The Top 5 Architectural Scales (Architect Ruler)

Sara Mandeed
Written by
Last update:

In any field of work, there are standard tools and equipment for use. Such is true for architectural work as well, with the following renders bringing you the best architectural scales for field use by architectural students and professionals.

There are three types of architectural scale ruler you are likely to find yourself using at some point. Each of these three types of architectural scales are well-suited for specific kinds of work and produce the most useful results when used in a certain manner.

NameCategoryProduct
Alvin, Black SeriesBest OverallAlvin, Black Series
Alvin, 110PBudget PickAlvin, 110P
Alumicolor ALUR119-1 Architect's 12" Hollow Aluminum Triangular Drafting ScaleUpgrade PickAlumicolor ALUR119-1 Architect's 12" Hollow Aluminum Triangular Drafting Scale

1. Alvin, Black Series

Our rating: 9 / 10

Alvin, Black Series

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Great for jobs on site
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Compatible with other scales
  • Comes with a protective case

Cons:

  • Smaller sizing increments
  • Accurate, but not perfect
  • Expensive

For architects who work on-site, this is a sleek and fantastic tool for the job. It is very strong and sturdy, so you know that it will last. It’s very easy to take around, and the protective case makes sure that you won’t accidentally damage it. In addition, it also comes with a slide rule-like display, so you can do some quick calculations while working on the go.

Alvin Black Series Aluminum Engineer Scale is simply the best architect ruler for your home or office. It’s made from aluminum with a great finish, and has special pockets for small and large, building-oriented items. The scale comes with a sturdy protective case. It’s very easy to use as you only need to press a button to get it working.

It also glows in the dark for better visibility, and is extremely lightweight for easy carrying around. It’s multilingual, and is battery powered for extra convenience.

2. Alumicolor ALUR119-1 Architect's 12" Hollow Aluminum Triangular Drafting Scale

Our rating: 9 / 10

Alumicolor ALUR119-1 Architect's 12" Hollow Aluminum Triangular Drafting Scale

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Strong and durable
  • Simple and effective design
  • Easy to grip and use
  • Easy to read
  • Thick and sturdy aluminum

Cons:

  • Short markings
  • Can’t see markings in the dark

The Alumicolor ALUR119-1 Architectural Scales is our top pick for best architectural scales, taking into consideration price, performance, and durability. It’s a simple design to replicate a 12" set of conventional drawing triangles, which allows you to measure parts and objects easily. The scale is made of thick 5053 aluminum and features all-around marks which allow you to mark all triangles at once. The set also comes with a warranty for extra protection.

Looking at the numbers on this scale, we estimate that it’s about 0.031–0.040” thick. The triangle is made of thick 0.025” 5053 aluminum, which is a little thicker than your typical triangle. That being said, it also means it’s more durable since the material is more rigid and strong than typical triangles.

3. Staedtler 12-Inches Architect Triangular Scale

Our rating: 8 / 10

Staedtler 12-Inches Architect Triangular Scale

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Made of plastic and steel for durability
  • Works in both imperial and metric measurements
  • Convenient pencil storage
  • Metric side doubles as T-bevel
  • Accurate and precise
  • Affordable
  • Sturdy
  • Lightweight
  • Comes with a handy storage compartment for the pencil

Looking for something more than a standard ruler? Want a ruler that lets you draw arcs and circles? The Staedtler Architect’s scale gives you an incredibly useful scale ruler with a series of colored dots and lines to make your life easier. This scale lets you draw accurate measurements in both metric and imperial measurements. Plus, you also have a T-bevel and a pencil conveniently held in the back of the ruler for you.

The pencil is sturdy and has a comfortable grip, although some did note that pencil did break when they too much pressure on it. Some reviewers also found that the pencil storage is rather small, especially if you have a large one.

Despite these issues, the overall consensus seemed to be that the Staedtler Architect’s scale is a very useful product to have. If you want a ruler that comes with a pencil, this is the one for you.

