No matter what part of the construction industry you’re in, you likely know the usefulness of a good level. Whenever you need to make sure something is plumb, no matter which direction it’s running, a good level will help you get the job done right.
But not all levels are created the same. Construction is a demanding job, and you need to know that your tools will function correctly every time. Learn how to choose the best one for you by knowing what sets the best construction levels apart.
Evaluate the Level’s Accuracy
If a level isn’t accurate, you can’t trust it to do its job. Levels can be accurate within certain tolerances, which can change depending on use in standard or inverted measuring.
Look for levels that have very tight tolerances, such as .5mm per meter in standard use and .75mm per meter when inverted. These tight tolerances ensure the best accuracy.
Depending on the job, users may be required to level in several different directions and positions throughout the day. Use levels built for inverted measuring, meaning the vial can be on the bottom when the level is flush against the object. To ensure you always get the best reading, use a level designed with only one milled surface which can indicate the measuring surface with a metal covering.
Don’t trust levels that don’t list their tolerances or levels whose tolerances swing too widely between standard and inverted positions. A level that’s accurate in one direction but not the other isn’t much use.
You should also choose a level whose vials are anti-static. This means when you are working close to a static load, you still get an accurate measurement.
Consider the Level’s Durability
Construction sites can be hazardous. Even when every safety precaution is taken, things can be dropped, broken or misplaced. A level should be designed to stand up to the rigors of the job site.
When choosing a level, look for one that is made of a durable material such as aluminum. Its vials should be fixed and unbreakable. You should also choose a level that has cushioned and capped ends to help protect it from drops or other accidents.
Look for a level that can perform well in a variety of temperatures. You don’t want to risk an inaccurate measurement because the vial doesn’t perform well in a cold climate.
Assess the Level’s Vial Visibility
The visibility of the vial is often times overlooked, but it is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of your level. It doesn’t matter if your level is durable or accurate if you can’t read the vial.
Think about all of the different environments you use your level in: low light, lifted above your head, a few feet away from you. This can strain your eyes and impact the quality of the product of what you’re creating.
When thinking about visibility it’s important to understand how your eyes distinguish between colors. Colors travel in waves that have different wavelengths. The length of the wave makes a color easier or harder to see. The color green has been found to be the most visible color from a distance.
Our eyes pick up the different wavelengths that make colors thanks to three different cones in them. In daylight, cones are able to see green (followed by yellow and blue) the easiest, one of the reasons we have green traffic lights, and why the military uses green in night vision and crosshairs.
Look for vials, such as FOCUS vials , with green liquid and green contrasts. It will make it easier for your eyes to read at a distance and in low light settings.
Also look for a level with a magnified vial . The magnification will make for a more accurate read, leading to a more accurate final project.
Assess the Level’s Usability
Your level needs to be easy to use. Vials that fog or that are difficult to read can mean getting an inaccurate measurement. Levels that are hard to hold, heavy or the wrong length may also lead to inaccurate measurements.
Look for magnified vials that are anti-fog, so you can always get a quick, accurate reading at a glance. Also look for levels with a luminous backlight or vials that can be recharged with sunlight or a flashlight. LED powered levels that contain additional batteries that can die out at the worst time and also make the level more fragile if it’s dropped.
Choose levels that come in the size you need most, or consider investing in a few different sizes of the same level to ensure you always have the right size for the job. Using the right size for the space will give you a more accurate measurement, as will machined edges and cushioned grips will help ensure that the level is easy to hold.
Invest in the Best
The best construction levels are ones that are accurate, durable and easy to use. A level is integral to every project, and you don’t want to take chances with such an important tool.
If your level could break, fog or lose structural integrity over time, then it isn’t going to give you the best results. For the best results, look for a higher quality level that will get the job done every time while providing you with easy to use features, such as the Box Beam Levels line from the new Keson and SOLA partnership.