Spirit Levels

As the UK's Measurement and Levelling Specialists, The Tape Store is proud to stock a huge range of spirit levels from the world's top manufacturers. Whether you're after Stanley, Stabila or BMI, we can even supply the full range of levels from Bahco, Hultafors, Roughneck and Faithfull on a special order basis.

  • Stabila Spirit Levels

    Great value, precision spirit levels from the highly respected German firm of Stabila. Available from 60cm to 180cm at prices to suit all budgets.

  • Stanley Spirit Levels

    Check out our range of ultra-durable, high precision heavy duty spirit levels from Stanley. Some of the toughest, most reliable levels money can buy.

  • Hilka Spirit Levels

    Click here to view our range of great value Hilka spirit levels. Trade quality, impact resistant, three-vial spirit levels at exceptionally low prices.

  • Faithfull Spirit Levels

    Click here to view our range of great value, great quality Faithfull spirit levels. Box section, 3-vial spirit levels from 600mm to 1800mm at low prices.

Spirit Levels

Frequently referred to as bubble levels or construction levels and used by all manner of trades from joiners and surveyors to bricklayers and plumbers, these products allow the user to determine whether a surface is level in either the horizontal or vertical plane. When you consider that preparation and measurement is the key to a successful project, it's no wonder that (along with a quality tape measure or screwdriver), a spirit level is the essential piece of kit that should be in every toolbox.

The humble spirit level has aided tradesmen of all descriptions from ancient times and is yet to be superseded by digital technology. Simple in its design and application the spirit level, also called the bubble level thanks to the distinctive bubble measure, is an important tool for precision measurement jobs great and small.

With levelling, errors of just a few mm can lead to pretty disastrous results. The well known phrase "measure twice, cut once" has never been more true than with levelling. Once that plank, joist or board has been cut, hammered or shaped there's no going back - mistakes like this can cost you considerable amount of both time and money. Hence the need to choose an accurate spirit level of the correct length and design. The accuracy and length of each model on our site is clearly marked on that product's page.

Whilst we are able to source water levels on a special order basis, most levels sold through The Tape Store contain an alcohol-based liquid which are far less likely to freeze in extremely low temperatures and allow the bubble to travel more freely along the tube. A colouring agent is generally added to the ethanol (or similar) to make it easier for the user to see the bubble.

Delivery

All levels come with great value delivery by our chosen courier - Interlink - most on a next day basis if ordered by 2pm (Mon-Fri). If you're looking for a specific level that we don't currently have in stock there could be a 1-2 working day delay on delivery. If you'd like a delivery estimate please don't hesitate to contact us on 0800 023 6200.

Because of the dimensions of most spirit levels, it's simply not possible to send them out via Royal Mail. All of our spirit levels are sent out by Interlink - our chosen courier.

An ancient tool

Archaeologists think a rudimentary type of spirit level was used by the ancient Egyptians and there is evidence that the Romans had their own version to aid in the construction of aqueducts. The spirit level we recognise today was invented by a Frenchman in the 1660’s but did not enter everyday use until the eighteenth century.

Early levels were filled with water but variations in temperature made it unreliable and prone to error, and rendered it completely useless in cold weather. To avoid this modern levels are filled with a mixture - water diluted with oil or alcohol - giving it the name ‘spirit level’. The liquid is held in a small vial containing an air bubble and it’s the position of the air bubble that determines a reading.

So, how does it work?

The purpose of the spirit level is to confirm whether or not a surface - horizontal, vertical or angled - is level (parallel) or plumb (perpendicular). If the distinctive bubble sits squarely between the two lines of the level then your line is true; if not, it’s back to the drawing board.

A tool critical in the preparation and execution of a wide range of construction-related tasks, the spirit level is used by trades as diverse as plumbers and videographers, bricklayers and surveyors, stonemasons and carpenters. It’s a stalwart of all construction sites worth their salt and most garden sheds across the nation.

The reason for the spirit level’s importance is simple: errors cost money and time. Failing to properly level a job can have disastrous results, it can endanger the whole project; bad enough if it’s a DIY job at home but potentially life-threatening on a large-scale construction project. The old saying ‘measure twice, cut once’ is just as true of levelling. A good level provides an accurate reading which, not only limits mistakes, but results in a better end product.

