Best Architecture Rulers Today | Architectural Scales Reviewed

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Architectural scales are a definite addition to any architect’s toolset. Even with the onset of computer aided design, the scale still rules the roost as far as measurement tools go.

Hence, it is crucial to choose the right scale so as to make sure your designs are cogent, clear-cut and designed to perfection.

Featured Image via Sven Mieke@sxoxm

However, with the onslaught of online marketplaces, it has become really difficult to pinpoint which products deserve your attention and which ones are best left on the shelves. To make the job of choosing the perfect tool for your needs easier, we’ve put together a small guide.

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First off, we review the eight of the best architectural rules on the market in the following article and the best engineering rulers right here. We follow this up with a small guide on what to look for in architectural rulers.

Without further ado, let’s begin with the best architecture rulers product reviews!

Best Architecture Rulers & Scales

Image via Daniel McCullough@d_mccullough

  1. Arteza 12″ Triangular Architect Scale Aluminum Color-Coded Grooves

This set of rulers has been on the market for while. The ruler is a standard triangular architect’s ruler, with three color coded sides for ease of use. All three sides have different scales, hence the color coding helps with remembering which scale is on which side. There are six scales spread over three sides on this ruler.

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Experience

The ruler comes with an anodised aluminium build, which makes it much sturdier than a generic plastic architectural ruler. It is 12 inches in length (as per the standard), and gives you the option of choosing between any of the following scales on the imperial scale:  1-1/2″, 1, 3/4″, 3/8″, 3/16″, 3/32″, 1/2″, 1/4″, 1/8″.

The color coded grooves are easily visible and make your job much simpler. However, the markings are embossed and not etched – and time is not kind to embossed markings. Clearly, there have been some compromises made as per the price. The fact remains, however, that it is a fairly sturdy and inexpensive ruler that gets the job done.

Pros
  • Strong build quality for the price
  • The markings are clear and easy to read
  • The finishing is straight enough for daily use
Cons
  • Embossed markings are likely to fade away after some time
  1. Pro Art 180 12-Inch Architectural Triangular Scale

This scale comes in at a much cheaper price, mostly because it’s made from plastic and not metal as a lot of people are usually used to. However, it comes with no compromises in terms of sturdiness or legibility, and the machining has been done incredibly cleanly. The length of the scale is, as is standard, a cool 12 inches.

Experience

This scale is very sturdy for a scale that costs very little, and is likely to last long. The markings are not etched, but instead are printed on – however, the legibility of the ruler is not in any way compromised by the fact of the numbers being printed. The scales themselves will take some time to get used to because they’re not demarcated in any way.

That’s true for a lot of scales out there, though at the same time, they tend to be priced much higher than this one is. This scale is perfect for those who are just starting off with their use of an architectural ruler and/or need something cheap but relatively long lasting. Another plus point is that this ruler comes with both imperial and metric demarcations.

Pros
  • Comes with both imperial and metric scales with easy-to-see correlations
  • Die cut and precisely defined scales, very accurate compared to many rulers
  • Lightweight and robust, likely to last very long
Cons
  • Scales are a little tough to figure out before getting the hang of it
  1. SciEdu Etched and Solid Aluminum Architect Scale

This one is a classic, handy, solid and chunky architectural ruler, complete with etched scales over a dark fully aluminium base which is unlikely to fade even for decades. It is robust but light, comes with the standard set of 6 scales over 3 sides, and the imperial scales cover the following measuring widths: 1-1/2″, 1, 3/4″, 3/8″, 3/16″, 3/32″, 1/2″ 1/4″, 1/8″, 3, 16.

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Experience

If quality and robustness of use are what you’re looking after, your search is likely to end right here. It offers the right mix of weight, sturdiness and ease of use – it is not heavy enough to intrude into your work, but holds well enough to give you accurate measurements. The scales have been machined precisely and are cogent enough for all operations.

A choice of 11 different scales on three sides makes for a versatile scale, but the major compromise here has been differentiation – it is rather hard to get a hang of the various scales. The dark background means you’ll have to have suitable lighting under any case. However, all things considered, this makes for a long lasting architectural ruler.

