11 Tools Every Renter Needs
If you or someone you know is a renter, these tools can make life easier.
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A good lesson for any DIYer is that it doesn’t matter what tools you own; what matters is what tools you have with you. A multi-tool puts an entire toolbox in your hip pocket, helping you find speedy resolutions for a range of household fixes.
Look for a sturdy multi-tool that includes screwdriver heads, pliers and a utility knife. Spring for a quality tool as your go-to, and consider buying a couple of cheaper ones to stash in convenient places around the home.
The Leatherman Wingman ($60) is a much-loved, reliable multi-tool.
Phillips and Flat-Head Screwdrivers
Screwdrivers are frequently needed and easily lost. A screwdriver set provides redundancy and covers all your bases at once, making it a great purchase for renters. It doesn’t need to be expensive, and it doesn’t need to be fancy. This 10-piece Armatisan set ($14) would be more than adequate for most renters.
Sometimes those screws need a little extra muscle. Or hanging a photo or shelf may require drilling into drywall or a wall stud (if that’s allowed in your building). A quality drill/driver is a great investment for anyone at any stage of their DIY journey. Because these tool are so useful, there are many to choose from in a wide range of prices.
Most renters will be fine with a lower-end model such as this Black and Decker 20V Drill/Driver ($49). If you aspire to go further down the DIY and maker path, this drill/impact driver combo from Bosch ($199) is an excellent balance of cost, weight and power. Here are our favorite renter-friendly storage ideas for your studio apartment.
You’ve heard the adage, “Measure twice, cut once,” right? It’s excellent advice. But to follow it, you’ll need a tape measure.
It’s often a good idea to have more than one so that you don’t have to hunt for it every time you need it. One or two of these low-cost 12-ft. tape measures from Komelon ($6) should be sufficient for projects around your rental.
If your landlord is okay with you mounting things on the wall, it’s a lot easier to secure those shelves or pictures when you know where the studs are. A stud finder saves you the time and trouble of poking exploratory holes in your wall.
The FOLAI Stud Sensor ($21) is not the cheapest stud finder out there, but it’s much more user-friendly than a bargain bin special.
A six-inch level is good enough for most renters, and a string level is a great tool to have on hand when hanging multiple pictures. For less than $10 you can buy a perfectly serviceable torpedo level that will get your photos close to level, and you can adjust by eye from there. (Because most homes aren’t perfectly square, the eye test is really the more important measurement for hanging straight pictures.)
But for a few dollars more, you can also get some fun bells and whistles. The Qooltek Multipurpose Laser Level ($16) has laser technology and an eight-foot measuring tape.
Allen Wrench Set
From securing toilet paper holders to assembling entire bookshelves, an Allen wrench set has become a must-have for renters. (Thanks, Ikea!)
Allen wrenches (also known as hex wrenches or hex keys) are available as individual items or Swiss Army knife-style combo sets. Sometimes the loose keys are easier to manipulate, but the folding sets are extremely convenient and easier to keep track of.
The Texas Best two-pack ($16) is a low-cost solution. It comes with one metric and one Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) folding set.
Flashlights and Headlamp
A flashlight is a necessary item in any renter’s toolkit. A robust handheld Maglite ($32) is great to keep in an easy-to-find spot in case of a power outage. But when working on hard-to-see projects, nothing beats an LED Headlamp ($12). Does it make you look cool? No. But does it make your life easier? Absolutely.
A Quality Hammer
For most renters doing light household projects, a heavy-duty framing hammer isn’t necessary. Pros can debate the qualities of one hammer over another, but the only thing that really matters for most DIYers is how comfortable the hammer is in your hand and how easily it swings.
There’s no replacement for actually holding a hammer and getting a feel for it, so it’s often best to purchase one at a store. That said, a smaller hammer such as this eight oz. Edwards Hammer ($10) fits perfectly in home tool kits or junk drawers.
A glue gun is an amazingly versatile tool. A quick and easy fastener that doesn’t damage most items, it can do anything from holding cord channels on a wall to tacking trim in place as you try out a design.
The CoBiz Dual-Temp Glue Gun ($24) costs more than a low-end gun, but the temperature control and on/off switch (instead of needing to unplug it to turn off the heat) are terrific features. It also comes with a starter pack of 10 glue sticks so you can dive right into your first project.
Ready to level up? If you’re a DIY enthusiast who’s thinking about tackling larger projects, a circular saw is a robust tool that can handle everything from plywood panels to 2x4s. It’s a great saw for renters who may not have much workshop space.
Spend a little more on a circular saw and you’ll have greater precision, more power and a better starter blade. The DeWalt 7-1/4- in. corded saw ($138) is a classic, reliable circular saw that will last for many projects to come.