News & Politics

8 Tools Every Washington Homeowner Should Own

You might have the basics, but here’s what else local tool experts say you should keep on hand.

Local experts, including Brad Johanson-Smith of 5th Street Ace Hardware, recommend items your toolbox may be missing. Photograph by Benjamin Tankersley.

Nick Kaplanis’s Top Three Picks

General manager, Frager’s Hardware (1323 E St., SE; 202-543-6157)

Picture-hanger kit
Before pounding any old nail into the wall, pick up one of these. You’ll keep damage to a minimum because the kit comes with easy-to-remove nails and hangers that won’t harm walls.

Fold-up Allen wrench set
Assembling that Ikea dresser is frustrating enough without losing the Allen wrench. Never misplace one again, thanks to this tool, which keeps every size you’ll likely need in one place.

Voltage tester
It’s not unusual for older homes to come with unreliable electrical wiring. But testing a defective outlet with just any appliance can give you a shock. Do it safely with one of these.

Brad Johanson-Smith’s top Five picks

Manager, 5th Street Ace Hardware (1055 Fifth St., NW; 202-682-4570)

Nail-polish remover with acetone
Not just for the cosmetics drawer—also keep a bottle close when using super glue on home-improvement projects. The acetone helps unstick fingers in a flash.

Zircon Stud Sensor i65 OneStep
“The Cadillac of stud finders,” Johanson-Smith says, senses electrical wiring and the center of the stud, ensuring heavy items get nailed into the securest part of the wall.

LED headlight
LED lights have many advantages, including lower energy consumption that allows them to last years. This hands-free version is ideal for emergencies and home improvement.

Stanley Anti-Vibe hammer
This ergonomic hammer is comfortable to grip while you work. And unlike typical hammers, you won’t feel the pounding’s reverberation in your hand and arm.

Six-in-one Paint tool
It may not look like much, but this little tool comes to the rescue in many situations. It pries nails loose; opens bottles and paint cans; and spreads, chisels, and scrapes almost anything.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.