5 Top Home Improvement Project Tips


5 Home Improvement Projects That Deliver Great Returns on Your Investment

As a homeowner, there are probably dozens of home renovation projects that you would love to be able to complete this year. From landscaping to roofing, kitchens to additions, there never seems to be enough time – or money – to do it all.

While every home and every homeowner has their own unique set of priorities, real estate professionals advise clients to focus on two specific areas; curb appeal and the basic structural integrity of the home.

While there are several ways for homeowners to accomplish this, we’ve included our top five home improvement project tips here. As an added bonus, each project can deliver great returns on your investment (ROI).

Pro Tip #1: New Entry and Garage Doors

Any home that was built before 1990 (and still has the original doors) will most likely benefit from replacing its original wood entrance door(s) with new ones. Not only will a new steel or vinyl replacement door look better to people entering the home, they’ll also deliver far greater energy efficiency gains, too. The R-value (resistance to heat loss/gain) of most new steel and fiberglass-clad entry doors are around R-5 to R-6 – more than 5x the R-value of a wood door. Although initially more expensive, the same principle applies to replacing older garage doors with better performing ones as well.

Pro Tip #2: Outdoor Living Spaces: Composite Decking

When compared with the costs of building a new addition to a house, adding a high quality, highly functional outdoor deck area instead makes a lot of sense. Not only will a new deck increase the outdoor living area for homeowners to enjoy, it can also significantly add to a home’s resale value.

However, not all decking materials are created equal and many prospective homebuyers could view a poorly maintained or aging wooden deck as being a potential source of additional work and/or money to maintain.

Unlike wood, many homeowners are now choosing composite decking because it requires very little maintenance to keep it looking great. Another advantage of composite decking is that it will not rot, splinter or require sanding, scraping and staining every few years.

Made in Maine, DuraLife composite decking is a stiff, durable composite material made from post-industrial and post-consumer recycled wood and polypropylene. Since DuraLife composite decking is also resistant to mold and mildew growth, homeowners can safely clean the deck without using harsh, dangerous chemicals. Without any annoying and painful splinters to ever worry about, DuraLife composite decking is also extremely “feet-friendly!” DuraLife offers  composite decking samples to homeowners in a variety of colors, railing options, and unique non-repeating, variegated board patterns.

Pro Tip #3: Exterior Siding

If you haven’t kept up with the many improvements that have taken place in the vinyl siding industry, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The long-time benefits of vinyl siding are well documented – lots of semi-permanent color options and low maintenance. However, todays vinyl siding is much better looking and it delivers much more than simply a fast and easy cover up of a homes unsightly exterior.

According to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® installing new vinyl siding on a home will recover 83% of its initial cost at resale.

Heavy competition in the industry is forcing vinyl siding manufacturers such as Georgia Pacific, CertainTeed and others to continuously develop new materials and better performing products each year. 

Pro Tip #4: Kitchen Upgrades (Small Projects Under $15k)

Ask any homeowner where they typically spend the most time and they will likely say it’s in the kitchen area. So, it makes sense to keep the room – and the appliances within it – looking fresh and up to date. That doesn’t mean that you need to completely start over. Often, simply by upgrading to new, ENERGYSTAR rated appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves can make an instant improvement to appearances, and your energy bill.

Another upgrade to consider is keeping the existing structure of the kitchen cabinets and replacing only the doors and hardware. Along with an updated countertop surface and a fresh coat of paint, homeowners can create an entirely new kitchen experience both for themselves and potential homebuyers down the road.

According to a National Association of Home Builders report, hot trends in kitchen remodeling included installations of granite countertops, wood cabinets and stainless steel appliances. Consider these choices when it comes time to upgrade your kitchen and you can be sure they will remain contemporary  for the foreseeable future.

Pro Tip #5: Attic insulation

While it may not be the most visually interesting item on the list, there’s little doubt that adding insulation to an attic is one of the most cost-effective home improvement projects that homeowners can undertake.

For homeowners in warmer climates, adding insulation will help moderate indoor air temperatures by reducing the amount of solar heat gain penetrating through the attic. To improve performance even further, homeowners should also consider installing a layer of reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) to prevent solar heat from reaching inside the attic in the first place.

Here in the northeast, its more about keeping the heat inside a house during the cold winter months. Air sealing and adding attic insulation slows the natural tendency of warm air to rise up and out of a home (home performance pros call this the ‘stack effect’). Slowing down this force not only keeps heat inside a home longer, it also reduces the force at which cold air is sucked into a home through the basement, windows and doors.

To get a better idea of how quickly these types of projects can pay for themselves, the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers of America (CIMA) created an easy to use calculator to help homeowners learn how much they could save (in fuel expenses) by upgrading the amount of insulation in their attic.

When it comes to prioritizing projects around the house, it’s important to look at both short and long-term costs, benefits and maintenance requirements. While no effort to improve the appearance or condition of a home is necessarily wasted, there are some projects that will be more satisfying to you (and a future homebuyer) quicker than others. Start there and you’ll be able to spend more time relaxing and less time stressing.

This article is made possible by DuraLife. DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products. More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.