Levels are essential to every construction job. No matter how big or small, having an accurate level can mean the difference between a job done right or a job done crooked.
But construction sites are not known to be soft, safe areas. Human error and simple mistakes can mean that sometimes things get dropped or jarred. That’s why investing in durable levels that can withstand drops and rough job site conditions is so important.
Durable levels are less likely to go out of level or plumb when dropped, allowing you to trust them every time and spend less time correcting costly mistakes.
What Makes a Level Durable?
Durability comes in many forms. After all, the tool that you reach for most often has to be one that will work for you every time. Here are four specific durability features to look for when choosing your level.
1. Superior Framing
When it comes to durable levels, look for ones that have a reinforced frame. Aluminum alloy makes a very durable, strong frame that will help absorb shocks and won’t crack when dropped.
Construction levels come in two basic styles: Box Beam and I-Beam. Box Beam levels are vastly stronger than I-Beam levels.
For both styles, a longer level—but not longer than the surface you’re checking—will give you a more accurate reading. However, with a longer level comes more weight, so you’ll need to balance these factors along with durability. Choose the longest and most durable level you can, without taking unnecessary excess weight to the job site.
2. Strong Vials
Unbreakable vials also go a long way toward ensuring a durable product. Keson levels use SOLA’s patented FOCUS vial, which has a 20% magnification to ensure an accurate reading every time, that is made from a break-resistant acrylic material.
Besides its resistance to deformation or breakage, the acrylic is also highly UV resistant, so sunlight won’t cause the color of the liquid in the vial to fade. FOCUS vials also use a patented ultrasonic welding of the vials ensuring there is no risk of a leak.
3. Non-Slip Grip
A comfortable grip makes the level easy to use and easy to hold. If you can hold onto the level more easily, you’re less likely to drop it in the first place. Also, make sure the level you choose has machined edges which will make the level easy to rest against a variety of surfaces. That means fewer drops, cracks, jars and impacts that can spell disaster for a less durable product.
4. Protected Ends
A level’s weight is concentrated in the ends. This means when a level falls, typically one end of it will strike the ground first, instead of the middle or a side. For this reason, a level with cushioned end caps that absorb the shock of the impact can help ensure that the tool stays accurate. With a softened impact, the vial is more likely to remain stable.
A professional level should always have end caps. Removing the end caps, or losing them to damage, will inevitably impact a level’s accuracy and durability as more damage occurs. If your level’s end caps come off for any reason, it’s time to buy a new one.
No matter how durable your level is, if it isn’t accurate to begin with, then it’s still not going to be practical. Accuracy in levels often falls in a range of spectrums, meaning that there may be some variation in the accuracy over a specific length.
Keson’s professional aluminum level is accurate to within .3mm per 1 meter in standard position, which means it delivers accurate results every time. Making sure that the level you choose is both highly precise and highly durable will ensure that you won’t need to replace it any time soon.
But in the event your level is dropped, hit, crushed or otherwise jarred, make sure to check it for accuracy before you use it again. After all, sometimes a level’s damage is immediately noticeable, either through a cracked case or some other visual defect, but sometimes the level may be slightly out of plumb with no visual indication.
If your level has been dropped or damaged, follow these steps to confirm its accuracy has not been affected before you continue to use the level on your job site.
Choose a Better Level
A durable, comfortable, easy to use and accurate level can help eliminate a lot of issues on the job site. Professional levels with unbreakable, magnified and fog-proof acrylic vials that have been reinforced for better durability, such as Keson levels with FOCUS vials, will ensure better results on every job.
Invest in a good quality, aluminum alloy level with reinforced, cushioned ends to ensure durability, and take care to protect this important tool from the common hazards of the job site to ensure a long life.