Essential Tools for the Homeowner

Home Improvement

Essential Tools for the Homeowner

Buying a house is a bigger investment than most people realize, and not because of hidden costs or fees. It’s because of all the things you need to buy that you never knew you needed until you bought a house. Things like garbage cans. Step ladders. Brooms. A tool kit.

You’re probably going to need tools if you’re going to live in a house, even if you have no intention of remodeling or do-it-yourself projects, even if your only project house-wise is to dial the phone to call in a repairman. If you’ve never purchased tools before, how do you know what to buy? What follows is a list of tools you probably should have in your tool kit for all the things that come up that you never knew you needed tools for.

A word to the wise: avoid cheap tools. Spend the extra money for well-made tools and they will probably last as long or longer than you own your home. Also stay away from the infomercial 150-in-one multi-purpose tools. If one component gets damaged, the entire unit is useless. Also, know your limitations. Don't get yourself in trouble by trying to fix or build something that is beyond your expertise. If you aren't careful you can end up costing yourself more in the long run. 


- Curved claw hammer – driving and removing nails, picture hanging, building projects

- Screwdrivers, Phillips and flathead – available in sets of four or six different

  drive configurations

- Utility knife with a retractable blade – general cutting

- Wire cutters – electrical work, trimming utility wire

- Work flashlight

- Brads, nails, bolts, screws and spikes, various sizes

- Duct tape – temporary repairs (if you can't fix it with duct tape then it probably is broken)

- Level (2-inch with aluminum housing) – mounting shelves and pictures

- Tape measure – purchase a 25'x1" in a durable case

- Needle-nose pliers – for small-object gripping

- Digging spade – gardening

Non-Essential (more job specific tools)

- Allen wrench – used to turn screws with hexagonal sockets

- Ball-end Allen wrenches – particularly useful because the wrench doesn’t have to be perfectly

  perpendicular to the screw so can be used in tight and odd spaces

- Box wrench – surrounds the nut or bolt for better leverage, used for plumbing and car repairs

- Channel-lock pliers (water pump pliers) – plumbing, appliance repair

- Cordless drill/screwdriver – good for hanging shelves, furniture kit assembly, driving

  screws, sheetrock


- Extendable-handle rake – leaf raking and gardening

- Glue gun – small fabric tear repair, furniture repair, picture matting, hobby projects

- Lag screws – for mounting large pictures or other large objects like wall vanities

  or heavy shelves

- Locking long-nose pliers – vise-grips for gripping screws with head broken off

- Lopper – trimming tree branches and bushes

- Magnetic tack hammer – laying carpet or furniture upholstery work

- Open-end wrench – appliance repair, plumbing, general nut and bolt turning

- Pipe wrenches – plumbing

- Portable tool box – emphasis on the word “portable”

- Pruning shears – gardening

- Pry bar – opening crates, disassembling walls for remodeling projects

- Pump water vacuum (wet/dry vac) – floods or spills

- Saw – for cutting wood, a 16"-24" utility hand saw is all you need


- Socket wrench with a ratchet handle – plumbing and car repairs

- Torx screwdrivers – in the shape of a star and fit into specialized screw holes

- Sheet metal screws – small furniture repairs, shelving

- Sledge hammer – breaking rock for landscaping

- Spray lubricant – freeing up nuts and bolts, lubricating door hinges and metal window slides

- Staple gun – upholstery, putting up insulation, hobby projects

- Strap wrench – turning round, smooth objects with no leverage points

- Trowel – concrete work, forming edges and smoothing