I know what it’s like -
When you start off out of plumb, or off level.
It all knocks on and once it’s out - it’s out - and it’s SO hard to rectify later on.
So what’s the solution to this common problem?
Grab a good mason or spirit level!
But the question still remains-
Which one to pick?
Here's the good news:
In this article we have a guide that shows you how to find the best masonry levels and picked the best five that are currently available in the market now.
Let's dive right into it...
Top Masonry Level
Stabila 48296 Mason Kit Set
48in, 24 in & Torpedo
Crick Tool 48 Wood Level
Best for the money
Best 24 inch
Cick Tool 36 level
Best 36 inch
The low-down on levels
There are huge numbers of level available on the market varied by sizes and features.
Here are some features you should keep in mind to get the best mason level for your construction works -
Don’t be tempted to go cheap:
When you’re looking for a masonry level, or any kind of spirit level – there’s one golden rule:
You get what you pay for. And with a level, more so than lots of other tools – construction quality is key.
They may be a simple tool in principle, but that simplicity means that they’ve got to be spot on the dot every time.
When you buy a level, go for quality. Bad levels last five minutes before they go out of kilter.
And even if they’re only slightly out – they’re useless! It’s one of the tools that you have to be very careful about buying.
The cheap dime-store levels aren’t even worth looking at.
Look for a level with strike zones.
If you do a lot of structural carpentry, then you’ll already know that being able to tap your level is a big help.
When installing posts and bearers – it’s vital to be able to tap and adjust - because heavy timber is hard to move in small increments any other way.
Make sure to go for a level that’s easy to wipe clean.
Mason levels tend to be a smoother design and easier to wipe clean than a lot of other levels.
That’s great news if you’re installing posts and using concrete.
I’ve lost count of the time I’ve spent trying to clean levels that have too many nooks and crannies. A smoother level saves lots of time.
Look for a level that indicates ‘line fall’:
Another great feature on a level is to have lines either side of your bubble. You might be installing a deck – or another structure that needs to fall – to keep it dry.
On outdoor stuff - and in many landscaping tasks, fall is essential to discourage rot from standing water.
A great way to accomplish this is with ‘line fall’.
This is just the practice of staying slightly off-level by installing with the bubble touching a line very close to level.
Look for guaranteed vials – that’s a massive factor.
It means the maker is confident that the level will stay true.
And consider the work you do. Go for a level with a 45-degree vial if you build a lot of structures with members that way.
If you check plumb a lot – if you install a lot of posts, for instance – then look for a level with a plumb vial.
Here’s a big thing to look out for:
If you work a lot below shoulder level – let’s say you install a lot of decks.
Look for a level with an open vial – not one that sits in the middle of the level body.
Because you’ll be able to easily see the vial without bending down, and it’ll save your back.
Same if you work overhead lots.
One more thing:
Take care of your level - and your level will take care of you!
Although it’s a simple tool. You absolutely MUST look after your masonry level. It’s not a tool that you should throw around or in the bottom of the truck.
Levels must be accurate for your work to stay accurate. And quality won’t matter if you bend it.
If you buy a decent level – of good quality. And if you follow my advice and consider what you’re going to use it for.
If you also take into account how you work, and how you’ll use the level.
Then you’ll be set.
Masonry V/s Spirit Level
The best thing about masonry levels, as opposed to standard spirit levels – is that they have strike zones. So, what’s so special about strike zones?
Strike zones mean that you won’t damage your level if you give it a good tap.
And that’s so helpful when we’re building structures. We’ll look more at that in a second.
Masonry levels are great all-rounders:
They’re rugged enough to use for exterior work - and great for landscape carpentry and paving jobs.
You can also get lots of use in the workshop and the home.
In the picture:
From putting up pictures to marking out on the workbench. A good masonry level can perform endless tasks.
5 BEST MASONRY LEVEL - REVIEWS
1. Stabila 36448 - Best Overall
This is a great masonry level - and what an all-rounder!
This big Stabila level is extremely rugged and sturdy - with really nice hand-holds mid-body. The big 48-inch Stabila masonry level will take a lot of use - and a lot of hits.
Hits the spot!
That’s because Stabila have built in some genius and handy dead-blow shields. Meaning you can happily give this level a bit of a whack whenever you want to - and it’ll take it without complaining.
Made to last:
We’re also looking at guaranteed vial accuracy here - for life! So you know this level is well-made.
Just plumb good!
As if all that wasn’t enough to get you running out to buy the Stabila 36448. This level also features a plumb vial - at either end of the body.
If you're like me, you probably pick the wrong end when checking plumb - every time.
And spend half your time flipping the level back and forth - well, you won’t be doing that with this Stabila.
This is a great level and it oozes quality - it’s packed with great features. The body is big and chunky and easy to clean. The vials are guaranteed with plumbs at both ends.
It’s rugged. It’s convenient. And it’ll stay accurate. It’s as simple as that - and it’s probably all you’ll ever need.
2. Premium Pick - Stabila 48296 Mason kit
What a deal this is from Stabila!
