Best Tape Measures
In your household, there are certain tools that are all but mandatory. To be ready for everyday household fixes, you should have tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, and the like. But, without question, you can add tape measures to that list. Even though some of you may believe that only professional carpenters will have the need to own one, you would be surprised at how useful they can be around the home. Of course, if you only plan to use one occasionally (such as for moving your home around or for basic household tasks) you may not need the best of the best. Then again, those who plan to use one on a daily basis will need it to hold up to rigorous use. Either way, here are some of the best models on the market.
- Finger Stop feature
- Double sided
- With magnets
- Ergonomically designed
- Integrated tether
10 Best Tape Measures
To increase the efficiency of this model, it has been engineered with double-sided printing with a blueprint scale. In addition, this measures 25 feet and has 1/8-inch and ¼-inch scales.
Without question, this is where this shines the brightest. With the awesome combination of the nylon bond protected blade and the five-point reinforced frame, this will both resist wear and protect against drops.
There are two key aspects to note of the nylon protected blade. First off, when staring into the sun, there is not much of a glare. But, if you accidentally make a pencil mark on the blade, it can be hard to get off.
Integrated into this model is the innovative Finger Stop feature. When the blade retracts, this is going to protect your fingers from damage. Also, this is magnetic.
Thanks to the inclusion of the rubber grip, this feels natural to hold in your hands. What is also nice is when your hands begin sweating, you can still achieve an optimal grip.
With its unparalleled level of durability, performance, and accuracy, it really does not get much better than this. Also thanks to the addition of the Finger Stop feature, it is also engineered for safety.
Designed to be heavy-duty
Made with a Finger Stop feature
Feels natural and comfortable in your hands
A stronger magnet could make it even better
In addition to the fact that the magnetic claw can be moved back to deduct its own thickness, the measurements are controlled within plus or minus 0.2 millimeters. Plus, this is double sided.
Even when you drop this tape, the rugged and shockproof ABS housing is going to hold up very well. This molded hard rubber gives you peace of mind when you are operating this.
This is advertised to sand out vertically until 13 feet has reached and this is reduced to seven feet when stood out horizontally. Additionally, the thick reinforced wear-resistant coating adds protection.
Thanks to the powerful magnetic tip of the blade, the stability is greatly enhanced. But, the magnetic end is also strong enough to act as a tool to pick up magnetic metals.
Mulwark outfitted their model with a soft rubberized core and on top of being durable, this also, in conjunction with the contoured shape, allows it to fit naturally into your hand.
As you can see, this is an all-in-one tape measure that is fantastic for the right people. Then again, for casual users, the blade may be too difficult to read due to its complex nature.
Can stand out 13 feet vertically
The magnets can pick up other magnetic items
Double sided for easier use
Can be hard to read
One of the best features of this design is the high-contrast green markings as it improves the visibility in varied light conditions. Plus, the blade is double sided for more precise measuring.
For a longer life and a superior resistance to breakage, the Black Widow has been designed with four heavy-duty rivets and 360-degree end hook grips. Also, the rugged over-mold case adds enhanced durability.
This 10-foot blade with a 360-degree end hook will make your life much easier. But, the one issue with the Black Widow is the thinness of the blade as it may not be ready for too much abuse.
As opposed to lever style lock mechanisms that can pop out of the locking position, this model is outfitted to lock the blade securely in place. This also has an integrated tether point for added safety.
There are two factors that make the Black Widow extremely comfortable to use. First off, it is ergonomically designed and secondly, its rubberized exterior prevents slippage in wet conditions.
Can you see why Lufkin had the gall to dub their tape measure the Black Widow? Of course, the thinner blade is not going to be suitable for users looking for daily and weekly professional use.
Has an integrated tether
It is ergonomically designed
Very easy to see in varied light conditions
For the price, the blade is quite thin
Opoutil Grip Pro
To ensure your work is kept as precise and as accurate as possible, the Grip Pro is designed based to MID II accuracy. In addition, the two-sided inch/metric scale makes measuring much easier.
There is little doubt about it; this is going to last a long time. This is thanks to the anti-slipping, wear-proof and anti-deformation thick rubber jacket that protects the Grip Pro from drops of moderate heights.
Not only does this unit as a whole possess strong durability, so does the blade. Because it has been bonded with heavy-duty nylon, it too can handle abuse. Also, high-visibility black and yellow striping make viewing much easier.