4. Alvin, 110P

Our rating: 8 / 10

Alvin, 110P

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Ideal for many projects
  • Strong and durable
  • Accurate and well-made
  • Large numbers on the ruler
  • Rounded edges for safety

Cons:

  • Does not have any extra features
  • Colors may fade over time
  • Not ideal for complicated projects
  • Can be difficult to read

The Alvin Architect Triangular Scale is made from a lightweight yet strong high impact plastic material; it’s not only quite durable and strong, but it’s also quite accurate. The ruler has a total length of 12 inches and has a triangular design, which is different from the usual rectangular shape that you’ll find on most architectural scales.

The length of the numbers on the ruler is 1/8 inches, another feature that makes this scale popular among architects. The high impact plastic material is also suitable for use with colored pencils if you’re interested in drafting and drawing.

The Alvin Architect Triangular Scale is available in several colors. Plus, it features a strong and large grip that’s designed to give the user a firm grasp. Finally, the edges of the scale are rounded to give users enhanced safety that ensure against any accidental slips.

5. Aluminum Triangular Architect Scale

Our rating: 7 / 10

Aluminum Triangular Architect Scale

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Ability to play notes
  • Lightweight and foldable
  • Also available in metric
  • Includes a protective carrying pouch
  • Ability to switch easily between notes and numbers
  • Tricky scale is represented by different colors on real-life objects
  • Comes with a transparent index
  • Durable design
  • Can be used as an architect ruler
  • Excels in being a teaching aid

Cons:

  • Missing one half-note (Eflat)
  • Last two lines are for double sharps and double flats, so they can’t be used on real-life objects

The aluminum triangular architect scale is available in two different versions based on whether you want it in metric or in imperial measurements. This is unlike most other sets we came across that only have one option. These different versions are due to the fact that you can play both notes and sharps/flats using this scale. This feature will allow you to actually play your scales.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is an architectural scale ruler?

An architectural scale is a long, narrow ruler used to measure the dimensions of buildings and structures. Used with a horizontal slide rule or tape measure, an architectural scale can be used to measure the dimensions of nearly anything, including feet, millimeters, inches, and centimeters.

There are quite a few companies out there, but our favorites are the Starrett and Stanley models.

How do you use a scale ruler architect?

A skill level of beginner is sufficient enough. With a fine tip marker, mark the length along the ruler. Then draw your mark on the paper backing and cut!

What is the most common architectural scale?

The most common architectural scale is the standard scale. It's the most popular scale for many reasons, one of which is that its scale bar is also the same width as the unit it's in ( millimeters or inches ).

That makes it easy to read and easy to use for designers and architects that just want to quickly get the job done, without having to consider the relationship between the units.

The scale is also very easy to find and it is spread around the world.

What are three types of scale in architecture?

Architect’s scales are used to measure in different dimensions. Most commonly, architects employ scales to measure distances that will be replicated in one way or another throughout the building.

A decimal scale is one of the most common and is useful for number of reasons. Architects using decimal scales will often use it to measure horizontally along the ground. Such measurements include the length of fencing and buildings. The length of a fence can be measured from the tallest part of the fence to the lower band. It’s also possible to measure the distance between two points, by measuring the distance over a straight line. You can also use a decimal scale to measure the heights of two buildings. For instance, you can measure the distance between the two buildings’ roof tops.

Conclusion

An architect ruler can be used for two things only: to lay out the foundations of your building or to gauge the heights of your building. There are 2 relevant scopes of architect scale rulers: 1:48, which is the scale that everything is laid out in; and 1:25, which is a smaller scale that is used for setting out. Here, you will get a comprehensive run through of the top 5 architectural scales for your convenience.

These are the six that we've analyzed and picked as the top 5 Architectural rulers in 2017.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Alvin, Black SeriesBest OverallAlvin, Black Series
Alvin, 110PBudget PickAlvin, 110P
Alumicolor ALUR119-1 Architect's 12" Hollow Aluminum Triangular Drafting ScaleUpgrade PickAlumicolor ALUR119-1 Architect's 12" Hollow Aluminum Triangular Drafting Scale