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A Beginner's Guide to Buying Levels

A Beginner's Guide to Buying Levels


Whether you're trying to hang a picture frame, light fixture or are working on a new DIY project, you're going to need a trusty level. These tools will ensure you're working on an even plane ever time. The last thing you want is to finish that new bookshelf only to watch your library slide off the shelves. Take a look at the wide array of levels and find the one perfect for your tool box.

buying a level

Types of Levels

Laser Levels

These types of levels emit an even line of light onto a surface on a horizontal or vertical plane. There are several models available, so you can find the right one to get the job done.

Types of Laser Levels...

  • Dot Laser - Dot laser levels produce single or multiple dots on the surface you’re working on. These models are typically used for electrical wiring and outlets, plumbing pipes, countertops and cabinets.
  • Line Laser - These options use a single laser beam through 180 degrees to determine an absolute horizontal or vertical plane. Line laser levels are perfect for lining up pictures, hanging mirrors or installing shelves on a wall.
  • Rotary Laser - Rotary laser levels produce a 360-degree line, leveling an entire room. You can use these models for large indoor home projects like installing cabinets or windows and tiling a kitchen or bathroom.

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laser level

Plumb Bob Levels

Plumb bob levels, also called plumb line levels, are a pointed weight suspended from the end of a string. When you hang the line downward, the weight pulls the string taut and creates a straight, vertical line. These are the simplest and typically least expensive types of levels.

plumb bob levels
Benefits & Uses...
  • Helpful in leveling cabinets - Plumb bobs help make your cabinets perfectly level and aligned all the way across your wall, giving them a professional look.
  • Easily aligns wallpaper - These models can make quick work of a frustrating task by hanging wallpaper straight on the first try. 
  • Squares doorways and windows - With plumb bob options, your doors and windows will close and seal securely, helping save money on energy costs.
  • Useful for setting foundation and aligning fence posts - Plumb line levels allow you to easily find plumb before building a fence or pouring concrete for a new patio, even if the ground isn’t perfectly level.


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I-Beam Levels

Light, durable and easy to operate, these models are commonly used for most home improvement projects. Their long frames hold three bubble vials to read both level and plumb.

Benefits & Uses...

  • Useful for brick laying or stone work - I-beam levels keep bricks and stone perfectly aligned for a garden wall or backyard path.
  • Good for leveling long surfaces - These models are especially efficient for installing long lines of cabinets and kitchen countertops or planning out a new patio.

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i-beam levels

Torpedo Levels

These types of levels are used for checking vertical, horizontal and diagonal planes. Torpedo models are shaped with tapered ends that come in handy for small spaces and fitting in tight corners. They typically range from 6 to 9 inches and can easily fit in a pocket or tool belt.

torpedo level

Benefits & Uses...

  • Perfect for small home projects - These small levels are ideal for hanging pictures or making sure your curtains hang perfectly straight.
  • Great for leveling home appliances - With torpedo levels, you can make sure your fridge stays firmly in place and your washer and dryer don’t vibrate from uneven legs. 
  • Helpful with plumbing projects - Their built-in magnets make it easy to attach to pipes, so you can keep your hands free for other tools and tasks.


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Line Levels

Line levels, also called string levels, are light weight and designed to be hung from a taut string stretched between two posts. They're commonly used over a long distance to find level ground or for complex and large outdoor home projects.

Benefits & Uses...

  • Ideal for landscaping projects - These models help establish a level grade in your yard before planting, ensuring that you have ideal growing conditions.
  • Paving patios and walkways - Line levels are handy for grading the ground before laying pavers for a patio, driveway or walkway. A level base will help keep water from collecting and pavers from sagging.


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line level