Although this is not an auto-lock design, despite some claims to the contrary, the thumb catch system does ensure that manual locking feels natural. Additionally, the back hook of the Grip Pro makes carrying a breeze.
While the anti-slipping rubberized grip aids in durability, it also aids in handling. Even when your hands begin to sweat, you will still be able to achieve an optimal grip no matter.
The Grip Pro lacks very few key features and makes it one of the best models in the world. Still, an auto-lock design, for those who absolutely require it, would have made this an even better design.
Designed with black and yellow striping
Both sides feature inch/metric scales
Can be used for a handful of projects
Advertised with an auto-lock system but that is not the case
First off, this was designed in certification with CE and also meets MID standards of precision and accuracy. Also, there are both inches and metric measurements.
Let’s so you accidentally drop this from a ladder, or something, depending on the terrain it lands on, it will probably not break. This is thanks to the impact-resistant rubberized case.
On top of the rubberized case, the blade itself features durable nylon coating on both sides for ample protection. Plus, until you release the switch, the blade lock will stay in place.
To ensure that the blade never gets stuck while you are releasing it, it was designed with a smooth recoil mechanism.
As you probably guessed, the rubberized case aids in handling as well as durability. In nearly all conditions, it is going to be easy to hold, easy to grip, and will not slip in your hands.
You would think this is absolutely flawless. Around 95 percent of the design is but due to the awkward nature of the blade itself, it can be hard to use at times. Still, it will last a lifetime.
Protected with impact-resistance
Designed with a smooth recoil mechanism
It is easy to see and read
The blade itself does not remain flat on surfaces
This has been awarded the certification from MID for accuracy. However, despite both an inch and metric scale, the measurement only comes from one side, leading to potential inaccuracies.
Let’s just say that Kutir has done everything to ensure their model stands up to abuse. With the magnet plated in chrome to prevent rusting and the case designed with top-grade rubberized material, this is certainly protected.
Up until seven feet of the total 25 feet, this blade will stand out. In addition to this, the blade itself measures 0.15 millimeters in thickness and is sturdy and durable in its own right.
Indeed, the most convenient feature of this entire design is the magnetic hook. Thanks to the powerful magnet at the end, it can make measuring metal surfaces much easier.
As one buyer pointed out, the housing and the overall shape will fit naturally into your hand. Then again, they also mentioned that it has a bit of heft to it (though nothing too extreme).
Many consumers will be gleaming at the sight of this measuring tape. For the most part, it is one of the most consistent designs out there with accuracy, durability, and versatility.
Features a powerful magnetic hook
The magnet is plated in chrome to prevent rusting
The blade is made out of stainless steel
Measuring within two inches is a pain as the magnet is in the way
Inaccuracies can be had due to the measurement only coming from one side
Thanks to the 11-foot standout, making precise and accurate readings is a little easier. However, this Fatmax model features only an imperial scale and not metric.
When you measure straight, the blade is very durable and sturdy. Potential issues arise, though, when you measure at an angle. When doing so, it will “break” a little too easily.
To ensure the blade lasts much longer than it would otherwise, Stanley coated it with Blade Armor. Plus, as mentioned earlier, it will stand out even as far as 11 feet.
For your convenience, there is both a manual mode and an auto-lock mode. On top of this, there is a detachable hook for storage and carrying (which will easily grab studs when you need).
What is extremely ironic about the FatMax is it is just that, fat. As one buyer sarcastically pointed out, the FatMax needs to lose a little weight as it definitely feels hefty in your hand.
While there are some problems with the FatMax, Stanley has a strong reputation in this field for a reason. You know, at the very least, their FatMax tape will get the job done for you and will last a lifetime.
Features both a manual mode and an auto-lock mode
Will stand out as far as 11 feet
Designed with a detachable framing hook
Can be slow when retracting
Measuring at an angle can be problematic
As a typical measuring tape is, this is graduated in 1/16-inch. Overall, the yellow blade and black markings make achieving the right measurement fairly simple and accurate.
Here is the main reason this probably is not optimal for commercial use. The high-impact ABS housing, while not bad, is plastic and may not hold up to vigorous use.
The blade itself is nice and durable and is protected against abrasion thanks to the Mylar coating. But, as one consumer noted, the standout will bow at around 5.5 feet.
In addition to the lockable blade, the Tru-Zero belt hook, while being nice for storage, also doubles as a pivot for drawing arcs. Plus, it will automatically adjust to handle both outside and inside measurements.
There have not been too many users who have complained about the handling and at 13.6 ounces in total weight, it does not feel massive in your hands.
