As a proud homeowner you’ll be working on fun projects to enhance your living spaces and making DIY repairs to save money and maintain your investment. Having the right set of tools on-hand makes projects enjoyable and minor repairs a breeze. Many homeowners struggle with simple installations, upgrades and repairs because they don’t have the proper tool to do the job. Tightening a loose door knob with a kitchen knife, for example, is ineffective and frustrating. What’s more, you could cut yourself, scratch the finish on the door and ruin the knife! On the other hand a well-equipped homeowner grabs her Phillips screwdriver and tightens the door knob in ten seconds. Problem solved.
But where to start when buying tools for the home? It can be overwhelming to visit the tool section at the local home improvement center. Don’t worry! You don’t need to buy every tool on the shelf. Our infographic lists the top 50 tools every homeowner will need to tackle common repairs and DIY projects. Use the helpful descriptions to guide you in selecting the tools you’ll need to make projects and repairs fun and easy.[yellowbox] Exclusive Bonus:Download the pdf with the list of 50 tools that you must have in your home for easy access and to easily repair or fix minor problems in your home.[/yellowbox]
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Detailed list of 50 tools every home owner must have and their uses:
There are two types of screwdrivers, Flat blade and Phillips. You will find both kinds of screws throughout your home. There are plenty of screws that will need tightening: door hinges, cabinets, appliances, furniture assembly, small appliance repairs and more. The secret to tightening screws without stripping the slots is to have the right size screwdriver tip. If it is too small you’ll strip the slots because the screw driver tip won’t grab properly. Invest in a good-quality mixed set that includes a variety of flat blade and Phillips head sizes. Then you’ll be able to tackle any tightening or assembly project with ease.
Whether you’re measuring a piece of rope or calculating the amount of carpet for a room, you’ll need a tape to take the measurement. When considering a new piece of furniture it really pays to know if it will fit through the door or make it up the stairs. Major appliances come in varying widths. You’ll want to make height and width measurements to know what will fit the in the space. Bring these measurement to the appliance store and measure the floor model to be sure it will fit in your home. Tape measures come in several widths. Tiny skinny tape measures are good for small jobs but can fall over when measuring longer distances. A ¾-inch-wide model is a good all-around tape measure.
Whether you’re pounding nails, demolishing a room, or simply tapping things into place, a hammer is an essential tool for countless projects. Even if you don’t plan on building a treehouse you will need a hammer for many non-construction tasks. Keep paint cans sealed tight with a couple of taps on the lid. Even toy and furniture assembly jobs occasionally need a little help from a hammer bump. Hammers come in sizes from small and lightweight to large heavy-duty demolition styles. Hammers have either a curved claw for pulling nails or a straight “rip” claw for tearing through walls. Longer handles provide extra leverage for pulling out nails. Select a hammer that best suits your needs. A 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice.
Duct tape is famous for being able to hold anything together in a pinch. Duct Tape has even been used in space travel. Duct tape contains a fabric mesh that makes it very strong and tear-resistant. The outer coating is water proof while the sticky glue helps form a tight seal. Use duct tape to seal a leaky hose. It can hold a book together, patch a rain coat or hold something together until the glue dries. The uses for duct tape are almost limitless. If you need to quickly patch something, seal a leak or hold two items together, duct tape is your go-tool solution. Duct tape is available in many color and widths.
A good flashlight is essential for any homeowner. Repairs often happen in dark, cramped spaces and sometimes when the power is out. Today’s modern flashlights are use bright LED technology. Not only are LED flashlights brighter, they use less battery power for longer lasting efficiency. In fact, you can get rechargeable LED flashlights that plug into the wall and always ready to shine light. Flashlight styles range from the traditional cylinder shape to LED wands that sit upright while producing a wide swath of light into dark corners. You can even get a head-worn LED light that shines light wherever you you’re your head. It’s a good idea to have a flashlight on every floor of the house in case of a power outage.
