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What a laser level is and how to use one

2nd February 2022 Print

Whether indoors or outdoors, at home or on the job site, laser levels can be essential tools for ensuring accurate results. These tools are relatively common devices that aid levelling and aligning tasks by projecting a red or green reference line onto a surface on a horizontal or vertical plane. 

Laser levels can project one or more fixed lines, be it constant or dotted, and allow you to align your work to these lines for total precision. Many come with a tripod for hands-free stability, making them more convenient and accurate to use than a traditional spirit level when working over larger distances. 

If you’re new to the world of laser levels, read our quick guide to their applications, types and use below.  

Where are laser levels commonly used?

Laser levels are popular tools in a variety of professional settings, including Great Britain’s network of over 342,000 registered construction firms. Other industries they’re found in include:

- Interior design
- Plumbing
- Carpentry
- Farming

As the varied nature of these industries suggests, laser levels are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Common indoor applications include:

- Plumbing walls
- Levelling floors
- Aligning shelves, cabinets, picture frames and skirting boards

Typical outdoor applications meanwhile include:

- Basic property and land surveys
- Aligning decks, fences and porches
- Construction site layout

Types of laser levels

Laser levels vary based on multiple features - including how they emit their lasers. Plumb or dot lasers produce single or multiple dots of reference, while line level lasers emit single or crosshair lines. Rotary lasers meanwhile can produce a level line around 360 degrees.

There are also differences in colour. Red laser levels are the more traditional choice and tend to be cheaper, while green laser levels are more visible in a wider range of lightings and over greater differences. 

You can also choose between manual and self-levelling lasers, which either require setting by the operator or can find and maintain a level automatically. 

Tips on how to use a laser level

Laser levels can make many tasks quicker, easier and more accurate providing you know how to use them correctly. While functionality varies by type, the basic steps include:

- Attaching your level to a tripod (if using) and making sure it’s level and stable
- Turning the laser on and calibrating it – or allowing it to level itself
- Identifying where you need to project a laser and in what form – lines or dots for example

Laser detectors are useful additions when working outside as they help locate a beam in difficult lighting such as broad daylight. If using one, you’ll need to fix it to a levelling rod and wait for a beep to signify that the device has located your beam.

Ready to get started? Start comparing your options based on your intended use and check reviews to gain confidence in your final decision.