Though the blade is as durable as they come, the same can’t be said about the housing. But, high-impact ABS is certainly not a bad material but for hardcore use, some may want to look elsewhere.
Coated with Mylar
It is easy to read
The hook doubles as a pivot
The standout begins to bow at 5.5 feet
Plastic housing is not ideal for commercial use
There is a built-in pencil into this measuring tape and it makes making your mark quick and easy.
There have been a few buyers who have shared their experience with the blade of this model. As they mention, the tip of the blade tends to get loose and will break after too much stress.
While the tip of the blade could have been designed better, there is a rugged nylon coating that does add durability for the entirety of the blade.
Thanks to the built-in graphite dispensing wheel, which was mentioned earlier, you do not have to waste any time fumbling over a pencil to make your mark.
While the housing feels good in your hand, the built-in pencil can actually be a little tricky to use. It does not help that the instructions offer very little guidance.
If you can accept the fact that the tip of the blade of this model may not last a long time, you can really enjoy this tape measure and its built-in pencil.
Has a built-in pencil
Rugged nylon coating for the blade
Backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee
The tip of the blade may not last
Komelon Self Lock
Depending on your needs and the scale you prefer when measuring, there are multiple sizes and scales available.
The impact rubberized case is nice and is not the portion of the design you need to worry about.
While the blade does extend smoothly, the nylon coating is not sufficient enough and the blade remains fairly flimsy.
Both the integrated clip and auto locking system will be appreciated by anybody who operates this bad boy.
Komelon designed this with ergonomics in mind and that is apparent with the case.
There is a lot to like here for the average consumer including ergonomics, an auto-lock system and the clip. Yet, the blade is not designed to handle extensive projects.
Features a built-in clip
Is an auto-lock system
Too weak for commercial use
Criteria Used For Evaluation
Their Accuracy and Precision
Would you simply automatically assume that all tape measures measured with the same accuracy? Well, if you do then you may want to think again. First and foremost, each model may fall under a different classification of accuracy. In the UK, it goes according to the European Weights and Measures Regulations. Typically, you will either see Class I or Class II tapes sold with the former being the most accurate. In addition to this, though, you also need to know how long you want the blade and the measurements you desire.
For smaller tasks, blades that measure five to 10 feet may suffice. But, for more precision, you may need blades in excess of 50 feet. Also, do you require the metric system? This would be measurements such as centimeters, meters and millimeters. If you need ultimate precision, you may need to measure down to the nearest millimeter. Along the same line, look for other features such as high-contrast markings that are easy to read and also a double-sided blade.
Durability and Longevity
At their core, these tools are pretty simple and really do not require much exertion on your part. But, that does not mean that their longevity and overall durability are not going to come to the fold, because they will. While the design of the blade will be addressed in a minute, to enhance their durability, look for protective coatings. As you have seen in this guide, this could be with Mylar, nylon, or any other material that will protect the blade from abrasion and damage. Yet, what happens if you drop the entire unit? Well, this is where the housing needs to be addressed.
The housing, or simply the case itself, is the body of the tape measure and is the so-called foundation of it. Sometimes, you will see cases made up of ABS plastic and other times you will see stainless steel. Yet, some of the best models that are being manufactured today are integrating a bi-material for their housing. To start, the case will either be made with ABS plastic or steel. But, it will then be protected by a rugged, rubberized material that will add shock absorption when the unit is dropped.
Design of the Blade
Alright, now it is time to assess the design of the blade. Before we assess the major materials that are typically used, this is a good time to address standout. This is a common term that is associated with this technology and it is one that is vital to know. Basically, this term refers to the blade’s ability to remain extended without breaking. In other words, if the standout is 10 feet, the blade will extend 10 feet without bending. For extensive work, the longer, the better. Now, for the materials. You will typically see the blade made from steel, fiberglass or stainless steel.
Steel is nice as it combines practicality and durability very well. For the most part, you will see a vast majority of tape measures with a steel blade. As for fiberglass, this is a nice material as it makes for a very flexible blade. But, it still remains strong and has a high resistance to heat and abrasion. Lastly, for stainless steel, they are all but corrosion-proof. Because of this, they are ideal for wet and muddy environments and will not have you swapping models every several months.
