Inexpensive Ways to Improve an Older Home's Value

  • Intermediate

After decades of wear and tear, older homes are frequently damaged. They have often been neglected by previous owners. If you own or buy an older home, follow this advice to improve its appearance and efficiency. You will increase its value without putting a major dent in your finances.


The all-important curb appeal of an older home can be easily achieved, especially if you have an eye for detail. First, pull weeds that are growing in the sidewalk, driveway, and walkway cracks. You can also spray chemical weed killers. Be sure to remove weeds growing in flowerbeds, as well as those around the house. Mow the lawn to a reasonable level and sow grass seed in bare patches.

If there are flowerbeds that remain unused, it is possible to fill them with a self-propagating ground cover, such as ivy. Just be sure to avoid climbing ivy or other vines, as they can damage the exterior of the house.

You can also fill these areas with grass or buy sod to fill in any areas that don't have plants growing. Nothing looks sadder on an older home's exterior than empty garden plots. Give them something green and growing to make the house look better immediately.

If the siding on the house is dirty, consider giving it a good washing. If the dirt has not had much time to accumulate, sometimes taking a regular garden hose to the siding will do the trick. Otherwise, a power washing may be in order. They can be rented for little cost from your local home improvement center. There are also contractors that offer pressure washing service from the back of a specially equipped truck.

While you're at it, make sure to wash down porches, patios, and decks, clean out gutters, and repair any downspouts that may have come loose or need to be replaced. Make sure storm windows and screens are clean and in good repair.

One way to increase value in an older home is to remove outdated elements from the exterior. Old awnings, ragged-looking fences, and unused, rusty playsets can be removed with only the cost of disposal. You may find that getting rid of these extras improves the exterior of your house as much as any new addition would.


The interior of the house, whether or not you live in it, requires special attention. Cleaning, maintenance, and updates are necessary to keep the house in livable condition.

For a small fee, you can rent carpet shampooers that will remove stains and odors from carpets. If the carpet cannot be saved, check to see if there are hardwood floors underneath the carpeting. Do so by lifting a corner of the carpet in a closet.

If there is hardwood under the carpet, and it is in decent condition, you may find that the wood floor provides a better surface than the old (or even new) carpeting. If the floor seems a little worn, it may be possible to make repairs or resurface it yourself.

If your baseboards, window frames, and door frames are painted, you may be able to strip layers of paint to reveal glowing, golden wood frames and baseboards. Not only is natural wood a very desirable element in an older home, but stripping paint also only requires manpower and dedication. You will need to purchase a stripping agent and appropriate safety wear, such as gloves and goggles. The cost is minimal. You may consider doing the same thing for any painted doors or cabinetry.

Many homeowners avoid dealing with interiors windows because of the high cost of replacement; however, you can do your older home a great service by making sure that the windows are clean and in working order. Sticky windows may need stripped of old paint or sanded so that they glide smoothly within their frames. In addition, caulk around the windows to deter drafts. Make sure all latches or locks and weatherstrips are all in good order. Older windows may not be at peak efficiency, but you can extend their lives by properly maintaining them.


Regular maintenance is a must, and it is never too late to start. Preventative maintenance can stave off expensive repairs. For example,

1. Clean out dryer vents on a weekly basis—this will improve the efficiency of the appliance.

2. Annual replacement of the furnace filters. Efficient appliances use less energy and last longer.

3. Being careful not to flush food and grease inside the drains will greatly improve the frequency of maintenance on those pipes.

4. If you have hard water, consider the cost-effectiveness of a water softener. Hard water buildup can ruin pipes, dishwashers, washing machines, faucets, and sinks, not to mention the damage it causes to clothing and tableware. The cost of a water softener may seem prohibitive at first, but when it comes to protecting the other items in your home, a water softener can save you hundreds of dollars.

Making cost-effective improvements to your older home makes it a nicer place for you - or someone else - to live. A more desirable house is a more valuable house. A more valuable house is a better house to own.