10 Home Repair Tools You Should Buy *Before* You Need Them

published Mar 29, 2022
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Are you facing your first-ever home repair or maintenance project and not sure how to begin (or keep going after that)? Make your way through our starter pack. This content was created independently by our editorial team and generously underwritten by the Toyota Corolla Cross.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a DIY novice or even someone whose handiness only goes as far as hanging up a few pictures on the wall; there are some tools that absolutely everyone should have on hand. These tools can help you deal with everything from minor repairs to putting together your latest IKEA bookshelf. And best of all, you can order them online right now. 

1. Hammer

There will be countless times you need to pound a nail in, pull one out, or pry something up, according to Richard Fortenberry, owner of Handyman Connection of Woodstock, Georgia. And you can’t do that without a trusty hammer. You can add one to your tool collection for as little as $3.88 at Walmart.

2. Screwdrivers

Your toolbox wouldn’t be complete without a variety of screwdrivers, both in size and shape. You’ll need to use a Phillips-head screwdriver to put together a bookcase and hand-tighten screws that you can’t (or shouldn’t) turn in with a drill. “You’ll want to have several on hand with different tip sizes for various projects, or find one with interchangeable tips,” says Fortenberry. You should also make sure you have some flatheads for swapping out light switch plates and outlet covers. You can get a 10-piece set that includes both from Amazon for $11.99.

3. Tape Measure

There’s a reason why DIYers always say, “Measure twice, cut once.” Almost all home projects can benefit from the use of a sturdy tape measure. “You’ll use it countless times when hanging pictures or sizing up spaces for everything from window coverings to new appliances or fixtures,” says Fortenberry. “When looking for a good tape measure, make sure it is not too heavy, has a top and bottom hook, and is flexible, so it does not break.” Consider this $27.97 one from The Home Depot

4. Pliers

A sturdy pair of pliers with serrated jaws is helpful if there’s anything you need to grasp and hold, yank out, twist, or pinch together, which is why Fortenberry highly recommends you add a set to your arsenal. (Or two — he also says you should have some needle-nose ones for getting things out of hard-to-reach areas, like your bathroom sink.) Amazon has a set of seven for just $19.99. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Sandpaper 

According to Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt, renovation experts and instructors of American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning’s Homeowning 01’s Second Semester, sandpaper is a home repair must-have. Not only can it help smooth down rough patches you might find on wood pieces like banisters or cabinets, it’s clutch when it comes to spackling. Get yours at Lowe’s for just $6.98.

6. Stud Finder

“Anytime you are hanging something heavy on the wall, you should make sure it is secured into a wall stud,” explains Chelsea Johnson of Making Manzanita. “Whether it is a TV that you’re mounting to the wall or a heavy mirror, a stud finder is useful.”  You can buy one at The Home Depot for $21.97.

7. Plunger

“Preparedness is key when it comes to home repairs,” explains David Mason, owner of Knobs.co. And that probably goes doubly for a plunger — you definitely don’t want to wait to buy one of these until you need it. Walmart sells one for just $5.58.

8. Crescent Wrench

Mason says a crescent wrench should also be part of your toolbox basics, to tighten and loosen  including ones that have gotten rusted or corroded over time and don’t want to come loose by hand. You can get a two-piece adjustable set from The Home Depot for $24.97.

9. WD-40

In Mason’s mind, every home should be stocked with a can of WD-40. The stuff helps with everything from loosening bolts to silencing squeaky hinges. Buy a can at Walmart for $7.68, and it will likely last you a long time. 

10. A Bonus: A Drill and Drill Bits

Power tools may feel more advanced, but Fortenberry says that a drill can save a lot of time and energy on building projects. You also need one when hanging items without a stud, to insert an anchor directly into drywall. “Make sure to purchase a good selection of drill bits that include Phillips, flathead, and square tips,” Fortenberry says. You can get this 60-piece set from Amazon for $69.99