There are still two extremely important features in regard to the blade that need to be addressed. The first one is the locking mechanism and while all tapes will have some sort of lock, from model to model, it is going to alter a little bit. For example, some models will have an auto lock function in which you need to hit a small button to lock the blade in position. However, others will merely be designed with a thumb blade lock in which you merely flip the switch into the lock position. Of course, other models will automatically lock into place when you extend the blade.
The second feature is the hook, which is the portion at the end of the blade that allows it to stay in place for you. While working alone, these hooks can play a vital role as they will provide enhanced security. For added grip, you may see some designed with rubber and sometimes magnets. With the latter, it will attach to magnetic objects which can be another vitally important feature.
This is the last primary feature that you need to assess. Now, even for longer sessions, a tape measure will not constantly be in your hands. Still, an enhanced grip and overall improved handling will only improve the experience. For example, the same rubberized grip that can aid in durability will also make handling much easier (especially if your hands begin to sweat). Also, look for an ergonomic grip as this will contour to your hand for a more natural feel. Lastly, consider the overall weight as this can also play a pivotal role.
Q: How Does the Thumb Blade Lock Work?
This was mentioned earlier and thankfully, with a model that integrates a thumb blade lock system, it is very simple to wrap your head around. Here is the deal; a tape measure is designed to be operated with one hand (not including the blade). So, activating the thumb lock will be as easy as extending the blade to your desired position and then flipping it into the lock position. It really is as simple as that. But, remember, to extend it again or retract it you must flip the switch back down. Of course, look for models that make this easier as if you can’t use your thumb, it may be a nuisance in the long run.
Q: What do the Markings Mean?
For the record, this is addressing an imperial scale and not a metric. So, for these types, you will typically see inches, half inches, quarter inches, eight inches, and sixteenth inches. Once you get the hang of one you will be able to instantly tell where your measurement is at but just starting out, it can be tricky. With sixteen markings in-between one small inch, there is a lot to take in. But, it all starts with the inch lines and these will be straight down the blade. For the half-inch marks, they will not be quite as long as the inch but will be longer than the other markings. Also, they will be right in-between the inch marks.
As for the remaining, they get smaller and shorter (with the shortest being sixteen-inch marks). Just know, though, that there will be sixteen markings in all (if the blade uses a 1/16-inch scale).
Q: How Do You Properly Care for One?
Although tape measures may not necessarily be a dangerous tool for kids, there is a main reason why you should be cautious about allowing your kids to get ahold of this tool. When someone who does not know how to maintain a tape measure gets ahold of one, they can cause damage. That said caring for one is not a complicated and complex task. First off, make sure to control the blade, in this sense. You should never recoil the blade in a violent and unsafe fashion. Besides actually being a slight safety hazard, this can cause damage to the end hook and the blade markings.
Also, if the blade is exposed to water then you need to dry it off before storing it. Remember, metal can rust. Oh yeah, and keep it away from direct sunlight as excessive heat can cause the blade to stretch and expand.
Q: Why are the Blades Curved?
If you have owned quite a few of these in the past then you have probably noticed an underlying theme. That theme is that the blades are always curved. Have you ever stopped and wondered why that is? Well, the reasoning behind it is actually very logical and not at all a coincidence. First off, the concave design of a blade will increase its strength. But, when placed on a surface, it also makes it easier to read when taking measurements.
Q: What to Check for in Regard to Damage?
Okay, so we mentioned how you should care for this type of tool. Yet, what happens if some damage arises? Well, the logical step would be to figure out if this damage is detrimental or merely a little blimp in the radar. To do so, let’s address some of the more common issues that may have happened. Firstly, always assess the numbers and markings. If they have become faded or have worn away, it may be time for a new model. Also, inspect the blade for noticeable damage such as kinks or tears. Any defect like this can cause inaccuracies.
Next up, check the hook and make sure it is moving the way it should (not too loosely or tightly). Lastly, make sure the blade is still straight as if not this can also lead to poor readings.
Q: Why is the Tip Always Loose?
It is quite amazing how common this question truly is. It is not as if it is merely a rhetorical question that everyone in their right mind should know, it is just a little surprising how many consumers across the globe bring it up. Probably the most ironic part of this entire question is the answer. Would it shock you to know that tape measures are actually designed with a loose tip purposely? The reason for this is the tip is designed to slide a distance that is equal to its own thickness as this will ensure more accurate measurements.
Some tools are simply indispensable and a tape measure is easily one of those tools. For anyone working in the construction field, proper measuring is utterly crucial. But, even for casual use, knowing exact measurements can be useful. Well, the best way to achieve that is with a high-quality measuring tape.