Whether you’re a builder, contractor, designer or just about anyone else, you will need a tape measure at some point.
From dealing with cutting timber, measuring the size of an alcove or figuring out how wide that new fridge is, making use of a tape measure is nearly almost a daily occurrence for some people, and because of this, we’re bringing together a guide for finding the best tape measures in Australia.
As you may already know, not all tape measures are created equally and some come with added features and design perks that make them a whole lot easier to use than others.
That in mind, we’ll take a look at all of the essentials you need to consider in your next tape measure and what else to look for to get the best experience! You don’t want to be stuck using a construction tape measure for something like measuring the kitchen fridge for example — and vice versa.
All that out of the way, let’s get into the best tape measures and what to consider!
The Most Important Tape Measure Considerations
Off the top, there are a few important things you’ll always want to consider when it comes to getting your hands on a tape measure that will make your life easier, and not more difficult.
A lot of tape measures out there have been carefully curated to what you’ll be using them for and that means there’s been changes to the rigidity of your tape measure’s tape, the retraction mechanism and more — based on the task they’ve been developed for.
However, there are tonnes of different features and essentials to look for, and so we’ve done just about all the research and explanation-writing for you to make sure that this process is as simple and straightforward as possible.
Here are the most important things to look for in the best tape measure.
Measurement and Tape Accuracy
At the absolute forefront of your tape measure considerations needs to be the accuracy of the tape itself.
If your tape measure is out of whack, then it’s better used as a paperweight than anything else.
That in mind, some cheaper tape measures like the ones you’ll find at dollar stores, for example, are often out of whack when it comes to measurement accuracy and so we ask you to write these cheaper models off right away.
On top of this, you might find that some other versions are just as unreliable, though these do often come as a surprise. Keeping that noted, it’s always best to take a look at reviews online, or double check the tape measure’s accuracy in-store with something like the length of your smartphone or a ruler, for example.
With this done, you’ll be able to tell whether a tape measure is accurate, or if it is worth overlooking.
The Product Durability
When you’re sure you are on the right track to an accurate tape measure, it’s time to move on to the durability of the product.
Of course, this requirement will depend on your own use case and how you intend to use your tape measure from day to day. For our contractor and builder readers, there’s a good chance your tape measure might experience hundreds of drops from tabletops and even your hands each week, and so it’s good to know the outer casing is strong enough to handle this.
Our readers who are primarily using their tape measures at home for things like decor projects, measuring furniture and other similar tasks — durability might not mean as much to you.
That in mind however, it does remain a good idea to always invest in a tape measure that’s going to be strong enough to withstand a good beating.
With our mention of strength out of the way, a few tests online have given us the information we need to determine which tape measures are strong enough for our readers and which might be worth overlooking.
A standard drop test for a tape measure is generally conducted at around 10 feet, which means you’re good to go if you work on roofs and see your tape measure slide off and down to the ground.
From the data provided from the testing, we were able to find that the tape measures were subjected to six different drop tests which allowed for each tape measure to experience impact from all sides. This had meant that we were able to see which tape measures survived and which parts of each tape measure were subject to damage.
Following all drop tests and durability trials, the tape measures were then used as per usual to make sure that the drops didn’t cause any internal damage that may have impacted the internal tape retraction chambers.
In all, the tape measures that survived the drops, showed as little casing damage and still worked optimally were added to our list of the best models to choose from.
For further information, here are some of the aspects of the tape measure that were assessed after the drop — the faceplate, the lock button, the casing, the internal retraction chambers and the tongue.
All of these pieces were assessed and given a look over to make sure they all still remained intact or were still operable, and with that covered, we could then move forward to adding these to our list and assessing their features.
Interestingly, the tape measures were also subjected to a few different drops to see how many it would take to render these tape measures inoperable. What was found was that brands like Ryobi fared quite well in that their model was able to sustain 20 drops before any operational failure.
Other brands such as Klein were ruined after just 5 drops — making them unideal for workplace use. Some of the more durable options out there came from Stanley in that 24 drops caused the tape measure to break down entirely.
The winning brands however were DeWalt and Milwaukee given that they simply survived completely.
