Do-It-Yourself Projects to Boost Home Value

A little sweat equity can go a long way.

Whole-house renovations can add value to your home, but there are ways to upgrade your investment without going into debt or ransacking your savings. Painting, re-grouting tile, and power washing the outside of your home won’t cost a lot of money, but these do-it-yourself home improvement ideas can add real value to your home.

With some sweat equity, a DIY attitude, and a few dollars, you can list your home for more money if you’re ready to sell. And if you’re not quite ready to put your home on the market, you can enjoy having a more beautiful place to live.

Here are some low-cost, high-value home improvement projects to consider.


  • Popular home improvement DIYs include painting, updating fixtures, lights, or hardware, and deep-cleaning the exterior.
  • Experts recommend limiting do-it-yourself home renovations to cosmetic improvements, such as painting, landscaping, and changing out fixtures.
  • Though small, these updates can have a significant impact on the curb appeal of a home you’re trying to sell. They can also help to contribute to an increase in the value of the home.
  • New interior paint and cosmetic updates in the kitchen have some of the highest returns on time or money investments.

13 Home Improvement Ideas You Can Do Yourself

From interiors to exteriors, bathrooms to kitchens, there are small upgrades that you can do yourself to improve your home and increase its value. The most popular home improvement ideas include:

  1. Paint the walls
  2. Update simple fixtures
  3. Install ceiling fans
  4. Uncover and refinish hardwood floors
  5. Install new bathroom tile
  6. Update bathroom fixtures
  7. Paint or replace the kitchen cabinets
  8. Update knobs and pulls
  9. Install a new front door
  10. Clean the gutters
  11. Power-wash walls and decks
  12. Repaint the exterior
  13. Tidy up the landscaping

Simple Interior Updates

1. Freshen Up the Walls

If your walls have scratches and dirty paint, an outdated color, or fading wallpaper, then a little elbow grease and a few cans of paint can make a dramatic difference. Fresh paint both inside and outside of a house can signal that the home is well-maintained and increase curb appeal for potential buyers.

2. Update Fixtures

Switch plates, outlet covers, curtain rods, light fixtures, and doorknobs are often boring or overlooked, but you can add significant pizzazz for just a few dollars. Attractive metal switch plates and outlet covers can cost as little as $5 apiece but look much more expensive. Light fixtures and decorative curtain rods can be a little pricier, but sometimes you can make an inexpensive one look elegant with a can of spray paint. If you plan to sell, be sure to choose items in colors and finishes that will appeal to a broad audience.

Tayler Moots, a Compass real estate salesperson, says that “changing the hardware can make [a] room feel fresh and welcoming” and can add curb appeal.

3. Install Ceiling Fans

Everyone likes to save money on electricity bills, which makes ceiling fans an appealing addition to any home. Ceiling fans cut down on air conditioning costs and can reduce heating costs by circulating warm air away from the ceiling. A primary fan costs about $100, and you can get a nice one for no more than a couple of hundred dollars.

If you don’t already have wiring for overhead fans, you may need to hire a professional, which can significantly escalate the cost of this project. Adding ceiling fans around your house may increase energy efficiency, which bodes well for boosting home resale value later.

Fast Fact: A national report from Freddie Mac found that more energy-efficient homes are sold for over 3% to 5% more than less efficient homes.

4. Reveal and Restore Hardwood Floors

Older homes, in particular, are likely to have hardwood floors lurking beneath carpet. Squeaky floors are a sign that you may have wood floors. If you’re not sure, pull up your carpet in an unnoticeable corner and check.

If you do have wood floors, there’s a good chance you’ll have to refinish them to restore them to their original splendor, but it will be much less expensive than installing new flooring from scratch. The National Association of Realtors estimates that buyers will pay a premium, on average, of $5,000 to $6,500 for a home with hardwood floors.

Important: Some homeowners take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to pay for renovations, but it’s possible to spruce up a home without taking on debt.

Basic Bathroom Upgrades

On average, homeowners will see about a 70% return on investment (ROI) for a bathroom renovation, making it one of the prime parts of a home to improve in order to add value. However, it’s possible to boost the value of your home with some bathroom upgrades that are less demanding as well.

Plus, leaving a bathroom with old, outdated floors, backsplashes, fixtures, and other details can actually be a deterrent for some buyers or can reduce the amount people are willing to pay for the house overall.

1. Redo the Bathroom Floor

DIY installation can save you a lot of cash. If you don’t know how to install flooring, look for a class at your local home improvement store. Saving money on labor will allow you to choose more beautiful flooring than you could otherwise afford. Opt for a neutral-colored tile to add the most value.

2. Update Fixtures

Replacing generic, cheap, or outdated fixtures with newer, more customized versions can make your bathroom sparkle and look more high-end. For about $40 to $100, you can substitute a shabby bathroom vanity or ceiling light fixture with something elegant.

