Types & Uses for Laser Levels

A laser level is a tool used to aid in a variety of building and construction-related tasks.


Types & Uses for Laser LevelsTypes & Uses for Laser Levels
Unlike a traditional "bubble" level, the laser level can project lines of light, which allow users to check the accuracy of installations at a distance. There are many different types of laser levels available, and units are selected based on desired use or function.

Laser levels are often categorized for indoor or outdoor use, though some varieties can be used for both. Common indoor functions include wall alignment, leveling of floors or countertops and verifying heights of doors, windows or cabinets. Outdoor level use may include surveying, checking alignment of fences and decks, masonry installation and determining land elevations. Laser levels may also be used for very large jobs, such as laying out the footprint of a new building or installing municipal water lines.


The majority of laser levels feature one of three laser technologies. Dot lasers produce a series of dots along the wall and work best for short distances. Line level lasers produce a single line of light, which extends in one direction only. This type of laser works best for indoor use at distances less than 150 feet. Rotary levels produce rotating lines of light, which can make the line appear as though it's covering the entire room. For distances greater than 200 feet, rotary lasers will produce the most accurate results.


There are two main types of laser levels. The first is a manual level, which requires operators to visually adjust whether the instrument is level. These devices feature a traditional bubble indicator and can be adjusted using a series of dials or knobs. Self-leveling lasers are typically more expensive, but tend to produce more accurate results. On self-leveling models, operators must adjust the instrument so that it is close to being level. The instrument will then automatically adjust to level itself, and can re-level itself if jostled or disturbed.


Once you've chosen the right level for your job, there are a number of additional options to consider. To maximize results, evaluate the color and speed of the laser. While either red or green lasers work for shorter distances, red lasers tend to hold up better over long spans. The speed of the laser determines visibility, so choose lasers with higher speeds when working outdoors or in a large space. If you are using your laser to perform multiple leveling tasks, look for adjustable models that can plumb up and down. For work over long distances, choose levels that can be remotely adjusted.


A laser level offers several advantages over traditional bubble levels. Laser levels typically offer hands-free operation through the use of a tripod or adhesive. This allows users to complete the job more easily and quickly with fewer mistakes. In addition, laser levels can project a line over a long distance or around corners, allowing for more complex uses. Finally, these lasers produce much more accurate results than hand-held models, leading to high-quality installations and finishes.

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.