A spirit level, also known as a water level or a bubble level, is a very convenient tool used in many different types of construction. It’s designed to allow the user to level items, or in other words, to make sure that they are standing flat and even.
With that being said, there are many different types of spirit levels out there, and you may not know which one to use. Let’s get to it and take a look at the eleven most common ones.
What is a Spirit Level?
Simply put, a spirit level is a tool designed to make sure that vertical and horizontal surfaces are flat. In layman’s terms, it’s more or less a tube that is filled 99% of the way with water, with just enough space for a small air bubble.
There are lines drawn on the tube, which in relation to the position of the air bubble can tell you if a surface is flat. This is used in any application where surfaces need to be flat and even.
11 Types of Spirit Levels
With the basics out of the way, let’s jump into the different types of the tool.
1. Box Beam Level
This is generally considered the most versatile and common type of spirit level. This may also be called a box level. Box beam levels are usually rectangular or box-shaped and are usually made out of aluminum. Some may also be made out of wood or carbon fiber.
They usually also have grips for easy handling and generally have more than one vial. It also tends to have a milled measuring edge that touches the surface of anything that you want to measure. Many box beam levels also come complete with vertical leveling features to plumb walls.
If all you need is a simple level for basic tasks, then a box beam level is the way to go. If you need to measure a flat surface, whether it’s vertical or horizontal, this is the way to go.
2. Digital Box Level
If you need to level things often and you want something that is reliable and easy to read, then you might want to invest in a digital box level. In essence, this is the exact same thing as the normal box beam level, but with the addition of a digital readout.
In other words, you get a little display that tells you the measurement of anything that you are leveling to the, typically, fourth decimal place. This allows for extremely precise measurement. If you don’t like reading the vials on normal spirit levels, then getting one with a digital readout is definitely something to consider. It’s just something that makes life a little bit easier.
3. Magnetic Box Level
Here we have another type of box level. This is the exact same thing as a box beam level, but with the addition of magnets, so it can stick to metallic surfaces. If you are working with metallic surfaces, and you need to level them on a regular basis, then a magnetic box level is the way to go.
Keep in mind that there are also digital magnetic box beam levels out there. Of course, if you get a spirit level that has magnets and a digital readout, it is going to cost you money. That being said, this is of course very versatile if working with metals. It is fairly useless if you are working with wood or anything else that is not magnetic, though.
4. Screed Level
This is a special type of bubble level, often used when laying floors, particularly when doing concrete and cement foundations. They are also used to level ground in landscaping. This type of bubble level is usually made out of metal.
They feature special bubble vials that allow you to determine whether or not a floor is flat. In other words, they can tell you if you have built a crooked floor that is higher on one end than on the other. When it comes to landscaping, the building of floors, and the creation of foundations, this is an extremely important tool.
The important thing to note here is that this type of level can be used to determine whether or not a floor is flat and even, both from side to side and front to back at the same time.
5. I-Beam Level
In essence, the I-beam level is very similar to a box beam level. The only real difference is that instead of the body having a box or rectangular shape, it has the shape of an I-beam (like those steel girders that large buildings are made of).
These are generally considered to be slightly less durable than box beam levels, but the advantage is that they have a lot less material on them and are therefore much lighter in weight and more versatile. Simply put, they’re easier to carry around but are also quite susceptible to damage.
6. Torpedo Level
Torpedo levels are quite similar to box beam levels, although they are usually made out of plastic, not metal. Another defining feature of torpedo levels is that they tend to be very short, usually no longer than a foot in length.
As you might be able to tell, they are designed to level tight spaces where longer bubble levels won’t fit. There are many types of specialty torpedo levels out there, but the defining feature of all of them is their small size.
7. String Level
The next type of spirit level out there is the string level. The string level is more or less just a piece of string that you hang from two locations with a small bubble level in the middle of it hanging in the center.
This is used to level long distances where normal spirit levels just cannot reach.
8. Bull’s Eye Level
A bullseye level is a special type of spirit level that features a circle with rings in the middle, one most often used to level furniture. This circle or semicircle looks like half of a bubble with a small air bubble inside of it.
If the air bubble is right in the middle of a bullseye, then you know that your furniture is leveled.
9. Post Level
It features several vials designed to make sure that the post is straight both vertically and horizontally.
10. Carpenter’s Level
A carpenter’s level is more or less a box beam level with very wide edges designed to stand on its own so you can let go of it as you use it.
11. Surveyor’s Level
This type of level is a very special kind that uses a combination of spirit levels and telescopes, as well as digital readouts, to provide you with relevant information.
This is often used by land surveyors to determine how flat ground is over long distances, as it can compare the exact height of two points over many kilometers.
As you can see, there are all sorts of types of spirit levels out there. Today we have covered eleven of the most common ones, although there are a few others including homemade ones.
Of course, there are also other types of levels other than spirit levels, mainly laser levels and digital levels.
The bottom line here is that the task at hand will decide what type of spirit level you will use, so choose wisely. With that being said, if you are in a pinch and don’t have one on hand, there are also some very easy ways to make DIY bubble levels at home.