Forget using a kitchen knife or scissors for serious cutting jobs. Whether cutting rope, trimming wall paper or opening a tube of calk, the best tool for the job is a utility knife. Utility knives are designed to handle tough cutting, slicing and trimming jobs that normally dull or ruin ordinary blades. The razor sharp blades effortlessly cut through almost everything from roof tiles to carpet. When the blades get dull simply snap off the dull portion or swap in a new sharp blade. There is no need to ruin your good kitchen knives on home repairs and craft projects. Utility knifes are much safer than holding a bare razor blade. You can find disposable and heavy-duty refillable utility knifes in many sizes.
Pliers are great for holding objects firmly when you need to work on them them. Pliers can pull and bend metal back into shape. They work well for tightening up a table leg or a lawn mower handle. Long-nose pliers are very skinny for getting into tiny spaces and working on electronics and appliances. Adjustable locking pliers have locking jaws that acts like a clamp, making it easy to grip and twist materials without having to squeeze the pliers. Like many tools, pliers come in many shapes and sizes. You’ll need a variety of pliers to tackle most household repairs.
If you want to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts you’ll need a wrench set. One end of the wrench is open and the other end is a closed loop. This makes it easier to fit the wrench into narrow spaces and get a good grip. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes and are used on everything from appliances to bicycles. Because standard and metric sizes are widely used, you’ll need both types of wrenches. Wrench sets also come in a variety of sizes ranging from small to industrial-sized. For everyday repairs get a set that has a range from ¼” to 11/16” (8-15mm). For the most control and leverage, pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it.
Nothing beats the versatility of an adjustable wrench. The beauty of this tool is the ability to open and close the jaws on a wide range of nuts and bolts. Adjustable wrenches are available to suit large and small jobs. A small adjustable wrench is handy for making bicycle repairs on the go. Larger, long-handled adjustable wrenches are great for fixing sinks and other plumping projects. The key is matching the size of the wrench to the job. It is good to have several sizes in your tool box. Here is an important tip! When using an adjustable wrench, always pull the wrench toward you, with the pressure applied to fixed, non-movable jaw.
A good general purpose handsaw is useful for cutting lumber used in projects ranging from shelf building to trimming a mailbox posts. Crosscut saws are specifically designed to smoothly cut across the grain on a piece of wood. That’s what you do when you shorten a board. A rip saw is designed for cutting along the grain of lumber and is less commonly used in basic household repairs and garden projects. Crosscut saws can also be used to trim small tree branches.
A strap wrench is specially made to grip and twist round objects that otherwise would be hard to hold. Strap wrenches are especially helpful when opening up a drain trap, PVC pipe fittings and servicing water filters. A strap wrench consists of a handle and adjustable strap that wraps around the round object. The handle acts as lever that untwists the pipe or fitting. The strap is made of plastic polymers that grip without scratching or deforming plastic or polished metal surfaces.
A multi bit screw driver is a perfect all around tool for small repair work. The multi bit screw driver has a hollow end that allows you to insert many types and sizes of interchangeable driver tips. The kit provides a variety of flat and Philips tips plus hex head bits. The handle will have a ratchet action that makes tightening or loosening jobs go quickly. The beauty of the multi bit screw driver is the ability to carry a full set of screw drivers in one tool. Plus it makes it easy to switch tips when working with several size fasteners.
The cordless power drill will be one of the most used tools in your tool box. The convenience of cordless power is a game changer. You’re no longer limited to the length of an extension cord! Today’s cordless drills do more that drill holes in wood and metal. Interchangeable bits allow you to effortlessly tighten and remove straight and Philips screws, Allen head fasteners and deck screws. A power drill is reversible allowing for loosening or tightening jobs. You can also get a paint-mixing attachment to stir up a can of paint. When selecting a cordless drill, you want one with lots of torque, which is measured by the amount of battery voltage. A cordless power drill with a rechargeable 18 volt lithium ion battery will supply all the power you need to get the job done.
If you have a power drill, you’ll need a drill bit set. There are many types of drill bits but for most homeowners a simple set of general purpose bits is all you’ll need. Black oxide or titanium drill bits are strong and will resist dulling even through metal. The kits come with a handy case that keeps all the bits organized. If you need to drill into cement or brick, there are special masonry drill bits designed to cut through tough material without shattering the surrounding area. Don’t worry if you lose or snap a single bit. Individual replacement bits are available too.
