The Best Home-Improvement Tools for Every Home

When renters become home buyers for the first time, the biggest shock isn’t their mortgage payment or even being able to paint the walls any color they want. In most cases, most first-time homebuyers are blown away by the amount of upkeep it takes to keep their homes looking good.

For renters, there was always someone to call if there was a problem with the apartment or home. Replacing a lightbulb here and there and cleaning fixtures was one thing, but when a rea crisis arose — a leaking faucet or an electrical problem — renters called on their building’s super to fix the problem. Since those costs are built into their monthly rent payments, there was no additional cost to the renters, and the problem got fixed.

With owning a home, that all changes. Now when something goes wrong, it’s now the homeowner that needs to fix the problem and pay for whatever costs come with it. And seasoned homeowners know, that can get expensive without the right tools. 

Now it is true that you can always pay a plumber, electrician or contractor to fix just about any problem a home has — and in many cases, you want a professional — but those fix-it costs will add up fast. Soon, the mortgage payment may end up being less than the home-improvement costs.

Unless you have your go-to tools. When you have the right tools in your home, you’ll find that you’re better able to do all the little projects around your home. In the long run, you’ll find that your home needs fewer large-scale repairs, and you’ll be reaching for the phone less often to call a professional.

Want to stock your home with the best home-improvement tools? Here are our top picks for the best home-improvement tools to make your home stand out.

Everyday tools

Most homeowners start small with their tools and grow their collection when different repairs are needed. For everyday fixes, these tools will get the job done. Head to your favorite home-improvement store — all of these tools should be readily available at any Home Depot, Ace, Lowe’s or other hardware store — and put your own toolkit together.

Screwdriver set

Flat-head or Phillips? It’s an important question when you’re trying to hang a picture frame or install a shelf, and if you don’t use the right screwdriver type, you can wind up stripping a screw, making it difficult and frustrating to unscrew and remove. It’s the most important reason why having just one screwdriver in your home won’t be enough. You really need to get a whole set together to tackle any home-improvement project.

You can find a screwdriver set at any home-improvement store. Look for a set that includes either a wide variety of screwdrivers or just one handle with interchangeable heads. With these in your tool chest, you’ll be ready for anything.

Hammer

Even if you’re not one to hang picture frames, a hammer will come in handy to putting together IKEA furniture and installing cabinets. 

Choose a hammer with a sturdy head and a claw on the back. You don’t need a big hammer for most home projects, but make sure it has the claw. You’ll use this for pulling bent nails out of walls.

Wrenches

Like screwdrivers, wrenches can handle just about any big project. You may need them for building furniture or even handling simple repairs around your kitchen or bathroom. 

Wrenches also come in multiple sizes, so you can either buy them as a set or just a few at a time. Invest in at least two with adjustable openings. That way, you won’t need a wrench for every single size. You should at least have two though, one with a longer handle and one with a shorter one. There may be times when you have to reach a difficult nut that just won’t come out. For that, you may need a longer handle.

Tape measure

Have you ever ordered a chair, or worse a sofa, only to find that what you’ve ordered won’t actually fit in the space? It can be infuriating when you’ve spent time, energy and money putting together the perfect room only to find that none of what you ordered will actually fit.

Pick up a tape measure that is durable and stretches out at least 10 to 12 feet. This will cover most room sizes in your home. Tape measure can really vary in quality, so don’t pick up the cheapest option available. Find one that will lock a measurement in place and won’t bend so easily.

Metal level

There’s nothing worse than hanging a picture frame only to find that it’s crooked. Now you’ve got to put another hole in the wall. With a level though, you can easily tell if something is hanging or laying straight, and that can come in handy for laying out a patio or even installing cabinets in your kitchen or bathroom.

A metal level, preferably one about 4 feet or so, will hold up better than a plastic one, so make the investment and keep your cabinets and picture frames straight.

Stud finder

A stud finder will help you find the wooden studs behind your walls. When you go to hang something, you want to make sure you find a stud to nail into for sturdiness. If the object you’re hanging is too heavy, it may pull the nail right out of the drywall.

A stud finder will tell you exactly where the studs are in your wall so you feel more confident before you start putting holes in the wall.

Pliers

The best tool for stripping and cutting wires, pliers can loosen and tighten when screwdrivers and wrenches may fail. The narrow, needle-nose point can maneuver into small spaces to get to those hard-to-reach places. They also make great craft tools.

