Top 15 Tools Every First-Time Homeowner Should Own

Owning a home is a great accomplishment but also a great responsibility. Whether your first home is ready for immediate move-in or in need of some extra TLC, there are tools of the trade that you need for those weekend warrior projects. This list outlines the top 15 tools for every first-time homeowner. (Don’t forget to check out our Craftsman Evolv 52pc Homeowner Tool Set Giveaway!)


1. Hammer

The claw hammer and the rubber mallet are two types of hammers that can help with different projects. The claw hammer (or the “carpenter’s hammer”) is generally used for woodworking and includes a claw that is used for removing nails. You can use the rubber mallet when you are working with softer materials that may be easily scratched or damaged.

2. Screwdriver Set

The use of the screwdriver is in its namesake but the frequent need for this tool cannot be underestimated. Almost everything in your home from light fixtures to appliances to furniture is comprised of screws that require the right screw driver for tightening and loosening. A screwdriver set should include flat and Phillips head, among others depending on the size of the set.

3. Wrench Set

While the screwdriver drives screws, the wrench applies force to fasteners (nuts, bolts) to tighten or loosen them. Wrenches come in many useful forms including the adjustable wrench to adjust to various sizes and the wrench set with basic standard and metric sizes. The hex key or Allen wrench is small but necessary when adjusting hex bolts.

4. Needle Nose Pliers

Needle nose pliers earn their name for the long “nose-like” pliers used to bend, reposition, and cut wire. Their slender design makes them perfect for working on small projects that need precision in small spaces.

5. Tongue-and-Groove Pliers (Channellocks)

Tongue-and-Groove Pliers (or Channellocks) are helpful when holding larger objects in place. They can also be used for grasping irregularly shaped objects. The serrated jaws provide grip while the lower jaw is adjusted to accommodate objects of various sizes. This tool is a great go-to tool when you need a strong grip on an object of a larger size, like pipes or metal pieces.

6. Drill

When it comes to splurging on a tool, a drill is the best place to spend your money. Drills do not (and should not) come cheap and prove invaluable for many projects. A great drill is cordless with 20 volt Lithium Ion battery and a keyless chuck. If you’re on a budget, corded drills can also be effective but are restricted by proximity to outlets. Some extra features for drills include LED lights, built-in levels, and magnetic holders for screws. Don’t forget to bundle your drill with the necessary accessories like a carrying case, extra battery, and drill bit set.

7. Tape Measure

The “measure twice, cut once” principle is more than just a cliché because measuring correctly saves time, money, and patience. While tape measures can be found almost anywhere, not all tape measures are equal. A tape measure smaller than ¾” thick is a waste because it is almost too small to use effectively. Spending the extra money to buy a 25’ tape measure with a locking feature will help you with many projects including hanging curtains and measuring rooms.

8. Stud Finder

The stud finder is an often overlooked tool when people begin decorating their new walls. An inexpensive stud finder will help you locate the metal and wood framing studs in the wall. Finding the structural stud is essential for hanging heavy objects without damaging the walls.

9. Level

In addition to the stud finder, a level is essential for hanging decorations. There are many types of lasers to fit your budget but a 9” torpedo level or the more expensive laser level excellent choices for maintaining straight lines for all of your decorating projects.

10. Picture Hanging Kit

Now that you have your stud finder and level, now all you need are the tools to actually hang your artwork. Luckily, your hardware store sells inexpensive picture hanging kits that include the nails, hooks, and picture wire. Remember to look at weight limits for all hooks and nails to make sure you pick the right mounting assembly for your decorations.

11. Utility Knife

A retractable utility knife is an extremely handy tool because it can be used to cut through virtually anything. A retractable utility knife ensures that the blade is not exposed when not being used. Just a few uses for the utility knife include cutting carpet, dried caulk, dry wall, and roofing tiles.

12. Indoor/Outdoor Extension Cord

If you’re interested in using any corded power tools far away from an electrical outlet, you will need a long, stable extension cord. For safety reasons, be sure to buy a grounded extension cord to prevent shortages when using metal power tools.

13. Utility Flashlight

A flashlight is vital for any home because it can help in a variety of ways: finding lost objects, working on your car, fixing plumbing issues, and finding your way through a power outage. Flashlights come in a variety of price points but nice ones have LED with multiple settings. Larger spot flashlights are great when working in garages because they provide a broader range of light and can easily be hooked to the wall.

14. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) may not seem like a traditional tool but is vital to have before beginning any project. Safety glasses, working gloves, and respirators are needed when drilling, sanding, staining, cutting, or any project that involves working with power tools or chemicals.

15. Toolbox

The final tool your home needs is a home for your tools. While your dream toolbox can run into the thousands, a simple table top toolbox or portable tool crate can help store the tools you initially acquire. Don’t be afraid to buy a larger toolbox than needed—your tool collection will grow!

With these 15 basic tools, you will be on your way to building a very handy tool collection for plenty of weekend projects!