Home Upgrades that Make a Big Difference

Inside and out, the right home improvement projects can positively impact a home’s value. From garage door replacements that have a calculated 94.5 percent return on investment* to adding decorative mouldings that complement a home’s personal style, home upgrades can make a big difference on a house.

“Making positive changes to your home almost always has payback,” says realtor Vincent A. Stanson, a REALTOR® associate with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in New Jersey. “It doesn’t matter if you’re making changes for your own personal enjoyment or as enticements to sell a property. When you upgrade any aspect of your home it results in positive return on investment.”

Sweeping Statements

Inside the home, one of the most eye-catching changes a homeowner can make is to upgrade an aging stairway system.

“Whether people change out the entire stairway or opt to replace just the balusters, this home improvement project makes a large visual impact,” says Craig Kurtz, president of L.J. Smith Stair Systems. “These days there are DIY kits that make it simple to transform the look of a stairway. With an IronPro, dated wooden balusters can be swapped out for more trendy iron balusters. Homeowners can replace all or just a few of their old wooden balusters to create a new look.”

Another way to quickly make a big impact in the home is to replace older interior doors with sliding barn doors. Steel, wood and PVC barn doors are popular solutions, as is the Barn-Lite sliding door, featuring acrylic blocks. Supported by durable steel hardware overhead, the sliding acrylic block doors provide privacy plus allow for light to flow from room to room.


DIY Success

Part of the joy of home improvement projects is seeing instant results. When homeowners tackle DIY projects, like painting a room or replacing a kitchen backsplash, the results are instantaneous.

Some DIY projects involving moulding and millwork can be tackled in just a few hours by homeowners. Adding floating shelves or a rustic mantel to a room is a fast, easy project. And, for those with another set of helping hands, even attaching faux wood beams to a ceiling can be done in just a day.

“Making changes with millwork products is very rewarding,” says Keith Early, vice president of marketing and new product development at Ornamental Moulding & Millwork. “I recently transformed an ugly basement in my own home.

“Rustic faux wood beams were added to the ceiling and decorative boards create a ‘box look’ around round white steel posts. I even installed Rustic Maple Boards to create a bar area. Now we have a basement retreat instead of a dumping ground for boxes.”


Real Stone Finishes

Inside and out, real stone coating kits are growing in popularity for DIY projects. Daich Coatings offers a SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit that includes everything needed to cover 40 square feet of surface. In three easy steps, ugly Formica, wood, laminate or tile bathroom or kitchen countertop are replaced with a multi-colored decorative stone finish. The transformation occurs quickly and is one of the easiest projects imaginable.

“In just a day and a half I was able to do the entire kitchen countertop all by myself,” says homeowner Gina Ognoskie. “The countertop kit was so easy to use, and had such great results that I wanted to keep going!

“I never really liked the tile in my shower, so I purchased the SpreadStone™ Wall Tile Refinishing Kit in the River Rock color. It was just as easy to do as the countertops. The kit really transformed my shower!”

Outside the home, the SpreadStone™ Decorative Concrete Resurfacing Kit locks a new stone surface onto older, aging concrete. The DIY project is ideal for porches, steps, patios, walkways and even garage floors.


Making Your Home Safer

One of the most important ways of upgrading a home includes making sure the family is secure. From video doorbells to alarm systems, safety improvements are a strong investment for homeowners.

Safety doesn’t stop with security systems. Homeowners with first floor master bathrooms and living areas know that gaining privacy in the home is a safety matter. To prevent peeping Toms and nosy neighbors from peering in the house, consider replacing a clear glass window with a privacy window.

From acrylic block to decorative glass, there are many privacy windows available that allow light (and oftentimes fresh air) in while protecting the privacy of occupants. There’s even a Vari-Lite window from Hy-Lite that features between-glass blinds that can easily be raised, lowered and tilted open so homeowners control their desired level of privacy. And, because the blinds are encased in clear tempered safety glass, the cord-free operation reduces safety risks to children and pets.

Another element of safety comes underfoot. Applying a clear coat sealer, like TracSafe® Anti-Slip Sealer, helps prevent slips and fall. Pool decks, garage floors, porches and basements all benefit from the slip-resistant properties in the sealer.

With anti-slip ratings up to twice the OSHA standard, TracSafe provides aggressive anti-slip performance with all-weather durability.  Its high-performance, odorless water-based technology bonds firmly to all types of flooring materials, from concrete, masonry, stone and pavers, to tile, vinyl, linoleum and pre-painted surfaces —indoors and out.

Investments with Long Term Value

On the home exterior, homeowners can look toward a roof replacement, new siding, an updated garage door and new windows to add long-term value to their residences.

Starting at the top, a composite slate or shake roof replacement does more than just look good on a house. It helps protect it from severe weather conditions while being easy to maintain. As a bonus, many people save hundreds of dollars each year in homeowner insurance premiums by investing in a composite roof.

“After a hail storm destroyed my roof in 2019 I saw two things happening,” says Omaha homeowner Dr. John Andersen. “First, insurance companies were raising the deductible for policies with a real cedar roof or no longer offering any insurance for real cedar shake products.

“The second thing that influenced my roofing decision was the aesthetic look of the DaVinci Roofscapes product. The Bellaforté Shake in Mountain blend we’re all using in our community looks like real cedar shake. Plus my insurance premiums have been discounted 20 percent since I got my impact- and fire-resistant roof.”

Severe weather, searing sun and everyday use also takes its toll on other elements of the home exterior, like siding, shutters and garage doors.

According to the 2020 Cost Versus Value Study, a garage door replacement returns a whopping 94.5% of the investment cost for a homeowner. That’s the second highest recoup value of more than 20 home improvement projects in the study.

“Replacing a garage door to update a style, gain on energy efficiency savings or enhance curb appeal is a smart idea,” says Samantha Sutton, renovator of the After Hours project. “If the garage door can be seen on the front of the house, like ours can, it’s critical to make sure the unit complements the rest of the home exterior. We used the HaasCreate online tool to preview what the new American Tradition Series doors would look like on our home. With so many great options, being able to visualize them on our home was a game changer.”

Visualizers like HaasCreate allow homeowners to “see” what a new garage door will look like on a home — including the addition of privacy glass, the style door and colors. Within minutes the free online tool shows a variety of garage door styles on a home plus options for window glass, trim, colors/woodgrains and even decorative handles and hinges.


“Using all the free tools available from manufacturers is a smart way to start home improvement projects,” says realtor Stanson. “Product samples, literature and online visualizers can all help make home upgrades less daunting and more productive.”



*2020 Cost Versus Value Study from Remodeling magazine – https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2020/

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