The four-foot level is a must-have tool for tasks varying from installing a new washing machine to simply hanging a picture frame. Washers, driers, dishwashers and refrigerators need to be level to keep them from “walking.” If a motorized appliance is not level it will eventually vibrate out of place. A four-foot level is used to adjust the leveling feet on major appliances. Without a level it is just guesswork. The level also helps when hanging a picture or curtain rods. No one wants to put a bunch of nails in the wall, only to find out everything turned out crooked. To do the job done right the first time, you need to use a level.
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Allen head or hex head fasteners are quite common on bicycles and DIY furniture assembly projects. Allen head fasteners come in an assortment of sizes but you can always recognize them by their hexagonal sockets. The tiniest Allen wrenches are used to tighten towel racks and entry door locks. Larger Allen head fasteners can be found on kid’s bikes, lawn furniture and almost always when you don’t expect it. The good news is there are handy Allen wrench kits that contain the most common wrench sizes you’ll need around the home. One type of wrench set has individual long handled wrenches. This is especially helpful when working in tight spaces. The other type of Allen wrench set has all the wrenches attached to handle. This style of kit is great for larger fasteners where you’ll need to really tighten the fastener down on something, like bike handlebars.
A wire stripper is a tool for cutting wire to the proper length and removing the plastic insulation, exposing the copper wire inside. Anytime you make repairs to an electrical wire you will want to use a freshly stripped end to insure a good solid connection. Common projects include replacing a damaged plug end or rewiring an antique lamp. Don’t throw out that damaged extension cord! Just snip off the damaged end, strip away a new set of wires and attach a replacement socket! Look for a wire stripper that has notches on the blade. The notches vary in size depending on the thickness of the wire to be stripped. It makes it easy to cut through the plastic insulation and not damage the copper stands beneath.
A heavy-duty electric extension cord is different than the common light-weight power cords we use in our homes. Power-hungry equipment like power saws, wet-dry vacuums and work lights draw more current compared to a decorative lamp, computer or television. Heavy-duty extension cords use thicker wires that are able to supply power over long distances. The thicker electrical wires are also protected from water and abrasion by a watertight plastic jacket. This makes it safe to use the extension cord outdoors with electric mowers and hedge trimmers. Outdoor-rated extension cords can even be used in rain and snow. Unlike lightweight indoor power cords, heavy-duty extension cords are grounded. Grounding protects you from electrical shock in case there is a short in the equipment’s wiring. An extension cord rated for 15 amps will be suitable for most indoor and outdoor projects.
The C-clamp has endless uses. This clamp can hold pieces of wood, metal, or plastic together when you need to saw, glue or file them down. The “C” shape allows you to apply pressure on the end of a project or farther in depending on the size and depth of the “C”. C clamps come in many sizes from the tiniest craft size to extra-large clamps for holding furniture together during repairs. There are so many ways C clamps help with projects you might as well buy several sizes. You will need them sooner or later. Here is a helpful clamping tip. Use a thin wooden or cardboard shim between the clamp and the object you are working on so the clamp doesn’t scratch the surface.
A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most common plumbing problems you will face. With the right plunger, however, you can fix a clog relatively quickly. Plungers come in two varieties. Toilet plungers have a tapered end that fits into the toilet drain hole. A sink plunger looks like a rubber ball cut in half. Both types are designed to form a good seal and force water down the pipe and free the clog. It is best to have both types of plungers in the home.
You only have one set of eyes so it is important to protect them. Any time you saw, hammer, paint, sand, scrape or spray there is a risk of something getting into your eye. Select high-quality safety glasses with a “high Impact” rating for maximum protection against flying objects. Better grade glasses also cover more of your face for better protection. There are many styles for men and women. Some safety glasses even have tinting for outdoor work. If you wear glasses, wear safety goggles. Safety goggles fit comfortably over your eyewear and will provide protection to your eyes and glasses.
While paints and glues are now manufactured to be less toxic (and lead-free), many still contain harmful chemicals that should not be inhaled. A respirator mask will protect you from dust particles and airborne chemicals. The filter cartridges are replaceable and should be changed once a year. Disposable dust masks will only filter out small particles like sawdust. This type of mask cannot protect you from chemical vapors! Disposable masks are great for wood sanding and even sweeping jobs that create a lot of dust. Disposable masks should be thrown away after each.
Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps with a special sealing material called caulk. Caulking can help prevent heat loss due to leaky openings around windows and doors. Shower doors need calk to prevent water from leaking out. Caulk comes in dispenser tubes that fit into a caulk gun. Special construction glues are also available in calk tubes. The calk gun provides a controlled method of squeezing out the caulk and putting it exactly where you want it. Calk guns are typically hand-powered but fancy battery-powered guns are available for big jobs.
Electrical wires must be insulated to guard against electrocution and prevent short circuits. Ordinary masking tape and duct tape cannot be used to insulate wire connections. Electrical type is a special flexible tape that insulates bare wires to prevent electrical shocks. Use electrical tape whenever you make wire connection at wall outlets, wall switches and lighting repairs. Wrap a layer of electrical tape around any bare wires. Electrical tape can also be used for temporary household repairs because it will not leave a sticky residue when it is removed from surfaces.
Zip Ties, also known as cable ties, are used primarily to hold loose items, like strands of wire, in a neat bundle. Use zip ties to bundle electrical and computer cords under a desk. There are hundreds of other uses like attaching a dog tag to a collar, joining pieces of canvas tarp, or making tamper-resistant child locks. Zip Ties come in a variety of lengths, widths and colors. No matter how large or small the job, you’ll be able to find a zip ties to join things together in a stylish color.
An outlet tester performs several important functions. By plugging the tester into a wall socket you will be able to instantly see if there is power available at the outlet. Always turn the electrical breaker off before servicing an outlet. Use the tester will verify that the right breaker is switched off and safe to begin work. The tester will also indicate if the outlet is properly grounded to prevent electrocution. The tester will also indicate if the outlet was wired using the correct polarity, meaning the positive and negative wires are correctly attached to the outlet. You’ll also be able to test outlets with built-in GFCI protection. GFCI outlets have miniature circuit breakers that trip as soon as something goes wrong with an appliance so you don’t get shocked.
Plumber tape is a special Teflon film for sealing pipe threads. The tape is wrapped around pipe threads during assembly. Plumber tape seals the threaded groves so water will not leak out of the threaded area. You will need plumber tape whenever a faucet is replaced, on toilet water connections and on drinking water filters. You may find that your garden hose drips at the faucet connection. Just wrap a layer of plumber tape on the threads and attach the hose. Problem solved!
Small wood screws are specially designed to penetrate wood. Cabinet hinges, for example, are mounted to cabinets with wood screws. Use wood screws to mount a bird feeder hook onto the side of your house. Wood screws come in many lengths and diameters. Larger longer screws are needed for heavy objects like handing plant hooks. Tiny wood screws can be found on jewelry boxes and antique furniture. Wood screws can have flat or Philips slots. You’ll find screw kits contain all the usual sizes used around the house.
A bow rake has tines made of sturdy metal and is used for working with soil, rocks and gravel. The bow rake is perfect for raking stones out of the garden and also leveling the soil. The bow rake is tough enough to handle heavy duty jobs like smoothing out a gravel path or applying wood mulch. It’s also used for pulling dead grass out of the lawn. Look for a bow rake with a sturdy handle with a comfortable grip and a solid steel rake.
Leaf rakes are designed specifically for gathering leaves and small yard debris. This lightweight rake comes in several widths. A narrow leaf rake is ideal for clearing out around shrubs and tight places. Wide leaf rakes make it easier to quickly gather up fallen leaves from the lawn. The rake heads are commonly made of plastic or metal. Plastic rakes are lighter but many gardeners like the strength of metal tines for lifting up large piles of leaves. Leaf rakes should not be used to level soil or removing rocks from the garden.
Snow shovels come in widths from18 to 30 inches. Wider snow shovels are better at pushing snow while the narrower styles are good for lifting. A shovelful of snow can weigh as much as 45 pounds if wet. Some snow shovels have bent ergonomic handles designed to reduce pressure on your back. Blades are made of lightweight aluminum or plastic. The best shovel is the size and style that feels right to you. It is a good idea to have more than one kind of shovel. That way you will be ready for any kind of snow-clearing job. You’ll also have a back-up in case one shovel breaks during a snow storm.