Belt Clip Design
Making our way on from damaging the tape measures, another key consideration is how the tape measure is going to attach itself to those using it.
Of course, most tape measures do come with some sort of clip or belt clip which gives you the chance to effortlessly hook the tape measure on your person and keep it with you at all times. And given that you’re likely to use your tape measure routinely throughout the day, this is going to be a feature that is a major timesaver.
On top of the inclusion of a clip, it’s also good to keep in mind what this clip looks like and how it works. You’ll find that some of these clips work better than others when it comes to looping them over a belt, and so you should try to select a tape measure that does this best for your specific belt.
One other thing to note is what the clip is made of and whether it’s designed to sustain drops or a tug that’s a little too hard. You don’t want to see the tape measure simply snap off mid-way through the day — and so this was a consideration for us when selecting the best tape measures out there today.
To spotlight a specific brand, the DeWalt tape measures did have an excellent clip design and it was also a model that clipped on to a belt quite well, which made the process of getting the tape measure on and off, and actually using it a whole lot simpler.
The Milwaukee design of clip is actually made of wire, and it’s exceedingly strong too, so this tape measure is a great contender for those who need a clip that’s going to work religiously with you, and not show any signs of wearing down or becoming loose over time.
A final thing to be wary of are the clips that come from the Ridgid and Empire brands, given that they’re a little weak. They operate quite well and look good, though these are a little small and you’re going to find that they’ve been designed in a way that leaves room for failure, so breaking them off, or having them snap is a real risk here.
The Tape and Marking Visibility
What good is a tape measure with markings you can’t see?
Another major consideration for us in finding some winning tape measures were the markings on the tape itself. These are what you’ll be relying on to find an accurate measurement and so the font size should be large and easy to ready but also contrast well with the tape.
Of course, standard tape measures come with black-on-yellow print which is ideal and easy to read, though, some tape measures do offer a different colour scheme.
A second point to add is the level of detail in the tape itself and the measurement markings. As we’re sure you’ll agree, the typical M, CM and MM options are fine, though some inch-based markings or some other measurements are always welcomed too.
On the Klein model, for example, you’ll find that there are notch weights used here that make it easier to see some popular or common measurements like one inch markings for example.
Going back to the colour schemes used, some tape measures have double sided measurements which come with a different colour. Again, on the Klein, there’s the standard yellow and black, though on the underside there’s a black and white option to make visibility easier.
On the Empire tape measure, you’ll find a white and blue colour tone here with deep blue marking or fractions coming into play, making it a little easier to see. For more detail, there are the thinner lines which represent the smaller millimetre measures.
To end, the visibility of the Lufkin tape measures is something quite unique and a variation that we love — these tape measures come in green on black which stands out in all conditions from harsh daylight to dark interior spaces.
The Throw Distance
One other key consideration is the throw distance of your tape measure.
Whether you’re feeling lazy or simply can’t get to another side of a material, say a roof, for example, you’re going to want a tape measure that you can stand and throw to the area you’re looking to measure.
The more expensive and higher-end models of tape measures typically have an ultra-sturdy tape that allows for a long throw distance and no folding-over or other similar issues, and so investing in these models is always a good idea.
That in mind though, for those in the interior design and DIY area, a super far throw distance may not be something that is as integral to your workflow as someone in the roofing or construction fields.
To gauge a little better the standout and the throw distance, multiple tests online were undertaken and we were able to compile all of these to give our readers a better look at the experience using each tape measure.
For us, a standout around 9’ was important as this is ideal in that a lot of materials and workflows will only need to have a tape measure stretching and reaching this far. However, some of our readers in the building fields may be more pleased with a 10’ to 16’ standout.
All that in mind though, most of the tape measures coming into consideration on our list do offer these standout sizes.
To end, the standout is going to depend on the shape of the tape itself and so making your way in-store or online and looking for that tight, well-designed U-shape is going to be something worth taking an in-depth look at.
In a similar vein to the standout of the tape measure is the throw.
As you’ll agree, walking around and adhering your hook to the end of materials and walking back does take time and impacts your workplace efficiency, something that no one wants to deal with.
That noted, you’ll want to be on the look out for a tape measure that comes with a throw that’s as far as possible. The further you can throw that tape, the less you’ll need to walk and waste time.
