With over 6 years experience in tackling home improvement and DIY projects, we’ve inevitably built up a bit of a collection of tools. As our tools are something that we get asked about a lot, we’ve put together a list of our favourite must have DIY tools.
These are the actual tools we own (we’ve had some of ours for a long time so the models shown may be more current than the ones we have).
To give you a bit of an overview we’ve included a rating based on how useful we think the tool is and how often we use it.
We’ve divided the tools into two categories – The Basic Kit that really anyone should own and – The Advanced Kit which is suited to the more avid DIYer.
The Basic Kit
Must have tools, for the most basic day-to-day DIY jobs like hanging a picture, attaching a curtain rail or putting up a shelf.
Cordless Drill 5 out of 5
Out of all of the tools that we own, this is probably the one we use most. It’s great for drilling holes and of course all kind of screwing. We have this basic one by Bosch, which we’ve had for over 7 years and still works perfectly (although the battery is now a bit weaker than it used to be).
Spirit Level 5 out of 5
Whether it’s hanging up pictures, building shelves or installing window sills, a spirit level is a must to get things level and looking good. For some reason we have a bit of a selection of spirit levels, but this Stanley Fatmax is by far our favourite which we bought when we were replacing our garage roof. It’s really sturdy and has practical holes for gripping it.
Ladder 5 out of 5
One of the very first things we bought when we first started our renovation was a ladder. We looked at loads of different options before we made a decision and in the end opted for this one that includes a platform. It was a pricey investment, but it was the definitely the right decision. You can use it as a normal ladder without the platform, but it’s super practical if you use it with the platform, especially when working higher up, as it saves you having to run up and down the ladder a lot. We’ve had ours for 5 years now and it’s still as good as it was on the first day we got it (except that it’s now covered in paint splatters and bits of plaster).
Fine Saw 4 out of 5
This is the basic one that we have and it’s surprising how often we actually use it. We’ve used it to cut (almost) every picture rail in the house and even used it (together with a mitre block) to cut all of the decorative panelling along the stairs. Really though, we should have invested in a mitre saw (see advanced tools) much earlier on!
Sealant Gun 4 out of 5
Caulk is your friend! It doesn’t matter if you’re attaching skirting boards, picture rails or tidiying the edge around where new windows have been fitted – caulk is what will finish off the job and give it a clean and tidy edge. We skimped on our caulk gun when we bought ours and definitely lived to regret it. We only have a cheap plastic one and yes, it works, but it just doesn’t have the strength to comfortabley push caulk or silicone through. Having said that, it’s still the one we use. If you have a lot of DIY to do, we’d definitely recommend investing in a sturdy caulk gun!
Selection Of Screwdrivers (5 out of 5)
Really you can’t do much DIY without the help a screwdriver. We’d suggest getting a basic set which should inculde both philips head and slotted drivers in different sizes.
We have a bunch of random ones that we’ve collected over years, but our favourite ones are by Witte and are similar to these ones, which we are really happy with.
Paint Brushes (& other painting tools) 4 out of 5
You can read our more detailed post about our must have painting tools here. Painting is such a quick cheap and easy way to transform your home and having the right tools just makes things so much easier! It’s a good idea to choose brushes that are suitable for all paints. This is the set of paint brushes we bought when we first moved in and they’re the same ones we still use now.
Hammer 4 out of 5
Whether it’s putting up a picture or even replacing a roof, you’ll not get round owning a hammer. A claw hammer would be good, as it’s great for removing nails, too. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but buy a decent one – we used to have one where the head sometimes flew off!
Pliers 3 out of 5
It’s almost inevitable that you’ll need some pliers sooner or later. There’s probably no need for anything fancy, but a small selection will definitely come in handy.
Tape Measure 4 out of 5
It really goes without saying that you’re not going to be able to tackle many projects without the help of a tape measure. We’d recommend getting one that’s at least 5 m long.
Sandpaper 4 out of 5
For almost any surface preparation and any tidying of cuts you’ll need some sandpaper. If you can, we’d recommend purchasing the best paper you can. We find, that the sand on the cheap paper tends to fall of as soon as you use it, where as the better quality paper seems to last much longer. A basic selection should include 80 grit, 120 grit and 200 grit paper.
The Advanced Tool Kit
Depending on what kind of projects you’re tackling and on how much DIY you’re doing, you’ll probably end up needing a few more tools at some point. Because tools can be expensive, we purchased most of our tools as and when we needed them for a project.
Hammer Drill 5 out of 5
If you’re doing a lot of drilling or, if like us, you can’t help knocking down walls, you’ll need a hammer drill. It’s much more powerful than a small cordless drill and comes with a chisel attachment which is great for taking up tiles, loosening bricks and most other destructive work. Our walls are also really solid, which is why we often use it when doing any drilling for hanging curtain rails, attaching shelves, etc.
Extension Cable Real 5 out of 5
As soon as you have a few power tools, you’ll inevitably find, that you never have a socket where you need one! We also tend to do as much sawing, cutting and sanding outside so that we reduce the amount of dirt and dusk in the house. But either way, you’ll probably need a cable reel at some point, even if you just want to mow the lawn.
Workbench 4 out of 5
If you’re planning on doing a lot of DIY, a workbench is a good investment and it’ll probably save you sawing into your garden table (okay, so that might just be me). We have this one which we use for almost everything we make. We love that it folds down and can easily be stored away without taking up too much space.
Mitre Saw 4 out of 5
Although we managed fine for a few years just using our fine saw and a mitre block (see basic tools) we love our mitre saw and can’t believe how much we use it. It saves so much time compared to sawing by hand and is a lot more exact, too. We used it to cut all timber for our garage roof, cutting our architrave for our window, cutting floorboards,
Nailer 4 out of 5
This has to be one of our all-time favourite tools – ever! It’s one of those tools where we now can’t believe we ever did any DIY without it. Yes, it’s expensive and definitely a tool that’s for the more avid DIYer, but we love it. We used it to make our hallway bench, build our log store and it wouldn’t have been possible to build our new slatted garden fence without it.
Jigsaw 1 out of 5
Heat Gun 2 out of 5
Whilst it’s a basic and fairly inexpensive tool, we probably only recommend buying a heatgun if you have paint to strip. We’ve had ours (this is the one we have) since we moved in and have stripped a lot of paint with it!
This list has definitely turned out to be longer than we’d expected (and shockingly we own a lot more tools than listed here), but we did build up our collection over time.
Looking back, we’ve often been too tight to buy more tools, but ended up making our life much harder and often weren’t able to achieve a finish we were happy with. Having the right tools for the job definitely makes things much easier and more doable. Having said that, in general, we’d always suggest buying new tools as an when you need them. Whilst you’re saving a load of money through doing things yourself, DIY can still be expensive, especially if you have to go out and buy a load of things for it.
What are your must-have DIY tools? What do you have in your toolbox? Do you have a favourite tool – what is it?