I Beam Vs. Box Beam Spirit Level: Which One to Use?

In construction, a spirit level is a necessary tool that is used to determine whether a surface is level or not. It can also be used to determine whether something is plumb or not.

Among the types of spirit levels, the I beam and Box beam are the two similar models that are interesting to talk about. Both of them are commonly utilized in construction. However, which one is preferable to use in all situations? Which one is excellent in a certain condition? Key comparison points between the two are discussed below.

Body Construction Between I Beam and Box Beam Level

The first contrasting thing between I beam and Box beam spirit levels are their body structure. The I beam spirit level has less material, thus more lightweight than the box beam level.

I-Beam level has a cross-section of a capital “I”, hence the name. It consists of two horizontal flat pieces that are connected by a vertical flat piece. Flat horizontal pieces at the bottom and the top are called flanges and the section that connects the flanges and holds the spirit levels is called a web.

On the other hand, the Box beam level, as obvious from the name it has a structure like a box. In the middle structure, it is left hollow and therefore makes two opposite hollow sides. These sides are covered with a plastic material (end caps). The hollow space can be utilized to add extra features like a magnet, so you do not have to hold the level while working on metals.

Durability: Which One is More Durable?

The durability of a tool depends on the structure and material used for its construction. In terms of durability, the box beam is the winner.

At the I-beam level, the I-shape design is chosen because it provides sufficient structural strength while using less material, thus making it cheap and lightweight.

As you can take a look, there are 3 parts which are 2 flat flanges and a single web. That said, there is only a single web that holds weight applying at the center of the flange. This structure has the potential of bending and twisting if the excessive weight concentrates on the edges of the flange (not at the center).

On the other hand, the box spirit level is better in terms of durability. It has more resistance against bending and twisting rather than the I-beam model. In the environment like in construction, if something drops to the box level, there are two walls that will hold it. The double vertical flat pieces (walls) hold the weight that applies to the top body of the level.


Considering the advantage and disadvantages between I beam and box beam levels, their application varies. It depends on the project.

Whenever you need a lightweight option but pretty durable, the I beam level is the choice. That said, the I-beam levels are a preference of drywallers, especially when it provides a magnetic feature to help you work with metals (hands-off; stick easily on the metal). For homeowners that work on their home projects, since it doesn’t require a high degree of durability, the I-beams are the wise option to go for.

In contrast, box beam levels are more durable with less material possible (as lightweight as possible). They are great to use for professionals working in construction. Box beam level is a robust and rugged tool that can withstand harsh conditions.