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Aside from maybe a hammer, a tape measure might be the most useful tool. Whether you rent or own your home, we're willing to bet the need to measure something comes up relatively often.
Tape measures haven't changed a whole lot over the years, and most have similar designs. That said, they come in various lengths and units of measurement. Also, some have notable features like special hooks, belt clips, or all-weather durability, and you can even get a high-tech laser measurer.
These are the best tape measures you can buy today.
Best Overall: Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure
The Stanley PowerLock is our top pick. It comes in the option of 12, 16, 25, 30, or 35 feet and offers 10 feet of reach. This means you can extend it out as far as 10 feet without needing someone to hold it in place on the other side.
The compact size easily fits in your hand or tool belt, and it's small enough to take on the go. This tape measure has a Stanley's Tru-Zero hook, which starts the measurements at the beginning of the tape, giving you better accuracy when you're measuring long distances. Thanks to 16-inch and 19.2-inch stud markings, it's ideal for framing jobs. It's also resistant to harsh weather conditions and corrosion.
Best Budget: Komelon The Professional 12-Foot Power Tape
This tape measure will only run you a few dollars, and it gets the job done. The Professional extends up to 12 feet and is printed with both imperial (inches) and metric (centimeters) measurements. Its ergonomic design fits comfortably in your hand, and the attached belt clip allows you to keep it within reach. Additionally, the durable nylon-coated blade is suitable for indoor and outdoor jobs.
Best Laser: Bosch BLAZE 65-ft Outdoor Laser Distance Measurer with Backlit Display
The best laser tape measure is the Bosch BLAZE. With the click of a button, this professional-grade tool projects a laser beam as far as 65 feet with accuracy. This makes it easy to measure large spaces and allows you to get a precise reading without assistance.
Not only that, but it's much faster than using a standard measuring tape. You can size up a space and tackle a measuring job in seconds. This portable tool fits in your pocket or tool belt, and the wrist strap frees up your hands between measurements. Also, the backlit screen allows you to see your measurements at night or in poorly lit spaces.
Best with Fractions: Milwaukee Compact Auto Lock Tape Measure
If you need very precise measurements down to fractions of an inch, we recommend the Milwaukee Auto Lock. Thanks to a fractional scale printed onto the nylon blade, you can measure down to 1/16 of an inch. This 25-foot tape has a 12-foot reach and automatically locks into place for quick, accurate readings.
Best Magnetic: Stanley FATMAX Magnetic Tape Measure
With an incredibly strong magnet on the end of the hook, the Stanley FATMAX attaches securely to studs and other metal surfaces. Since you don't have to hold it in place on one end, you can complete various jobs solo.
The FATMAX has 14 feet of reach and extends as far as 25 feet. Like other Stanley tape measures, it has a Tru-Zero hook for accurate measurements every time. We also like that it has a cushioned, slip-resistant design, which fits comfortably in your hand, and an easy-to-use blade lock.
Best Extra-Long: DEWALT DWHT34028 100 ft. Fiberglass Long Tape
Need to measure a lot, commercial space, or an otherwise extra-large area? Your best bet is this 100-foot-long DEWALT tape measure. It has a double-sided fiberglass blade with exact measurements in decimal feet and fractional inches.
This side crank rolls up the tape measure quickly when you're finished measuring and is ergonomic for comfort. It also has a professional-grade stake hoop for convenient outdoor measuring.
Best with Belt Clip: RYOBI 25 ft. Tape Measure with Overmold and Wireform Belt Clip
This 25-foot tape measure from RYOBI has a handy wireform clip that prevents fraying on your clothes or belt while keeping it secure and within reach. The tape casing has a reinforced rubber overmold for impact resistance and a comfortable grip, plus a wear-resistant nylon coating over the blade. The blade has accurate fraction markings if you need to get down to 1/16 inches .
Best for Sewing: GDMINLO Soft Tape Measure
The best tape measure for sewing is this 60-inch option from GDMINLO. With inches on one side and centimeters on the other, it's versatile and convenient for needlework, clothes-making, tailoring, and other projects.
This measuring tape also folds or rolls up into a small, packable size that easily fits in your sewing kit, purse, or pocket. The soft, flexible vinyl is easy to use on fabrics and won't stretch out, even after years of use.
If you're looking for a dependable, versatile tape measure that'll last for years, we recommend the Stanley PowerLock (view at Home Depot). It's compact, weather-resistant, and delivers an accurate read. Having said that, the high-tech Bosch BLAZE (view at Lowe's) might be worth the slightly higher price tag. This 65-ft laser measurer makes it easy to accurately measure large spaces on your own. It's a great gift for DIYers too.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland researched and wrote this roundup. As a homeowner and freelance writer specializing in home improvement, she's well-versed in DIY tools. You can read more of her work on MyDomaine, Byrdie, and The Spruce Pets.