As a homeowner, there’ll be a base set of tools you’ll need to have around the house to fix anything that breaks, hang shelves, and hang pictures in your home. Below are 20 tools that you’ll need as a homeowner, to handle most jobs, as well as some that are less essential…
Hammers are an essential tool for all DIY projects. Luckily, they only cost $1-$10 at most hardware stores. I got mine at the Dollar Store! If you often do DIY projects, you may want to buy a more expensive and high-quality hammer, like the Klein Steel Curved Claw hammer (from Klein Tools) which is more expensive, but is far more durable and longer lasting.
Hammers are extremely essential because there isn’t necessarily another tool that does the job in the same way. You can use a rubber mallet, but those sometimes don’t work extremely well with nails and are hard to use in corners because of the size of the rubber mallet.
There are three types of hammers:
- the ball-peen hammer
- the claw hammer
- the club hammer.
The claw hammer works for pretty much any job, but so will the club hammer. The ball-peen hammer works well when you are in small corners, as it is smaller than the other hammer types.
Screwdrivers are essential for all DIY’ers. You will need to get both a flathead and Phillips screwdriver. However, if you purchase a screwdriver that has changeable heads, you will only have to purchase one screwdriver. The Stanley Ratchet Screwdriver on Amazon is a great choice, as it has 10 different heads and is pretty inexpensive.
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Screwdrivers typically cost $5-$30, but you can purchase electric screwdrivers that cost much more. You can’t really substitute a screwdriver with another tool, and if you are doing a DIY project, you will need a screwdriver.
Levels are an essential tool for all homeowners who want to hang pictures or shelves. They typically cost $5-$45, depending on the size and length of the level.
There is no other tool you can use to ensure what you are hanging is level, but you can use your eyes to determine if it is relatively level.
If you have a marble or something small and round, you can put it on the middle of the shelf or picture that you are putting up. If it rolls off, the picture or shelf is not level. However, it is hard to place the marble and keep the shelf in place before you have screwed it into the wall.
Most people purchase a level with a bubble in the middle because they work well and are easy to use, but some purchase a level that has the angle listed digitally. The digital levels are more expensive and harder to find, so many consider them to be unnecessary.
4. Tape Measure
A tape measure is essential for all DIY projects, even if you don’t think they are. Luckily, they only cost between $7 and $36. The overall cost varies depending on the length and marked measurements of the tape measure.
With a tape measure, you can make sure that your paintings or shelves are spaced out evenly. Although you may not think that spacing makes a difference, it really does improve the aesthetic of the room.
Wrenches are extremely useful, but many homeowners don’t have one in their homes until they decide to start a DIY project that requires it. You can’t substitute another tool in its place. It is used to remove and secure nuts and bolts and is required when dealing with pipes.
Wrenches only cost $7-$45, and you can purchase one that is adjustable so you will always have a wrench that fits snugly around the nuts and bolts you are using for your DIY project. If you don’t have an adjustable wrench, you will have to purchase a set.
Drills are essential for almost all DIY projects. If you don’t have a drill, you can oftentimes use a screwdriver, but a drill makes the job so much easier. Drills cost $100-$180, although the higher-end models sometimes cost more.
If possible, purchase a cordless drill so you don’t have to worry about dealing with cords. Cordless drills cost more than drills with cords, but the extra cost is worth it. All drills come with multiple bits, but you can purchase more if your drill doesn’t come with the bit that you need. Just make sure the new bit works with your drill, or it will not work properly.
Amazon do a great starter cordless drill that comes with a range of bits which you can find here.
If you are going to be working with glue, you will need clamps, especially if you are gluing pieces of wood together. Luckily, these clamps typically cost $5-$30, so they aren’t too expensive.
You can typically decide what type of clamps you need, but I advise that you look up the best type of clamps to use for the DIY project you are doing beforehand. However, clamps are clamps, and all types will hold things together as the glue dries.
You can find clamps at any local hardware store or order them online. Amazon do a set here that will cover a range of projects, but again, you might want to wait until you know what size you need before making a purchase.
Ladders are essential for most DIY projects, and they are useful to have in your home at all times. You never know when you will need to grab a ladder. And when you don’t have one, the circumstances that require one to be used seem to pop up more often. You can use a step-stool instead, but they only reach so high.
Unfortunately, ladders are expensive. They typically cost $50-$300, depending on the height of the household ladder. Industrial ladders are more expensive than household ladders.
You can purchase a ladder at any local hardware store, although you may want to ask for help with putting it in your car. Alternatively, purchase one online (Amazon link).
Pliers are an essential tool for any DIY-er. You can’t use another tool as a substitute. I have tried to use a butterknife as a substitute for pliers, but that is dangerous and doesn’t work well.
Most people purchase needlenose pliers like these (Amazon link) because they find that they are easier to use than other types of pliers. Pliers typically cost $18-$30 and can be purchased at any local hardware store.
10. Stud Finder
When hanging shelves or pictures, you need to know where a stud is so the shelf or picture will remain secure and has an anchor. To find a stud in your walls, use a stud finder. Although stud finders are extremely useful, they are not essential tools.
You can find a stud without a stud finder by knocking on the wall and listening. However, if you don’t have great hearing, this method won’t work, and you will need to use a stud finder instead.
Luckily, stud finders aren’t that expensive. They typically cost $7-$90, although stud finders for professionals are usually more expensive. This one from Amazon is a really popular choice.
