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Homes are like high-maintenance relationships: They demand a ton of upkeep to keep from falling apart. And that's why the right tools are absolutely essential to a homeowner. While you shouldn't rush to throw away your hammer or monkey wrench, today's new homeowner can turn to some truly clever tools to get the job done.
So if you're new to the whole DIY thing (or even if you're a battle-worn veteran of the home improvement wars), check out these surprising supplies that will make upkeep a breeze.
Think of Sugru as silicone Play-Doh that you can shape into anything and stick to any surface. Wait 24 hours, and it dries into the desired shape. Cool! The possibilities are endless: Since it's waterproof, it's great for reinsulating frayed wires or resealing rain gutters. Or you can create cushiony bumpers for your laptop or other electronics, ergonomic grips for your faucets, wall hooks for your keys, and on and on. The starter kit is sold from the Sugru website for $15.
A tiny multitool
A comprehensive box of tools is nice, but it's not something you can stash in your wallet and whip out at a moment's notice. For that, you need Zootility's Wild Card. The size of a credit card, it nonetheless boasts a knife (which is removable), screwdrivers, a ruler, a bottle opener, and -- believe it or not -- a prybar. It's slated to be available in May at Zootility for $29.95. Until then, you can always turn to the classic Swiss Army Knife by Victorinox for as little as $24, which includes tweezers, a toothpick, wine and beer bottle openers, and a variety of knives, scissors, and saws.
As a new homeowner, you'll be surprised how many times you'll wish you had a ladder. No, not a step stool -- a full-on ladder that can help you change pendant light bulbs, paint in ceiling corners, clear roof gutters, and reach things way beyond your grasp (sadly, we're not talking about life goals here). In the past, said ladders were huge space hogs, but today, the telescoping variety can collapse into an easily stashable size perfect for an apartment dweller or anyone short on space. Some of them can even be turned into platforms, or can be configured for use on staircases. Telesteps' 12-foot combination extension model weighs only 24 pounds, but can take a load of up to 375 pounds. It is available on Amazon for roughly $230.
There you are, with some IKEA furniture to assemble. It all starts so simply, with all the screws neatly organized in sealed plastic bags with the instructions. You break them open. You start building. And then you lose one screw, then three. Next thing you know, you're spending the rest of the day squinting at the floor searching for tiny rivets while your furniture sits unbuilt. If this sounds like a situation you'd rather avoid, get a Magnogrip magnetic wristband, which guarantees your nails and screws won't escape. It's quite possibly the best $7 you'll ever spend ( Lowe's and other stores).
OK, duct tape is hardly new. In fact, it was invented in 1943, by Vesta Stoudt, a grenade inspector and mother of two sailors, who wanted a tape that would be waterproof and strong, yet easily removed. But what is new are the applications for this simple tape, which have proliferated well beyond a boat or battlefield. Listicles extolling its many uses abound on the Internet: to remove pet hair from furniture, keep furniture from scratching your floor, patch damaged lawn furniture, catch insects like flypaper, even create prom dresses, in a pinch. And best of all, the Duck Brand offers it in all kinds of colors and prints, as well good old gray, which is available at Home Depot for $3.19.
LED light clips
At some point you are going to find yourself where the sun don't shine -- that is, under a sink. For work in underlit locations, lightweight and hands-free LED lights that clip onto your safety glasses are definitely going to lower your stress level. Plus, they are really inexpensive. Radians' Rad-Light can be adjusted 360 degrees, and the lights can last for 60 hours on batteries similar to those used in hearing aids. Two lights are included in the package sold through Sears for $6.75.
A cordless power drill
A power drill not only accomplishes in a few easy, breezy seconds what might seem like an eternity of wrist-twisting with a screwdriver -- today's models come with a variety of attachments that expand their capabilities well beyond what you might imagine.
They can drill not only little holes for hanging pictures, but also big ones for new doorknobs. Attach a sander, and you can take your wood-smoothing capabilities to the next level. You can even grind metal, remove rust, or use it to turbo-charge your pepper grinder.
Open your eyes! According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 52% of the 2.5 million annual eye injuries in the United States occur in the home. So protective eyewear is a must when you DIY. Eyewear should fit your head snugly, have side protection and be comfortable enough to wear all day when you need to. There are a variety of shapes and sizes, from goggles to safety glasses. A well- priced pair for the novice DIY enthusiast can be found at Klein Tools for no more than $12.
First aid kit
Alas, homeownership has its share of mishaps, which explains why every homeowner should have a first aid kit. So what should go in it? The Mayo Clinic has a comprehensive list, but if you want a pre-organized kit, which is usually a lot more cost-effective, check out the Red Cross, which has a deluxe Family First Aid Kit for $27.