The pointed blade of the round nose shovel is designed to dig holes in the ground. Planting trees, shrubs and mixing large quantities of soil and compost is a job for the round nose shovel. This shovel is also perfect for digging out old bushes and tree stumps. You’ll have a choice of long and short handles made of wood or light weight fiberglass. Most shovel work is suited to handles 44-48 inches long. Look for a tempered-steel blade that won’t bend under digging conditions.
A pick is used for breaking up heavy, rocky soil. The sharp steel pick is mounted to a wooded or fiberglass handle. Some picks have two picks while others have a flat blade on one end. The blade is effective for chopping through shrub and tree roots. The pick end will break through rock. The curved pick can be used as a pry bar to lift up heavy objects like logs, concrete slabs and tree stumps. The heavier the pick the more effective it will be when breaking through rock and soil.
A hose end sprayer is designed for applying lawn fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides on lawns, trees and shrubs, and gardens. A measured amount of liquid is added to the sprayer canister, which screws onto the sprayer body. The hose end sprayer is attached to a garden hose. Water flowing from the garden hose mixes with the liquid in the canister and is sprayed onto the garden. Hose end sprayers make it easy to apply the right amount of fertilizer or bug spray on your lawn and garden.
Hose sprayers work as a shut-off valve for the garden hose. The hose sprayer is normally in the off position so you won’t waste water walking back and forth to the water valve. Hose sprayers also control the spray pattern of the water. You’ll be able to create a gentle mist for watering delicate flowers. You can also make a strong powerful jet of water to blast away dirt and debris from the sidewalk. Hose sprayers are great for washing off garden tools and cleaning out buckets after a project.
Nobody likes cleaning up but when you’ve finished an outdoor project you’ll need a sturdy broom to sweep up debris. A sturdy outdoor broom is made of stiff bristles for pushing sawdust, wood chips, even nails and screws into a pile. The wide broom is meant for fast clean up. Outdoor brooms are also used for scrubbing driveways, sidewalks and steps even when wet. The firm bristles really clean out cracks and crevices.
Putty knives are used for a variety of repairs including patching damaged drywall to scraping away old wallpaper. The blade of a chisel-edged putty knife can be very stiff for heavy duty scraping jobs or thin and flexible for applying wall patch. Blade widths vary too. You may need a wide blade to quickly strip wall paper and a narrow blade to patch a nail hole in a wall. There are even inexpensive plastic throw-away putty knifes.
All trees and shrubs need trimming to keep their growth under control. Even delicate roses must be pruned to keep the bushes healthy and blooming. Garden pruners come in a variety of sizes and styles. Some pruners are like small scissors and used for cutting flowers to make arrangements and trimming back dead blooms. Larger heavy-duty pruners are built of tough steel with thick blades to cut through shrubs and small tree branches. Pruners make it easy during fall clean-up to trim back plants and neatly bundle twigs and branches.
A fish tape is used to pull wires through walls and wire conduit. The fish tape uses a strong yet flexible steel wire that is first pushed toward the end of a wall. The idea is to push the ridged wire toward an area where a guide string has been dropped inside the wall and to pull it through. The guide string can then be tied to the new wire and pulled through the wall. Fish Tapes are used to run new speaker cable, TV coaxial cable, Cat 5 network cable and electrical wires.
Every homeowner needs a variety of paint brushes. Paint brushes are designed to soak up new paint and release it onto the unpainted surface. As with other tools, paint brushes come in many styles and sizes. If you want to quickly touch up a dog house, purchase an inexpensive throw-away paint brush. But for a smooth, even finish in your home you’ll want to use high-quality paint brushes. Natural bristle brushes are recommended for oil-based paints. Synthetic paint brushes are better for water-based paints. Choose a brush with tapered bristles for the smoothest finish. If you plan on painting interior trim, buy a narrow brush. Wider brushes hold more paint and cover more area, but are harder to use in tight spaces like corners.
