15 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $50 or Less

By Dr Penny Pincher on 19 October 2015 0 comments

Not all great home improvement projects cost an arm and a leg. In fact, there are lots of cool DIY home improvements that you can do for under $50. None of these jobs requires serious craftsperson skills, nor do they require specialized tools homeowners are unlikely to have in their garages.

1. Free Yard Makeover

Pick up trash, remove clutter, trim overgrown bushes, weed flower beds, edge your driveway and sidewalks, and generally get your yard in shape. It doesn't cost anything to do this if you already have the tools, and it can make your yard look a lot nicer and you'll feel better every time you come home.

Tools required: Saw, hand pruner, and manual edging tool.

Cost: Free!

Time: One day.

2. Remove Worn Out Carpet

If you pull back your old, worn out carpet in a corner of a room to see what is underneath, you may be surprised to find a hardwood floor. Even if the floor under the carpet is not in great condition, a hardwood floor may be an improvement over ugly, distressed carpet.

Tools required: Carpet knife and pry bar.

Cost: Free!

Time: One day.

3. Replace Old Outlets and Light Switches

It is cheap and easy to replace worn out light switches and electrical outlets with brand new ones. Check local building codes to make sure this is considered a DIY project and turn off the circuit breaker before touching the wiring. You can even get replacement electrical outlets that have built-in USB ports for charging your phone.

Tools required: Screwdriver.

Cost: Roughly $3 per switch/outlet.

Time: 30 minutes.

4. Paint Your Front Door

This small project can make a big impact on your home's curb appeal. New paint can make an old door look new again. Choose a color that matches your siding, but makes your door stand out.

For any painting project, save money by getting "mistint" paint at the paint counter of your home improvement store. If you are flexible on the color, you can get a $40 gallon of paint for $10 or less. You can even mix mistint paints together to adjust the color — for example, mixing in some lighter paint to make a lighter color.

Tools required: Paint roller, paint brush, and a paint can opener (or screwdriver).

Cost: Around $20.

Time: Two hours.

5. Paint Your Shutters

You can easily remove your shutters and paint them a different color. If you have a second story, you'll need a ladder to unscrew your shutters. Paint your shutters, allow them to dry for a few hours, and screw them back in place for an immediate, cheap upgrade to your home's exterior.

Tools required: Paintbrush, paint can opener, and a ladder.

Cost: Around $20.

Time: One day.

6. Install Built-In Bookshelves

Create some built-in storage and a display area in your living room by installing built-in bookshelves. Locate the studs in your wall and install rails to hold metal shelf brackets. Place wood shelves in the shelf brackets and you'll be ready to load it up.

Tools required: Stud finder, drill, level, and a saw.

Cost: $35.

Time: One hour.

7. Update Your Porch Light

Does your front porch light look like something out of the 1970s? Mine was literally from the 1970s, and I replaced it with a brand new one. This simple upgrade made the entry to my house look decades newer.

Tools required: Screwdriver.

Cost: $35.

Time: One hour.

8. Garage Threshold Kit

I had water and leaves coming in under my garage door and decided to do something about it. Installing a garage threshold helped keep my garage dryer and cleaner. You'll need to clean the garage floor and let the adhesive for the threshold cure for a few days before driving on it, so remember to park outside when you start this project!

Tools required: Caulk gun, utility knife.

Cost: $35.

Time: One hour.

9. Paint a Room

If your walls are standard white, almost any other color would be a dramatic improvement! You'll need to move furniture away from the walls and put down drop cloths to protect your floor during painting.

Tools required: Paint roller, paint brush, paint can opener, and a ladder.

Cost: $40.

Time: One day.

10. Mount Your TV

Installing a wall mount for your flat screen TV will free up space and is less expensive than buying a furniture stand. Make sure to choose a wall mount that is rated to handle the weight of your TV.

Tools required: Stud finder, drill, and a level.

Cost: $40.

Time: Two hours.

11. Install a Clothesline

This is one of my favorite projects since it will save money on electricity, and save wear and tear on your dryer. In most yards, you will want to set a couple of 4x4 posts in concrete, screw 2x4 cross bars onto the posts, and install eye hooks onto the crossbars. Next, tie clothesline string between the eye hooks. If you are lucky, you can find a couple trees that can handle a clothesline instead of installing posts.

Tools required: Manual post hole digger, level, drill, and a saw.

Cost: $50.

Time: Three hours.

12. Install a Workbench in Your Garage or Basement

Install a built-in workbench in your garage or basement to make a work surface and storage area for your tools and project materials. I found used countertops and kitchen base cabinets for free. You can also use 2x4 boards and 3/4 inch plywood to build a workbench from scratch and anchor it to the wall. Put up some pegboard on the wall over the workbench for handy tool storage.

Tools required: Circular saw, drill, stud finder, and a level.

Cost: $50.

Time: Three hours.

13. Install a Countertop Over Your Washer/Dryer

Install a countertop over your washer and dryer to make a surface for folding clothes and handy storage, as well. You will need to install 1x2 inch wood strips into studs to support the countertop which can be a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood cut to size. I had a 4x8 sheet of plywood cut at the home improvement store to save time and so it would fit in my car for the trip home.

Tools required: Level, stud finder, drill, and a saw.

Cost: $50.

Time: Three hours.

14. Build Up Soil Around Your Foundation

The easiest way to keep water out of your basement is to build up soil around your foundation so that water will flow away. You can buy 50 pound bags of soil for a few dollars each, or bring in a truckload of soil for a larger project.

Tools required: Shovel and a rake.

Cost: $50.

Time: Four hours.

15. Install a Programmable Thermostat

If your home has an older thermostat, you are missing out on energy savings and convenience. A programmable thermostat can automatically adjust the temperature setting when no one is home and at night to save money. You can easily replace your old thermostat with a basic programmable thermostat for $50 or less.

Tools required: Screwdriver.

Cost: $50.

Time: Two hours.

There are a lot of cool DIY projects you can complete for under $50 to make your home a place you will be proud of. What is your favorite cheap home improvement project?

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