Now, this won’t suit everyone. But if you’ve got the budget for it - this is an unbelievable deal.
You get three Stabila levels here. The largest, 48-inch model is basically the same level as our top pick here, but there’s more…
Fire the torpedoes!
Stabila also give you a small torpedo level - great for smaller woodwork jobs.
That comes with all the vials, at all angles. And it’s a nice, heavy die-cast construction.
And you also get a 36-inch level here - very handy indeed. This level also has a plumb vial at either end.
Both the bigger levels are of the same rugged construction as our top pick.
And both are equipped with strike zones - which will make them a pleasure to work with.
But that’s not all..
For your extra spend, you don’t just get three Stabila spirit levels here.
You also get a great case for holding your levels, keeping them clean - and keeping them safe from harm.
This is a great feature - especially if you work out on site.
On the money:
If you can afford it, this set really is the genuine article. You’ll never be crooked again with the Stabila 48296 three level set.
3. Best for the money - Crick Tool 48 In Wood Level
I’ve got to be honest with you here:
I’m not a massive fan of wooden spirit levels. I’m a fan of wood - but some things just shouldn’t be made out of wood.
On the move:
What’s the reason?Well, even though this Crick level is beautiful to look at - and hand-crafted almost to perfection.
I can’t help thinking about the fact it’s made out of harwood.
And although some hardwoods are more stable than others - they can’t be as stable as steel.
And that’s not great news for masonry levels.
If we look past that:
Then what’s not to like about the Crick 48-inch masonry level?
It’s elegantly manufactured, with stainless steel bindings. They’ll stand up to outdoor use without degrading.
The vials are all hand-set too, and this really is a lovely tool to behold.
Full of holes?
Watch out, though. Because there have been some reports about the vials leaking on these levels - and that’s not great.
It depends what you want:
For me, a spirit level is about accuracy and durability in working conditions. I don’t think a level has to be beautiful.
But if you do - then the Crick might be for you. You certainly will be hard pushed to find a nicer looking piece of kit.
4. Best 24-inch level - Stabila 37424
Ok - we’re going back to the steel levels now.
And even better news is that we’re going back to Stabila. This smaller 24-inch level comes with the usual Stabila lifetime warranty and it’s hard to go wrong with that!
In the frame:
What we get here is a level that’s absolutely superb for framing jobs - but will also handle tougher exterior jobs and most other stuff too.
Let’s get naked:
The Stabila 37424 doesn’t have strike zones - but I never find this an issue with a 24-inch level.
Because I tend never to be installing big long timbers with it - and it’s sometimes great to have a naked level in your toolbox.
This is a level that’ll get you through lighter carpentry jobs and come in handy around the workshop and site.
It’s got plumb vials and it’ll perform a lot of tasks.
This is the thing:
With all Stabila levels - so long as you don’t bend them - you can take them back to the shop twenty years later and you’ll be given a new one if they go out of true.
You can’t beat a manufacturer that gives that sort of guarantee. For me it’s a clincher.
5. Best 36-inch level - Crick Tool 36 Wood level
We’re going back to the US manufacturer Crick for our fifth and final masonry level pick.
Look at the bright side:
This is a 36-inch level so it’s a good way to finish off our reviews.
We’ve sort of looked at what I think are shortcomings with timber levels already - so this time I’m going to look at the positives with the Crick levels.
Wood can be good:
It’s true - we all love timber, and Crick do too.
The way these levels are crafted is lovely. This will be the best looking tool in your toolbox.
Combined with stainless steel, timber is a great look - especially hardwood timber.
All the features on this level are great to look at.
Keep in line:
As with the Stabila models on the list, you get line markings here - which make structures with fall a doddle.
There’s also vials everywhere on the Crick, which means it’s a versatile and useful tool. In lots of applications.
Don’t rule it out:
If it’s your thing - and if you put lots of weight on aesthetic, then the Crick is a really nice tool to have in your locker.
It is accurate, and it will impress on site. If you’re working hard in dirty environments every day - then it may not be for you.
So, What’s the flat-out best level?
The deserved winner here was the Stabila 36448.
It’s a level that has all the attributes to be the best masonry level.
It’s easy to clean, has guaranteed vials, strike zones for tapping and adjusting.
And is that wasn’t enough for you:
It also has handy lines on the vial - great for gauging fall!
And it’s a tool that’ll perform many duties for you - building decks will be easy, framing will be a cinch.
And it’ll work great as a straight-edge for marking out.
And the best part is:
If you look after it - it’ll do all that for a long, long time.
The Stabila three-level package was also great, but won’t be for everyone’s budget or needs.
Great to bear it in mind if you do need more than one level, though.
Beauty and the beast:
The Cricks are beautiful levels, but for me, the Stabilas win because they’re accurate and rugged - and they’ll take a hit here and there.
That’s what we want when we’re working. Reliability and faultless work - every time.
Hurry it up!
So, if it’s level you’re looking for - stay level headed and get out and buy yourself a Stabila as soon as you can.
What are you waiting for anyway? Go!