LAST UPDATED: October 7, 2019
Best Tape Measures: Get Precise and Easy-to-Read Measurements
Measure twice and cut once with these dependable and high-quality tape measures
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 7, 2019
A tape measure is one tool everyone should have in their home. You could eyeball the length of an item, but knowing its exact measurements will save you time and money. The tool makes hanging frames, posters, and paintings much simpler and cutting or trimming clothes a breeze. Check out these excellent tape measures that will help you get the job done.
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Benefits of Tape Measures
- Versatile. Tape measures are ideal for all kinds of applications. They can be used for commercial purposes as well as for home projects. Whether you want to find trusses on the roof or hang a picture in your room, a tape measure will help you get the job done.
- Easy to use. Another great thing about this hand tool type is that it allows you to take measurements with ease. A tape measure is a compact and easily maneuverable tool. You get to transport it in your pocket and measure around corners and curves.
- Durable. The tool is also built to last. It's sturdy and durable, which means you can use it for both light and challenging projects. You don't even need to use batteries or other power sources. Due to its simplicity, a tape measure is likely to last for a long time.
Types of Tape Measures
Cased Tape Measures
These are the most popular tape measures on the market. They feature a versatile design and therefore, prove to be ideal for all kinds of applications. Cased tape measures accommodate the blade on a rubber or metal holder. The blade is actually a measuring strip made of metal or fiberglass. It wraps around the holder and retracts into the housing, which means the tool is compact and easy to use. Most people opt for this type because they get to use it everywhere, from home to construction sites.
Long or Open-Reel Tape Measures
Long tape measures got their name because they extend from 25 to 500 feet in length. They are primarily used by engineers, contractors, and builders. Because of their impressive length, long tape measures are ideal for demanding projects that need more versatility.
The open-reel name for these tape measures comes from the design of the case. These tools have a hand crank you need to use for retracting the measuring strip.
Diameter Tape Measures
Diameter tape measures are very similar to a cased type, but they feature a more flexible blade. The strip is made of cloth or soft metal that wraps around pipes and other circular objects with ease. That makes diameter tape measures ideal for calculating the circumference and diameter of different objects. Additionally, this tape measure type comes in different lengths and proves to be quite versatile.
Milwaukee was founded back in 1924, and its headquarters are located in Brookfield, Wis. It all started with the production of basic hand tools such as pliers, hand saws, and drills. Today, Milwaukee is a widely popular company that offers a wide range of power tools, instruments, and accessories. When it comes to tape measures, the Milwaukee Stud Tape Measure is one of the best options available on the market.
Craftsman is a trusted brand among both professionals and handypersons. We are talking about a company that offers hand and power tools, outdoor equipment, workwear, accessories, and much more. It was founded in 1927 and has remained one of the first choices on the market ever since. CRAFTSMAN Tape Measure made it to our list as one of the most reliable and efficient options at the moment.
Tape Measures Pricing
- Under $10: Inexpensive tape measures mostly extend up to 16 feet. They might lack some extra features such as automatic locks but are highly accurate and efficient. They are ideal for home purposes and light projects.
- $10-$45: For some extra cash, you can get tape measures that extend up to 100 feet. These also offer robust and more durable casings for commercial use.
Not all tape measures are the same. Some are large and wide, and others are rather compact and narrow. Which one would work best for you mostly depends on your personal needs and preferences. Most amateurs opt for small tape measures because they are easy to operate and are highly portable. Large tools, on the other hand, are ideal for commercial purposes. They can withstand heavy abuse and ensure more durability.
When choosing a tape measure, it's important to consider the hook type. Some tools have small end hooks that hook over an object and allow for reading the measurements from above. They are mostly inexpensive alternatives to pricey tools with multi-directional end hooks. These versatile tape measures allow you to hook the tape onto objects above and below as well as to the side of an object. If you're working alone, you might want to consider adding some extra cash for multi-directional end hooks. They make life easier.
It might seem that all tape measures offer the same level of accuracy, but that's not the case. Most cheap models found in local hardware stores are not even tested for accuracy. To avoid getting an inaccurate tool, look for the class specification. Tools that are not tested for accuracy will have a label ‘unclassified’ on the housing or the box. Tested tape measures fall into three categories, with Class III offering the lowest level of accuracy and Class I ensuring the best accuracy you can get.
If you want to get a reliable and durable tool, it's also crucial to consider the blade material. Most tape measures offer steel blades. They are strong, durable, and budget-friendly, which makes them a perfect option for handypersons. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is pricier and softer but proves to be ideal for working in demanding weather conditions. Lastly, fiberglass is used for blades on long tape measures designed for commercial purposes. The material is flexible and durable at the same time, offering resistance to all kinds of threats.
