Use the Right Tools for Autumn To-Do Lists

Ask any homeowner and he or she is bound to have a to-do list of little chores around the house that need to get done. These tasks are made much easier with the right tools.

Depending on individual skill level, many homeowners already have basic tools on hand, such as hammers and screwdrivers. Others may have a more extensive collection of tools available for projects, such as saws, sanders and electric drills.

For homeowners who don't have certain tools, there may be no need to purchase new ones for specific projects. Many tools can be rented, such as floor sanders, carpet cleaners, saws and others. Find out if items can be borrowed from friends or family members -- and whether they might want to help with certain tasks.

Before any project is started, homeowners should take inventory of what they have and what they will need to complete a project. Taking shortcuts can lead to frustration and more money spent fixing mistakes. Make a list and have all of the gear available and ready for use.

Here are some common projects and the tools that will be needed.

* Gutter cleaning: Cooler weather means leaves and debris will collect in gutters and downspouts. A sturdy ladder, gloves, garden hose, small shovel, and bucket will be needed to clear out the debris. Be sure the ladder is placed so that it is on level ground.

* Cleaning siding: A rented power washer can make quick work of cleaning grimy siding and hard-to-reach windows.

* Landscape clean-up: Now may be the time to pull out whithered plants and put away lawn furniture. Many homeowners like to prune shrubs and trees before the cold weather sets in. A hedge trimmer can quickly shape shrubbery. An auger can help dig up dead annuals and clean out planting beds. Rent a wood chipper to make mulch out of felled tree branches.

* Painting: When cooler weather arrives, homeowners tend to look inside for projects. Painting is a popular way to spruce up rooms with little financial investment. Rollers, brushes, paint trays, masking tape, edgers, and drop cloths will be needed for the task.

* Flooring: Perhaps installing a new floor is on the to-do list. Many laminate and vinyl products make it easy for homeowners to do the work themselves. A more extensive project, such as installation of tile or hardwood, can be done by a contractor. Flooring needs may require a power saw or razor for cutting the flooring -- depending on the material. Other tools include adhesive, spacers, measuring tape, knee pads, eye protection, and clean-up materials.