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Create More Curb Appeal: 20 Ways to Beautify Your Home Exterior

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

“Home sweet home.” The famous song lyrics written by John Howard Payne express a little of the sentiment we feel when we arrive at the place where we live. No matter how modest or extravagant our space may be, it’s more to us than the place we sleep, shower and eat, and we want it to be the best it possibly can be.

We like for home to feel welcoming and inviting for everyday use as well as special occasions. If and when it comes time to sell a home, that drive-up appeal becomes not only nice to have for you and your family but also crucial to the successful and profitable sale of your home. There are a number of ways to answer the question of how to increase the curb appeal of your home.

People might make outside or inside improvements for a number of reasons:

  • Enhance aesthetics

  • Increase value

  • Fulfill a dream

  • Repair damage

  • Maintain quality

  • Entice buyers

  • Create energy efficiency

  • Fit into neighborhood

  • Change looks, colors, textures

  • Spend an unexpected windfall

  • Improve ecology

  • Make more room

The National Association of Realtors® conducts multiple studies each year, one of which focuses on remodeling projects and people’s motivation for the doing them. The findings reveal:

  • 38% of people surveyed wanted to replace or upgrade old materials

  • 17% of people remodeled to add features and functionality

  • 13% of those surveyed wanted a change

After a remodeling or improvement project, 74% of people reported an increased desire to be in their home.

Professional Realtors® ranked the importance of exterior-improvement projects according to their appeal and resale value, and both list the same items and numbers:

  1. New roofing

  2. New vinyl windows

  3. New garage door

  4. New vinyl siding

A great approach to adding some curb appeal is to ask: “What’s my budget?” Before or after that, you can likely benefit from making a list of all the things you’d like to do and then prioritizing the items on it. For example, adding a wooden deck might range in cost from $5,000 to $30,000, while pulling weeds costs nothing.

Organizing your mental list of exterior projects will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Once you have a list and ranking, you can start pricing them and doing what you can when you can, or the process might clearly show that you need to do the zero-cost improvements while you save toward a bigger project.

Before long, you will know the exact answer to the question of how to improve the exterior of your home. You will find no shortage of advice on what to do and how to do it, and you’ll benefit from an awareness of all the possibilities before you make your list and set your priorities.

Exterior Improvement Ideas

1. Roof/Eaves/Overhangs — The importance of the roof should not be understated or underestimated. Simply put, it is the largest thing connected to the exterior aesthetics of your home, and if it looks bad, it drags down the whole look of your place. While not an inexpensive project, a new roof not only improves your home’s entire visual profile, but it is also an improvement project that holds value well throughout its life.

It is a good idea to inspect the roof each year including the flashings, vent openings, eaves, overhangs and condition of the shingles to find any issues early, before they become problems. Some people don’t mind climbing up there to have a close look, but you can also stand on the ground with a pair of binoculars and accomplish a fairly thorough inspection.

Roofs of all kinds tend to have a long life, 20-50 years. For example, a slate or copper roof might last as long as 50 years, a wood-shake roof usually goes for 30 years, fiber-cement shingles endure for about 25 years and an asphalt-shingle composition roof typically lasts about 20 years.

The same way a house with tall weeds in the yard and overgrown trees gives us that scary-movie feeling, a rooftop with moss stains, dark spots or a lot of dirt generates negative feelings. You can revive the look of your roof with a thorough and professional cleaning through a trusted partner such as Cedar Roof Coatings. With the right tools and expertise, a cleaning — and in the case of wood shingles, a quality coating — can leave your roof looking neat, clean and practically like new. How to upgrade the exterior of a home should extend to the roof, including inspection, cleaning and/or replacement.

2. Windows — New and/or sparkling windows make a great impression, and to do that, they need a good cleaning about every six months. Experts recommend that people graduate from the old paper towels and/or newspaper and glass cleaner method and use a bucket and quality squeegee tool much like the ones you can use at a gas station to clean the windshield. There are a number of solutions you can use including dish soap, sudsy ammonia or vinegar mixed with warm water.

3. Garage Door — The garage door is usually a part of the home’s façade and overall aesthetics, so if it is faded, worn, missing rubber, dented or has broken hardware, it is probably time for a replacement. Garage-door replacement brings back an estimated 91% of your investment upon resale.

4. Siding and Trim — An investment in new siding and trim will of course make your house look fresh and new, but should be done if there is damaged or extremely old siding on a house. If the siding inspection shows no damage but a lot of dirt, you can rent or borrow a power washer to remove it. If you decide to power wash, test the machine before you start in a mostly unseen area, like down low in the back corner of the house. Another option for exterior covering is to install actual stone masonry or a veneer that resembles it.

5. Front Door — Create a grand entry to your home starting with a nice-quality door. Add molding around the door to give it extra draw power. The 2016 Cost versus Value Report showed that homeowners in the middle Atlantic region who replaced their front-entry door with a steel replacement recouped 87% of the $1,400 average cost of the project upon resale of their home.

6. Portico — If the front door does not have a covered, shingled portico already, consider adding one, since it is a relatively non-invasive construction and will add immensely to the look of your house — not to mention keep the weather off of you and any guests entering your home.

