tools on a table

10 Essential Home Improvement Tools

You’ve binge watched home renovation shows for so long that you’re now ready to embark on your own DIY reno project. Whether you’re sick of looking at the pink tile in your bathroom or want to renovate your home to increase your home’s resale value, you may be eager to get started.

But before you start ripping down walls or removing outdoor siding, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the DIY tools you’ll need to get the job done correctly.

While you might be able to borrow a few of these essential tools from friends or family, if you plan on getting serious about renovating your home, you’ll probably want to add the basic tools on the list below to your tool collection.

Important Home Improvement Tools to Have

1. Hammer

One of the first essential tools for a home renovation project is a hammer. A hammer will be useful when it comes to using or removing nails, prying boards loose, and tearing down drywall.

But don’t just buy the cheapest hammer out there without considering your needs. If you’re going to be hammering in a tight space, you might want to opt for something on the more compact side.

If you’ll be hammering in a lot of big nails, you might want one with a broader head. A comfortable ergonomic grip is also a nice feature, since you’ll probably be using your hammer often. While a hammer seems like a simple tool, not all hammers are created equal so you’ll want to do some research before purchasing.

Typical Cost: Hammers typically range between around $15 and $30.

2. Screwdriver

Like a hammer, a screwdriver might seem like an easy addition to your tool collection. But if you’ll be inserting and removing a lot of screws, you’ll want a screwdriver that will make that easier for you. While you could buy several screwdrivers that will work on the most common screwheads, you could also get a screwdriver with changeable heads.

Some screwdrivers even have a magnetic head so that it will stick to the screws better. Finally, you’ll want to consider a screwdriver that has ratchet action so that you won’t have to keep turning it around but can twist it, regrip, and twist it again.

Typical Cost: Screwdrivers can range in cost from $5 to $30.

3. Adjustable Wrench

Depending on your DIY project, you might have to tighten bolts. In that case, it may make sense to add an adjustable wrench to your DIY tools. This will allow you to grasp many different sizes of nuts. Even with an adjustable wrench, you may find that you need a variety in order to fit into tight spaces.

Typical Cost: A good adjustable wrench will cost you between around $20 and $25.

4. Tape Measure

Future DIY-ers could likely benefit from listening to the old adage “measure twice and cut once.” A measuring tape is a critical part of a tool collection because it helps you figure out how big a space is, where you should hang a painting, or how long you should cut the carpet you’re about to install. A model that locks and retracts could be easier to use.

Typical Cost: A tape measure will range in price from around $5 to $20.

5. Putty Knife

Whether you’re smoothing down spackle or removing wallpaper, a putty knife or scraper is one of the most important essential tools for the home. There are a variety of sizes and a few specialty options. It can be helpful to do a bit of research to find the option that’s wide enough to handle the project you have in mind.

Typical Cost: A putty knife is fairly cheap—around $6 to $7.

6. Level

Whether you’re installing a shelf or hanging a portrait, a level is a critical addition to your DIY tools to make sure that whatever you’re building or installing is, well, level. Levels are fairly inexpensive if you get a plastic or metal one. If you’re looking for a more high-tech option, some levels have lasers that can help you line up your work.

Typical Cost: Plastic and metal ones start around $10 to $25. A laser level can cost between $20 and $100.

7. Stud Finder

If you need to hang something, you’ll want to make sure you don’t just screw it into the drywall. A stud finder will help you locate where the wood is behind the drywall.

An advanced stud finder will also help you locate wires and other things so that you can avoid drilling into them. Some can be fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to the potentially high cost of a DIY-disaster.

Typical Cost: A cheap stud finder is around $10, but if you want an electronic one expect to pay in the $40 to $50 range.

8. Pliers

Pliers are used for grasping things in order to get better leverage. They can even be handy if you run into issues loosening a nut or bolt with a wrench. Pliers can also be used for pinching wires or bending thin metal.

They’re one of the toolbox essentials that people often forget to include—until they need one. Get a pair of locking pliers with a comfortable grip in order to keep your hands from having to apply the pressure.

Typical Cost: Pliers start around $20 to $25.

9. Drill

If you’re going to be doing serious renovating, you’ll need a power drill among your DIY tools. A drill allows you to make holes and insert screws faster. A cordless drill offers a bit more flexibility than one that needs to be plugged in.

Once again, a magnetic drill bit could be quite helpful. You can buy drills that range in voltage, but a 12- or 18-volt drill should be powerful for almost all jobs.

Typical Cost: While drills can range in price significantly, depending on your needs you could find one for $75 to $100.

10. Electric Saw

A circular saw allows you to quickly and easily cut almost anything—from wood to plastic pipes. There are two types of circular saws —sidewinders and worm-drive saws.

The latter has more power and can cut through thicker materials but is generally more expensive. What’s right for you will depend on the type of job. While you can get cordless circular saws, they may not be able to match the power of one that’s corded.

Typical Cost: Sidewinder circular saws cost between $100 and $150. Worm-drive circular saws cost between $140 and $200.

Bonus Tools

We asked our Twitter followers to share their essential home improvement tools. If you want to go above and beyond with your tool upgrade, here’s what they recommend—from easy add-ons to expensive additions.

“I love to use a paint brush because it’s a small tool that creates a big change!” -Carey C

“Mine has to be tape because it can fix almost anything.” -Raquel P

“My fave is the Dremel.” -Rickey

“Pressure washer—that tool has many uses!” -Stayce T

Paying for Your Tool Collection

Now that you have an idea of some of the essential tools you’ll need for your next DIY project, the next step is to actually buy them. Having everything you need before you start your renovation could make the project run more smoothly.

While some renovations may end up increasing the value of your home, the costs can add up quickly. If you need help paying for your tools and your renovations, you might consider taking out a personal loan.

Personal loans allow you to borrow money to cover the cost of things like toolbox essentials or larger amounts of money to cover your whole kitchen renovation.

Depending on the lender and the terms you qualify for, the repayment options can be flexible and generally have lower interest rates than most credit cards.

Learn more about using a SoFi personal loan to help you with your next home improvement project.

Learn More

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External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.


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