Types of spirit level

Spirit levels come in a wide variety of styles and sizes, many designed for use in specific trades. The most commonly seen and used are the i-beam (resembling a capital ‘I’ when viewed from the end), the box-beam (a simple yet robust rectangular unit) and the pocket-sized torpedo. All are extremely easy to use and most are multi-functional, making them great workhorses.     

Some spirit levels come with end-caps and vial covers to protect them when not in use, whilst others have replaceable vials (accidents do happen) and hand grips for maximum comfort and precision.

The Tape Store have a range of best-selling spirit levels in stock for immediate delivery, including i-beam, box-beam and torpedo, but if you require a specialist or trade-specific level we will be delighted to source it on your behalf.

Choosing the right spirit level

The size and type of spirit level best suited to you will depend greatly on what you intend to use it for. The Tape Store stocks a wide variety of models, most in several sizes, and suitable for a range of different levelling jobs.  

There are several considerations when choosing the right spirit level - including the size and shape of the unit, the material of construction, the minimum accuracy and the type of bubble needed. Most models in stock are constructed from rugged, long-lasting materials and many are multi-functional, allowing you to complete several different tasks using just one level.   

Other important considerations before making your purchase include:

  1. Easy to read - The liquid in a spirit level is usually tinted with a dye to make it easier to take a reading but it is important to choose a level that you find easy to read, especially if using it for prolonged periods of time. Many levels come complete with magnified capsules or reflectors to help you take a reading in a variety of light conditions.
  2. Construction - The material your level is constructed from is really important, especially if you’ll be using a longer level. If you’re using one day in, day out you might not want a level that’s heavy in the hand. However, you may want something that can stand up to the hazards of a construction site and it's worth bearing in mind that durability can frequently come along with a certain amount of weight.. If you’re an occasional user a level constructed from a lightweight material can be a cheaper option but it may be less able to stand knocks and bangs. Long levels are most accurate but are more prone to warping or bending owing to their length. Wooden levels are attractive but need special care and ongoing maintenance to preserve their accuracy. A spirit level made from aluminium or plastic (quite rare) can be a good choice for both DIYers and tradespeople. Also consider the impact protection that is built into your chosen level. Does it come with durable, impact-resistant end caps? 
  3. Sensitivity - Who can resist the urge to jiggle the bubble when picking up a spirit level? What you’re really doing is testing the level’s ‘sensitivity’ - how fast the bubble moves when the level is moved. The rule of thumb is, the faster the bubble moves, the more accurate the reading is. The most sensitive levels are accurate to within +/- 0.5mm/m; good for use in levelling jobs that demand a superior level of precision. The next level of accuracy is +/- 0.75mm/m; this is acceptable for most day-to-day levelling tasks. Remember, a highly sensitive level may prove difficult to read or to even obtain a workable result from! Find a sensitivity that meets the requirements of the work you are doing and stick to it.
  4. Hand grips - Whilst smaller models such as pocket or torpedo levels) are unlikely to have hand holds/grips, more and more longer box levels are coming with integral grips or cut outs ideal for obtaining a firm grip on your level when used in a variety of directions. A soft grip or rubberised hand hold can make regular use much more comfortable and can obviously help keep your tool safe from knocks and drops. Crucially, however, a firm grip can also help you keep the level firmly in position during use. Before buying a level consider how you like to work, your key priorities and whether ergonomics/the way in which you hold the tool is important to you.

Caring for your spirit level

Like any precision measurement tool a spirit level needs ongoing care to prolong its usefulness and preserve its accuracy. Properly cared for, your spirit level will last many years and serve you faithfully, time and again.

Jarring or dropping your level, even once, can put it ‘out of level’ (when the bubble sits off-centre) and possibly crack the vial. If your spirit level is supplied with end-caps replace them after use, they will offer some protection if dropped. Store your level flat on a shelf or in a storage pouch (supplied with some models).

If you suspect your level is ‘out’ here is a simple method for checking accuracy:

  1. Place the spirit level on a flat surface.

  2. With a pencil, make one mark at the end.

  3. Make another mark on the underside of the level, beneath the centre vial.

  4. Take a note of the bubble's position.

  5. Turn the level 180°, flip end-to-end, and align the level with your marks.

  6. Take another reading. The bubble should be in the same position for both readings - if not, it’s ‘out’.

  7. To test the vertical vial, follow the same procedure against a flat vertical surface.