Buy Tools for Home Improvement or Rent Them? Here’s How to Decide

Now that we’re deep in the throes of home improvement season, many people will inevitably face a big dilemma — deciding to rent tools versus buy them. Renting tools for maintenance, home improvements, and repair projects could end up being more cost-effective than purchasing them outright, but that’s not always the case.

And also, there are factors to consider beyond just cost. Ask yourself these questions to see what makes the most sense.

1. How many times will I use it?

Renting a tool might result in a lower credit card tab than buying it. But if you’re going to use the tool often enough, it might eventually pay for itself.

As an example, you can rent a pressure washer from Home Depot for $88 a day. But you can purchase one outright for $293. So after four uses, it will pay for itself.

If this is an item you think you’ll use just once a year, renting it might make more sense. After all, a pressure washer might break down after a few years, or a better model might come out that makes the work at hand much easier. But if you have a need for a pressure washer several times a year, then buying can be your better bet.

2. Do I have a place to store it?

Maybe there’s a tool you think you’ll use often enough to make a purchase worth your while. But if you don’t have room to store it, that’s a moot point. You don’t, for example, want to clog your garage with tools to the point where there’s no room for your car in the middle of winter. So consider your storage situation before deciding to buy.

3. Do you have neighbors with whom you can share the cost?

You may be thinking of purchasing a large lawn mower to maintain your lawn rather than having to pay up for a gardening service. You may even have room to store a giant lawn mower. But a quality, ride-on lawn mower could cost upwards of $2,000. That’s a large sum to withdraw from your savings account.

However, if you have neighbors who also want to mow their lawns, you might be able to go in on a lawn mower share of sorts. And that’s apt to be far more cost-effective than hiring a mowing service to cut your lawn every other week during the warmer months.

Sometimes it makes sense to own tools when doing so means saving money and it’s not a hassle to keep them stored away. But in other cases, a rental could make more sense. Run through these questions before making your decision, but keep in mind that once you buy a tool, you may be stuck with it — even if you don’t love how it works.

If you rent a tool you find ineffective or difficult to use, you’ll be able to give it back at the end of the day. So if you’re on the fence, renting might be a lower-risk proposition. And that alone might drive you to rent rather than make a purchase.

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