23 Achievable Tools Every Renter Need in Their Apartment

There are many perks to being a renter, including not having to worry about any major maintenance issues in your home. In most cases, all you have to do is submit a maintenance request, and your property manager or landlord will handle the issue. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have some basic tools handy if you need to take care of minor repairs. 

Just like any other type of housing unit, apartments also need regular maintenance and care. Things come loose or break all the time, and your landlord/property manager may not always be on hand for fixes. As a renter, you should have a toolbox equipped with some of the basic tools to handle a quick fix or repair.

As a renter, you should have the following tools:

1. Level

If you struggle with hanging things straight, consider investing in a quality level to keep your pictures and framed art from sloping on the walls. These handy tools come in a wide variety of sizes – a six-inch level is ideal for most renters, and a string level is useful when hanging multiple pictures. A good sturdy torpedo level (these are known for their tapered ends) will last you a lifetime. A laser level is ideal for hanging multiple items or aligning your artwork with nearby furniture.

Levels are also useful for checking tabletop alignment, drilling holes in a level line, and mounting towel bars.

2. Hammer

A hammer is a must-have item in your toolbox as it can come in handy in many situations. Whether you’re planning to adorn your walls with paintings, picture frames, or floating shelves; or want to adjust your furniture or secure it in place, this is a super useful tool to have. As a renter, you don’t need a large and heavy hammer that you’ll have a hard time carrying (and that you probably won’t use to its full potential, anyway). When choosing a hammer, you want to go for one that fits comfortably in your hand. Each hammer strike will be controlled this way, meaning you won’t have to worry about missing the nail. 

There’s no replacement for actually getting a feel for a hammer, so it’s often best to buy one at a store. You might also want to consider going for one that has a claw so that you can pry off nails or dislodge stuck things as well. 

3. Screwdriver

Because screws inevitably loosen over time, you’ll want to have a set of screwdrivers in your apartment so that you easily tighten screws back into place. Whether you’re dealing with a loose screw on a kitchen cabinet handle, door handle, or furniture you previously assembled, you can easily fix these issues with the help of a screwdriver. 

To be well-prepared for fixes and upgrades, make sure you have at least one flat head and one Phillips – or cross head  – screwdriver in your apartment, as well as a Torx or star-shaped screwdriver for more specific needs. Models with interchangeable bits are versatile as they can be used on a variety of drive styles.

4. Utility knife

This is a must-have item that is effective and easy to use. If you’re moving from one apartment to another, you can use it to cut open boxes. You can also use this handy tool to cut string for strapping down furniture in a truck, as well as for trimming household plants and opening packages.

5. Tape measure

You may be surprised how often you’ll end up reaching for a tape measure as a renter. Maybe you want to move furniture and need to see if it fits in your apartment layout before you start to carry it around. Or, maybe you want to purchase a new bed and need the right measurements before you head out to the store. Whenever you need to measure something, a tape measure is a tool to have handy. 

6. Wrench set

You’ll be glad you have a wrench set when there is a loose wheel on your bicycle or a leaky bathroom faucet that needs urgent fixing. A wrench set typically has 8-10 different sizes of wrenches – this allows you to tighten and loosen a range of bolt and nut sizes. Wrenches might be handy for fixing furniture, as some different tables, bed frames, and furniture legs are manufactured using bolts and nuts. 

7. Nails, screws, and anchors

These will come in handy when you least expect it. Maybe you’ve ordered some pieces of furniture, and you find that the set is missing a couple of screws. Or, perhaps you misplaced some nails for your DIY projects. Maybe you drilled too large a hole and need to use a larger screw. In such screws, you’ll be happy to have a collection of nails, screws, and anchors. These tools are also useful if you’re hanging artwork or pictures on the walls or adding shelves.

8. Flashlight and headlamp

You never know when the power in your rental unit will go out. If it does, you want to have a flashlight to help you navigate your way in the dark. Additionally, if you need to see something behind the fridge or down the drain, you’ll be grateful to have this useful item. Of course, there is always the option to use your phone’s flashlight, but you can’t always rely on having it with you during these situations. When you’re working on hard-to-see projects, you’ll need an LED headlamp. 

9. Step ladder

Although a step ladder can’t fit in a toolkit, it’s an invaluable tool to have in your apartment for a variety of home improvement tasks. You will find it useful to vacuum cobwebs and dust from ceilings, change the batteries in your smoke detectors, and hang artwork and decor higher up on the walls.