A similar cash outlay will get you a new sink faucet. A spa-style chrome shower head adds a touch of luxury for about $80. Towel bars are a cheap and easy fix at about $20 to $30. Sometimes, an upgrade can be more energy efficient, increasing not only the aesthetics of your home but “greening” it up as well.

Quick Fixes in the Kitchen

Kitchen renovations typically offer high ROI for home sellers. Moot says that “the highest value is added in kitchens” and adds that even “small changes” and “minor kitchen updates can have a return of up to 85.7%.”

1. Paint or Stain Kitchen Cabinets

You could buy all-new cabinets and save money by purchasing prefabricated (rather than custom) cabinets and installing them yourself, but that’s more work and money than painting or staining your existing cabinets. White cabinets will brighten a kitchen, don’t usually go out of style, and are easy for a future owner to repaint if they want something different.

You’ll need to remove all the hardware from your cabinets, including the doors. You’ll also need to clean the cabinets first, so dirt and greasy residues won’t ruin your work. Consider sprucing up your bathroom cabinets as well. Replacing your kitchen cabinets can have an ROI of 80% or more, making this one of the best—and most affordable—kitchen updates.

2. Upgrade Cabinet Knobs and Drawer Handles

It’s surprising how a seemingly innocuous element such as a cabinet doorknob can make your kitchen look cheap or dated. Updating this hardware can give your kitchen a face-lift, whether you redo your cabinets or not.

Save When You Refresh the Exterior

It may be easy for you to ignore your home’s exterior when you spend most of your time inside, but it’s the first—and sometimes only—impression that others get of your house. Here are a few simple ways to make it look its best.

1. Install a New Front Door

Moots says that “a beautiful front door can also be a game changer” when it comes to curb appeal. A fundamental steel front door costs about $100, but for another $100 to $200, you can get a door with a lot more character and garner more interest from potential buyers. If you can’t afford a new door, a fresh coat of paint in an attractive color may be all you need. A new front door can have an ROI of almost 75%.

2. Clean the Gutters

This task relates more to maintaining your home’s value than increasing it, but it’s essential. Without properly functioning gutters, which are designed to carry water away from your home, rain may seep inside or pool around the foundation, causing problems such as mold and mildew.

Eventually, water damage can compromise the house’s structural integrity, leading to costly repair bills. Gutter repair, on the other hand, only costs an average of up to $630.

3. Power Wash the Exterior of Your Home

For less time and money, a good pressure washing can make your home’s exterior look almost as good as a fresh coat of paint. Power washing the exterior of your home may increase its value by up to $15,000.

4. Repaint the Exterior

If washing the exterior of your home didn’t brighten it up as much as you had hoped, consider a new paint job. With the ladders and heights involved, this may not be a DIY task for everyone, but even if you have to hire others to do this job, it’s still pretty inexpensive as far as home improvements go and can make your house look almost new from the outside.

Important: Ninety-two percent of Realtors recommend improving home curb appeal before listing a home for sale.

6. Upgrade Landscaping or Clean Up Existing Landscaping

Flowers and other plants are a great way to brighten your home’s exterior. Use greenery in front of your house and along walkways to draw attention to your home. To get the most for your dollars, choose perennial plants, which come back year after year, rather than annuals, which—as their name suggests—last a year or less.

Patch any bald spots in the yard with fresh sod (or plant grass seed if you have time), and trim existing trees and bushes to complete the yard’s new look. Landscaping may be among the larger projects on our list, but it also comes with a sizable potential ROI of 100%.

What Are the Best DIY Projects to Add Value to Your Home?

Some of the best DIY projects to boost home value are small, inexpensive fixes with high ROI. For example, painting your kitchen cabinets typically costs $50 to $100 per gallon, plus the value of your time and labor. However, a clean, updated kitchen could improve your home sale price by thousands of dollars. Look for repairs and improvements that are relatively simple and low-cost, such as painting, updating fixtures and outlet covers, and making small landscaping upgrades.

How Can I Increase the Value of My Home?

One of the best ways to increase the value of your home is to stay on top of home repairs. Attending to basic home maintenance will ensure that small issues don’t become big problems. It will also provide you with opportunities for simple upgrades that will update the look of your home, such as replacing dated fixtures with more modern ones.

How Can I Pay for Home Improvement Projects?

Ideally, you would pay for home improvement projects out of your savings. However, sometimes you may need to make upgrades before you have the funding. Consider 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) credit cards, personal loans, home remodeling loans, or HELOCs. Just keep in mind that low- or no-interest offers typically come with a time limit; e.g., six months or two years. Read the fine print on loan agreements and budget for upcoming payments.

The Bottom Line

Upgrading your home doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, and it doesn’t have to involve contractors. A variety of projects for all price ranges and levels of skill and enthusiasm can improve your home’s value, whether for future buyers or, perhaps more important, for you.

Putting a few of these home improvement ideas into action will help you get the most value out of one of your most significant assets, whether you’re planning to stay or selling. And before a DIY project can even be considered, make sure that any new additions or changes will still fit the house’s overall aesthetic, which the best home design software can help you with.

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