How to set up laser levels to establish grades

Updated July 20, 2017

Laser levels, sometimes called laser transits or optical builder's levels, can help you establish grade levels for landscaping and building projects. You should place the tripod where it can remain undisturbed for the entire project, if possible, so you always use the same base point for measuring grade. Double check accuracy occasionally if you're using big machinery, since the vibrations may knock the laser level out of alignment. If you rent a laser level from a tool rental store, check the kit to ensure that all parts are there and in good condition before taking it home.

Set up the laser level on firm dry ground so it doesn't shift as you walk around. Push the tripod's pins into the ground as far as they will go.

Mount the level to the tripod securely. Use the adjustment screws to bring the level's bubbles into the centre. Don't worry about exact accuracy at this point.

Swing the level around 180 degrees and centre the bubbles again.

Return the level to the starting position and check the bubbles. Adjust as needed until the level is accurate in all dimensions.


Some laser levels and builder's transits are automatically self-levelling. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to set up these levels.

Things You'll Need

  • Tripod
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About the Author

Evelyn Fielding has been a full-time freelance writer since 2001. She has a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Business Adminstration. Her work has appeared online at Beiers Greenhouse, and various syndicated real-estate websites. Fielding has also composed grant proposals, research documents, marketing materials and numerous articles on various subjects.