Buying or Renting Tools for Home Improvement Projects

If you own your own home, you might like to do upgrades yourself. I have often debated hiring a professional or doing projects myself, but if you decide to do it yourself, you will need the tools for the job.

Have a Well-Stocked Toolbox

Before we get into the more obscure projects, every homeowner and virtually anyone that lives anywhere should have a toolbox with a basic set of needed tools. You can stock a basic toolbox fairly easily. Here are the basics that you need:

  • Hammer
  • Screw Driver Set (Flathead and Phillips Head)
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Flat Nose Pliers
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Tape Measure
  • Utility Knife

If you do a lot of your own projects, these are other great additions to a toolbox:

  • Cordless Power Drill
  • Socket Wrench Set
  • Level
  • Saw
  • Vice Grips

You don’t have to buy all of these at once if you are just starting out. One important note is to buy only quality tools. You can get junky tool sets pretty cheap, but they won’t last long and they might cause more harm than good to your projects.

Less Used, More Expensive Tools

Once you get past projects where you will use your standard tool set, you might have to venture out to specialty tools. For example, you might need a specialty power tool for an outdoor project around your home, like a flooring nailer for a hardwood floor.

Buying a flooring nailer would cost you over $400. If you use it for three projects over ten years, you are looking at over $130 per use. A rental will only run about $50-$60 per 24 hour period. For your three projects, your total cost is going to be $180.

In this case, the obvious choice is to rent your tool for your DIY project.

You Might Want to Buy Some Expensive Tools

If you are a big fan of DIY projects, some of those expensive tools might be better to own. For example, a portable table saw costs about $200. If you do regular wood projects, the long term savings of owning your own table saw can be huge.

A portable table saw does not take up much space and could be used in a garage, driveway, backyard, or basement easily. If you are building a bird house, a shelf, or a wagon for the kids, you might use a tool like this quite often. If you use it once a year for five years, you have easily broken even on buying this over renting it.

Do an Analysis

If you are on the fence of buying or renting an expensive tool, do an objective analysis of the cost to rent vs. buy. First, come up with a realistic estimate of how often you would really use it. Don’t overestimate; you know yourself and how often you really do DIY projects.

Divide the cost to buy by the number of times you will use the tool over a reasonable lifespan. Then, figure out the cost to rent it that many times. If the cost to buy is lower, buy away. If not, you are better off renting.

Image by toolstop / flickr

4 thoughts on “Buying or Renting Tools for Home Improvement Projects”

  1. Family Money Values

    I have a table saw for sale :D.
    Estate sales are a great place to get those basic tools – at less expense.

    1. Estate sales are great for basic tools, but for power tools I would be nervous. You never know what they have been through.

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