You can’t “Fix” anything without the proper Cool “Fix” Tools…especially Old Houses! We have searched the internet so you don’t have to! Our Cool “Fix” Tools list is a roll-up of unique items you’ll need when working on an Old House! With this Cool Tools list, you’ll quickly find great products all in one place. Whether you like to DIY or not, our goal is to save you money! And, all from one page, by ensuring that YOU are a well-informed homeowner and consumer! Also, check back often, as we are always updating the cool page!
Finally, do you have a Cool Tools recommendation? Contact us, and let us know what Cool Tool is missing from the library!
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive commissions (at no cost to you) for purchases made through links in this post, but these are all products I highly recommend.
Rigid HEPA Vac. This is one of my Top 3 Cool Tools for Old House work because it has so many uses! Rigid makes a great HEPA Wet/Dry Vacuum for all your remodel project needs, and at a great price compared to others that are $500+. I like the 14 gallon size because if you go too small, the smaller hoses tend to clog more easily/frequently. I also like it because all the regular shop-vacs that I have had in the past, blow a ton of dust right back into the room when it is running…not good – I like the HEPA filter and sealed upper unit to the lower canister on this Rigid model! Be sure to use bags for easy cleanup and disposal. The only cons: Sometimes the hose gets clogged (as all shop-vacs do) with my extension hose attached (smaller diameter) and it can be difficult to remove the bag sometimes if it is super full. You won’t find another HEPA vac at this price point – Amazon has matched the Home Depot price of $349.00 and FREE shipping. More info on the Rigid HEPA Vacuum HERE.
Rigid Hi Efficiency Dust Bags. The HEPA filter dust sleeve will stay cleaner, and life of the HEPA filter can be increased for years by using the Rigid Hi Efficiency Dust Bags – 2 pack. The dust bags also make debris disposal and container clean up a breeze!
Cleaning Kit with 12 or 24 Foot Extension Pole. Good for dusting and cleaning high areas out of reach like walls, windows, fans, and washing the outside of your house! Get the 12′ kit if you have a lower porch to work from so you can split the height – 1st and 2nd story. Otherwise the 24′ kit if working solely from the ground. You’ll also need a standard car wash brush head to screw onto the end as seen here…
DUMPSTER IN A BAG
The Bagster. This is my favorite cool tool for trash/debris removal! The Bagster is one of the easiest ways to get rid of junk, construction debris from a remodel, or anything else that doesn’t require the size, time, and cost of a full-sized “roll-off ” dumpster. We’ve used THREE Bagsters so far and had a really good experience with them. They were packed to the maximum and super heavy, yet never failed! They are pretty tough!
Get your Bagster here:
How much will it cost? Do they pick up in my area? Find out here – Waste Management Collection, Scheduling, and Pricing page
WORK AREA CONTAINMENT/PROTECTION
STEP 1: Quarantine the work area!!!
STEP #2: Gather your Work Area Containment Kit
Ram Board, Plastic, Tape, Support Poles, Zip Wall
Ram Board. Any time I need to protect floors or countertops, I use Ram Board 18lb Paper Drop Cloth. It is water, stain, and solvent resistant, and will protect your floors and/or baseboards throughout your project, whether new or existing surface. It also works well to protect floors as new appliances are moved back into a room!
AND DON’T FORGET THE “EASY RELEASE” TAPE!!!
STEP #3: Install Support Poles
2-in-1 Cargo/Support Poles – They will be the frame/bracing for your containment wall. You can find them at Harbor Freight (cheapest price) or from Amazon.
STEP #4: Install plastic and Zip-Wall
ZipWall. This is my pick of cool tools, any time I undergo a project in any room and want to quarantine all the dust, debris, and mess, I throw up a quick ZipWall Zipper. All you need is the zipper and some plastic sheeting. They are a fast, easy , and convenient way to keep the mess from spreading to the “sane” parts of the rest of your house, that aren’t being ripped apart!
Check out all the paint stripping items shown here over at the Exterior Painting and Stripping Technical blog
Allway Tools. Need some supplemental profile scrapers that fit the contours of your doors, windows, trim, and mouldings? Well then, the Allway Tools Soft Grip Contour Scraper Set with 6 Blades. With many attachment blades (convex, concave, and pointed – large and small), there’s not much this set cannot do. It also comes with a plastic case for the extra blades and a metal file built into the handle so you can keep your blades sharp!
