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How to Choose a Laser Level

by Valerie David


A laser level uses red laser light to project a perfectly straight line across your wall or around a room. Laser levels provide a fast and accurate way to hang several items at the same height or angle. With the wide variety of laser level hand tools available, it's important to find the right model of level to complete your home-improvement projects.


  1. Evaluate your projects. For hanging pictures or shelves on a single wall, try a wall-mount laser level that casts a horizontal line. Purchase a 360 degree laser level to install chair rails or drapery rods at the same height all the way around the room. Consider a model that simultaneously measures horizontal and vertical lines to help you align your new kitchen cabinets.

  2. Measure the room and find the range that works with your space. Laser levels are labeled with the distance the beam travels or by rotations per minute. Low RPMs create a bright and clearly visible line that doesn't travel very far. High RPMs cover a greater distance but create fainter lines. Low-RPM laser levels work well in small- to average-size indoor rooms.

  3. Assess your wall type. Laser levels attach to the wall with push pins or suction cups, but some stand alone on a tripod. Avoid using the push-pin types on wallpaper, paneling or any decorative finish where holes cannot be easily filled. Use a tripod style for large rooms or curved walls.

  4. Select an auto-leveling device for an instant horizontal or vertical line. Consider a manual laser level, which uses the traditional bubble vials, if you'll be working with a lot of different angles. For complex projects, look for a laser level that can move the laser line without moving the device.

  5. Purchase an outdoor laser level for deck and patio projects. Laser light is hard to see in the sunlight, and there are rarely four walls to visibly reflect the line, so you need a device that comes with a separate receiver. The receiver reads the level and offers flashes of light or auditory signals to indicate when the perfect line is set.

Tips and Warnings:

  1. Multilevel and rotating lasers can make your job a lot easier, but they come with a heftier price tag. A simple wall-mount laser level that creates a single horizontal or vertical line takes a few more steps but will get the job done at an affordable cost if you don't plan on using your laser level often.

  2. Never look directly into the laser light, as it can cause temporary or permanent eye damage. Double-check that a laser level is securely mounted to the wall before starting work. If the level falls, it can cause injury and the impact can damage the glass lens or bubble vials.

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