Our Buy, Sell, or Home? contest was a big success, with nearly 200 home-improvement ideas posted! To see what we mean, scan through the ideas on the discussion board -- you're sure to find something to improve your home at relatively minimal expense.
Our congratulations to Beachblues1, who will be taking home $500 of David and Tom Gardner's money for offering up a wonderful idea about replacing flooring for far less than you'd expect.
Beachblues1's idea is below, along with a couple of honorable mentions. Look 'em over, and then head to the Buy, Sell, or Home? discussion board to see the rest!
New Floors in Your House
Is your kitchen linoleum shot? Always wanted wood floors in the dining room or entrance foyer? Can't afford the $2,500-$3,000 per room?
Now you can install the new snap-and-tap-together flooring that is sold at Home Depot, Lowe's and other flooring companies. There are a huge variety of colors and patterns including tiles and natural-looking wood floors that last 20 years. Buy the $8 video that covers the installation steps in detail.
Rent a doorjamb cutter from Home Depot for $14 a half-day and cut under your doorjambs so the new floor will fit in under them. Remove the floor molding and label each piece on the back with masking tape. Now is a great time to paint it while it is off the wall, or install a more decorative molding.
You put down a pad they sell with masking tape over your existing floor and then start laying out the new floor. Then snap and tap the pieces together. You will be AMAZED at how good the new floor looks, and you cannot see the lines where the pieces are hooked together. Tack the molding back down with finishing nails and touch up paint over the heads. You are done!!
A good ballpark cost is about $2.50 a square foot. Allow for about a 10% waste factor where you trim the pieces at the edges of the room or around cabinets. You can do a 15x18 room for around $800 including the pad. The best part about this is if someone burns your floor, you can cut out that piece and drop in another piece that was left over!
I did my kitchen floor by myself in two weekends, and that was my first floor attempt.
Then a friend and I then did his 235-sq. ft. kitchen and laundry room AND the 120-sq. ft. hall entranceway in three days.
This is an unbelievably cheap home improvement that totally changes the house.
Plus, it takes very little skill and a few basic tools like a hammer and a circular or jigsaw.
I have before and after pictures to show!
One final hint: The flooring companies discount their end of season floors in October by 10%-20% to get rid of their inventory.
A great way to add significant value to a home with a reasonably paltry investment is to install faux wainscoting throughout the entryway and hallways of your home. You'll need to buy some chair-rail molding and some picture-frame molding at your local Home Depot/Lowe's/etc. Buy the cheap, pre-primed molding, since you'll be painting it anyway.
Install the chair-rail molding at approximately 36" from the floor. Then, create boxes underneath the chair rail with your picture-frame molding. If you have a large wall, create several boxes. (I have one long hallway in my home where I made five boxes beneath the rail.) Once the molding is installed, paint the chair rail and everything below the rail white. Paint everything above the rail something other than white. In my house, I used a golden yellow in the foyer and hallways.
Of course, if your wife is like mine, she'll want you to add crown molding as well. But be forewarned, crown molding is not cheap, and it can be very, very difficult to work with, especially for the inexperienced carpenter. But it does add to the look, especially if you paint it white to match your faux wainscoting.
Obviously, your costs will vary depending on the square footage of your wall space and the quality of the materials used (molding, paint, nails, etc.). You will also want to rent a miter saw and nail gun with an air compressor. I spent less than $1,000 in materials to do this in my home.
I had the house appraised for a refinancing six months ago, and the appraiser was amazed at how beautiful the molding looked. He told me that the molding alone probably added $10,000 to $15,000 to the value of my home.
Change Your Lighting
The best home improvement for the least price? Change the lighting!
We just pulled up our old carpet and installed a wood laminate floor. Yeah, it looks great, but what really made the difference in the way our great room looks are the new lighting fixtures. We spent less than $300 on two matching ceiling lights (for entry and kitchen), one wall sconce, and a chandelier for the dining area.
The fixtures are all fluorescent -- saving us monthly in utility bills. We found a great match in a ceiling fan for only $125 and finished the look with two track lighting fixtures ($110 each) above the kitchen counters where old-fashioned four-foot fluorescent fixtures had been with those ugly plastic diffusers.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE! For less than $650 total and a little elbow grease, we updated the whole look of our home! Plus, the fixtures we took out are in great condition, if you like circa 1980s, and will be at our next yard sale.