Bahco. The Bahco 625 Premium 1″ Carbide Scraper is my GO-TO cool tool when scraping ANY paint! If you are going to have one tool in your paint stripping tool box, it MUST be this one! Why? 1) It’s small surface area allows it to easily remove tons of paint, for its size, on flat wood/trim. 2) It is a must for cupped siding, warped trim, or any surface that is not flat (a wide scraper can’t reach the low spots and digs in on the edges) 3) The carbide blade lasts a long time (rotate 3 times before discarding the blade). I like it so much I have 2! I have used in on clapboard, flooring, trim, etc (for heavy stripping and final cleanup for that last bit of glaze down to 100% clean wood = less sanding). Don’t let the size fool ya! With less surface area than the larger scrapers, it is able to cut 10X more aggressively! You won’t be disappointed! Grab one here Bahco 625 Premium 1″ Carbide Scraper.
Bahco Replacement Blade. 1″ Carbide Scraper Blade replacement
Warner. Round Carbide Soft Grip Scraper with a carbide blade that can be rotated many times for long life, this is one of my favorite scrapers, especially for profile trim, doors, etc.
Eco-Strip. The Eco-Strip Speedheater™ Clapboard Paint Scraper. This one comes with the complete Speedheater™ Standard 1100 Kit, but is also available separately. The Speedheater™ brand of scrapers are among my favorite cool tools because they bite down 5-10 layers and you can get a lot of leverage on them to remove all the paint in one pull (as long as blade is sharp). I also like that it scrapes the flat while also the top underside edge, as well.
Eco-Strip. The Eco-Strip Speedheater™ Profile Paint Scraper. This one comes with the complete Speedheater™ Standard 1100 Kit, but is also available separately. The Speedheater™ brand of scrapers are among my favorite because they bite down 5-10 layers and you can get a lot of leverage on them to remove all the paint in one pull (as long as blade is sharp). I also like that it has multiple profiles for crown moulding, etc.
Eco-Strip: Speedheater™ Replacement Blades.
Eco-Strip. Speedheater™ Cobra.
With its gentle infrared stripping method and its incredible speed, Speedheater™ Cobra is in a class of its own! The Speedheater™ Cobra is the FASTEST (3-5 seconds!!!) infrared paint remover on the market. The Cobra is one of Eco-Strip’s perfect cool tools for DIY/homeowners stripping staircases, doors, windows, spindles, tight spaces, furniture, and more.
FOR MORE INFO ON SPEEDHEATER PRODUCTS GO TO THE ECO-STRIP WEBSITE
For professionals, add the Cobra to your Speedheater™ Standard 1100 Kit and any painted wood surface – big or small – can be stripped with the Speedheater™ Method. With its 20-year-tested infrared technology and with INCREDIBLE SPEED, the new Cobra strips paint, varnish, and adhesives.
*** See the Speedheater™ demo HERE: 1100 vs Cobra. ***
*** See the Speedheater™ Cobra demo HERE ***
*** See the interior paint removal demo HERE: Speedheater™ Cobra ***
FOR MORE INFO ON SPEEDHEATER PRODUCTS, VISIT THE ECO-STRIP WEBSITE
Eco-Strip. Speedheater™ Standard 1100 Kit.
The Speedheater™ uses infrared rays to warm paint and wood for easy stripping. The process is safe with no lead fumes and clean with little paint dust. The resulting wood surface is bare and immediately ready for priming and painting. No other paint removal method can achieve these high-quality results with so few steps. The infrared rays bring the natural wood resins back up to the wood surface to rejuvenate it. This method also reduces the risk of fire, environmental damage, and clean up time. Perfect for trim, siding, windows, doors, trim , and more. It’s not just for exterior and interior home restoration. The 1100 is one of Eco-Strip’s cool toosl can be used on boat varnish, furniture, flooring adhesives and more.
Visit the Eco-Strip for more info on warranty, repair, returns, etc.
Franmar. SoyGel Urethane and paint Remover.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
North (by Honeywell). Safety First, y’all!!! Any time I am sanding, scraping paint (especially overhead), etc, I wear a full-faced respirator like this one from North. The North 5400 Series Full-faced Respirator is my go-to mask for the past 10 years now (I’m on my second one) and will set you back around $100. In my experience, wearing it for hundreds of hours, my first one lasted about 6 years before it started sealing improperly around my face. After that time the silicone rubber starts to lose its shape, but that normal wear and tear in my book. Its a small price to pay annually to completely protect your lungs and eyes! For more info about the North 5400 Series Full-faced Respirator go here.
Respirator Fit Check, CLICK HERE
North (by Honeywell). N P100 Particulate Filter Cartridge. Replacement dust filters for your 5400 Series respirator. The pair should run you about $10 or less.
North (by Honeywell). North 75SCP100 Combination Gas and Vapor Cartridge. Replacement gas and vapor cartridges for your 5400 Series respirator. The pair should run you about $18 or less.
