is placed in a certain position to perfectly align a horizontal line with its light. This is ideal for the installment of crown moldings or hanging pictures. The accuracy of the spot laser level isn’t quite as sophisticated as some of the more industrially accepted tools, but it’s handy when the home improvement project is something small and simple enough, especially if it’s something decorative in mind as opposed to structural.

20. Torpedo Level

Also classified as boat levels, these smaller leveling tools are often found inside toolboxes and kits among hobbyists and professionals who take on home improvement projects. They’re ideal for smaller jobs and tightly spaced work environments. The average length of a torpedo level is the same as a foot ruler and sometimes comes with magnets, which is a handy feature should one need to use both hands to carry out a task while the level is held in place.

Leveling Up

For some, home improvement tasks are a do-it-yourself hobby where the drive to level up the property is always there. For others, it’s treated more as a must-do chore that reaches the point where it needs to be done. Either way, no job that requires a project to be properly made without structural flaws can really be done without the assistance of a level. Even if the project seems like it’s nothing more than hanging a few pictures to enhance the appearance of an otherwise boring room, the higher amount of quality that’s put into the work the better.

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