Pros
  • Lasts very long – some users report decades of trouble free use
  • 11 different scales on 3 sides makes for a very versatile ruler
  • High quality, well machined, etched readings
Cons
  • Difficult to read under low light
  1. 12-Inch Architectural Scale Ruler Set [Imperial] by DRAF

If you’re looking for the absolute best in rulers and you don’t want to compromise, this is the ruler for you. Laser etched readings give you assurance of many years of trouble free use, while the unibody aluminium construction on all the three rulers in the set gives it the necessary heft to give smooth, straight pencilled lines.

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Experience

It is no surprise that architecture majors end up working much longer than most other majors. Hence, tools which come in bundles have a distinct edge over singular rulers. This set (three rulers) comes with two architectural rulers with different scales, and one simple aluminium ruler. All of the rulers are 12 inches long as is the standard.

You’ll surely appreciate the bending which never occurs on account of the incredibly sturdy construction. The company offers a full refund if the products are not to your satisfaction – the first we’ve heard of in the entire market. The fibre laser etched markings will definitely last much longer than a plastic scale – and won’t bend or break. It’s definitely worth the outlay.

Pros
  • Comes with a set of three rulers at a very reasonable cost
  • The body is made from unibody anodised aluminium and likely to last much longer than a generic scale
Cons
  • The initial outlay might not be justified for people who use these tools only casually
  1. Aluminium Triangular Architect Scale by 6 Dimensions

This scale is one of the regular listings on various “top 10” architectural rulers across a number of renowned architectural blogs. This ruler comes with 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 3/8, 3/16, 3/32, 1, 3 and 16 scaled markings across 3 colour-marked sides. The sides of the ruler are coated with plastic which protects you from sharp metallic edges which can cause cuts.

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Experience

This ruler does all that you’d expect from an architectural ruler. It has a number of scaled markings which give you the requisite accuracy as well as precision for getting the results you deserve. Then, we come to the measurements, which are legible (albeit embossed rather than etched). The ruler comes with three colored markings, which are red, green and silver.

The gradations are marked clearly in inches, and the edges are tapered for best possible use. The usage of this instrument is not limited to just architectural students and architects, however – these are useful for people across a number of different fields. Be careful about the corners, which sadly have no plastic coverage – a nitpick on an otherwise useful ruler.  

Pros
  • Comes with colored scales which make it easy to remember which scales are on which side 
  • Comes with a number of gradations which allow you to have a number of different measurement scalings
  • 30 day money back guarantee and a year long warranty on the ruler
Cons
  • The plastic covering is not nearly as robust as you’d like
  1. Equilibrium Architects Scale – 12 Inch Triangular Aluminum Drafting Scale

This scale is one of the best all round scales, and it comes with a certain finish which is not commonly seen in architectural rulers. This matte aluminium finish is truly outstanding and feels much more premium than most aluminium rulers on the market. Further, it is light enough due to its hollow metallic construction – giving the best of both possible scenarios.

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Experience

The scales available on this ruler are 3/32, 3/16, ⅛, ¼, ⅜, ½, ¾, 1, 1-½, 3, 16 (which means 16 gradations from 0” to 1”). The lettering, just like the finish, is truly unique – this is distinctive and readable, and the user experience is made just that much better by these small changes. However, do make sure that you take care in using it – it does not have finger protection.

Coming to the point of accuracy, the markings are precisely embossed and will last for a fairly long time. This scales are all machined to a high quality and will give you years of no-nonsense operation. We would like to note that this product is geared squarely for professionals, and students should make sure they can handle the edges before use.

Pros
  • One of the best architectural rulers aimed at professionals
  • Gives you a number of scales in just three different sides
  • Comes with the heft of an aluminium build with the lightness of plastic
Cons
  • The edges are a little too sharp to be used by children or complete beginners at architectural drawing
  1. Triangular American Standard Scale Ruler by VGOOP

VGOOP has brought a rather interesting product to the market lately. This product comes with a number of different features which set it apart from your garden variety architectural ruler. This ruler actually comes in a bundle – a rare turquoise aluminium finished architectural ruler, coupled with a standard aluminium ruler.

