10 Best Tape Measures (Review) In 2021
Ever since he was a child, Jason has loved repairing, building and creating things. Growing up, he spent all his free time carving intricate woodcraft pieces that soon caught the eye of neighbours and friends. Before he knew it, Jason turned his hobby into a job, earning an income from being his hometowns handyman. Many years have passed since then but Jason’s enthusiasm for woodwork remains the same. He can usually be found in his workshop, crafting furniture or restoring old treasures.
- The Best Tape Measure
- 1. Komelon Speed Mark Gripper Measuring Tape
- 2. CRAFTSMAN Tape Measure
- 3. eTape16 Digital Tape Measure
- 4. Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure
- 5. QUICKDRAW DIY Self Marking Tape Measure
- 6. Kutir Shock Absorbent Measuring Tape
- 7. TACKLIFE 2-in-1 Laser Tape Measure
- 8. MulWark 26ft Measuring Tape
- 9. DAYOU 40% Thicker Blade Tape Measure
- 10. Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure
Where do you find the best tape measure? Are you a pro needing complete accuracy when you measure? Do you work in soft furnishings or crafting? Everyone needs a different tool for a different job so we had a shoot out at testing and reviewing ten tapes that could be your toolbox's next best friend.
When you use a tool regularly you become attached to it and while some aspects of tools are more important to some than others, if a tape measure is a critical part of your job or hobby then you'll want only the best.
Retaining accuracy is key, of course, as is its durability. There's no point in having just one tape measure you depend on that's going to get damaged easily when you drop it, and it's equally pointless having one with a tape that retracts so quickly that the internal mechanics go wrong or get jammed. This portable measuring device should be safe to use as well as being practical - I think we might be stating the obvious that when recoiling a metal tape, keep your fingers well away, one of our team got a scar to prove how not to use one!
We looked at accuracy, durability, visibility, standout and throw, ergonomics, hook design, and affordability. Here are the Unclutterer teams' best ten reviews for things like premium pick, budget pick, best value, and best 2-in-2 measure to see if we could help you to identify the most suitable retractable measure tape.
So whether you need to have a meticulous eye for detail or need a simple tool to have handy in your home, here are some of the top products we tested - just for you...
The Best Tape Measure
Case length 3″
Weighs 11.2 ounces
Our best choice is the Komelon Speed Mark Gripper Measuring Tape and it’s a great price so you could have more than one in your toolbox, budget permitting. The anti-reflective white blade is a great idea although the numbers are a light grey so could prove quite difficult to read at even a short distance, especially if your vision is slightly impaired.
We like the sturdy rubber casing is imported from the UK (whilst the rest is crafted in the USA) which makes it pretty easy to grip although using this measuring tape with one hand could prove tricky with the retractable mechanism. The end has a hook for gripping the end and there’s a belt clip so you can keep the tape to hand. This is one of the best tape measures we found at such a good price.
Tough rubber casing
Unlikely to bend or snap
Retracting mechanism slow
Numbers are light colored/might not be easy to read
Case length 3″
Weighs 13.1 ounces
The markings on the CRAFTSMAN Tape Measure are minimal which means they are easy to read as the numbers are larger than some other measuring tapes we have on our review list. The foot measurements are marked in red so are easy to spot. It has been constructed with a chrome finish and topped with a rubber molding for easier gripping and the end hook is well designed. The tape isn’t too thick which unfortunately when it’s pulled out far, especially up to its 25-foot length, it will bend so this one probably would need two people unless you’re only using it to measure along the floor or from a height. It does have the expected belt clip and a blade lock so a pretty standard tape that’s easy to use and is the Unclutterer team budget pick.
Rubber mold for grip
Markings are easy to read
Chrome-plated plastic not stainless steel
Dents and scuffs easily when dropped
Case length 3″
Weighs 9.5 ounces
Our best value for 2020 the eTape16 Digital Tape Measure is a metric tape measure that works digitally. It has three settings and remembers readings in US or metric simply by tapping a button to save. It also can convert measurements into fractions and decimals so, for such an affordable locking tape with digital capabilities the eTape16 Digital Tape Measure is most certainly a good investment. The numbers are easy to read on the large LCD display and we thought you might like the casing which is polycarbonate plastic meaning it’s lightweight. There is another option available, we reviewed the 1st generation variant with only inch markings on it, despite what the description images show, but there isn’t a huge visible or usage difference between this one and the 2nd generation variant.
