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18 Must-Have Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

Have you ever noticed that each new maintenance or home improvement task triggers a mad dash to your favorite home improvement store?

Need to reseal some cracks around the windows? Better buy some caulk and a gun. Want to hang pictures? Now you have to buy hooks and picture wire.

Some of these mad dashes cannot be avoided. No homeowner can be expected to have every tool within arm's reach, and many people build a tool collection over time. But if you're planning ahead and want to fortify your collection while you're at the store anyway, we recommend that you put these 18 must-have tools on your shopping list:

18 Must-Have Tools for Every Homeowner

  • Caulk gun: You can buy caulk in a tube, but a caulk gun will give you better leverage as you seal leaks and block moisture.

  • Flashlight: Can any home have too many flashlights? The Experts think not. Traditional, two-battery flashlights are usually easiest to hold while you work.

  • Hammer: Get one with an anti-vibration, rubber grip – and a claw end if you want to dislodge some seriously dug-in nails.

  • Hand saw: For small DIY projects – even cutting the knobs off a Christmas tree – a cross-cut saw that produces smooth edges will serve you well.

  • Ladders: A short step ladder should be all you need indoors; an extension ladder can help you reach second-story gutters and windows outdoors.

  • Level: You will never appreciate the influence of a tiny water bubble more than when there is a family face-off: is that picture hanging straight on the wall or not? A level will literally straighten everything out.

  • Picture-hanging tools: Take a shortcut and buy a small but plentiful box of hooks, nails, screws and wire. You will probably use all the pieces, eventually.

  • Pliers: They provide the sure grip you need around bolts, wires and screws, and they can help you bend or cut wire, too.

  • Plungers: They usually get no respect – until they're called into duty to fix a clogged sink or toilet. And a quick tip: buy enough plungers for each fixture in the house.

  • Power drill: You can do things “the hard way,” by hand. Or use a power drill to speed things up. Everything from hanging shelves and window treatments to installing knobs on cabinets.

  • Putty knife: It's easy to underestimate this nifty tool – until you see for yourself how deftly it manages caulk and plaster and lifts tiles with ease.

  • Safety glasses: They won't win any awards for their good looks, but goggles will protect your eyes from what could be lifelong impairment, whether you're sanding, cutting objects or mixing chemicals.

  • Screwdrivers: Flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers of various sizes should equip you to reach all those places that electric screwdrivers just can't access.

  • Stud finder: Spare yourself the mess and stress of making haphazard holes by running a stud finder over a wall to guide you to a sturdy piece of wood to anchor your work.

  • Tape measure: Cloth measuring tapes and yardsticks do not count! A heavy-duty, 25-foot tape measure will lend greater accuracy to you home projects.

  • Utility knife (or box cutter): Sometimes a pair of scissors just doesn't cut it, literally. A sharp utility knife with a replaceable blade usually will.

  • Wrench set: Choose one that is open on one side and closed on the other since nuts and bolts come in both varieties.

  • Allen/Hex Wrenches: Sure, you get cheap ones with all the "put it together yourself furniture" you buy! Save your hands the heartache and invest in a better set to have on hand.

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