How To Choose The Right Spirit Level (Make Sure To Get The Right One)

How To Choose The Right Spirit Level (Make Sure To Get The Right One)

A spirit level, also known as level tool, is an important accurate tool in a builder’s toolbox and is essential for home improvement projects.

You need a spirit level to find out whether a surface is level and even, either horizontally or vertically.

This is essential in whatever you are building because even the slightest discrepancies can mean that your project won’t turn out as you expected.

For example, when you are building a house, you need to ensure that all walls and floors are level, so everything lines up well.

But how do you find the right spirit level for you? And what do you need to look out for when you want to buy a level tool?

In this article, we take a closer look at spirit levels, what you can use them for, how to get an accurate reading, and what you need to know before buying one.

How To Choose A Spirit Level That’s Right For You?

There are a couple of different ways to determine which spirit level is right for you. One method is by finding a level tool depending on what you want to use it for.

There are a range of different types of spirit levels which have different purposes. Let’s take a look at some of the most important levels and what they can do.

Torpedo Levels

A torpedo spirit level is one of the smaller levels that fits perfectly in a toolbox. It can measure between six and 12 inches (15 cm to 30 cm). This is handy for working in tight spaces.

This type of spirit level has usually three vials, and it can be used for almost any building project, especially in smaller spaces.

Scaffold Level

The scaffold level, also known as a boat level, is similar in size to the torpedo level.

It is generally used when scaffolding is erected but it is also popular with plumbers and other tradesmen who work with metal surfaces or pipes.

Thanks to the integrated magnets, a scaffold level sticks to any metal surface.

Pocket Level

Pocket levels are the smallest spirit levels, and they are made to be clipped onto a belt mount, or you can also keep it in your pocket.

Many pocket levels have magnets so you can attach it to a metal surface, and some even have a V-groove which allows you to use it pipes.

Line Level

Part of the category of specialist spirit levels, the line level is a single vial with just a hook so you can hang it up easily.

Line levels, also known as string levels, are used for levelling across longer distances. This was the go-to level before the invention of laser levels.

Cross-Check Level

A cross check level, also called a right angle level or 2D level, is a small pocket-sized level which has two vials at a right angle.

This level is ideal for when you want to check two planes at the same time.

Circular Level

Circular levels are usually attached to other devices to ensure that they are level. You may find them on a camera or tripod.

Post Level

A post level is part of the specialist level category, and it is used to ensure that posts are correctly level vertically (also known as plumb).

They are often used for joists, rails and other timbers that need to be level.

A post level with three vials wraps around two sides of a post to measure the level of the horizontal planes.

Angle Levels

As their name suggests, an angle level is designed to measure the level plane of angles. Their vials can usually be adjusted, so you can set it to the angle that you need to measure.

What To Look Out For When Buying A Spirit Level

Another way to choose the right spirit level for your building project is to ensure that it has everything you need when it comes to a leveling tool.

Here are some of the essential things you need to look out for when buying a spirit level.


The reason why a spirit level is such a handy tool is because it is used for its accuracy, and if you don’t have an accurate spirit level, then you’ll struggle to create a level surface.

Spirit levels usually have an accuracy tolerance, which is indicated on the packaging or on the level itself.

Check the tolerance and make sure that it doesn’t vary too much, depending on how accurately level you want your surface to be.

Bubble Size

The circular part of the liquid inside the vial is called the bubble, and the bigger the air bubble, the easier it is to see any adjustments you need to make.

The bubble size is dependent on the liquid and how it is affected by cold and hot weather. You want the bubble to stay inside the outer lines to get an accurate level on a flat surface.

The same process is used to gauge the straightness of a vertical surface and a horizontal surface, wherein the bubble level must be in the middle of the vertical vial and horizontal vial.

Make sure that you find out about the expansion properties of the liquid at different temperatures. The more accurate the bubble can be in extreme climates, the more accurate the spirit level will be.

Liquid Color

Modern spirit levels always have a colored liquid so you can see the bubble level better and ensure it stays within the reading lines.

However, depending on the type of liquid inside the vial, the color will fade in the sun and just with time.

The exact length of time it takes for the color to fade determines the quality of your spirit level.

How To Choose The Right Spirit Level

Reading Lines

The reading lines are an essential part of a spirit level. They are inserted into the vial or tube. Sometimes they are also painted on.

The reading lines should be easily visible to help you read the bubble levels.


Protection here refers to the proper protection of the delicate tube or vial. It can happen that spirit levels do get dropped on a building site, and you don’t want the vial to break when this happens.

Check that the spirit level has rubber ends which act as a shock absorber during a fall. It should still be lightweight and easy to handle.


A spirit level has to be designed to withstand some serious handling and a little bit of rough treatment.

That’s why, make sure that your chosen spirit level has a robust body that does not scratch or crack easily.

Many spirit levels are made with aluminum. However, aluminum levels can be a little heavy for more delicate surfaces, so if you are working with soft materials, then a plastic spirit level may be a better choice.

Use And Grip

You don’t want your spirit level to drop out of your hands, especially when you are up on a ladder. Check that the level tool has handles and a good grip.


If you work a lot with metal surfaces, such as pipes or scaffolding, then having a magnetic spirit level comes in handy.

You just attach it to the metallic surface and keep your hands free.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right spirit level for you depends on the type of work you are doing and what exactly you need in a spirit level.

From magnetic levels to long distance spirit levels, there are a large range of spirit level vials to choose from for your next building proj.


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