Best Measuring Tools for Construction 2023

What is the best laser distance measure tool in 2021? What is the best measuring wheel? Should I have a 25′ tape measure or a 35′ tape measure? You’ll need a lot of tools working in construction. Let’s review some of the basics and a few of the extras too.

Tape Measures

Let’s start with the basics. You’ll need a tape measure. Honestly, you should probably have two or three. I always carry a 6′ or 10′ tape with me, and I don’t even work in construction anymore.

Keeping a small tape measure on hand will help you be prepared, even when you weren’t expecting to measure something. It happens a lot.

By far, my favorite tape measure is the Stanley Fatmax 25′. I’ve used several other brands, and none of them felt right after using a Fatmax. The blade is just a hair thicker, which makes for a higher standout length. I didn’t know how much this meant to me until I used an inferior brand.

Stanely makes a 35′ Fatmax as well.

And for the question, should I have a 25′ tape measure or a 35′ tape measure? The answer is yes. Have both. Tape measures don’t last forever. Bigger jobs might require a longer tape. But most of the time, a 25′ long tape measure is enough.

100′ tape measures

For longer runs, you’ll want an accurate way to measure. If you’re laying out a driveway or a long exterior wall, having a longer tape measure will help you to stay more accurate and save you some time.

You should always have a 100′ tape in your truck.

Measuring Wheels

If you need a wheel or not really depends on the kind of work you’re doing. Most of my construction experience was residential foundations and other vertical masonry work (chimneys, brick fronts, stone faces, stuff like that). A wheel wasn’t really necessary for me and what I was doing.

For a time overlapping my construction days, I was also selling and installing outdoor wood boilers. I won’t get into that now, but part of the job was measuring from where the boiler would be installed to where the water lines would enter the house. During this time I used a measuring wheel often.

I recommend the large style wheel for anything outdoors. The small wheels are really best for smooth surfaces.

Here are two options, one is Pro-level, for someone who’s measuring lots of outdoor areas. The other is for the more average wheel measuring connoisseur.

The Calculated Industries #6575 DigiRoller Plus II has all the bells and whistles. It’s accurate, comfortable, and capable. The onboard computer will help you track and calculate distances on the go. And it includes a carrying case.

On the more modest end of the measuring wheel spectrum is the Lufkin 12″ wheel. This is the wheel I used and it did a great job.

Laser Measuring Tools

Honestly, when I was working construction these either didn’t exist, or they were so expensive that they were not reasonable for an average person to have one.

Today, however, you can buy a laser measurer for as much or less than a measuring wheel.

I have one of these for my current job. I work in a factory, and any time we plan changes for moving equipment I use it instead of a tape measure because it’s faster, and the measurements I’m taking exceed 35′.

Generally, these are best for use indoors. Maybe you need to get the square footage of a room for drywall or you need to measure for installing a long beam in a foundation.

First, I wouldn’t mess around with anything less than 165′. My first laser measuring tool was a low-cost 65′ measuring tool and I exceeded the capacity more often than not. My current laser is rated for 165′ and I still find myself measuring lengths too long for it from time to time.

(Tip: if you need to measure a room longer than 165′, use a post in the middle of the room and measure both directions. Then you just add the two dimensions together for your total.)

Bosch is kind of the leader in this marketplace. Their GLM165-40 is a great tool with some basic area calculation formulas.

Bosch also offers their GLM50C measuring tool with more computing options, Bluetooth, and a more rugged build.

The Leica 838725 Disto D2 is a powerful, accurate measuring tool with a 330 ft range and Bluetooth.

There are far more options for measuring tools than I would want to try and cover in one blog post. Of course, there are squares, and folding rules, and bevels, and calipers. Oh, and those crazy multi-angle templating tools. Those are neat.

We may revisit this again someday. Until then, thanks for reading.