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Spirit level buying guide

Guide written by:
Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

118 guides

Whether you're looking to install a shelf, lay some tiles or construct a wall, you will need to ensure your working surface is perfectly level and plumb. All these tasks can be made much simpler with the use of a spirit level. Read on to find the right tool for you.

Important features

  • Size
  • Material
  • Number of vials

Spirit levels for indoor or outdoor use

Spirit level for indoor work

Go for a rectangular spirit level with at least two vials and a minimum length of 40 cm. This type of level is lightweight and easy to read which allows you to work quickly. Its body may be made of plastic or metal


Spirit levels for outdoor work

Choose a level with a trapezoidal shape, two or three vials and a minimum length of 40 cm. The body of this type of level should be metal as this will prove more durable. Select the right length of level based on the work you are doing. For example, if you are laying a brick path or pouring concrete you will need a much longer level than if you are simply hanging a shelf.

How does a spirit level work?


The good news is that all types of spirit levels work using the same basic principle. The flat-based body contains a vial filled with liquid. Within this liquid is a bubble of air which moves between two lines to indicate whether your surface is level (horizontal) or plumb (vertical). 

Most models include one vial for horizontal levelling and one for verticals; some even include a third vial for levelling 45° angles. Laser levels are used to level surfaces from a distance.

Final tips for choosing your spirit level


If you are trying to decide between a few similar spirit levels, pick the most sensitive model; the best spirit levels are accurate to half a millimetre per metre.

If you’re working in a confined or cramped space, consider a more compact model. Spirit levels measuring only a few centimetres in length can be just as accurate as larger models.

Some levels are magnetised which is practical for both indoor and outdoor projects.

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Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff 118 guides écrits

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres; I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites.

for 4 years now, I am restaoring and bulding an extrension to a bungalow in the heart of the welsh countyside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electricty, anything goes! We have, my wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions, and to orientate and advise you on coosing your tools? Easy!

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