Whether you’re just settling into your new rent-free digs, or you’ve been making mortgage payments for decades, every homeowner should be sure their toolbox has the necessary items to handle common problems around the house. That includes leaky faucets, drywall that needs patching, and heavy frames that need hanging. If you don’t already have a well-stocked toolkit, now’s the time to gear up. Even if you’re already handy, it’s not a bad idea to run through the list below and make sure you aren’t missing any of the essentials.
Assortment of hand tools
Screwdrivers, a hammer, a utility knife, pliers, and a tape measure: These make up the bare minimum for every homeowner. Screwdrivers are useful for assembling and disassembling just about everything in your house, from furniture to cabinet hardware.
A multipurpose screwdriver is recommended. Get the kind you can switch out the bits for, and make sure that they have options for those really tiny screws that come with things like the battery compartments on kid’s toys.
You never know when you might need a hammer to secure a nail, and a sharp utility knife is also important to have around the house, even if it’s used only to slice open Amazon delivery boxes. Pliers are also useful in lots of situations, including minor plumbing repairs that you can handle yourself. You could have something leak and tighten up a sink with your pliers, and then you don’t have to call a plumber.
In addition, you may want to have a set of Allen keys for disassembling or repairing common items. These are surprisingly helpful for everything from bikes to fixing your Ikea furniture.
As a homeowner, you wouldn’t be caught dead using tape on your walls and damaging the paint, right? Besides, some decor is too heavy to secure with just 3M Command Strips. But you don’t want to try to hammer a hook for that gilt mirror in drywall, either. Enter: the stud finder. This hand-held tool locates sturdy beams inside the wall where you can safely secure heavy artwork, mirrors, and other decor. A basic stud finder costs less than $10.
You may also want to stock up on drywall anchors for situations when you can’t find a stud in the right spot. These plastic pieces help keep heavy wall decor in place without damaging your drywall.
A level is another useful tool for hanging wall decor, towel bars, and toilet paper holders. The bubble inside the level helps you determine whether your item is straight or crooked. They are a tool that should never be underestimated. It is good to get in the habit of using one to get the job done correctly.
Need to change a light bulb or replace the battery in your smoke detector? Or need to knock leaves out of the gutters? Even the tallest among us can use a lift from a ladder on occasion, so be sure to keep one around. A basic 6-foot ladder generally costs $50 to $100. For a more versatile option, splurge for an adjustable multi-position ladder.
Take a cue from the professionals, and stock up on basic safety equipment. That includes safety glasses, dust masks, work gloves, and chemical-safe gloves. You can use this gear for anything from cleaning with strong chemicals to spray-painting an old piece of furniture. Work gloves also provide traction when moving heavy furniture.
A really good tool everyone should have is a multitool. This vibrating tool features an interchangeable head so you can use different blades for different purposes. You can use it to cut a hole in drywall, or—for more advanced DIYers—to cut the jambs off doors when you’re installing flooring. And the list goes on. This versatile tool will set you back about $100, but if you foresee a lot of renovation projects in your future, it’s worth the investment.
A reciprocating saw, also known as a Sawzall, is great to have when navigating close quarters. Advanced DIYers should also make sure to have a circular saw, which is better for making straight cuts.
Another tip for the handy homeowner or aspiring DIYer: Stock up on plastic sawhorses from the hardware store. They’re more versatile than you might think. You can use these to make your own workbench when space is limited, and you need a large, flat workspace. Buy yourself two 2-by-4s and place them on the ends of each sawhorse, then place a sheet of three-quarter-inch plywood on top—you now have yourself a homemade workbench.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the tools you need, remember this: For big projects with a very specific goal (e.g., tiling your bathroom or installing a deck), you can wait until you get started to stock up on equipment. Don’t stress about buying everything at once.