Drain King Drain Clearing Kit. G.T. Water Products, Inc. 340 1-1/2-Inch to 3-Inch Drain King All in One Kit IS my go-to plumbing tool for regular preventative maintenance (to keep all my pipes draining like new). Read the review and see it in action HERE. I really have nothing negative to say about the kit, except that it can drip a bit of water from the faucet connection if too loose OR over-tightened. And as a precaution, never let it build pressure for more that 2-3 minutes, just in case it over-pressurizes your pipes. That’s it! I love it! Need to clean a drain, get your Drain King Kit here.
Radiator Bleeding Air Valve Key. Use these Radiator Bleeding Air Valve Keys to bleed down air from your radiators, – for for venting the system when draining down the boiler for flushing/maintenance.
Signature Hardware. Radiator Key. Larger, more decorative version of the ones above (square pattern only/no flat tip).
Radiator Spud Wrench. This Radiator Spud Wrench removes the pipe flange that threads into the radiator – usually removed during radiator valve replacement. As long as the fitting is not stuck/frozen the tool will easily remove it. You will find multiple vendors with higher prices, but they are all made from cast zinc.
Note: Always replace the entire radiator valve “set” as new/old style threads/flange may differ , and may leak if old and new parts are mixed.
RADON TESTING (Active)
Airthings. Do you have radon, or want to actively monitor for radon in your home, to ensure it is staying within safe levels? if so, Corentium Home Radon Detector by Airthings is your cool tools gadget of choice! It is portable, easy-to-use, light weight, made in Norway, and only requires 3 AAA batteries. It gives 1) Long term average reading 2) Short term – 7 day reading, and 3) Short-term 1 day readings. Just pop the batteries in, turn it on, and you are done! Our home tested super high at the time of the home inspection (more info on a previous technical blog), so I wanted one to actively monitor our radon. While many cost $300-$1000+, this one is actually affordable at around $150. Click here if you need a Home Radon Detector
Rockler. Rockler makes some awesome Contour Sanding Grips for all of your trim sanding needs. I just finished using this set to sand the very detailed trim in our kitchen and I can tell you that they shaved off hours of sanding time vs all by hand. Check out the Contour Sanders in action HERE! The set is made of rubber, reusable, and are sized 1/4″ – 7/8″. Just wrap the sand paper around it and go! This is the best $15 bucks I ever spent! For more info on the Rockler Contour Sanding Grips click here.
PERRY SCAFFOLD (6ft)
Pro-Series GSSI Multi Purpose Scaffolding, 6-Feet. Perfect for many jobs around the house…BIG and SMALL! WIth a 1000lb capacity, 29″ width to fit through all standard door openings, and has easy 1-person set up and breakdown for easy storage. It is also versatile, as it can be used on stairs, and stacked up to 2 units high with additional supports and precautions.
STUD FINDER (Std & Plaster Walls)
Precision Sensors. If you have ever tried to find studs behind plaster walls, the struggle is REAL! Well, life just got a little bit easier with The ProFinder 6000+ Scanning Stud Finder. Unlike other stud finders with only 1 or 2 sensors, the ProFinder 6000+ has 13! This means triangulated, deeper scanning (up to 1.7″ deep) and it actually shows you the entire width of the stud you are scanning, so you know exactly where the edges are. Cons: For plaster and lath it IS a little more sensitive, as it tries to pick up the lath and the stud. The trick is to move it slower (up/down) and find the gap between the lath (all lights OFF vs ON), then move left to right, to find the stud. I was even able to scan through my 1″ bead board on the porch ceiling to hang my swing! I don’t know of another stud finder that can do this. For more info on the ProFinder 6000+ click here.
Note: I have the 5000+ (Blue). The NEW 6000+(Green), about $42, scans 1.7″ deep vs 1.5″ for the 5000+.
ProFinder 6000 DEMO
Hyde Window Zipper. Are your old double-hung windows stuck or painted shut? Don’t destroy the window and/or the trim trying to pry them open, try the Hyde Window Zipper. The stainless-steel saw tooth blade saws out paint between sill and sash on paint-stuck Windows. 4.4 out of 5 star rating, based on 88 reviews.
Speedheater Window Tool Kit. This Window Tool Kit comes equipped with a Putty Scraper, Boomerang Scraper, and a Chisel with Roller to help you remove both paint and putty without damaging the glass.
Southwire Voltage Detector. Southwire’s new line of Non-Contact AC Voltage Detectors make it even easier to check for the presence of live voltage on outlets, wiring, circuit breakers, lighting fixtures and switches. This non-contact AC voltage detector features a built-in flashlight for user convenience. The flashing red LED and pulsating beeper indicate the presence of voltage to make this task as safe as possible.
You can’t “Fix” anything without the proper Cool “Fix” Tools…especially Old Houses!
You can’t “Fix” anything without the proper Cool “Fix” Tools…especially Old Houses!