The frame or ‘bones’ of a building is what lends strength and integrity to its structure. Hence, when framing walls, roofs and floors, only the best quality materials should be used. Additionally, their inclination must be measured to the greatest accuracy, as an uneven base can lead to a weak structure.
Construction levels are tools that can be used to measure the true horizon and true plumb of an object or, in this case, a building frame.
So before you buy a framing level, consider this question: which would be the best level for framing that will give you maximum precision?
Well, the answer to that varies based on the nature of your job, the material you are working with and your budget. Read through our blog for a better understanding of framing levels and how to pick the best one for your project.
Buying Guide For Framing Levels
The first thing to consider in a level is the material it’s made of, as this contributes to its sturdiness, as well as weight and portability.
Most construction and framing levels are made of plastic because it is a less dense material and is easier to carry. Plastic levels also reduce work hazards; they do not damage other materials if they fall and cannot harm you either. They’re also great for leveling objects that you do not want stained.
However, when it comes to durability, plastic isn’t the best material to use. Another, sturdier type of framing tool is the die-cast level.
Die-cast levels have an aluminum frame which makes them light, durable, corrosion-free and dimensionally stable. This makes them particularly suitable for masonry work.
Ease Of Use
If your level doesn’t come with handholds, it will probably be very difficult for you to grab onto while working without blocking the visibility of the vials.
Therefore, handles are a convenient feature to look for when deciding on the best type of level for framing.
Make sure the bottom edges of your level are flat and touch a straight surface completely when placed on it. Also choose a level with a milled edge. This indicates which edge of the level is the measuring edge, helping ensure you get the most accurate result.
While wood is the most commonly used framing material, metal is also gaining popularity with builders and has been added to the building code regulations in some states.
It’s a good idea to invest in a level that can help with metal framing, such as one with magnetic edges. It’s a great feature, plus, you can use magnetic levels with wood, too.
Another feature that can add to the versatility of a level is a digital display as it leads to even more accurate measurements and is easy to read.
No matter how careful you are, if you use your levels extensively during construction, they are bound to get dropped a time or two. Spirit levels for framing that have rubber safety bumpers and end caps will protect the level when it falls, keeping it accurate longer.
Some added features to look for in the best level for framing:
Levels that have markings for rules can double up as a measuring tape; this can be especially handy when setting up wall frames.
Tools with enhanced visibility options can make the process of interpreting results very convenient. Look for:
- LED lights
- High contrast vials
- Magnifying lens
Choosing The Right Levels For Framing
Now that you understand what features to look for, here are our top picks of the best levels for framing:
Box Beam Levels
These levels are popular with framers and owe their name to the shape. These primarily come with vials to measure horizontal and vertical surfaces, such as when laying down walls or floor panels.
The Keson LKB series are some of the best box beam levels on the market in terms of construction, accuracy and price.
What Makes The Keson LKB Series Great?
For one, these levels are extremely accurate with a precision measurement of 0.5mm in standard position and 0.75mm in an inverted position.
It has a heavy-duty build which ensures that it does not break, get damaged or lose efficiency due to accidental falls. The addition of two-material end-caps on both ends makes it even more durable and sturdy.
This level comes with high contrast SOLA FOCUS vials with a 20% magnification lens for maximum visibility. Its three vials contain superior fluid which is anti-static and has a wide temperature curve.
In addition to simple box beam levels, the LKB series also contains units with magnetic strips to aid framers that work with metal.
Digital Box Beam Levels
These levels are similar to the conventional spirit box beam levels, but in addition to liquid vials, they also come with a digital display which makes it easier to read the measurements.
The Keson LKBD series offers a number of great models for digital box beam levels.
What Makes The Keson LKBD Series Great?
The LKBD series comes with all the quintessential features of the LKB series (spirit box beam levels) discussed above, but in addition, it also has some electronic features.
These digital levels have a measuring tolerance (acceptable error range) as low as 0.05 degrees when placed on and against leveled horizontal and vertical surfaces and 0.1 degrees for acute angle measurements.
The display allows you to set the unit for results as per your requirements and provides readings in degrees, % and mm/m.
Other features that make this one of the best levels for framing include reversible display for inverted measurements, function for storing values, audible signal for poor visibility conditions and more.
These relatively inexpensive levels can be used for light condition framing jobs, such as doors or windows.
Keson offers some of the best I-Beam levels on the market with its LKI series.
What Makes The Keson LKI Series Great?
I-Beams are a good option for framing because they have a flat surface for greater balance and stability. They are much lighter than box beam levels, making them easier to carry around and some of the shorter lengths fit inside toolboxes.
The Keson I-Beam levels have three vials for greater accuracy, and with proper use and care, they can last a long time.
By knowing the features and benefits of the different levels in the market, you can be sure to pick the right level for your next framing job.