Therefore, pick the blade type that is suitable for your particular application. You don't have to opt for the most robust and durable blade if you're not working in challenging conditions.
- Case Design. The case design is another thing you might want to consider when buying tape measures. Closed cases are highly protected against dirt, water, and other outside threats. They are usually rather compact too. Open-reel tapes are exposed to the elements but more robust and ideal for muddy environments. That's because the measuring strip is made of easy-to-clean materials.
- Locking Mechanism. Although most newly designed tape measures feature locking mechanisms, don't forget to double-check each particular model. This feature is super useful because it prevents the blade from retracting to the case. There are two main types of locks: the conventional one that allows for locking the blade manually and the auto-lock one that automatically grips the blade at all lengths.
Best Tape Measures Reviews & Recommendations 2020
If you're looking for an easy-to-use tool to help you with residential or commercial projects, this digital tape measure might be an excellent choice. The tool makes taking measurements as simple as it can be. It comes with a built-in digital monitor for more accuracy and easier handling, and it proves to be highly reliable.
The thing that users love the most about this tool is the convenient design. The tape measure features a robust case that is highly resistant to outside threats. The polycarbonate plastic is weather-resistant and able to withstand falls and drops. That makes the tool ideal for all kinds of situations, whether you're using it in your garage or at the construction site.
There's one thing to keep in mind with this tool, though. The digital recorder is not always 100 percent accurate. It tends to vary a little, which might be an issue for those looking for the ultimate precision. Another issue might be with its design. The tool is heavy and bulky, so you probably won't be able to carry it around in your pocket.
Our budget-friendly pick is also one of the most durable tools on the list. Komelon made sure to design a tape measure that can withstand a lot of abuse and serve for both professional and home purposes. The tool features a body made of sturdy steel and coated in rubber. That makes it not only highly resistant to threats but comfortable as well.
The Komelon tape measure offers a firm and comfortable grip. It makes taking measurements super easy. The tape extends up to 25 feet, which is more than enough for most light- and medium-demanding projects. The blade is of excellent quality and colored in white for more visibility. Additionally, the end hook is designed to grip studs and nails and is protected from damage upon impacts.
The product still might cause a few issues. First of all, retracting the tape is not always a hassle-free process, especially with just one hand. You'll probably need to use both hands, which is inconvenient when working alone. Secondly, the lines and numbers are colored in a light gray color and rather difficult to read.
This is a tape measure that extends up to 25 feet and provides accurate measurements. The tool features a thick and sturdy matte blade that can extend up to 7 feet without bending. That makes the tape measure ideal for DIY projects.
Another great thing about this tool is a rugged casing. It's designed to withstand daily abuse and features shock-absorbent plastic material. Therefore, the tool is likely to last for a while. We also like the end of the tape. It comes with a magnet that attaches to metal surfaces, so it makes working on your own a lot easier.
The thing that might bother you the most with this unit, though, is the design of the blade. Although the strip is colored in yellow and has large markings, it still might be difficult to read. That's mostly because of the combination of metric and imperial measurements. Also, the magnet is not of the best quality and might get damaged easily.
Here comes another high-quality tool from Komelon. This particular tape measure extends 25 feet and has a self-locking mechanism. That means the blade extends smoothly and allows for hassle-free use. Overall, the tool is ergonomically designed and proves to be convenient for DIYers who need a well-made and accurate tape measure.
Along with the self-locking mechanism, this tool has several other things to offer. The push-button is easy to press, and the case feels good in the hand. That means the tape measure is comfortable and easy to use. Also, the case is rubberized, and the blade is coated in nylon for more durability.
We only have a couple of drawbacks to warn you about. The one that might bother you the most about this tool is the bulky design. The tape is large and heavy, which might prevent you from carrying it around in your pocket. The other inconvenience regards the lack of metric measurements. Keep this in mind before purchasing so you don't get disappointed once you get the tool.
This Komelon tape measure comes at an attractive price and proves to be ideal for most residential purposes. You can use it for measuring different surfaces, hanging pictures on the wall, and much more. Because the blade extends up to 16 feet, you'll find it useful for most DIY jobs.
The tool is fairly similar to our best value pick. It features a non-glare white blade that is easy to use and read. The strip retracts smoothly, allowing for more efficiency on the project. The end hook is also of excellent quality and extremely durable. It's protected from impacts, and it grips nails and studs for more user convenience.