Good tape measure features
Short term memory
Varied reading calculations
Great budget buy
Short term memory
No laser feature
Doesn’t reach the standard 25 ft
Digital reading can’t keep up when tape pulled out quickly
Case length 3″
Weighs 0.96 ounces
This is the Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure and we love that it’s durable, easy to use, and has the expected 25-foot length tape. The power lock can be operated easily with just one hand and the tape itself is pretty strong, not bending even when pulled out to around 8.5 feet so not having to support it at this length is quite impressive and the mylar polyester tape coating helps with this. It is the most accurate tape measure at its price and it’s highly lightweight so it’s actually a great value product from the world-renowned Stanley manufacturers. It certainly doesn’t fall short compared to other measuring tools and the end hook at the end of the tape grips well.
Easy to grip
Stiff tape to just under 9 feet
Promises to be corrosion resistant
Doesn’t have metric measurements
Quite thin so its lasting ability is questionable
Might prefer a more rugged or industrial type design
Width 1″ approx.
Case length 3″
Weighs 15.2 ounces
If sturdy and rugged is what you’re looking for on a budget then the QUICKDRAW DIY Self Marking Tape Measure has built-in graphite marking pencil that works on a wheel so you don’t have to fiddle around looking for a pencil when you’re measuring. It’s an accurate tape measure, is a nice weight at just over 15 ounces – because of this, it feels exceptionally sturdy. The locking mechanism is easy to operate with your thumb while the graphite marker ensures you make accurate marks on the material you are working on – so no room for human error.
We really like the idea of ‘true view’ which lets you read the exact measurement that shows underneath the case, so you will find the exact spot each and every time. It’s affordable and fits any budget and we think this is a long-lasting solution for crafts, DIY, carpentry, and many other workshop projects.
30 day money-back guarantee
Easy to use
Ideal for occasional use
Tape may bend over around 9 feet
Poor % of 5* reviews
Graphite replacement feed is fiddly
Not expected to be long-lasting or for constant use
Width 1″ approx.
Case length 3″
Weighs 15.2 ounces
This magnetic tape measure is both affordable and functional. The Kutir Shock Absorbent Measuring Tape comes in at a good price for those on a budget looking for a useful measuring tool that has both inch and metric markings that are black on yellow so very easy to read. The stainless steel blade is sturdy and can be pulled out to around 7 feet without bend. The magnetic end hook is quite powerful so can cling to metal really well. Although the design seems fairly simple we like the small measuring features that make this well worth adding to your toolbox. Unlike tapes on many other tape measures, the Kutir Measuring Tape Measure has markings on both sides which is something not seen particularly often.
The rubberized coating not only makes the tool easy to grip but it protects the inner workings of the tape measure if it’s dropped. It is printed with markings for at every foot and sixteen inches.
Shock absorbent case
Magnetic hook attachment
25 feet measuring tape
Will smell strongly of rubber after unwrapping
Weighs 10.4 ounces
Laser measuring feature
Lasers can make even the best tape measures look like toys. Our choice for best 2-in-1 measure is the TACKLIFE 2-in-1 Laser Tape Measure which, if you have the budget, is an essential tool for any professional. The laser distance on this model is an astronomical 131 feet and if you like the combination of laser and manual tapes then this is a fantastic choice. The 16-foot tape features a removable magnetic hook, a lockable retracting design, is double-sided, and has a pull of approximately 7 feet without bending or warping. You can easily change from the tape to the laser.
The case is well designed featuring an LCD screen that can be controlled manually and will allow you to show decimals and fractions. It has two sensing holes for improved accuracy and as far as the best power tools go this one is a show stopper which will make your work much easier. If you like auto tape measures and need precise readings then the TACKLIFE 2-in-1 Laser Tape Measure is certainly one to seriously consider.
Auto off to save energy
Superb measuring accuracy
Great addition to other hand tools in your kit
Removable magnetic hook
Digital reading only for laser not tapes
Might prefer 25 ft tape measure blade
Case width 3.5″
Weighs 14.4 ounces
The price of the MulWark 26ft Measuring Tape is extremely reasonable and it has a double-sided metal blade with metric, inches, feet readings, etc and far from the standard 25 feet length tapes, it has an impressive 26-foot measuring length. It has a rugged appearance and the magnetic hook is useful as it will grip and stick to most surfaces allowing you to work accurately. It’s perfect for carpentry, DIY, and more professional projects and can fit and measure corners neatly too. It gives a good and accurate reading and can extend to around 7 feet long without retracting.
