Updated: November 2017

Tape Measure Reviews:

One of the most useful household tools you can have is a good tape measure. A tape measure is used just as much as a hammer or screwdriver and probably more so today with many homeowners taking on DIY (do it yourself) projects that require precision measurements. The old fashioned retractable tape measures from Stanley are still found in most households across America and are great for measuring short distances inside or outside your house. Woodworking or construction related jobs pretty much require that you own a quality tape measure to get exact dimensions and measurements. The smallest tape measures usually are 12' and the longest are over 25' for outdoor jobs and housebuilding. With technology tape measures have evolved and now you can find laser tape measures and digital tape measures which really make the retractable ones seem "old". The digital tape measures give you exact readouts meaning you no longer have to know how to read a tape measure by looking at the 1/16" markers.
tape measure

Buying Guide - Laser tape measures have really revolutionized the industries of landscaping, real estate appraisers, and construction/remodeling. Just point the laser tape measure at the target you wish to measure to and hit the "Read" button to find out the precise distance. Many laser tape measures have an easy to read LCD screen that will display the distance in feet and inches or in metric dimensions. They are 99.5% accurate and great for measuring longer distances which used to require 2 or 3 measurements with the older 16' retractable tape measures. Everyone should own a top rated tape measure in their home, and if you do lots of measuring on the job, consider a higher end laser tape measure to make things easy on yourself. We researched the best tape measures available by reading online reviews on woodworking sites, in construction forums, and in Popular Mechanics magazine. We also ventured to Amazon.com to read up on customer feedback and Epinions.com to see what actual owners have to say about their purchases. We have tried to list most popular brands and models in each category below, taking into consideration consumer ratings and expert reviews. We recommend shopping for the best selling digital tape measures here.

Best Laser Tape Measure:

The CST/Stanley 77-910 TLM100 FatMax Tru-Laser ($100) is accurate to 1/4 inch at up to 100 feet and is the best laser measurer on the market. The Stanley laser tape measure is more accurate than any sonic distance meter and it's quick and efficient for household measuring or on the job. The TLM100 is easy to use, just point the laser, press the button and measure. It's a great investment for lots of different occupations: estimators, glass and window contractors, realtors, painters, carpet layers, floor or tile guys, and landscapers. The advantages of having a laser tape measure over a traditional tape measure is that measuring long distances (up to 100 ft) is much faster and safer when trying to measure hard to reach areas or even hazardous zones. The Stanley TLM100 is equipped to measure linear distances, it can do area calculations or volumes, and add or substract distance measurements. The LCD screen is large enough to read measurements without having to squint except in bright light situations. It runs on a 9-volt battery and is a great gift for professionals as well as amateur DIY's. Owners say it's accurate, light, and the rubber protection on the corners are great if it ever gets dropped. The Zircon 58430 DMS50L 50 Ultrasonic Measure with Laser Targeting ($44) is another highly rated measuring device that will measure length, width, area and volume. The Zircon tapeless measuring device works great on room dimensions but rounds all measurements to the nearest inch so getting exact readings isn't going to happen. If you just need to estimate measurements, then the Zircon works well.

Digital Tape Measure:

Bosch makes some great household appliances and we found their digital tape measure listed on several home improvement sites as a top rated device. The Bosch DLR130K Laser Rangefinder Kit works just like a normal tape measure but is much easier to read since you get a digital readout. You can measure up to 16 feet and get accuracy of 1mm. The LCD panel is large enough to read and the unit can store past measurements with it's built in memory function. Many carpenters like the fact you can measure in meters, millimeters, feet or inches. We had some difficulty locating the Bosch tape measures in stores but Amazon carries it online.

Best Value Tape Measure:

The fact is most of us don't need laser or digital reading tape measures, a good old fashioned one will do just fine for our measuring needs around the house. We were caught between Stanley and Lufkin, but went with the Lufkin PRO Series since they get better reviews and ratings from carpenters and homeowners. The Lufkin 1" x 25' Power Return Tape Measure ($9) with Magnetic End Hook is a top seller along with the Lufkin L516 3/4" x 16' Hi-Viz Orange Power Return Economy Tape Measure ($9). I read an online article from the Woodworkers Gazette on normal tape measures and the writer of the article says the Lufkin 25' had the best ergonomics and blade lock. Lufkin also has some of the best customer service in the industry if you ever need questions answered. Their website is at http://www.cooperhandtools.com/brands/lufkin/index.cfm with complete details, photos and descriptions of all the consumer long steel tapes, industrial long steel tapes, pocket tapes, and fiberglass long tapes. You can see the entire inventory the most popular tape measures online here.