11. Rubber Mallet
Rubber mallets are useful to have, but they are not essential unless your DIY project involves the placement of delicate materials. They are often used when placing pavers, which will break if you hit them with a traditional hammer. You can use a wooden mallet instead, but a hammer may damage the materials.
Rubber mallets typically cost $10-$45. The higher-end rubber mallets have hand-grips rather than wooden handles, so they are most often used by professionals. If you are doing a DIY project, you can purchase a cheaper rubber mallet at any local hardware store.
Here’s a cheap and cheerful set of 2 rubber mallets on Amazon.
12. Utility Knife
A utility knife is essential for nearly all DIY projects. If you don’t have a utility knife, you can use a sharp knife, box cutter, or scissors. However, using a knife for this purpose is dangerous, and the scissors likely won’t work very well.
Utility knives cost $4-$15. The more expensive the utility knife, the more durable it will be. When the blade is dull, oftentimes you can remove it, clean it, then sharpen it. However, be careful when using a utility knife, and don’t use it around children.
Here’s a good choice of utility knife on Amazon that is durable, and from a reputable brand.
13. Putty Knife
Putty knives are essential for fixing leaks, filling cracks, filling holes, patching divots, and putting mud into holes and drywall joints. You can use other flat items instead of a putty knife, but putty knives work best when you are doing these types of improvements or repairs.
Putty knives cost $4-$13. They come in about 3 sizes, (small, medium, and large), so you can purchase the size that works best for your project. Or have a set handy like this one (Amazon link).
The metal that putty knives are made out of is pliable but durable. Although the metal is thin, it is not extremely sharp, so you won’t be able to cut yourself with the edge unless you do it on purpose.
14. Speed Square
Speed squares are essential when you are marking angles, marking wood, or when you want to make sure that something is at a 90-degree angle. Many people use them when installing steps, decks, and roofs. You can use a ruler instead, but it is harder to determine the angles with a ruler.
Speed squares cost $3-$23. Some speed squares are made out of metal, and they are more expensive, but most are made out of plastic. (Here’s an example of a metal one on Amazon)
15. Nail Gun
As a DIY-er, especially if you need to get your projects done in a short amount of time, you need a nail gun. Although you can use a hammer instead, your project will be finished much faster if you use a nail gun.
If you don’t want to purchase a nail gun, you can rent one instead. You can purchase or rent a nail gun at your local hardware store. Nail guns cost $30-$350.
The higher-end nail guns cost more and are typically used by professionals. If you will use the nail gun often, purchase a higher-quality one. However, if you will rarely use a nail gun, purchase a cheaper one, or rent one instead.
Paintbrushes are essential to have in your home if you are a DIY-er. You never know when you will need to paint something, even if all you need to do is touch up your wall paint. You can use a paint roller instead, but they are more expensive than paintbrushes, so you may want to use paintbrushes over paint rollers.
Paintbrushes cost $1-$23. Higher-end paint brushes cost more, but they are smoother, often easier to use, and are less likely to leave streaks in the paint than cheap paintbrushes. You can purchase paint brushes at any hardware store, most supermarkets, and on Amazon here.
DIY TIP: After you finish using a paintbrush, rinse all of the paint out with water. If you don’t remove the paint before it dries, you won’t be able to remove it. The paintbrush will be unusable and you will have to throw it away.
Even if you don’t think you will need one, it is good to have a flashlight when doing DIY projects. They will help you see your markings and in corners where your lights don’t quite reach. You can also use a headlamp or another light source instead of a flashlight.
Flashlights cost $4-$55. The more expensive flashlights are typically heavier and made out of more durable metal, but when you are doing a DIY project, you will want to use a cheaper, lightweight flashlight that is small and will fit easily in your hands (like this one from Amazon).
18. Staple Gun
Staple guns are extremely helpful when you are dealing with furniture, especially if you are changing the fabric on various furniture pieces. You can use a nail gun instead, but you will likely be able to see the nails afterward, which is unappealing and changes the aesthetic.
You can rent or purchase a staple gun at any local hardware store. To purchase a staple gun, it will cost between $10-$82. The higher-end staple guns will work better than the lower-end, cheaper staple guns, but most will probably work for your DIY project.
Here’s a great value one on Amazon that would be suitable for most upholstery projects.
19. Oscillating Multi-Tool
An oscillating multi-tool is essential when you regularly do DIY projects. You can use a sander or handsaw instead, but an oscillating multi-tool will help you finish the project much faster. You can put on different attachments based on what you are doing, so you only need one tool to complete a DIY project.
Oscillating multi-tools cost $15-$205. Sometimes, you can rent one, but it is hard to find hardware stores that allow you to do so. Here’s an example of a great oscillating multi-tool from a reputable brand on Amazon.
20. Allen Wrench/Hex Key
An Allen wrench, otherwise known as a hex key, is essential when completing DIY projects. Although you likely won’t need one to make repairs in your home, you may need one when installing shelves. You definitely will need one when building furniture of all types and sizes. You likely have a few lying around from when you assembled other furniture pieces.
You don’t need to purchase an Allen wrench, just keep the one that comes with your new furniture pieces. However, if you want more Allen wrenches or prefer a different size, you can purchase a set at your local hardware store, or online (Amazon link). They cost $5-$18.
Many tools are useful to have in your home, but not all are essential. Ultimately, it is up to you and your knowledge of what projects you regularly complete or repairs that will be needed in your home in the future to determine what tools you need in your home.
The above list however, is a great base to work from if you are new to DIY in your home. As you begin to do more and more projects, you will begin to learn which tools are worth investing more in as they you will use them more often than others.