Step stool

If only you were just a few feet taller. Step stools are great for around the house, and they provide access to all those hard-to-reach places in your new home. Not only will you have an easier time cleaning, but you’ll also be able to reach new shelves and cabinets — ideal for maximizing your storage.

Power tools

For the homeowner with lots of garage space, power tools can be a worthwhile investment as you start to take on bigger home repairs. These power tools, while not essential to owning a home, can open doors to more do-it-yourself projects.

Electric saw

If you’re planning to build your own deck or make any large-scale repairs around your home, then you’re going to need an electric saw to get the job done. Not only will cutting with it be easier than a hand-held one, but many electric saws also have rulers and guides designed to give you a straight edge at the perfect length.

Cordless electric drill

OKay, you’ve got screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers and all your other tools. Why would you need an electric drill on top of all that.

For simple repairs around the home, a screwdriver set will handle most projects, but as you start to get comfortable in your home, you may want to take on bigger projects. You might want to create a gallery wall with lots of big hanging pictures, and for that, you’re going to be glad you have a cordless electric drill.

Most electric drills come in sets with different heads that can easily be switched out depending on the job. You won’t have twist your screwdriver around until it’s secure. The electric drill will do that for you, and it’ll make unscrewing a breeze as well. You can also get brush and buffer attachments for other odd jobs around your home.

Palm sander

One of the biggest problems facing older homes is that after so many years, the house has likely shifted and reset a few times. They’ve also been subjected to numerous paint jobs. Over time, those changes can lead to problems with doors that no longer seem to fit

For these types of problems, a palm sander will be your best friend. Whether you want to sand down a wall or door frame or put the finishing touches on a treehouse for your children, a palm sander sits comfortably in your hand and gives you the power to do in minutes what would otherwise take hours doing by hand. Palm sanders are great power tools to have around when you want to put just the right touch on a project.

Cleaning tools

Good homeowners know that home repairs aren’t just about having the right power drill or hammer. Having a good set of cleaning tools at your disposal will make caring for your home easier, and when you take good care of your floors, walls, countertops and furniture, you’ll find that they last longer and need fewer big repairs. Now you probably already have a vacuum, bucket and mop, but here are the cleaning tools to take your home to the next level.

Swiffer Sweep & Trap

A traditional broom and dust bin are always good standbys, but neither are full-proof for catching dirt, pet hair and crumbs on the floor. Enter the Swiffer Sweep & Trap. This handy tool has a disposable dust cloth on the bottom, which will pick up any debris lying around on your hardwood floors or tiles. If you don’t have time to do a good vacuuming job, pushing around a Swiffer Sweep & Trap will do a good job in a pinch.

There is a drawback though. You do need to replace the cloths when they get too dirty, and that can get expensive after a while. It’s also not environmentally friendly. While it’s still a great tool, you may decide to use the Swiffer sparingly.

Hand dusters

When you were a kid cleaning your parents’ home, you probably had to take everything off a surface, spray a rag with a cleaner and then run it over every single surface before putting everything back. It got tedious after a while, and you wished there was a dustin tool that made it easy to get around knickknacks, but didn’t suck anything up like using an attachment on a vacuum would.

That’s where the hand duster comes in. Hand dusters use a washable dust catcher to grab dust and keep it locked in. You can find ones with extra long handles to reach high places, and when you’re all finished at the end of the day, you can toss the cloth duster in the washing machine (but not the dryer). You won’t need to replace it, and it’ll be ready for the next cleaning job.

Spray mop

Eave the mop and bucket behind. The spray mop makes mopping so much easier and quicker. No longer do you need to move a bucket of soapy water around and wring out your mop every time you dip it in water. With the spray mop, you tap a button and the soap sprays out in front. Mop it up and see your floors shine.

There are different models of spray mop. Aim for one that lets you use your own soap. You can make your own floor cleaner or buy the one you like best. Some spray mops have disposable cloths on the bottom, but others can be taken off and washed. Choose the one that best fits your lifestyle.

With all these tools, don’t forget that one last important tool — a tool box. You’ll need someplace safe to keep your screwdrivers, wrenches and nails all in one place. Choose one with a handle so you can easily take it from place to place, and make sure it has space for all your essentials. You’ll probably pick up all types of nails and screws, and you don’t want to those lying around or getting lost. A tool box will keep them all in one place.

Tell us: what’s the one handy tool you just can’t live without in your home? Share with us in the comments!

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