Best Tape Measures

“Measure twice, cut once” is a phrase that I can remember hearing since Junior High woodshop class. At the time, it was a bit annoying, but now, I appreciate what this means. It is better to measure carefully than to cut something the wrong size and have to do it all over again. Not only does this waste time, but it also wastes materials. With my maturity and understanding, I know now that you don’t want to waste labor or resources in doing any job. So, a measuring tool, such as a tape measure, can be your best friend.

Tape Measures Reviewed

Everyone should have a tape measure. It is one of the essential tools of any useful toolbox. Whether you are a professional or working on DIY’s, having a good tape measure is essential. Finding the best tape measure can be a tedious endeavor. I’ve researched for you and have found some great options through trial and error.

Let’s take a look at my top picks.

Komelon SL2825 Self Lock Tape Measure

Specs

  • Blade Coating – Nylon
  • Blade Length – 25 ft
  • Standout – 17 ½ in
  • Blade Width – 1 in
  • Color – Green/Black
  • Weight – 13.3 oz
  • Belt Clip – Yes
  • Blade Lock – Yes
  • Measurement System – Imperial

Pros

  • The self-locking blade stays put until you return it with the push button.
  • The case design is compact and fits in your hand easily.
  • Blade color helps you in reading and marking.
  • Lightweight
  • Impact-resistant

Cons

  • No CM indicator
  • Bad markings
  • Only one side has measurements

We chose the Komelon as it is self-locking and allows for a smooth extension of the blade. The push-button allows for smoother retraction. Smoother extension and retraction can aid in safety and in extending the life of your tape measure. We also like that it is durable, has a nylon coated blade, is ergonomic to fit in your hand, and is affordable.

The ergonomic design of Komelon allows for better control when extending and retracting the blade. If you accidentally drop it, the case is coated in rubber to protect it from the impact. Have you ever had a tape measure snap back and startle you? 

With the auto-lock, this tape will stay in place until you are ready. This measure is ideal for anyone from the do-it-yourselfer to a professional tradesman. The tape measure itself is lightweight, making it easy to handle and less likely to be dropped. 

Craftsman CMHT37325S Tape Measure

Specs

  • Blade Coating – Tylon
  • Blade Length – 25 ft
  • Standout – 7 ft
  • Blade Width – 1 in
  • Color – Chrome/Black
  • Weight – 0.826 lbs
  • Belt Clip – Yes
  • Blade Lock – Yes
  • Measurement System – Imperial

Pros

  • Same classic chrome look
  • Rubber overmold for better grip
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to read

Cons

  • Confusing markings
  • No CM indicator
  • A bit basic

The Craftsman was chosen for the effectiveness of its hook, durability, and wide tape that aids in getting a definite standout and minimal twisting. This measure also comes with a limited lifetime warranty and is affordable.

Everyone knows the name Craftsman; it is a staple in many garages and toolboxes. This Craftsman tape measure doesn’t disappoint. The weight and sturdiness are what we have come to expect from the famous Craftsman name. This tape measure allows for long extensions, which is great to get to those hard to reach places. 

When this tape measure was compared, side by side, with a Stanley tape measure, the tape layout, fonts, markings, and feel are almost identical. If you love the Stanley brand, this may suit you as well. Best suited for do-it-yourselfers and professionals.

Stanley Tools FatMax 33-740 Tape Measure

Specs

  • Blade Coating – Mylar polyester
  • Blade Length – 40 ft
  • Standout – 11 ft
  • Blade Width – 1 1/4 in
  • Color – Black/Yellow
  • Weight – 1.5 lbs
  • Belt Clip – Yes
  • Blade Lock – Yes
  • Measurement System – Imperial and Metric

Pros

  • Armor coating on blade extends blade life 10x
  • Tru-Zero end hook for accuracy
  • 16″ and 19.2″ stud center markings
  • Top-forward blade lock
  • Cushion grip

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Thin tape
  • Lock button sticks

We chose the Stanley FatMax for the longer standout, the wide, easy to read blade, and the durability. The Stanley boasts having blade armor coating, mylar polyester film on the blade, and a True-Zero hook. The extra coating and film will extend the blade’s life, and the True-Zero hook results in accurate measurements

The Stanley FatMax has a full coating on the blade and added “BladeArmor” on the hook that extends the tape and guards’ life against abrasion and heavy use. “BladeArmor” is an extra coating on the tip of the tape to make it sturdy.

FastCap PSSR16 Tape Measure

Specs

  • Blade Coating – 
  • Blade Length – 16 ft
  • Standout – 8 ft
  • Blade Width – 1 in
  • Color – Green/Black
  • Weight -10.1 oz
  • Belt clip – Yes
  • Blade Lock – Yes
  • Measurement System – Imperial & Metric

Pros

  • Erasable notepad
  • Easy-read fractions to 1/16″
  • Built-in pencil sharpener
  • Protective rubber casing
  • Reversible (for left or right-handers)

Cons

  • Lock button sticks
  • Pencil sharpener fails
  • No autostop

The FastCap was chosen as it is made for left and right-handers. It has cool features such as a notepad and pencil sharpener. It is also easy to read and includes fractions for easier measuring. It is durable and affordable.

