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How To Use A Level

A reliable level is an essential piece of equipment for DIY and home improvement projects. If you’ve never used one before, you might be unsure of what the different bubbles and instructions indicate or how to use them.

In this guide, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about using a spirit level and other types of levels that you might find useful.

What Is A Level?

A level is a tool that is used to determine whether a surface is balanced perfectly on a horizontal or vertical plane.

They are used for big projects, like building houses, and small ones too, like hanging a picture frame.

The most basic type of level is a spirit level, which indicates level and plumb using a bubble inside a liquid-filled vial. They are often used to check the positioning of an object to ensure it is not off its axis.

How To Use A Spirit Level

It’s important to note the best features you should look for when purchasing a spirit level.

This will help you make sure that you are getting the best reading before you start measuring. Consider choosing a spirit level with:

  • High accuracy
  • A large bubble 
  • A bright liquid color
  • Clear reading lines
  • Good protection
  • Good construction
  • A comfortable grip
  • A V-groove for piping.

Step 1

How To Use A Level (With Pictures)

First, you need to choose the right spirit level based on your DIY needs.

Spirit levels vary in shape and size, so you should choose one depending on how often you want to use it and the length and width of the objects you want to use it with:

  • Carpenter’s level – this spirit level is for general use and can be used to measure many different object sizes. They are usually between 2 and 3 feet long.
  • Torpedo level – this spirit level is a portable option that will easily fit in your toolbox and is able to measure tight spaces. They can be as small as six inches and usually have a diagonal vial that you can use to find a level at a 45-degree angle.
  • Mason’s level – this level is for measuring very wide and long surfaces. They can be 4 feet or longer, so they will not work for measuring smaller objects.

Step 2

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Next, you need to find the horizontal or vertical vial, depending on what angle you’re measuring, and notice its two lines. 

Most levels have two small vials filled with liquid, one being horizontal and the other being vertical. You can use the horizontal vial to find the horizontal plane and vice versa.

You will notice that these vials have a bubble and two lines in the center that act as guidelines for you to find a level plane.

When measuring a horizontal object, the bubble should fall between the two lines if the object is completely flat and even.

If you find that the bubble falls outside the left guideline, then the object’s left side is higher than the right, meaning that it is not level. On the other hand, if the bubble falls to the right side, then the right side is higher.

For vertical objects, if the bubble remains in the center of the two lines, it means that your object is completely vertical, or plumb.

When measuring a vertical object, if the bubble is above the top guideline, then it means that your object is leaning forward. If the bubble falls below the bottom guideline, then your object is leaning back.

Step 3

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Next, clean your level and objects before taking a reading. You need to do this because dirt and grime can make the level inaccurate and throw off its reading. 

All you need to do is brush off any dirt with a cloth or gloved hand and you will be able to get a correct reading. Be sure to remove any dirt buildup from the edges if you use your level often.

Step 4

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Now you can position your level in the center of the object you want to measure. Check to see if the bubble is within the guidelines, or if it is to the right or left, or to the top or bottom.

Step 5

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Once you have your first reading, double check it by moving the level away from the center of your object. 

Move the level right or left for horizontal readings, or top or bottom for vertical readings. This will make sure you definitely have an accurate reading.

If you have a different reading from the center of the object, you may need a bigger level. This may also be because the level you are using is poorly made, defective, or damaged. If this is the case, then it’s wise to consider investing in a better spirit level.

Step 6

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After double-checking your reading and ensuring that there are no problems with your level, you can adjust your object as necessary, depending on where the bubble is in the vial.

Other Types Of Levels

There are three other types of levels that are commonly used in home improvement and construction projects besides the spirit level. 

Laser Level

A laser level is a level that uses a laser to project the level onto your chosen surface. For example, if you are putting up shelving, you can use a laser level to project the exact position where your shelf should be placed. 

Laser levels are much more expensive and sophisticated than spirit levels, and are a high-tech piece of equipment, often used in large-scale interior design and construction.

Water Level

Water levels are a simple solution for transferring levels from one place to another, but they cannot be used to establish a level plane. 

Optical Level

An optical level is often used by builders and surveyors on construction sites for large-scale projects.

These levels allow the user to establish a level plane over long distances. They actually use a bubble in a vial just like a spirit level, and then the measurement is transferred to the site using the lens.

Final Word

Using a level is essential when taking on home improvement projects. Having the ability to use one correctly will greatly benefit you and help achieve the desired results for your home. With this information, you can get started on leveling any object in your home.


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