7. Walkway — Many of today’s pavers are easy to install and come in a rainbow of colors that can complement your home. A path to the front door dresses up the approach and entry, and you can further define and decorate it with well-spaced plants on either side. The same pavers or plain stones can be used to create a walkway through the garden or planted areas and between buildings.

8. Landscape — Texture and color in the yard enhance the look of your home. Other features might include lawn, mulched trees, pebble paths and more. If you want to add landscape elements but are not sure how to do it, check with local nurseries to see if they have a landscape architect who does complementary plans. You could also hire such a person, check out books on the topic or tap a volunteer master gardener in your area to help. Naturally it adds to the overall aesthetics of a home if the yard is free of clutter, especially old or unused items as well as any plants that are dead or dying. Simple, clean and elegant are good primary goals in landscape design.

9. Lighting — Outdoor lighting adds elegance to the landscape as you define entryways, light pathways and highlight features. Hard-wired lights are brighter, but solar-powered can also look nice. If you decide to add lighting, you’ll have a broad selection among lights that go on the ground or in trees and come in gaslight and other charming lantern styles.

10. Porch — A front porch, back deck or outdoor patio can be the most inviting and enjoyable features of a home, and if you have one, it’s important to maintain it. How does the paint or stain look? What is the condition of the boards and rails, and do any need to be replaced or sanded back to smoothness? Do any nails or screws stick out to create a hazard? Is there concrete that is cracked or buckled? You can do an inspection and then make a note and a plan for needed repairs or replacement.

11. Lawn — Nothing beats the feel of lush, green grass beneath your feet, but that enjoyment hardly ever comes without some effort. Golf-course-like grass requires a regimen of steps annually to fertilize, feed, weed, seed and water the yard, plus investigating any bald or yellow patches. Sometimes it can help you better understand your needs to test the soil and get the full picture of your growing conditions. Once you get it growing, the next steps will be to keep it trimmed regularly and either mulch or remove the cuttings. Ambitious keepers then do more maintenance such as aeration and insect treatments.

12. Driveway — Whatever kind of driveway you have, it is a part of the approach and overall look of your home and needs maintenance and occasional improvements. Any budget can bear keeping weeds and other growth out of the driveway. If you have an asphalt or concrete driveway, you can consider a thorough scrub or pressurized wash as well as patches for any places where the driveway is cracked, crumbling or damaged. You can use landscape bricks or other materials to line the edges of the driveway to give it definition, create a manicured look and prevent weeds from encroaching.

13. Trees and Shrubs — Most people would classify out-of-control bushes and trees or their parts lying around as undesirable. Get out your hedge trimmers and snip the shrubs into shape and whenever possible, keep them lower than window level. Mature trees need trimmed occasionally to keep their shape and remain healthy, but it is normally best to call a professional for the job. Trees that are tall, extra large, touching or close to the house and underneath power lines can be especially problematic and require expert knowledge. You can plant trees to enhance your landscape as well as place borders or small gardens around existing ones where grass won’t grow.

14. Flowers — You can add flower beds to any part of your home and plant different things in it to yield colors and look pretty all year. Each feature you have or add helps your home exude warmth and character, so it’s important to maintain and refresh those features regularly. To maintain a sharp look in any bed, you can add mulch, keep it free of weeds and trim back any dead parts or unruly plant growth. For a new or varied look, try adding some layers and various levels of raised plants. You can place flowers and other potted plants to add color right where you want it and/or install a window box to add color and appeal.

15. Mailbox — We tend to just use this utility and not notice it much after we’ve lived in a place for a while, but it is often the first thing visitors or prospective buyers will see, whether it’s at the end of a driveway or on the porch. You can consider several options for sprucing up the mailbox: Replace it, paint it, finish the mailbox post to match your home, such as installing a stone veneer, and get replacements for the numbers and letters that mark it.

16. Fences — Not all fence structures enclose pets or livestock — some add decoration or definition. For example: People might place a few decorative sections on either side of the driveway entrance, at the corner boundaries of their property or to outline a garden area. While chain link or wire might be the cheapest options, other types such as a picket or iron fence can be functional and add value to the home if they are maintained well.

17. Gutters — Check gutters and downspouts yearly and replace any parts that show rust or other corrosion. Worn-out or discolored parts detract from the beauty of your home and may cause damage if they’re not doing their jobs correctly.

18. Hardware — Replace house numbers, front door handles, doorknobs and other hardware so that it matches — for example, the deadbolt and doorknob. Typically, a nickel finish fits more contemporary homes and a bronze finish matches traditional homes, but many people suit the hardware to their taste.

19. Doorbell — If you’re trying to sell your home and it has a doorbell, you can almost bet that the prospective buyers will see if it works. Even if you’re not selling, most people want to keep the doorbell in working order because anyone coming to the door might not know they need to knock.

20. Space — You can quickly create additional outdoor living spaces by first defining it with rugs, pavers or stones as well as chairs, tables, a trellis or pergola, lights, a fire pit and other elements made for outside use. Pick your favorite spot and then add what will suit your taste and complement your home.

Overall, artistic principles demonstrate that symmetry and clean lines please the eye. Ultimately, it is you and/or the right buyer who decides how to update the exterior of your home. Each person employs their personal creativity to make improvements that increase curb appeal and create that home-sweet-home effect.

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