Every backyard warrior knows you need the right tools to do a job well, but figuring out exactly what those tools are can be a challenge. Even something as small as using the wrong screw for a project can mean your DIY labor of love will end up broken or unusable. With all the choices and conflicting opinions, a trip to the hardware store can sometimes leave you more confused about your supply list than when you walked in. Before spending a fortune on a shed full of tools you’ll never use or the wrong materials for your outdoor projects, take a look at these helpful hints:
The Tool Box and Beyond
The basic tools are the ones you’re going to use over and over, so it’s worth investing in quality products. Start with a tape measure, a hammer, a variety of screwdrivers and wrenches, a level, a rasp, a hand saw, a circular power saw, a power drill and a hands-free flashlight. These tools will get your through most repair jobs and small projects around the house. The need for specialized tools will evolve by project but will probably include:
- Brad and nail gun. This tool is ideal for tacking wood pieces together, repairing furniture and installing trim.
- Cat’s paw. Essential for light demolition, the cat’s paw is a crow bar, nail puller and chisel all in one.
- Oscillating tool. This tool cuts metal, wood and drywall, removes old grout, scrapes and sands. Some oscillating tools vibrate so intensely they’re almost impossible to use accurately. Be sure to test-drive a few at the hardware store before making a purchase.
- Orbital sander. Easy to use and fairly inexpensive, this sander comes in a variety of sizes and is needed for finish work on all types of wood projects.
- A wet/dry vacuum. Cleanup is an essential part of any home repair project and a wet/dry vacuum is the best tool for the job.
The Right Stuff
You’ve got the tools, but what are the best materials? Price isn’t always the sole factor in choosing the right materials; sometimes it’s just a matter of matching the right products together.
- Screws. Most hardware stores and manufacturers make it easy and label screws according to their use. But then there are different shapes to consider. Slotted screws are best for simple joints or attaching light objects. Phillips screws are used on machinery, hinges and metal hardware. Flathead screws should be used when you need the screw head to be flush or countersunk, like when building a deck.
- Concrete. One of the least expensive, most durable materials you can work with for an outdoor project like a patio or walkway is concrete. It’s even making its way into the home as an eco-friendly flooring or countertop material. New finishes and stains make it possible to transform plain concrete into a beautiful, expensive-looking surface. Working with concrete does take some finesse, but even a beginner can expect good results.
- Decking. Cedar is the most common deck material, but redwood and composite materials are also excellent options. But underneath the deck, the frame must be built from pressure-treated wood in order to be safe and durable.
In a world full of home projects, these are just a few of the tools and materials you’ll encounter, but the basics are exactly the right place to start. The ability to construct things with your own hands and make simple repairs can save you a lot of money. But if you don’t take the time to choose the right tools and materials, you may be costing yourself far more than you save.
Jessica is interested in fitness and outdoor activities. In her free time, she enjoys DIY projects and blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands she trusts.