A voltmeter is an instrument used for measuring the voltage between two points in an electrical circuit. The current at an outlet should be 110-120 volts. The voltage for a clothes dryer is 220 volts. A volt meter can also be used to check the condition of your car battery, flashlight batteries and even the batteries in a TV remote. Most volt meters also measure Ohms, which is a measure of electrical resistance. Electric heating elements make heat through resistance. Electric water heater heating elements and electric oven elements can be tested with an Ohm meter
Wire caps are designed to join bare electrical wires and insulate the connection. The plastic wire cap is twisted onto the bare copper wires, locking them in place. The inside of the wire cap is threaded and twists onto the copper wires. Wire caps are used on lamps, appliances, on wall switches and outlets. Wire caps come in a range of sizes based on the diameter of the wires to be joined. Sometimes electrical tape is wrapped around the wire cap to add further insulation and keep water out of the cap.
A stud finder is a battery-powered handheld device used to locate framing studs behind walls. When hanging pictures and mounting cabinets and shelves, it is critical to nail or screw into a wall stud. Slowly slide the Stud finder across the wall. The stud finder will beep and signal with a light when a stud is underneath the device. Simply mark the location with a pencil to know where the studs are located. Here is also our list and review of best stud finders.
Don’t overlook the necessity of having a tool box to organize your tools. Without a storage case tools end up scattered on garage shelves, the basement or in drawers. Start small with a lightweight plastic tool box. It will make it easier to keep all your tools in one place. As your tool collection grows you’ll want a larger tool box. There are many sizes and designs to choose from. Some are simple cases while others offer shelves and dividers to store each tool individually. The heavy duty tool boxes are made of metal and last longer than the plastic tool boxes.
Socket wrenches, also called ratchet wrenches, are designed for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts. Socket wrenches consist of a ratcheting handle and a set of different sized wrench sockets. The sockets snap onto the socket wrench. The wrench is the used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts by twisting the handle back and forth. The direction of the ratchet action is selected with a lever on the wrench. Socket wrench sets come in standard and metric configurations. You’ll find both types of nuts and bolts in use today. You can start by first purchasing a basic standard socket set and then add a separate metric socket pack later.
Whether you’re painting, changing a lightbulb, trimming a tall hedge, climbing into the attic and or stringing holiday lights, you will need a sturdy ladder. Choose a ladder that is tall enough for you to work without the need to stand on the top two steps. Ladders are made from aluminum, wood or fiberglass. Fiberglass ladders offer the best combination of strength and reduced weight. Unlike wooden ladders fiberglass does not rot or require painting. Fiberglass ladders don’t conduct electricity like aluminum ladders. Look for a ladder with rubber feet for stability and a folding shelf to hold tools or a paint can while you work.
A three drawer tool chest is for serious craftsmen with a larger tool collection. Multiple draws are great for organizing your tools in categories like hammers, screw drivers and wrenches. Larger power tools can be stores below in the cabinet. As your tool collection grows a multi drawer chest really helps keep things organized and easy to find. Look for a tool chest with large wheels. Wheels make it possible to roll the tool chest anywhere in the garage, making it easier to work.
Wheelbarrows are great for hauling soil, mulch and leaves. But that’s not all. You can wheel in the groceries, take out the garbage or bring in some firewood. Wheelbarrows come in single and dual wheel configurations. The two-wheel models are more stable and easier to steer with heavy loads. Light-duty gardening wheelbarrows are made of wood and plastic. Heavy-duty models are made of metal. If you plan on carting around gravel, soil and building materials go for the metal wheelbarrow.
The Wet/Dry vacuum is designed to clean up dry materials like saw dust and also suck up water spills. The unique design isolates the electric motor making the vacuum safe for cleaning up both wet and dry materials. Wet/Dry vacuums consist of an electric motor mounted on a detachable filter tank. Debris and water are sucked into the filter tank and kept separate from the suction motor. This makes the wet/dry vacuum the most versatile clean-up tool you can own. Use it to suck up a water leak, loose nails, broken glass, drywall particles and even clean your car’s carpet. Wet/Dry vacuums range in size from small hand-held units to powerful roll-around models for big jobs.
A high-quality watering hose is needed for watering the lawn, flowers and vegetable garden. You’ll use your hose to wash the car, shampoo the dog and spray off the deck. Heavy duty garden hoses have thicker walls and are less prone to kinking. They are heavier and take up more space on a hose reel than a light-duty hose. Watering hoses come in 75 foot and 100 foot lengths.
Also, check out our list of best soldering irons.