A new survey tested 1,000 people of different generations to find out who knows common household tools the best.
If you’ve ever walked down the aisle of a hardware store, you may be overwhelmed by how many tools are out there. Sometimes it’s just easier to hire help to get your home project done, but a lot of people are stubborn and often decide to haul out the toolkit to attempt the project themselves.
As younger generations grow older, we were curious as to how many home projects they attempt and how well versed they are in tools. We surveyed 1,000 people across four generations: Gen Z (18-25), Millennials (26-41), Gen X (42-57), and Baby Boomers (58-76) to see which generation is the “handiest” when it comes to fixing things around the house.
Turns out that Gen Z has a lot to learn from Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. However, that’s not to say the older generations are getting an A+ when it comes to knowing common household tools.
Gen Z admits it: they’re not very handy. Out of all four generations surveyed, less than half (44%) of the youngest generation consider themselves a pro with at-home projects. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers rated themselves lower (61%) than Gen X (66%). But although Gen X rated themselves the handiest generation, they’re also most likely to end up making the issue worse. Three out of five admit that’s happened before.
Out of all the generations, Millennials are most likely to try and fix something on their own. Millennials, along with Gen Z and Gen X, are also unwilling to admit defeat when working on a tricky project.
All three generations are more likely to call family members for help before professionals. In fact, Gen Z is two times more likely to ask family for help, compared to other generations.
Baby Boomers are the only outliers. One out of 10 Boomers will call a professional instead of reaching out to a family member first.
We decided to put the generations to the test and see if they could really prove they know what they’re talking about when it comes to common household tools. We asked each generation to identify common tools, what it’s used for, how much it cost, and whether or not they currently own them. Then we gave each age group a grade based on how they did.
Oscar Wilde wasn’t wrong when he said, “with age comes wisdom.” Baby Boomers got the best report card to take home. This generation was the only one to receive a “B.” Unfortunately, Gen Z needs to hit the books or visit the hardware store a little more. The generation was the only one to get two failing grades for their knowledge of putty knives and stud finders.
Gen X proved they are not to be trifled with. While they didn’t get as good of a grade as Baby Boomers, they beat out the other generations by getting the best score in identifying tools; they correctly guessed 9 out of the 12 tools.
All generations might need some help if they ever end up on “The Price is Right.” It was very rare for even 50% of an age group to guess the right average price for common household tools.
Every generation overestimated the price of stud finders ($16 on average) and caulk guns ($10 on average). Gen Z was most likely to overestimate prices, but Baby Boomers underestimated prices the most.
Each generation consistently underestimated the average price of four main tools: paint rollers ($17), drills ($146), tape measures ($13), and rakes ($23).
Tools can be expensive, so people may turn to family, neighbors, or even friends for specific tools they don’t own. Gen X has borrowed the most tools compared to others. Baby Boomers seem to have accumulated a lot of what they needed, and borrow the least. On the rare occasion, they do need something, Baby Boomers borrow mainly from family members and neighbors.
Most generations agree about the staple tools everyone should own. Across the board, all generations say the first two tools that should be in any toolkit are a hammer and a screwdriver.
Gen Z was the only generation to consider duct tape as one of the top five most important tools. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers think a wrench is vital. Millennials and Gen X both agree that everyone should have a tape measure.
Some things are best left to the professionals. Every generation agreed that they hire professionals for most electrical and plumbing work in their homes, rather than take it on themselves.
That being said, many were willing to take on smaller projects if it meant saving a little cash. Gen Z is most likely to complete simpler at-home projects such as fixing walls and doors, assembling furniture, and simple plumbing issues like fixing a running toilet.
Our data shows that as generations get older, they also have more expertise in complex issues. Millennials and Gen X are more willing to try simple electrical work like installing light fixtures and replacing switches. Gen X is also the first generation to say they’d hire out an at-home project because they have more money to do so.
Meanwhile, Baby Boomers appear to be the most knowledgeable of all generations. However, since the generation is aging, those we surveyed said they’re just not physically able to do the work they used to, and now need extra help.
When it comes down to it, we probably all could use a helping hand tackling at-home projects. Next time maybe chat with someone from a different generation for a new perspective on how to get things done.
In March 2022, we surveyed 1,049 people across four generations (262 Gen Z, 264 Millennials, 262 Gen X, 261 Baby Boomers) to get their feedback and test their knowledge about home tools and projects. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 with an average age of 42. 49% of respondents were women and 48% were men.
To determine report card grades, we created a point scale based on four specific questions (tool identification, tool purpose, tool ownership and tool price estimation). Each answer was based on a 5-point scale and added up to 20 to determine a final grade.
To determine the price for each common household tool, we collected the price of the first non-sponsored tool to show up on Amazon, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Menards & Lowe’s. We then determined the overall average from those prices.
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