It’s also good to note that if you can’t throw the tape far enough, you can still always slide out the tape until the hook grabs the end of your material — though this will rely on a looser retraction mechanism and a hook that’s been well-designed. More on that in a moment.
You’ll want to consider the throw distance based on your own use case, though we will say that looking for a throw of around 8’ is a good place to start, however the more the better.
It’s good to keep in mind that some higher-end brands like Empire and Ryobi didn’t hit the mark then it came to throw as they failed to reach the ideal 8’ or the 96 inch distance, which is a little surprising.
The brands to stand by when it comes to throw are DeWalt, Stanley and the Klein models which all offered more than 100 inches, and up to 130 inches for the Klein model. Which in our opinion, is rather outstanding.
An Intelligent Hook Design
As we mentioned above, when it comes to working on site you’re going to want to be as efficient and timely as possible. That means not fiddling with a hook on your tape measure that doesn’t seem to latch on to anything.
We would only suggest working with tape measure hooks that easily adhere to materials, or are designed in a way that ‘grabs’ on to things. You’re going to want to be able to throw or ease your tape measure out without having to worry about whether you’re going to have to manually stick it to whatever you’re measuring.
As a general rule of thumb, you’re always going to want to be on the look out for a hook that is as large as possible. These are going to make sure the end of your tape measure is heavy and stable enough to dip down and grab your materials, but also encompass the end of whatever you’re measuring.
Those points in mind, we did take a look at all of the hooks on our top measuring tapes and deciding upon a few winners.
The Tape Measure Hooks
To make your process of deciding a little simpler, we did delve into the tape measures and their hooks and worked on deciding which is going to work best for some rather specific workflows.
Coming from Lufkin, this tape measure is one of the better designed out there in that it comes with a grab on both the bottom and the top of the tape. This will mean that pulling back your tape measure and getting it to hook on a material is rather effortless when compared to just about anything else.
This also means there’s a reduced chance of you needing to fully retract the tape and throw the tape measure out again — saving time.
The experts at DeWalt also have an excellent hook on offer in that there is a top and bottom grab here too, however the upper is a little taller, making it easy to grab materials too. One thing to note is the side grab here is a very welcomed addition in that you can measure walls and other vertically-facing materials without tilting your tape measure to the side and easing it out this way.
Ox has also worked to develop a rather unique, though very helpful tape measure hook too — and it does look quite strange. There’s a wide hook here with top, bottom and side grabs like the DeWalt model, though it is a little wider and more nimble at the same time, making it easier to throw and grab to materials.
The final tape measure we took a look at regarding the hook was the Stanley. Keeping in mind that this tape measure did end up one of our favourites, it doesn’t really come with a hook that provides much use at all.
It is rather small and doesn’t come with a top or a side grab other than the add-on you can close over the hook. This does add a top grab and a side grab, though having to add it on and the possibility of it coming off and becoming lost might be a big downside for a lot of contractors. You lose this one essential piece of equipment and your tape measure is effectively half as useful.
The Ergonomics and Design
To one of the more often overlooked points in tape measures, the design and ergonomics are a big factor to consider.
Keeping in mind that the tape measure is going to be in your hand and you’re going to be guiding the tape slowly into place, you’ll want to choose and model that’s comfortable enough and designed well enough for you to do this with ease.
All of the models coming from DeWalt and Milwaukee and possibly Lufkin (depending on your preference) are designed perfectly to fit into the hand without any issues, however, the Stanley model and the option from Empire are a bit too clunky for us.
The Ox, although it’s a great option when it comes to use case, is far too large for it to be comfortable for prolonged use.
Cost and Affordability
As we mentioned earlier in the article, cost can have a big impact on how well your measuring tape works and whether it’s even accurate.
That in mind though, affordability isn’t always a bad thing and you’re going to find that the tape measures on our list only range from $9 through to $29 so you’re not going to be breaking the bank here — even for the best of the best.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a good middle ground here in price, and with the Ryobi being the most affordable, you’re certainly getting a good deal when it comes to features.
The costly DeWalt on the other hand, may be a little too expensive for what it brings, and because of this we might ask our readers to look the other way unless a DeWalt is firmly on the cards.
