It’s an exciting time! You’ve invested time and money to design a new custom closet. The parts have arrived. Now the only thing left is the closet installation. As an experienced DIYer, you know the right tool for the right job can make all the difference between a professional-quality install versus a catastrophe that falls apart. You need to make sure you use equipment that helps you get the job done right. After all, this closet is going to be around for a while.

Basic Tools for a Professional-Quality Closet Installation

We want to talk about the basic tools that every DIY homeowner should have to install a custom closet system. Depending on the complexity and details of your design, different tools and skill levels are required. However, we’ve developed a basic list that will cover most aspects of any installation. Included are tools that will help you complete the job so that you can start using the closet right away instead of having to wait for a replacement part when problems occur. After all, we are all human, and unforeseen problems do occur.

When you are purchasing your tools, it is very important that you purchase good quality equipment. Your closet should provide many years of use. Ditto for your tools. Think of them as an investment that will last for many years and projects to come. Cheap, disposable tools rarely last to the end of a single project. Good tools will make the entire project easier. We should also point out that numerous power tools listed below also have cordless (battery) options that are a great choice if your home is new construction and is not fully powered up yet.

Recommended Hand Tools Every DIY Homeowner Should Have

closet installation tools for the DIYer
  • Tape measure: You’ll need to measure the correct height to hang the rail. Measure from the floor up. Suspension rail for most closet systems should be hung at 81-3/4-inches from the floor.
  • Stud finder: Use a stud finder to determine where and how to secure your suspension rail.
  • Soft faced hammer: Sometimes your joints, hinges, and panels may need a little extra push. You don’t want to crack or destroy the laminate with a regular hammer. Use a rubber mallet or soft-faced hammer instead.
  • #2 Philips and slotted screwdrivers or ratchet: You’ll need these to tighten the cams and bolts. The ratchet is easiest for getting into tight spaces.
  • Utility knife: Everyone needs a good utility knife. Use it trim an errant piece of edge banding. Trim away a piece of carpet from the floor. You never know what you might need it for.
  • Pliers: You never want to be without a good set of pliers.
  • Small putty knife: For patching drywall.
  • Square: Make sure everything lines up nice and square.
  • Hack saw: You can always hand cut a piece of rail if you have a hack saw handy.
  • 18-inch level and a 48-inch level: You’ll want to keep everything straight and plumb.
  • Miter box: Use a miter box to saw your joints if your closet design includes crown or base moulding.
  • Extension cords: You never know when you’ll need on. Make sure at least one extension is the 3-prong type rated for heavy duty equipment like your electric table saw.
  • Portable light: Closets can be dark. Sometimes the single overhead light that comes with most closets is not enough to see into the dark corners and recesses where your closet organizers need to go. Make everything easier for yourself with a good light to illuminate the workspace.

Recommended Power Tools

Custom closet installation with homeowner using a drill
  • Cordless drill/driver combination set: Use your cordless drill to drill holes of course. Also tighten screws with a 1/2-inch driver bit. It’s one of the first tools you’ll need when you install your rail. If you are cutting your own closet panels or ordered panels with selective drilling, you many need to make a lot of holes.
  • 5mm or 3/16-inch drill bit: This go-to drill bit offers the greatest versatility. You will use it a lot for closet installation and other projects around the home.
  • 1/2-inch Spade bit: Use it with your drill for making large 1/2-inch holes.
  • 2-inch hole saw: Cut perfect grommet holes in countertops and panels. Feed wires through the holes.
  • Jigsaw and blades: You’ll need a jigsaw with a sharp blade to cut rectangle holes in your closet panels. Use it to provide access to electrical outlets, light switches, and other obstacles that would otherwise be blocked by the new closet system. Alternately, order your closet panels with these holes precut as long as your measurements and drawings are detailed and accurate.
  • Small portable table saw: Depending on type, corner shelves for closets are often shipped oversized and need to be cut on-site. Cut moulding, panels, and more with this versatile tool. It’s one of the more expensive tools on this list, but every DIY homeowner should have one.
  • Oscillating Multitool: This tool has many uses. We like to use it to make a surgical cut along baseboard and other trim surfaces for clean removal. (Hint: Floor-based closets sit flush and simply look better when you cut away the base board behind the panels).
  • Nail Gun: Use it to secure your crown and base moulding. (Optional crown and/or base can be installed on floor-based custom closet systems. They provide a built-in, furniture look to the closet).

Fasteners for Closet Installation

If you order your system from a closet company, it should come with all the brackets and hardware required for assembly. However, it’s a good idea to have some basic fasteners of your own around just in case.

Basic fasteners used in closet installation
  • Flat bar: Not really a fastener, flat bar steel has a flat surface and rectangular face, making it extremely versatile for a variety of projects. It is easily cut and very malleable, but also very strong when you need to shore up a support.
  • Togglers: Also called Snaptoggle Drywall Anchors, use these versatile supports to anchor your suspension rail if you have metal studs or there is no stud in a certain section of wall.
  • 21/2-inch wood screws: Use these versatile screws to secure the suspension rail to wood studs in your walls.
  • Tornadoes: Also known as Easy Anchors, they are self-drilling anchors used on drywall. Use your soft faced hammer to lightly tap the anchor into the wall until you get to the threads. Use a screwdriver to screw the anchor into the wall until the head of the anchor is flush with the drywall.

Ready for your next DIY closet installation?

Most closet installations can be completed by the average homeowner who is handy with tools. If you have some successful DIY experience and can handle light carpentry, you can do it. The secret is having the right tools for the job. Use these tool tips to get you on your way to a professional closet installation.

 

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