15 Tools Every First-Time Homeowner Needs
Congratulations, you’re a new homeowner! You’ll want these tools on hand to get started on all those projects you want to tackle.
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the purchase of a first home. There’s also plenty of projects—jobs to tackle right away, and those that you can take care of at a later date. Whether it’s painting, replacing flooring, updating light fixtures, or even just hanging wall art, you’ll need the right tools to get things done.
Here’s a list of tools every first-time homeowner will need in their collection, along with some recommendations from the experts at Bob Vila to help you make the best choices when you’re ready to buy.
1. Cordless Drill
A cordless drill is a great addition to any tool set, especially for new homeowners. You can use it for everything from drilling holes and putting together some of that new furniture, to mixing paint, and plenty of other tasks you may have not even thought about! Our experts tested several cordless drills and found that the Black + Decker 20V Max is the best bang for your buck when it comes to quality, torque, ease of use, and power.
2. Tape Measure
You know that saying, “measure twice, cut once?” A trusty tape measure will save you plenty of headaches in the years to come as you tackle projects around your new home. Bob Vila experts compared several tape measures on the market for quality, precision, and longevity. The best overall pick went to the Stanley 25-Foot PowerLock Tape Measure, which has a secure bead lock to help with accurate measurements, and is corrosion resistant so it will withstand the outdoor elements.
A screwdriver comes into play often for tightening and loosening screws. Ratcheting screwdrivers are convenient as they have interchangeable screw bits, so you’re able to find the right size for any job while the bits are often stored inside the handle grip for added efficiency. The experts at Bob Vila note the benefit of owning a ratcheting screwdriver over a single screwdriver is that the former is comprehensive with all its bits. The best overall went to the Wera Kraftform Kompakt Slotted Ratcheting Screwdriver, which buyers noted felt sturdy, was easy-to-use, and offered a comfortable grip.
4. Step Ladder
A step ladder will give you the boost you need to get to those hard-to-reach spots around the house. You’ll want one that folds up and is easy to store, capable of supporting your weight along with that of any additional tools or materials, and doesn’t slip. The experts at Bob Vila recommend the HBTower Three-Step Ladder as the best budget-friendly option, both for its accessible price point as well as its stability, portability, and non-slip design.
5. Extension Cord
Chances are you’ll need at least one extension cord as a new homeowner. Purchase a few to connect power tools or other electrical devices to a power source that is beyond the reach of the product’s own cord. Choose extension cords based on the length needed, intended use, power ratings strength, and plug type. The experts at Bob Vila found the best overall extension cord to be the Iron Forge Cable Outdoor Extension Cord, which is offered in several lengths.
6. Circular Saw
Whether you want to take on a project in your new home that requires you to make precise cuts, or you need to cut up sections of a tree limb that falls in the yard, you’ll want a good circular saw. Get the best bang for your buck with the Craftsman 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw, which is battery powered, durable, easy to use, and will meet the challenges of nearly any project you take on.
No matter how much you try to avoid it, there will come a time when the toilet will clog or the shower drain will back up and you’ll need a trusty plunger. There’s a variety of plunger types on the market, and the experts at Bob Vila noted the Korky Telescoping Beehive Max Universal Plunger is the best overall choice to fit any job.
Wrenches are a classic tool that deserves a spot in your new homeowner toolbox. A good adjustable wrench gives you the ability to adapt to whatever size fastener you may need when it comes to leveling appliances, tightening and loosening fixtures, and assembling pieces. The experts at Bob Vila recommend the Crescent 10-Inch Adjustable Black Oxide Wrench as the best adjustable wrench for your money. It has a wider handle than most other models for increased comfort, and features a large knurl for easy adjustment and a tight fit.
9. Utility Knife
A safe, sturdy utility knife is much more than a box cutter. You can use it to score wood and drywall, strip wires, and slice through cartons. Look for a utility knife that can do a variety of tasks, like the FC Folding Pocket Utility Knife, which Bob Vila testers say is the best heavy-duty model. It has an anti-slip grip, long-lasting carbon steel blades, and lock design to keep the blade in place while in use.
10. Cordless Blower
With an electric cordless blower, you’ll never have to worry about where to plug in for power. Use a cordless blower to move leaves, clear snow from walkways, and clean off the patio or deck from any unwanted yard debris such as acorns. The Makita Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Blower gets the best overall rating from the experts at Bob Vila, and features plenty of power, along with a cruise control lever with variable speed trigger. Plus, it’s lightweight, at only 6.5 pounds with a battery.
You’ll be able to grab and hold objects steady with a good set of pliers. Pliers help with both tightening and loosening objects, and it’s best to have a few different sizes of pliers to help with various jobs around your new home. For overall general use, the experts at Bob Vila recommend the Channellock 6-Inch Slip Joint Pliers, which have a serrated jaw for a firm grip and an added wire cutting shear.
A toolbox isn’t complete without a trusty hammer. Choosing a hammer that’s comfortable to use and well-made is a must for any new homeowner to drive in nails and pull them out. Consider the Estwing Rip Claw 16-Ounce Hammer, which was voted as best overall by the experts at Bob Vila. “It’s well-balanced, absorbs shock well, and is incredibly durable. It drove nails without issue and removed them with similar ease,” testers noted.
To find the true vertical or horizontal, you’ll want a good level, which will come in handy if you’re building furniture, redoing hardwood flooring, hanging artwork or shelving, and even painting. For a solid overall option, consider the Stanley 24-Inch Non-Magnetic High Impact Level which has a non-marring material that won’t damage finished surfaces, along with a center vial that’s designed for instant readability.
14. Stud Finder
To prevent newly hung artwork or shelving from crashing to the floor, you’ll want a reliable stud finder to help you determine the right spot to hang your pieces. Quality stud finders are easy to use and virtually foolproof. Our experts at Bob Vila found the best overall option is the Zircon MultiScanner Stud Finder, which uses a simple 9-volt battery and detects both wood and metal studs. It also has a large LCD screen that’s easy to read.
No home is complete without a flashlight. Whether for keeping next to the bed in case of nighttime emergencies, in your tool kit, or within close reach in the family room, look for one that offers good brightness and is easy to use in the dark, while also considering what type of battery is required. For best overall long use, the experts at Bob Vila recommend the Milwaukee M18 LED Work Light, which testers found “impressively bright.” It also has an adjustable head to direct the beam right where you need it. Note that you’ll need to purchase the 18-volt battery and charger separately, or if you already have other 18-volt Milwaukee tools, you can swap out the batteries to work this flashlight.
The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on 2/9/2023.