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Experience

This ruler comes highly recommended from both students and professionals worldwide – and the major reason is that it does the job incredibly well. The readings are coherent and precise, and accurate to a fault. The machining of the aluminium ruler set makes it much safer and intuitive to use than most other products on offer, making sure kids and students can use it without worry.

Another major win in the favor of this set is that the finish on the architectural ruler is a far cry from the drab silver which is present on almost every ruler. The laser etched grooves and markings make reading measurements a far less painful experience than it is on other comparable scales. All in all, this scale scores major points for novelty and ease of use.

Pros
  • Made from turquoise aluminium which improves readability and adds a dash of color to an otherwise drab looking instrument 
  • Laser etched markings make using this instrument a joy to take measurements with
  • Comes bundled with a standard inches-to-centimeters 12 inch aluminium ruler
Cons
  • Heavier than most other offerings
  1. Alvin 240B Series 12 inch Bamboo Architect Triangular Scale

This one is a blast from the past, figuratively speaking. This scale was the bread and butter requirement of most architects way long back before aluminium and plastic had made their entry into the market. This one, however, still holds its own among the hordes of aluminium and plastic rulers.

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Experience

This ruler delivers on a number of fronts – such as reliability and long term usage. The markings are machined to perfection on these rulers – Alvin has long been the go-to expert for reliable stationery, and this device is no exception.

The weight and heft are classic Alvin. The markings come in 6 different dimensions, and the faces are all made out of plastic with a bamboo core. This gives the Alvin ruler the heft you’d expect out of aluminium rulers, with the safety features of plastic rulers. A win win situation!

Pros
  • Comes with the best non aluminium materials on the market 
  • Well machined and easy to read markings on the scales 
  • Plastic scales are softer and safer than aluminium, bamboo core gives it the requisite heft
Cons
  • Does not have as many scales as other offerings do

This wraps up our review of eight of the best architectural rulers which are available on the market today. However, before going out there and getting the ruler which you think you need, there are certain factors you need to keep in mind.

Image via Benjamin Smith@ifbdesign

Guide to Buying the Top Architecture Rulers

The small guide which follows intends to outline the major factors which should influence your decision.

  1. Material – Plastic, Aluminium or Bamboo?

This one has the most impact on which scales you will be considering for purchase. This is for the sole reason that plastic rulers offer the flexibility, lightness, safety and ease of use which aluminium rulers just cannot. On the other hand, aluminium rules the roost when it comes to sturdiness and long term use. Aluminium is also a fair bit more expensive than plastic.

Bamboo is a more antiquated, rare and generally less used type of material for an architectural ruler. However, it does deliver on heft and lightness – though it loses out on accuracy.

  1. Length of intended use of the ruler

This will influence not only the material, but the kind of lettering to go with the scale too. If you have something more than a passing interest or are transitioning from being a novice to an amateur, we would recommend going in for an aluminium ruler. Plastic rulers are best suited as secondary or spare rulers, or as a first ruler for those just starting out with drawing.

Aluminium rulers further offer the choice of getting the lettering either embossed or laser etched onto the ruler. Laser etched rulers tend to be more expensive, but people report theirs having lasted for over three decades. Hence, you should have a clear idea about your intended use before you go out there and buy an architectural ruler.

  1. The number of scales you’ll need

This point is slightly more technical. This point squarely depends on how many scales offered are of any realistic use to you – most scales go for the full fledged 11 scale treatment which is neither feasible nor usable for many architectural users. Hence, you should make sure you only go for the scales you actually need, rather than going in for the novelty of all 11 scales.

Final words

This wraps up our discussion on which factors need to be kept in mind before you go out there and buy an architectural ruler. Granted, there are many other factors, but these elements will make sure you get the best possible architectural ruler according to your budget and use.

Have fun shopping!

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Image via Sergey Zolkin@szolkin

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