We lucked out in many ways in doing the bathroom renovation, and the whole space came together pretty efficiently. I credit a lot of this to some of the simple tools we bought and own, because without them, the whole process would have been incredibly manual, time consuming, and laborious, not to mention less accurate. If you’re starting to plan your own renovation, here are a few of my MVP tools you’ll want to borrow, rent, or buy:
You’ll benefit from having a good air compressor.
If we’re going to be talking about the MVPs of the tool arena in this post, it’d be wrong to start without giving a shout-out to our Porter-Cable 6-gallon pancake compressor, a product that Pete purchased about a year ago. While he’s owned and operated air compressors before, it opened up a whole new world of opportunity for me. These days, I use the compressor most often with this Bostitch 18-gauge brad nailer/stapler as a substitute for a hammer, successfully blasting through loads of projects around the house; I think you’d be surprised how often it comes in handy, or maybe you’d just be more inclined to tackle DIY projects knowing that it’s just sitting and waiting to be used.
With the bathroom, the stapler made installing hundreds of staples into the underlayment beneath the tiles a 5-minute process, and the brad nails were the perfect solution for installing the shoe moulding on the baseboard and the corner guard around the windows and door. For any room renovation, a good air compressor will be worth your purchase or rental investment.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good mixer.
Just like a Kitchen Aid suddenly makes baking easy, investing in a heavy-duty mixing paddle makes all rigorous construction-related mixing easier. For me, it made the process of preparing mortar and grout simple. Priced between just $10-$20, the paddle bit fits your common drill, and with a squeeze of the trigger, can be trusted to whip up a concoction ready for your tiling project in no time at all. Bonus: Now you can bypass the expensive pre-mixed mortar and grout and save a serious chunk of change by instead buying the dry powder mixes. Preparing mortar or grout at home with the simple addition of water from the tap seems so much easier and less wasteful in the long run.
For tile-cutting newbies, splurge on a tile saw.
If you’re hesitant about tiling a floor or shower on your own, buy or borrow a tile saw with a diamond blade and you’ll be amazed how easy and fast your install can go. Maybe not so fast in our case, the whole shower process took 4 days, but it wouldn’t have been possible at all without the tile saw we invested in for making intricate cuts. It was our first-ever wet saw, so before we invested in anything fancy, I bought the least expensively priced model at the store which retailed for just under $90; it even came with a diamond blade that has lasted through the bathroom renovation and at least two other tile-related projects (the blade itself was a built-in savings of $25). We can’t even imagine how much more laborious the project would have been if we had bought a score-and-snap style cutter, the electric saw is just that wonderful. I didn’t invest in any table to set it on, saving myself a little more money, just creating a base in the basement over the utility sink with the help of some scrap wood (it worked like a charm). (Side note: I’m a tiling fiend now… more tile saw projects can be seen here and here on my day-to-day blog, Merrypad).
Buy a great saw, be a happier DIYer.
Many aspects of the home improvement projects I tackle would be a lot harder if not for this double compound beveling miter saw that we bought last spring. From making picture frames, to furniture, the chop saw makes our lives infinitely easier. We were immediately annoyed with ourselves that we didn’t buy or rent one when we constructed our deck two summers ago, but were glad that we had it for aspects of the bathroom renovation. From cutting 2×4 boards to frame out our shower shelving, to making fantastic baseboard moulding and window trim, particular angles would have been fussy to make flawlessly without the help of the locking mitering and beveling functionality. Prices range vary from low-to-high, but if you’re wondering which one we bought and like, it’s this Kobalt beauty.
Simple knives, for the win.
We had at least 3 utility knives on hand at any point during the bathroom remodel. And yes, it was just the two of us working on any given day. Those things seem to get misplaced as often as the thick carpenters pencils and the good scissors, so it made sense to have them everywhere. After all, the utility knives with super-sharp blades made easy many different aspects of the bathroom renovation; from cutting pex plumbing, to scoring and removing existing window trim, to performing intricate cuts to size the vinyl tiles, it was always nice to have one on hand. And on the window sill. And on the workbench in the basement. And by the kitchen sink, you know, just in case. It’s an inexpensive investment that will simplify a lot of things.
The blade that you see on the bottom of this picture is something new to our arsenal, it’s an Olfa knife with a snap-off blade that keeps us moving along at a pretty good clip. Once the blade on the end dulls (after cutting through a few sheets of vinyl flooring, for example), you just snap off the dull piece and reveal a brand new sharp blade. Genius.
Whether you’re planning a big renovation or just stocking up you work bench for upcoming projects, I hope this Top 5 list helped you to hone in on good things to have on hand. Whether you buy them, or rent or borrow them temporarily from friends, they’re all good products to keep close by during home improvement.
While I linked to many different products in this post, be sure to shop around to find the best brand and product for your needs. Price shopping across brands might also save you a lot of dough on your new tool purchase, so keep an eye out for deals.
Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.