What’s the Difference Between I-Beam Levels and Box-Beam / Box Levels?

Before looking at the differences between these two popular types of levels, it’s important to know the similarities.

I-Beam and Box-Beam Level Similarities

What's the difference between I-Beam Levels and box-beam levels?

I-beam and box-beam levels aren’t the same tools. However, they do share enough qualities to earn a section in this article detailing their similarities:

  • Serve a common function
  • Strikingly similar appearance
  • Spirit levels (bubble levels)—they use a bubble to determine if a surface is true or level
  • Make sure long surfaces are level—surfaces can be vertical or horizontal, and in some levels, you can make sure surfaces are at a correct angle (other than 90 °F; and 0 °F)
  • Magnetic option makes ferrous metals easy to level

I-beam and box-beam levels come in different lengths, so when choosing a length, consider the length of what you’re going to be leveling. 

Even with the similarities, there are major differences between these types of levels--I-Beam Levels and Box-Beam Levels--and it starts with the structure.

Differences between I-Beam and Box-Beam Levels

I-Beam Level Attributes

I-Beam Level

  • Structure of an I-beam, when cut in half, looks like a capital “I” or sideways capital “H”
  • Horizontal elements of the “I” shapes are called “flanges”
  • Vertical element is referred to as the “web”
  • Shape of the frame helps the level maintain its shape when dropped, bumped, or twisted
  • Durability of I-beam levels dependent on material used (most I-beams are made of aluminum)
  • Higher grade aluminum means more durable I- and Box-Beam levels
  • I-beam levels are typically lighter than box-beam or box levels

Box-Beam Level / Box Level Attributes

Aluminum Box Level

  • Frame of a box-beam level is in the shape of a box
  • Four points of strength make it an even more durable option (than I-beam levels)
  • Lower-quality box-beam levels may be hollow
  • Johnson Box-Beam Levels are cased around solid blocks of acrylic, enhancing the quality and strength—making the box-beam level very resistant to direct impact while keeping it as light as possible

Johnson Level's beam levels are always the best quality in the industry, just like every other tool we offer to our customers. Choosing one or the other is a matter of what you plan to use it for mixed with a small bit of preference--most customers prefer the one and only Johnson Level brand.

Contact I-Beam and Box-Beam experts at Johnson Level to find out more about our quality products.