The FastCap tape measure offers an innovative, erasable notepad as well as a built-in pencil sharpener. This tape measure has a compact design and a heavy-duty protective rubber cover for protection if it takes an unlikely tumble. A unique feature of this tape measure compared to the others on our list is that left-handers can use it as easily as right-handers. This measure is best suited for DIY projects.

Klein Tools 9225 Tape Measure

Specs

  • Blade Coating – Nylon
  • Blade Length – 25 ft
  • Standout – 13 ft
  • Blade Width – 1.125 in
  • Color – Orange/Black
  • Weight – 1.31 lbs
  • Belt clip – Yes
  • Blade lock – Yes
  • Measurement System – Imperial

Pros 

  • Wide, tough, durable blade
  • Bold lines, easy-to-read
  • Heavy duty
  • Speed brake controls for retraction
  • Double-sided measurement marks

Cons

  • Lock button sticks
  • Prone to breakage
  • No added fractional markings

What makes this Klein Tools measurer one of our top picks is its limitless features. It has a double-hook, double-sided tape. The tip is magnetic, and the retraction has a “speed break.” Controlling retraction enhances your safety and helps the longevity of your tape measure.

The Klein measure has a strong magnetic double hook. The double hook helps to secure the tip to objects such as studs, conduits, pipes, etc. Having a magnet on the hook allows for attachment to metal objects such as doors, studs, and panels to make measuring easier. This measure is best suited for professional tradespeople.

Tape Measure Buyer’s Guide

Tape measures are made of several components, and despite their small shape and size, they are high functioning machines. Here are some of the most critical aspects of your future tape measure.

Length

The length you choose is dependent upon what you will be using your tape measure for. If you are doing more extensive projects, like landscaping or flooring, you will want a longer tape. If you are doing simple, small projects, the extra length won’t be necessary.

Standout

The “tape” of a tape measure is referred to as the blade. The blade has what is called a “standout,” which is what keeps the blade from bending when it is extended. The blade should stay straight as you work. Longer standouts are best because they make it possible to measure long or tall objects on your own. 

Materials

Blades are made from various materials such as steel, stainless steel, or fiberglass. They are usually coated with nylon to make them more sturdy. The most common blade material is steel, which is excellent for average use as it is durable and practical. Stainless steel is good for muddy and wet conditions and resists rust and corrosion, while fiberglass tapes are best suited for heavy-duty industrial applications.

End-Hook/Tang

Another part of a tape measure to look at is the tang. The metal end-hook, or tang, ensures accurate measurements. The tang should be intact and stable. You want the hook to be hardy and durable. If you can get one with a non-slip coating on the upper part of the hook, it will help get a better grip. 

If you plan to measure metal objects, you may find that a magnetic hook will best suit your needs. When the blade is extended, the tang should fluctuate to compensate for its width. If the tang is magnetic, this may add a bit of weight at the end.

Clip

Most tape measures come with a clip. Some people like the clip; others don’t, as it can make the tape measure feel bulky. Whichever side you lean on, a clip gives your tape measure more mobility.

Features

A useful feature in a tape measure is the auto-lock. When you extend the blade, the “lock” functions on its own, making it easier than having to wrestle with a retracting tape. This is also helpful for solo jobs and for hard to get to places. With one push of a button, the blade should retract.

Markings

Check the markings on the tape measure (the numbers). The markings on the blade should be clear and easy to read. In the US, we use feet and inches. If you are working with parts from abroad, you may want to get one that also has metric measurements. The red marks that are 16-inches apart are called stud-marks. These assist in finding the studs in walls as they are mandated to be 16 inches apart.

FAQs

How Can I Keep My Tape Measure Clean?

When you are using your tape measure, let the tape slide carefully between your fingers when retracting to clean it with a lint-free cloth as it goes back in the case. Keeping dirt out of the case prolongs the paint on the blade and prevents premature rust.

How Can I Keep the Tang From Wearing too Quickly?

When you retract your blade, slow down during the last few inches with your fingers and manually retract the last inch or so gently. This will prevent the tang from slamming against the case, which is the biggest reason a tape will break early.

How Can I Keep my Tape Measure from Cracking?

When you have your tape measure extended, especially if you are frequently extending to measure long distances, don’t let the tape go the wrong way. Exert control over the tape and guide it where it should go. If you let it go wherever it may, you are going to get cracking of your blade.

How Do I Make my Tape Measures Last Longer?

If you do rougher tasks such as welding, metalwork, or excavation, chances are you will get a lot of wear on your measure. Please do your best to keep it clean, avoid bending the tape, and not drop it on hard surfaces.

What are the Most Common Tape Measure Sizes?

The most common US sizes for tape measures are 12 feet, 25 feet, or 100 feet long.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how important it is to measure your materials or your projects find your tape measure and see how it stacks up to the best tape measures on our list. If it doesn’t “measure” up, you can utilize the information here to determine which tape measure will best suit your needs. An excellent tape measure will make your projects run smoother and cause less frustration allowing you to enjoy your project again. Happy measuring!