Retractable tape measure
There is a range of retractable tape measures on the market offering different lengths but the most common tape measures found in DIY toolboxes are either 3 metres (10ft) or 5 metres (16ft) in length.
Long tape measures (closed case)
When you need to measure long distances a 30 metre (100ft) tape measure is much easier to use. The tape is generally made of fibreglass and will feature both metric and imperial gradations. The tape is wound around a reel, which is housed in a protective casing. A handle on the side of the case is used to rewind the tape when you are finished.
Digital tape measure
This variation of the retractable tape measure incorporates digital technology. When the tape is locked in place the measurement will be displayed on a small screen in metric or imperial units.
Digital estimators measure distances using ultrasonic sound waves, which rebound off the intended target and calculate how far away it is. Some models can also be used to calculate area and volume. The measurement is displayed on a small screen.
Measuring wheels have a gear-driven counter that calculates distances from the number of wheel rotations. Simply push the wheel ahead of you in a straight line and the distance will be calculated. It is important to remember the accuracy of the measurement depends on the wheel remaining in contact with the ground and following a straight line. Using this tool on very uneven ground will affect its accuracy.
Chalked string line
A string line impregnated with chalk used in the construction industry to mark a straight line on walls, floors and ceilings. The string is pulled taut between two points and lifted in the centre. On releasing the string it will snap against the surface of the wall, leaving a straight chalk line on its surface. This is also called snapping a line.
Usually 300mm long, the metal rule is used mostly in tiling to mark straight lines on ceramic tiles.