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Best Tape Measure Material: Comparison Testing

If you’ve been in a hardware store looking for a tape measure, you might be surprised to know that there are more types out there that go beyond your average reel tape.

If that’s so, are the others any good, and how do you test them without having to purchase them all and try them yourself? Which one will suit your next measuring job the best?

Well, good news, we have tested each one out and broken down how each works and what they offer the user. Read on to find out what the best tape measures are and how they can suit your job and needs.

Pocket Or Spring Return Tape Measures

Best Tape Measure Material Comparison Testing

These tape measures are the most common type that you’ll find in stores, and there’s a good reason why they are rated so highly.

You’ll find that most tape measures have a rubber or nylon covering for better grip and are usually very sturdy, and are made to be used constantly, and is evident as soon as you start using it with a thumb lock that can make measuring much easier.

We would recommend reel tape measures to any contractor who wants a tape that they can attach to a pocket, all the while having a coated blade with easy-to-read measurements. 

One issue we found during our tape measure testing is that the 12 feet tapes are hard to come by compared to the 16-35 foot tapes, so these would suit builders more, but there isn’t anything stopping you from getting a professional tape.

We also found that after a sustained amount of use, the thumb lock can get stuck, making your reeling more difficult, and some tapes can go limp at shorter distances when drawn out, but these are minor inconveniences.

Rust Resistant Tape Measures

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These tapes are highly recommended for those who work outdoors because this casing can withstand heavy rain or snow and not show any signs of wear.

We found that these tape measures share some of the same features as the spring return ones as we found that some of these blades also have BladeArmor coating applied to them.

What makes some of these stand out, especially the Stanley models, is that the tape is made from mylar polyester film, and the case is coated with a nice chrome finish that we can appreciate. 

As good as these tape measures are, we find that the edges of the blade could cut the skin if you were to retract the tape quick enough. In some instances, they’re not the easiest to manipulate, so getting them around corners and difficult angles can become a problem over time.

Double Hook Tape Measures

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These tape measures can offer you more versatility and can also feature a magnetic hook in some cases, making latching onto a surface or screw that much easier.

Like the spring return tapes, these tape measures are versatile and suit various jobs and requirements. This compact tape measure also come with a belt clip for easy access.

You also have a bold measurement system on a yellow background so you can read it better, and in most cases, you don’t need another person to hold the other end, making your measuring jobs seamless and convenient. 

Implementing the magnetic end or double hook can make it dangerous if exposed to live electricity. Still, we found that most cases use plastic and rubber coverings, so it’s only the blade you need to worry about.

There’s also the issue with the hooks being more susceptible to breaking as you’re going to want to use this feature as much as you can, but over time there might be some doubt over its durability, especially on older models.

Laser Tape Measures/Digital Tape Measure

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The laser tape measure an interesting tape that can take measurements and convert measurements for you, with calculations such as area, volume, and Pythagorean measurements with a laser that has a 131-foot measurement accuracy.

We find the LCD display a nice touch as it’s easy to read, and accurate distance can be read within an effective range while moving. This tape measure has features that are either not mentioned in the manual or not easily found, so some research could be done to offset this inconvenience.

However, you can expect the best laser tape measure to be expensive, as this type is one of the most durable tape measures available.

Fiberglass Tape Measures 

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These might be used more by land surveyors that are made like a roll of tape made of fiberglass that can measure anywhere from 60-100 feet and have double-sided printing with fractional and decimal formats for measurement.

The way you retract this is by winding up the retractable handle, and it can be used in pretty much any sort of environment, as the thin tape is durable enough to fit anywhere and is waterproof and stretch-resistant.

You can find other versions that can go as long as 300 feet and can be used to plot points in the ground.

The main problem is that not everyone will need to use that much length of tape, making it hard for us to recommend it to a wide range of people.

This is because this tape world only works for those doing garden renovations or landscaping. You also have the issue of a smaller-to-read scale, and you may need two people to use it to get an accurate reading. 

What About Blade Material?

We’ve talked a bit about some of these materials, but in general, you’re only going to find steel, stainless steel, and fiberglass in the construction or tape blades.

A good bet is to go for steel because it’s a solid and durable material, but the thickness, width, and protective coverings can differ from model to model.

Stainless steel and fiberglass work best for outdoor applications, so it depends on how much you’re going to be using your tape measure outdoors.

If you’re using it here and there for some weekend work, you don’t have to spend more on a model that will be more than you need.

You can keep it simple with a spring return tape measure used and loved by professionals and D.I.Y hobbyists, and we find these more user-friendly. These measures offer an easy-to-read scale and hook nicely on edges for simple measurements and markings. 


Now you have some idea of what to look for in a measuring tape, the main takeaway is to keep it simple if you can and perhaps compare some of these tapes the next time you’re at the hardware store.

You want to be sure that the tape measure fits your requirements and that it can manage your marking jobs without any issues like limp tape, as issues like this can be a burden.

This can be prevented by knowing exactly what size works for you, as most people will be fine with a 32-foot or under-tape measure with a simple hook for everyday jobs.

 This way, you can access a tape measure that you can pull out when you need it and have the confidence knowing that it’s as effective as it can be. Make your measuring easier, and you’re sure to make the next stage of your job more manageable. Thank you for reading.


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