It fits in your hand nicely and comfortably with the rubberized molding around the plastic casing, and you’ll find that it’s odor-free. MulWark promises that this tape measure is rustproof too so should offer years of providing precise readings. As far as hand tools and standard tapes go, this one is a great affordable choice.
Lifetime warranty with original receipt
Magnetic hook is powerful
Smooth retracting mechanism
Extra-long tape measure
Easy to operate with a thumb
Can distort when retracted
Bends and twists when measuring long lengths
May get damaged if it isn’t withdrawn carefully
Case width 3.5″
Weighs 16 ounces
The best tape measure on our list that has a wide blade and measures at a superb 25-foot length, the DAYOU 40% Thicker Blade Tape Measure is well worth its price. DAYOU presents this with measuring tapes that show big numbers for easy reading and the blade coating is nylon wrap which makes the tape measure much stronger than tapes that are simply constructed in uncoated metal and is better than tapes that are simply nylon coated. Underneath the coating is carbon steel so this is certainly built to last.
It promises to be rustproof and wear-resistant meaning that it should last in your toolbox for years. The firm lock resembles the powerlock features of the Stanley tape measure (4th on our lineup) and it’s a double side with metric and imperial measurements. This is an affordable option that should last ages and is built for heavy-duty use, so a great investment and worth buying more for the rest of your team – or simply to keep on in your workshop and one in your tool kit.
Will stand out approximately 8 feet without bend
Blue color means it’s easy to find in your toolbox
Bright white tape with large numbers
Belt clip keeps it handy
Rubberized case makes it less easy to damage if dropped
Easy to grip
Not a magnetic tip
White tapes can cause glare in certain light
Hard to read metric on underside of tapes
Might prefer wide blade
Weighs 0.16 ounces
As our premium pick, the Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure is great for measuring and, as the title suggests, it has a magnetic hook. The Milwaukee tapes have good tape measure features such as the standard 25-foot measuring ability, a lock similar to the Stanley powerlock, a reinforced case which protects the internal mechanisms, and nylon coated tape protection. It’s a reliable tape measure, and so it should be at its price – this is for those with a high budget that still want a standard traditional style tape measure (not one with a laser distance measure).
The Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure is ultra-lightweight and at about 3.9″ tall it’s a good size for gripping with one hand. One thing to mention is the finger stop which allows you to recoil the tape smoothly rather than letting it retract at speed – avoiding damage to the tape and inside mechanism, as well as your fingers!
Built for heavy-duty use
Magnet hook is not removable
Stand-off is not as good as some
Features To Consider With Tape Measures
A tape measure can be your best friend but it can also make - or break - your best toolbox. Its ability to be ultra-precise makes a tape measure work for you whether you're a handyman, professional builder, carpenter, crafts person, or DIYer.
There are tons of features to consider when you're looking for a new tape measure so throw away the thoughts that the cheapest or the priciest will do and let's look at some of the things to think about to ensure your new power tape will compliment your tool kit perfectly.
We'll look at some of the basics like how accurate or durable a new tape measure should be. We look briefly at the standout and throw capabilities (read on if you don't know much about that yet!) and the ergonomics and design.
In addition to the basic features, you might want to think about things like bonus markings and scales, which should give you a bit more bang for your buck. You'll want to think about the blade length with the standard being an ample 25 ft, some are shorter at 16 feet and there was an impressive 26-foot blade in our review list - the MulWark 26ft Measuring Tape Measure.
Other things like a heat-treated spring working from a finger brake button will save your fingers from nips and scrapes, you will find that the Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure provides this safety feature. Some, you will find, have an auto-lock feature although we found that many people prefer the ability to lock tape measures manually.
Here are some of the standard things to look out for if you're replacing a well-rusted tool or looking to buy one for a specific project.
Whilst putting up with drops and regular abuses that come with manual working, even basic tape measures should be accurate but professional-grade ones should ultimately be the most precise possible. If there is even a slight room for error it can result in a huge cost in jobs at any site.
Manufacturers should build their measures so they read accurately both inside and outside the end hook. The end hook, after a ton of use and loads of recoiling, can become distorted and damaged so looking after your tape measure might not be top of your priority list - but if your work essentially depends on precise measuring then it should be! If the hook moves, your tool is no longer doing its best.