10. Cordless drill

A cordless drill may feel like a luxury, but there are many uses for this handy tool. The obvious use for cordless drills is making pilot holes for nails and screws, but you can also insert screwdriver bits to help remove or insert screws. Other uses include:

  • Hanging a photo or shelf that requires drilling into drywall or a wall stud (if that’s permitted in your building)
  • Installing shutters
  • Replacing door knobs
  • Repairing broken furniture
  • Crafting and DIY activities

11. Stud finder

If your landlord doesn’t have an issue with you mounting objects on the wall, it is a lot easier to secure your pictures or shelves when you know where the studs are located. A stud finder is a useful tool that saves you the trouble of poking holes in your wall.

12. Allen wrench set

You’ll likely need to assemble at least a few pieces of furniture as a renter, which means you’ll need Allen wrenches (also known as hex keys or Allen keys). These tools are available as individual items or Swiss Army knife-style combo sets. It’s worth noting that sometimes the loose keys are easier to manipulate, but the folding sets are more convenient and easier to keep track of.

13. Duct tape 

Duct tape can be used to patch or repair an endless number of items – you can use it to cover a rip in a cushion so that the stuffing doesn’t fall out, it can be used to pack up boxes for storage or moving, and it can also be used to hold back floorboard while you wait for maintenance.

While duct tape is fantastic to have on-hand in an emergency, it’s best suited for quick-fix repairs that you intend on fixing further soon. 

14. Glue gun

This is an amazingly versatile tool that can do anything from tacking trim in place as you try out a design to holding cord channels in place on a wall. Just make sure to take extra care when using a glue gun, and always wear gloves.

15. Glues

A great alternative to a glue gun is traditional glue. You want to have a supply of superglue, white glue, and carpenter’s glue to cover most of your household needs. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions to get the best results.

16. Basic paint tools and mixes

One of the most basic home improvement tasks you can take on as a renter is repainting the apartment (with your landlord’s permission, of course.) Simple painting jobs require tools such as paintbrushes, rollers, and cans of paint. You’ll also need a paint can key, a simple tool that will come in handy when you need to open a can of paint, stain, or varnish.

17. Pliers

One set of pliers is not enough – you want to have a small assortment of various shapes and sizes. You’ll find needle-nose pliers to be the most useful, but you also want to have heavy, grooved pliers for removing nails. Wire cutting pliers are handy for wiring and craft jobs.

Vise-grip pliers resemble standard pliers, but they have a locking mechanism that grips and holds things tightly. Use your vise-grip pliers to grip a screw that you want to remove, or use two to twist sticky things apart. This tool has a slip-free hold to make it easier for you to get a grip.

18. Wire cutters

Another elementary tool you should have as a renter is a wire cutter. This tool makes it easier to snip wire for electrical repairs, crafts, and other household projects.

19. Masking tape

You’ll need masking tape to mask off the areas that you don’t want to paint for a painting job. It’s available in several widths and can be removed from most surfaces without causing damage. You can also use it for other household tasks such as marking stud locations when installing molding or hanging a picture or taping down runners of heavy kraft paper to keep floors free of scratches and dirt when moving.

20. Utility blades and holder

There are several types to choose from, but for your household needs, all you need is one that has breakaway blades, which are especially handy when doing a wallpaper or a craft project. They are also useful when opening sealed boxes.

21. Felt, plastic, and carpet dots

As a renter, you want to have an assortment of these furniture protestors in your toolbox. Carpet dots are heavy and thick, making them ideal for use under table and chair legs to avoid scrape marks on hardwood floors. Felt dots applied to the bottom of boxes, vases, candleholders, or any other accessories can help to protect surfaces from scratches. Plastic or rubber dots can be applied to the bottom back corners of a picture or artwork to help keep the level of the frame.

22. Spackle

Spackle is useful for repairing small gaps, scratches, or dents in walls. It can also be used for filling nail holes in sheetrock before painting. As a renter, all you need is a small tub unless you plan on doing lots of repair jobs. 

23. Putty knife

You’ll need a putty knife to apply spackle. Other uses for this handy tool include smoothing down a corner of repaired wallpaper or scraping up a bit of paint.

Final thoughts

As a modern renter, there are plenty of ways you may need to fix your apartment to make it feel like home. With the right set of tools, you can tackle almost anything that apartment living may throw your way. Ensure you have these tools (along with anything else you might feel is necessary) in your rental space for quick fixes, repairs, and/or DIY projects.

Last update on 2023-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

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