New Homeowner – Which Tools Do I Really Need?

Most people have a few basic tools, even if they live in apartments, but once you move into your first home, you may find yourself needed a lot more tools.

Here are the basics we’ve needed in our first two weeks in our new home.


We needed Phillips and Flat head screwdrivers in several sizes. Fortunately, we have a multi-bit screwdriver set. It has one handle and several bits in different sizes and shapes.


It’s difficult to hang pictures or towel rods properly without a level. You can get a laser level, but bubble levels are cheaper.

Cordless Drill:

You can spend a fortune on a drill, or you can pick one up at Costco for $40-50. We got our drill at Costco a few years ago and it was helpful in the apartment. Now it’s indispensable. We needed it to remove old screws before painting, anchor new furniture into a stud, fix the gate, and make other minor repairs.

Crescent Wrench: 

Consider getting two crescent wrenches in different sizes. They’re great for tightening bolts, but sometimes you have a tight space where only a small wrench will do. Other times you need the leverage a large wrench provides.


Do I really need to explain the necessity of a hammer?

Allen Wrench Set: 

My husband used to have a motorcycle, so we also have an Allen wrench set, with wrenches in different sizes. This was very helpful for removing towel rods and toilet paper holders before painting. You can buy one, or simply start saving the various Allen wrenches that come with DIY furniture.

Screws and Nails:

I have quite a collection of these. Usually DIY furniture comes with extras, and of course you can’t buy them just one a time when you need just one screw for a job. I have a toolbox full of different types and sizes of screws and nails. If you live in apartment, just put the leftovers in a Ziploc and toss them in the toolbox for later.

Socket Wrench:

Sometimes a crescent wrench just won’t get the job done, and that’s when you need a socket wrench. On the other hand, some bolts can’t be tightened with a socket wrench, so you need a crescent wrench.

Stud Finder:

If you need to anchor furniture to the wall or hang heavy pictures or mirrors, then you need a stud finder. If you have an older home with lath and plaster walls, you’ll need a metal stud finder, because traditional stud finders don’t work. We learned that the hard way.

Measuring Tape:

No home should be without one.


Grab things, pull things, pinch things, tighten things, loosen things. Pliers are very useful devices to have around.


If you plan to paint, you need a ladder. If you have recessed lights, you’ll probably need a ladder to change the bulbs. We have one sloped ceiling, so we bought a ladder that adjusts to multiple sizes up to 15 feet. It was expensive, but now we only ever need one ladder. We have a stepstool for small jobs around the house.


You don’t need one of those monster tool trays they sell at Sears. Just a simple plastic toolbox. We have two – one for our collection or baggies filled with nuts and screws, and another for the actual tools.

If you’ll be doing a lot of painting and have enamel or oil-based paint on the walls or cabinets, you might need a vibrating sander to knick it up so you can paint over it. Our paint peeled right off, so ended up not needing the sander we borrowed from my dad.

These tools should get you started. Eventually you’ll probably build a collection that rivals the one your dad had when you were growing up. Start with the basics, and then add items once you realize you’re going to use them more than once or twice. Before that, borrow or rent needed tools.

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