Handyman: Renting tools often better than buying

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

With all the projects that spring up this time of year, there is often a need to use hand and power tools or lawn and garden equipment that you don’t have on hand. Borrowing that special item is always the best way to go, so if you have a neighbor that has that commercial grade paint sprayer or garden tiller, you are in luck. But if you can’t borrow the tool, you have two other options. Rent it versus buying one.

Sure, you can buy an entry-level Wagner Power Painter for $100 to $200 to spray the siding on your house, but it isn’t the highest quality paint sprayer and you have to keep refilling the little paint container, which adds hours to the job.

“We rent commercial grade paint sprayers that cost between $1,200 and $1,400 to buy new, for $92 a day” said Chuck Button of Button’s Rent It, (248) 542-5835, “The advantage is that you get a high quality unit that will do the job faster and better.”

Button said that getting a high quality tool that most people couldn’t afford to buy is one of the biggest reasons to rent. For example, renting a floor sander runs $86 a day versus buying a new one for around $3,500. If you are a gardener, buying that tiller for $1,500 may seem appealing since you use it every year, but it makes more fiscal sense renting it annually for $32 a day.

While the cost of buying many of these tools makes renting appealing, there is another important factor to consider when making the rent versus buy decision.

“While you can buy an extension ladder for $200 to $300, the problem with many of these items is that people don’t have any place to store them,” said Button. “So it makes more sense to rent a 24-, 32- or 40-foot ladder from us for 1 dollar per foot and not have to worry about where you will keep it when you are done with it.”

Even if you have room to store that tile saw or garden tiller, it often doesn’t make sense to pay a lot of money for a tool you may only use once or twice a year or for one specific project, leaving it to sit in your garage or shed the remainder of the time.

Button said in addition to more standard tools and garden equipment, this time of year he even rents some heavy equipment like a Bobcat tractor for $260 a day for those do-it-yourselfers who are embarking on a big landscaping project.

“We allow people to reserve a tool a day ahead, and usually don’t have a problem supplying what they need,” Button said.

Other popular rental centers include Chet’s Rent-All,, and United Rentals, You can also rent power equipment at many Home Depot and Menards locations.

But make sure you call in advance to find out what the reservation procedure is to ensure you have the tool when you need it. Of course, you know you should be doing some prior planning to prevent a poor project anyway if you are following the Master Handyman’s advice.

So the next time you have a big project in mind, weigh your rental options before you rush out to spend thousands of dollars on a tool you may never use again. That’s how you move to the front of the home improvement class.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show with Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. The HANDYMAN SHOW can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.