The holy grail of home improvement is a project that makes a big difference to the appearance or value of the home without breaking the bank. The key is to focus on low-cost, quality items that will give the most bang for your buck. Here are five to consider:
New bathroom countertop
Bathroom remodels still provide some of the best return on investment for home improvement projects, but can also be some of the most expensive. If you can’t afford a full bathroom overhaul, opt for one high-impact update. Replace that outdated laminate vanity countertop with a stone version to bring an immediate touch of class to the bathroom. This update can be completed quickly and, for homeowners with a little plumbing knowledge, could even be a DIY project.
Refinish kitchen cabinets
According to Home Advisor, replacing kitchen cabinets in a typical 10-by-10 kitchen costs an average $4,000-$13,000. For homeowners not able to make that type of investment, refinishing existing cabinets can provide a dramatic upgrade at a fraction of the cost. Homeowners can start by removing all cabinet doors and hardware, keeping all hardware together in a bag in case it's needed later. Cabinets with a glossy finish should be sanded, either with blocks or a chemical product, then either stained (consider an espresso finish for a modern look) or painted. Adding new, brushed metal fixtures completes the look.
Affordable roof update
For the biggest ROI on an improvement, look outside. Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report revealed nine of the top 10 high-return remodeling projects were exterior replacement projects. Replacing a roof can sound overwhelming, but with some smart shopping can provide a major curb appeal boost on a budget.
A common misconception is that expensive products equal better products. While that can certainly be true, there are lots of examples where the most expensive option is not the best choice for every consumer. This is certainly true in large home improvement projects, where the costs can run high and the consequences for purchasing subpar materials can be serious. But, homeowners can save money while protecting their investments by finding the low-cost leader in the product category: a product that provides the best quality for the price point.
“In many product segments there is a low-cost leader — a product or brand comparable in quality to more expensive brands, but offered at a lower cost to provide the best value per dollar,” says Rick Taylor, a longtime roofing contractor now working as a trainer for TAMKO Building Products, manufacturer of the low-cost leader Heritage shingle. “Home improvement isn’t the place to cut corners, but, if you buy smart, you can save money even on big exterior projects.”
New door and porch decor
A new entryway can add major curb appeal to any home, but can also come with a big price tag, especially if the front porch area is aesthetically weak and would require construction to build it out. To achieve a similar result at a fraction of the cost, replace the front door with a new, energy-efficient option with a strong design element. You may even consider painting it a bold color. Next, add a ready-made pergola around the entryway, or large concrete or sandstone pillars on either side of the door, available at most garden stores. Adding large, decorative plants to the top of the pillars, or around the doorway, can help define a dramatic entryway without ever pulling out a hammer.
Adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the most affordable ways to update many portions of the home. While time-consuming, the transformative properties of paint on a staircase, exterior shutters, interior walls or even a floor are legendary. Paint is another great opportunity to utilize the consumer trick of looking for the low-cost leader in the product category. Stay away from the cheapest paint as it may chip or require many coats to cover, and in the end, cost you even more money to fix. But, also avoid the highest-end paints, as you may be paying more for the brand name than the actual product. Look for the best quality option at the most affordable price point.