Whether you’re a DIYer or building a contractor business, the tools you have available for construction projects will determine the types of home renovation projects you can complete and how quickly and efficiently you can get them done. The types of tools that are essential for your project depend on the improvements you’re attempting to make.
As a homeowner, the tools you own may also determine whether you should hire a contractor to remodel your home or do it yourself. Some essential tools are an investment so taking the time to identify the ones you’ll use again for other DIY or hired projects ensures you don’t waste money.
Must-Have DIY Tools
Before you decide to tackle a home improvement or maintenance project yourself, make sure you feel comfortable completing the work. Review the tools you may need for the project and consider whether the prices for professional services are reasonable and will save you money. If you want to go ahead with the job without help, you’ll need access to several basic must-have DIY tools.
A high-quality multi-functional hammer is an essential tool for many jobs. Whether you’re hanging pictures or inserting a nail, you’ll need a sturdy hammer with a curved claw on one side.
A hammer that’s 16 ounces is usually sturdy enough to tackle most jobs yet light enough to handle easily. Look for a hammer with a comfortable grip, made from materials that are sure to last, such as steel and wood.
Your cabinet doors, outlet covers, and doorknobs are likely held together with screws. To complete several DIY home improvement projects, you’ll need a versatile screwdriver. The most popular screwdriver brands are Stanley, Black & Decker, and Bosch.
Consider purchasing an extensive set of screwdrivers that include both Philips-head and flat-head varieties in different sizes. There are also six-in-one screwdrivers that allow you to switch out heads with the same handle. Purchase screwdrivers that have comfortable grips and feel sturdy.
You’ll need an adjustable wrench to take apart items held together with nuts and bolts. Depending on the project you’re tackling, it may be beneficial to buy both a six-inch wrench and a 10-inch wrench. In some circumstances, you’ll need to fit into a small space with the short wrench but the long wrench gives you more leverage for large or tighter bolts.
When you’re in the throes of a DIY project, the last thing you need is to go on a hunt for a knife, scissors, or box cutters. Keeping a sharp utility knife nearby ensures you’re ready for anything, whether it’s trimming a zip tie or opening a box.
Purchase a utility knife that’s small enough to fit in your pocket but sharp enough to perform. Ideally, your knife will have a comfortable handle and several extra blades. Being able to open and close the blade with one hand may also be useful when you’re busy on a project.
Whether you’re scraping paint from walls, applying caulk, or smoothing down wallpaper, a putty knife is a useful tool for your DIY projects. Putty knives have straight blades and handles. Shop for one with a relatively narrow blade to fit in smaller crevices.
Handsaws have toothed blades attached to handles. They’re easier to bring into tight spots than table saws and help you cut through wood quickly. Look for a handsaw that’s the right size for your project and that allows for blade replacement.
A tape measure allows you to measure areas and is useful for most DIY projects. As you browse different tape measure options, consider the size of the measure. Choose one that isn’t too bulky but that’s made from a sturdy material. Consider buying a tape measure that self-locks so you don’t need another person to hold the other side.
A power drill allows you to quickly and easily drive screws into material or drill pilot holes. Consider where you’ll need to use the tool when deciding between a cordless or wired drill. Power drills can be expensive so purchase one with a good warranty that seems to be high-quality.
Whether you’re hanging wall art or building a table, it’s crucial to ensure your work is level. A bubble level is perfect for this. You’ll need a longer level for big surfaces and a shorter one for smaller projects.
When you have a variety of hardware in your toolbox, you don’t have to run to the store for every small DIY project. Equip your toolbox with basic essential hardware, such as:
- Drywall screws.
- Exterior nails.
- Finishing nails in various sizes.
As you continue purchasing materials for various home improvement projects, you’re bound to collect different types of hardware. Take inventory periodically to ensure you have the screws, nails, nuts, and bolts you need when a new project arises.
Must-Have Contractor Tools
As a contractor, the tools you invest in are what allow you to perform more complicated jobs. The expenses associated with tools are generally what have most homeowners deciding they shouldn’t DIY projects without professional help.
With the proper tools, clients may also find it easier to work with you as a contractor because you can provide aggressive timelines for projects. In addition to the basic DIY tools you need as a homeowner, consider investing in these must-have tools as a contractor.
Saws help you cut through wood and other materials on different projects. Depending on the jobs you frequently take on, you may need several types of saws, including a:
- Reciprocating saw.
- Miter saw.
- Circular saw.
- Table saw.
Buy a saw that’s high-quality but won’t break the bank and consider whether a cordless or wired saw is more convenient.
Pliers are helpful in many situations, especially when you’re trying to hold or pull on wire or other materials. Consider purchasing combination pliers, which allow you to grip, bend, and compress materials using a single tool.
Crowbars are often used in demolition, such as to rip cabinets from the wall or pull off door frames. A high-quality crowbar is crucial for efficiency. Your go-to crowbar should be made of iron or high carbon steel and large enough to give you good leverage.
Another essential tool for demolition is a sledgehammer. With a heavy sledgehammer, you can demo countertops and walls efficiently. As a contractor, your sledgehammer should be made of steel and have a comfortable handle.
A sturdy and durable ladder is useful when you’re installing light fixtures or painting walls. Buy a ladder that’s tall enough to be useful for many jobs but not so tall that it takes up too much storage space.
If you need to work on certain projects away from a construction site, such as building a piece of furniture, a workbench will come in handy. It offers a flat surface where you can use your tools without damaging flooring. Buy a workbench that fits your space and consider the features that are important to you, such as lighting or storage.
Whether you’re installing crown molding or flooring, a nail gun can make your work more efficient. It drives nails into a surface using compressed air with one trigger pull. You can choose between different functions and styles with nail guns so consider what you’re most likely to use the tool for first.
A sander helps you smooth and finish surfaces more efficiently than sanding by hand. You can use it to refinish floors or prep doors for paint. Consider whether you need a cordless or corded sander and the size you’ll need for most jobs before purchasing one.
You can use an angle grinder to cut tile or grind down metal. This power tool allows you to polish surfaces, sharpen edges, or sand down areas. There are many different sizes of angle grinders so consider the jobs you’re likely to use this tool on before investing in one.
Renting vs. Buying Tools
Whether you’re a contractor taking on a big job or a homeowner tackling a small DIY project, you may also have the option to rent the tools you need. When deciding whether to rent or buy tools, consider:
- The price of buying versus renting.
- How often you think you’ll use the tool.
- Where you’ll store the tool.
- How the tool needs to be maintained.
- How easy it is to transport the tool to your job site.
Your ability to complete a project is directly related to the tools you have. With the right tools, you can efficiently and effectively tackle home improvement projects you never thought possible, both as a homeowner and as a contractor.