The tool is rather heavy, though. It's not something you would expect from a 16-foot long tape measure, but the Komelon tool might not be as portable as some other similar options. Also, the hook doesn't extend below the bottom surface of the case. You'll have to pull it out with your fingers, which could be annoying and time-consuming.
The Craftsman tape measure is one of the best available tools within the category. It extends up to 25 feet and features quality and durable materials. You get to use it for both professional and DIY purposes and measure surfaces and objects with ease.
This tape is favored among users for many reasons but primarily because of the self-locking mechanism. It keeps the blade extended at all lengths, which means you don't need an extra pair of hands to use the tool. All in all, the Craftsman tool is simple and easy to operate. It extends and retracts smoothly and features a sturdy and durable exterior. The rubber coating allows for a firm and comfortable grip, and it ensures a long lifespan.
We do have some concerns about the overall durability of the product, though. Although the compact and lightweight design makes the tool easy to use, it also raises questions of longevity. Therefore, make sure to handle and store it carefully. Another minor inconvenience regards the locking mechanism. It might get stuck every once in a while.
Tacklife offers a unique tool for extremely easy operation. Because it combines both a laser and a tape measure, you can use it for all kinds of applications. The laser extends up to 131 feet, and the strip goes up to 16 feet. That makes the tool rather useful and convenient.
The tool is ergonomically designed and features an LCD screen for quick readings. It comes equipped with a locking feature you get to activate in a press of a button and a magnetic hook that ensures stability. The blade is sturdy, durable, and has two scales with metric and imperial measurements.
You'll also like the soft rubber cover that protects the case from impacts and makes it comfortable. The anti-skid ABS material and a wrist strap ensure a firm grip and a perfect fit. Additionally, there's an automatic shut-off feature that turns off the laser when not in use. That saves and extends the life of the batteries.
The main drawback of this product is the price. You'll have to add some extra cash to get a laser tape measure. It's not the best option for those who are on a limited budget. Also, the measurements might be slightly off. We recommend repeating the measuring process just to be sure you got the right results.
Lastly, we have a convenient and budget-friendly tape measure. It's a tool that extends up to 25 feet and proves to be decently accurate. Therefore, buyers find it ideal for home purposes and measuring objects, walls, and a wide range of surfaces.
The blade is 1-inch wide and locks in place thanks to the locking mechanism. The end hook is reinforced for more durability, and the matte blade coating reduces glare for outdoor use. All in all, the tool is designed with user convenience in mind, and it proves to be super easy to use.
The main drawback of this product is the quality of the locking mechanism. The feature doesn't always keep the blade extended, which can make the measuring process a lot more challenging. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is an inexpensive product that might break easily. Therefore, you'll need to be extra careful when using it.
Milwaukee offers a heavy-duty tape measure suitable for demanding and commercial projects. Due to the robust design, the tool proves to be a perfect fit for professionals who need more durability on construction sites. On top of that, it's easy to use and provides accurate measurements.
Long story short, the Milwaukee tape measure is built to last. It features a sturdy blade as well as an abrasion-resistant case. The blade is protected from rips and won't wear out quickly. The high-quality case is also shielded from impacts, falls, and other damage. It's even comfortable to hold, so you'll be able to handle the tool with ease.
However, keep in mind that the Milwaukee tape measure is rather bulky. If you're looking for a light and compact tool, this is probably not the best option for you. Also, some buyers disliked the large font used on the blade. It also only goes on one side, which might make reading the numbers a little challenging from different positions.
- Have a pen and paper nearby when using a tape measure. While you may be able to remember a single measurement, multiple measurements can get confusing and you will want to make sure everything is correct.
- It may be easier to have a second person to help measure something that is too long for you to reach. While the hook at the end of the tape is helpful, it may not be able to attach to everything.
- You can use the built-in locking mechanism to hold the tape measure in place while you inspect its length. Locking it allows you to make a mark more easily without worrying about it retracting.
Q: Why is the tape measure tape curved?
A: Its concave design helps it maintain and hold its shape when extended. Without it, the tape would just fall straight to the ground.
Q: How long is a standard tape measure?
A: Most tape measures expand up to 25 feet in length. If you need to measure further than that, you can find industrial ones with more tape.
Q: I can barely read the numbers on the tape. What do I do?
A: If you have a difficult time reading numbers and letters, you can find tape measures with wider tape. Typically, the tape will be between one and two inches wide.
For convenience and extra functions to help you measure, consider the eTape Digital Electronic Tape Measure.
Or check out the Komelon Speed Mark Gripper Acrylic Coated Steel Blade Measuring Tape for a sturdy and easy-to-grasp tape measure at a cheaper price.