In all, spending between $10 and $15 on a tape measure should be enough to get you something that’s ideal for all use cases and is going to last a long time too.
Additional Perks and Considerations
Now that we’ve gone over all of the essentials you should look for in a tape measure, we have a few minor things to consider.
Missing these things from your tape measure isn’t going to majorly impact the experience, however, having them on hand could majorly impact how easy your tape measure is to use and you might be able to get more work done in less time.
For our readers who find themselves always working around steel, then the magnetic measuring tape hooks are going to be a game changer.
You’ll always have the assurance that your tape measure is going to safely latch on to the end of a sheet or piece of steel pipe or a truss without you have to do anything. Again, this saves time and essentially makes your workflow a whole lot faster.
Keep in mind that Ox, Milwaukee and Klein all offer this great magnetic feature.
A Nylon Blade Coating
When it comes to getting the longest life out of your tape measure, you’ll want to be on the lookout for a nylon blade coating.
These coatings are going to be your first line of defence when it comes to rust and preventing the peeling away of your blade. That in mind, almost all of our models chosen for the best tape measure come with these coatings, though the more affordable options out there typically look over this.
That in mind, if you’re looking for a tape measure you can use on a routine basis, be sure to look for some type of coating.
To add, another time saving and efficiency-focused perk is the auto-lock mechanism.
This is where you’ll be able to rely on your tape measure to essentially stop your tape as you’re extending it which means you’re not having to use the thumb lock, making your workflow just that little bit smoother.
A Finger Brake
Another key feature, though a non-essential one, is an included finger brake.
These brakes are going to be what stops you getting that painful pinch or even a cut when your tape retracts back into the internal chamber — and we’re certainly going to want you to consider this depending on how often you’re finding yourself pinched.
A Double-sided Print
As we outlined above, some models of tape measure have printing and measurements on both sides of the tape which lets you get a better view of what your measurement is without having to look and squint trying to see one side over the other.
You can also use these features when measuring things above the ground and you have an off-sider below you. They can see the underside of the tape and tell you easily what the measurement is.
More Details Markings
To conclude our list of added or ‘bonus’ features, added details and architectural measurements is always a plus. This will take out the guesswork from a lot of your measuring activities and often provide a result that you’re looking for, rather than requiring you to convert a measurement on your phone.
Our List of the Best Tape Measures For 2021
With all of the above points out of the way we can now get into our list of all the best tape measures that boast just about all of the features we loved so much above.
Keep in mind that these tape measures are all of a high quality and come with a relatively low price point — which is great news considering just how durable and reliable these tape measures are.
The 25-ft Double Hook Magnetic Tape Measure by Klein
Taking out the top spot for us, despite breaking a little quickly in the drop test we mentioned earlier, is the Klein 25-foot tape measure.
This model comes with just about all the perks we liked along with a great magnetic hook and a throw distance that’s also ideal. You’re getting plenty of features here, as well as the assurance that you’re able to see the measurements quite easily given that there’s huge printed text here.
On top of this, the design of the tape measure is perfectly suited to the hand and it is quite lightweight too.
- A Double-sided Printing
- Near-perfectly Ergonomic
- A Smart Finger Brake
- Bold Printed Line Work
- A Lifetime Warranty
- Around $15
The 25-ft Locking Steel Tape Measure by Ridgid
Coming in at second place for us is the Ridgid tape measure with its 25 foot length and the great accuracy of printed lines.
You’ll be able to find more durability here than just about any other tape measure and that means you’re able to use this tape measure for years to come without a problem. It also has a great design that fits the hand well and a good double-sided printing too.
One thing to note is that it has a rather poor standout distance of below that ideal 96 inches we talked through, though for some users and the occasional DIYer this is still going to be a great option for you.
- A Double-sided Printing
- Nice and Ergonomic
- Most Durable on the List
- A Lifetime Warranty
- Around $25
The 25-foot Tape Measure by Ryobi
From the experts at Ryobi, their 25 foot model is another ideal tape measure for those who need something simple, affordable and also durable.
This model comes with some added detail in the tape markings with fractions coming into play here and the small and lightweight design means it is one of our top choices for those who need to hang on to their tape measure all day.