In summary, your tools need proper care. If the end hooks and tapes become damaged then, goes your hand to your pocket, your shopping list, and expenses on tools go up!
Withstanding pressure, wear, and use is the durability of your tool and when it comes to tape measure they need to be able to withstand constant abuses. We found the hooks on the Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure and Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure models did stand up to abuse better than others - retracting some of the measures on our list at speed made the hooks move, ensuring that accurate measurements are no more. That said, not every tradesperson needs absolute measurements - but professionals depending on that will need to take proper care when using a tape measure.
A durable measure will have rivets on the hook so it is sturdy and remains in place. They'll also have a screw-based slot and powerful magnets.
Readings should be easily visible for obvious reasons and the bolder the print is the clearer it is to read. The Kutir Measuring Tape Measure boasts bold markings which makes the tape easier to read from.
The MulWark on our list gives a true zero reading, this is perhaps owing to its unique design and calibration. Its tape is a bright yellow with bold black numbers, much as you would expect a traditional style to be, so look out for those with tapes like this such as the eTape16 Digital Tape Measure.
We didn't quite get by with the grey-on-white text on tape models such as the QUICKDRAW DIY Self Marking Tape Measure although it has other features to help with readings and accuracy.
All in all, if you're not in the market for a quality measure that uses a laser, then the color and text is going to be important so you can read the markings properly to obtain accurate readings.
Standout and Throw
The standout, or throw, is pretty important to some of you guys. If you don't already know what it is and how important it can be, here are a few pointers.
If you work on your own then how long you can measure without help is useful. If it loses its rigidity when you're trying to take readings then how accurate is it going to be?
So, the standout is how far it has been tested to reach before it droops and bends. A strong tape with a wide blade should, you might expect, have the best standout, and while we didn't test all of those on our review list we did look at some and found the longest of those we did look at was up to around 9 feet.
The CRAFTSMAN Tape Measure which was second on our lineup, and the Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure, came in at approx. at 7 foot standout. The DAYOU 40% Thicker Blade Tape Measure was just over 8 feet which shows, as we mentioned, that the wider and stronger the blade is the more likely it is to have a good throw.
The engineering inside a tape measure as well as it's external design should be important. Look out for a good grip - a must when you are usually working with just one hand to hold your tape measure. Any with rubberized molded cases tend to be great for this. Those with plastic cases can become slippery if you're working without gloves.
Those with rubber molding can be ideal for more heavy-duty use and not only good for gripping properly but they're less likely to get damaged when subject to abuses like dropping them from a height or dropping heavy items on them.
Those with smaller cases are harder to hold for obvious reasons - big hands will find them simply annoying. Small but neatly formed are usually good, though, for smaller jobs and make great tools for crafts and taking straight forward measurements on an occasional basis.
Tape Measure FAQ
Q: Which is the standard size of a tape measure?
While the majority of measuring tools that we've just reviewed have blades with a 25-foot length, the other standard size is typically 12 feet. A 25-foot tape is generally called a builders tape and is most popular for such jobs as in the construction trade and has markings in feet and 16-inch increments, as well as the usual. A smaller length is good for use by home users and crafters and of course, the best tape will feature both imperial and metric markings.
Laser readings can determine much further distances and, providing they are high quality and work well, they can be much easier to work with for things like measuring room boundaries.
Q: How to read a tape measure?
Finding and reading the markings is something most of us will already know how to do. Here are a few pointers, simply put, for beginners:
On a standard tape, the largest mark with the boldest number, usually in black, will be the inch measurement. As the numbers decrease, there will be a second largest mark - the 1/2 inch point - and smaller than this is the 1/4 inch mark.
Take the end of the tape to the end of the item or area you are wanting to measure. Extend it to the required length and take the reading on the tape measure. Larger tape measures will show markings in feet, that is it will indicate every 12 inches, and some builders' tapes will show markings every 16 inches too.
Q: How do I know if my tape measure is accurate?
Steel tape measures are usually pretty accurate and have been built to be precise. A tape measure can be wrong and this is especially the case if you aren't using it properly.
Whether your tape is of basic design and is cheap doesn't mean it's inaccurate so you don't have to spend lots unless you're a professional and need an absolute from the manufacturer that the readings are accurate.
You will lose the accuracy of a tape if it is damaged after having been bent or very well used, you'll struggle with readings if the markings have worn, and if the end hook has become distorted then the readings could be slightly out.
Tape Measure - HowStuffWorks
Steel Measuring Tape Calibration - Instructables