Fiberglass vs. Steel Tape Measure | Engineer Supply - EngineerSupply

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Comparison: Fiberglass vs Steel Measuring Tape

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A measuring tape is one of the most important tools you can own. Whether you are a professional working on a job site or a DIYer fixing a few things around your home, being able to properly measure your work is essential. There is a reason that the traditional advice is to measure twice and cut once. When you are shopping for a measure, you may see that there are a few options for material. Most commonly, you could pick a fiberglass or a steel tape measure. This leaves a lot of people scratching their heads about what the difference is.

Fiberglass Measuring Tape

As the name implies, these measuring tapes are primarily made out of fiberglass, often with a metal or plastic handle and a metal tip. There are a few characteristics that recommend fiberglass measuring tape over steel tape. First, fiberglass is non-conductive. If you are measuring in an area with potential electrical hazards, fiberglass is likely the way to go. Second, it is rust-, corrosion- and tear-resistant. So, fiberglass is a popular choice for regular outdoor use such as surveying and engineering. Finally, fiberglass tapes tend to be less expensive, especially for long tapes. So, many DIYers choose this for their long tape needs.

Steel Measuring Tape

Alternatively, you could choose steel. This is the most common material and is almost ubiquitous in closed-case measuring tapes (the kind that most people use for indoor measuring). A metal tape measure is very sturdy thanks to its robust material. Typically, steel has a much longer service life thanks to its durability. Additionally, it can be easier to use for short measurements because it can be extended without bending. Significantly, steel will not stretch over time, an issue that can arise with regularly used fiberglass tape. However, it can be bent or distorted by heat, which can affect accuracy.

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How To Choose

As you may expect, this depends significantly on what types of work you will be doing. To answer this, we will focus on long tapes because there are very few pockets or closed-case measuring tapes made from fiberglass. If you want a highly durable tape and will be using it a lot, paying the premium for a steel tape is probably worthwhile. However, if you will only be using your tape sometimes, a fiberglass one will be more budget-friendly and lighter. Additionally, if you will be working outside, especially in wet environments, fiberglass tape will be more resistant to rust and damage. Finally, choose a fiberglass tape measure if you plan to use it near electrical hazards.

Order Your Tape Measure Today

Accurate measurements are essential for all DIY and professional projects. If you are deciding on a long measuring tape, you will need to choose between fiberglass and steel. Using the above advice, you can hopefully make your decision. Then, head to Engineer Supply to order your fiberglass measuring tape or steel tape measure. Plus, we have a large catalog of other tools and supplies for engineering, surveying and construction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Buy Fiberglass and Steel Tape Measures?

You can order a variety of measuring tools from Engineer Supply. Our selection includes steel and fiberglass long measuring tapes. We also have closed case tapes, laser measures, specialty tapes, folding rulers, measuring wheels and more. In short, we have all your measuring needs covered.

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What Is a Steel Measure Used For?

Measuring tapes can be used for a wide variety of measurement needs in surveying, engineering, construction and more. Steel measuring tapes are popular for their durability. They are often used by professionals and anyone who needs a rugged tool. Furthermore, they are common for smaller tapes due to their rigidity.

How Do You Read a Metal Tape Measure?

There are markings on measuring tapes indicating the distance from the tip. This may be in imperial units, metric units or both (typically, one side is dedicated to each). Many measuring tapes also have special markings for common measurements.

Why Is Every 16 Inches Specially Marked on a Tape Measure?

Some measuring tapes have every 16 inches marked in red. This is a common distance between studs in the United States. So, those special markings are there to make this very common measurement a little easier.

What Does the Diamond Mean on a Tape Measure?

Sometimes tape measures have black diamonds or triangles marked on them. These appear every 19.2 inches. This may seem like a very unusual distance, but it is commonly used for floor trusses in a sub-floor. It is common for a 4.8 sub-floor with a span rating of 20 inches.
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