You’ll find that this is one of the most affordable out there at under $9 in most retail stores and you’re going to find that the durability does remain quite high up here. The only major downside here is the sub-96 inch standout distance which may make this model a no-go for some of our readers.
- Fraction Markings
- Great Value
- Light and Ergonomic
- Relatively Durable
- Around $9
The Level 500AL Series Auto-Locking Measuring Tape by Empire
Another incredibly versatile tape measure landing on our list is the 500AL by Empire.
It did break quite early in drop testing, which means it isn’t the most durable, though it has so many great features and time-saving perks that it had to land fairly high on our list.
For our readers who work primarily in controlled settings or in the home decor and interior design fields, or DIY segment this might be the tape measure for you. If you’re likely to keep the tape measure well looked after, you’re going to have a great experience here.
The tape comes in at 25 feet and you’re going to see the auto lock and fraction markings coming in quite helpful here.
- Fraction Markings
- Great Value
- Auto-lock Mechanism
- Held Up After 30 Drops
- Around $10
The Pro Stainless Steel Tape Measure by Ox Tools
One of the bigger and heavy tape measures on our list comes with a tonne of great features to support that added weight.
Although we did tout that this model is a little hard to hold, it’s still one of our favourite tape measures this year and that’s thanks to the double sided printing as well as the fact it served more than 30 drops from over 10 feet.
On top of this, the 25 foot measuring tape comes with a hook that grabs on to just about everything and when paired with the standout and throw features, you’re certainly on to a winner here.
- Fraction Markings
- Good Standout and Throw
- Double-sided Printing
- Accurate Measurements
- Held Up After 30 Drops
- Optimally Designed Hook
- Around $20
The 25-ft FATMAX Auto-Lock Tape Measure by Stanley
Our top choice tape measure by Stanley is the FatMax given that it’s one of the higher end and feature-packed options here.
It does come with a removable hook that you can make use of in rather specific circumstances and that means you’re getting a little added versatility here when you need it — and freedom to strip it when you don’t.
There’s auto-lock here for added safety as well as a lifetime warranty.
You might find that the single sided line work is a little bit of an issue, however, with great throw and standout and plenty of durability-focused features, you’re still getting a great tape measure from Stanley.
- Great Standout and Throw
- Double-sided Printing
- Accurate Measurements
- Removable Hook Attachment
- Around $23
The 25-ft Black Widow Tape Measure by Lufkin
One of the more well-rounded options on our list is coming from Lufkin, and with a great feature set all round, it may or may not be the best tape measure in Australia this year.
In fact, the only thing we could note as a downside for this tape measure was the rather poor throw distance. Other than that, the affordable price, green printed tape and the awesome ergonomic design make it a big winner for us.
- High-contract Printing
- A Great Belt Clip
- Handled Over 30 Drop Tests
- Around $16
The 25-ft XP Tape Measure by DeWalt
And our winner for the best tape measure in Australia comes from the tried and true DeWalt brand, and for a good reason.
There’s little to say about this tape measure that’s negative and with the 25 foot distance and a great shape, intelligently designed clip and an accuracy that leaves little to nothing to be desired, we’re certainly placing this as our winner this year.
It’s a little expensive when compared to just about everything else out there, however, when you consider the fantastic hook design, the throw distance as well as the design of the tape measure overall, we’re sure that this is going to be a tape measure that adds efficiency to your workplace.
- Great Standout and Throw
- Accurate Measurements
- Brilliant, Durable Design
- Smart Clip Design
- Around $30
As we’re sure you’ll agree, there is a lot that goes into choosing a tape measure that’s routinely overlooked.
You’ll want to be sure to keep an eye on all of the value-adding and efficiency focused features that comes with a tape measure as you’re going to want to make sure you’re getting more work done in less time.
Add to this that the extra safety features in a tape measure can save you from being pinched or even having your skin torn by a tape that’s retracting too fast and we’re sure that you want the best of the best this year.
All that said, when it comes to choosing a tape measure be sure to consider your own use cases, how you intend to use the tape measure and whether you’re in a professional work space or intending to use the model at home as a DIY helper.