For many of us, the arrival of summer means it’s time to relax by a pool, throw in some backyard BBQs and maybe tackle some home improvement projects around the home.
After all, warmer temperatures offer ideal conditions for most renovations in and around the home. However, a recent survey conducted by Home Depot found that nearly 30% of Americans aren’t quite sure how to start outdoor projects and are looking for inspiration.
We are here to help! We asked home improvement experts to share their take on the most popular home improvement projects to try this summer – ones that are relatively easy to do even for a beginner, offer a fabulous ROI, or otherwise make the most of this season’s long, hot days make sweeter than ever.
The best? These tasks don’t cost that much, although if you have a mortgage and have built up equity in your home, you might consider the option of a home equity loan (just make sure you look into home equity loan rates to get the best bargain ).
There’s no better time to try these than now.
1. Paint kitchen cabinets
According to HomeAdvisor, a resource for remodeling projects, a complete kitchen remodel costs, on average, a whopping $23,525. However, refinishing kitchen cabinets is a significantly less expensive improvement that’s ideal for summer, since wet paint dries faster if you open the windows, which is doable on warm days, says Dan DiClericoHome Expert at HomeAdvisor.
Additionally, painting kitchen cabinets is perfect for homeowners who love their kitchen decor but want to give the space a fresh look.
2. Spice up your landscaping
Photo by Angus McCaffrey
Go beyond mowing your lawn this summer, he says David Pekel, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Building a gravel walkway—say, from your backyard patio to your pool—is an easy, inexpensive project that will give your yard a makeover.
Another way to spice up your landscaping is to build a vertical garden – a perfect addition for homeowners who are short on space but want a fresh perspective. Add vibrant color by planting roses, summer hydrangeas, or wavy petunias, says the landscape designer Steve Griggs.
3. Take care of your deck
Porches, patios, and decks can take a beating during the cold-weather months. Summer is a great time to revive them. Use a putty knife to smooth out cracks, crevices, and gaps between boards. Apply a fresh coat of stain or sealer for added shine. (Just be sure to drive in any nail heads that aren’t flush with the deck surface before you begin.)
If you haven’t already, summer is also the time to waterproof a wooden deck.
“Water can cause direct damage in the form of rot and indirect damage like mold,” he warns Chris PetersonAuthor of Deck Ideas You Can Use.
Harry Adler of Adlers Design Center & Hardware in Providence, RI, recommends protecting delicate surfaces with a product like C2 Guard, a non-toxic waterproofing agent designed for use on unsealed wood and concrete surfaces.
4. Help your air conditioner breathe easier
If your home’s air conditioning is dirty or partially blocked, cranking up your air conditioner on sweltering summer days can result in sky-high utility bills. If you have central air, clear out any dead leaves and prune encroaching shrubs around your condensing unit – then turn off the power, hose down the coils and vacuum the vents to ensure they are working efficiently. If you have window units, dust them inside and out.
5. Build a stacked fire pit
Photo by Rick O’Donnell Architect
Hanging out around a stacked fire pit is the perfect way to enjoy cooler summer nights.
“Do-it-yourselfers of all skill levels can build a stacked fire pit out of retaining wall blocks,” he says Hunter Macfarlane, Lowe’s project expert. However, safety is crucial.
“Choose a spot away from your house, low hanging branches, and anything else that could potentially catch fire,” says Macfarlane, and make sure you have enough space for patio furniture around the pit.
“It’s best to keep the back legs of furniture about 6 to 7 feet from the base,” says Macfarlane.
Here’s more on how to build a fire pit.
6. Install a paved patio
Enhance the look of your outdoor living space by installing a paved patio.
“You can personalize your patio by choosing from a range of paving styles such as brick, cobblestone or natural style pavers,” says Macfarlane. “You may also want to consider a layout that complements the architecture of your home, from simple treadmills to more advanced techniques like herringbone or basket weave.”
Pro tip: “Before you buy materials or start work on a paved patio, be sure to check your local building codes and the regulations of your homeowners association,” advises Macfarlane.
7. Build a fence around your swimming pool
Many states and local jurisdictions require that home pools be surrounded by a fence. But regardless of whether it’s mandated, building a fence can help keep animals like deer out of the water — and summer is an ideal time to install one.
The prices for the fence depend on the size of the area and the materials used. Black aluminum is a popular choice, but if you’re looking to save some money, opting for a post and track with a wire in between is recommended Jodie Freelandsenior landscape architect and project manager at Black River Landscape Management in Randolph, NJ.
8. Plug air leaks
To keep cool air in your home, check the insulation in your basement and attic for gaps — particularly near ducts where cracks can easily form. Also check windows and doors to see if you need to re-caulk or seal openings. These are easy repairs you can do yourself in a weekend.
Here’s more on how to stop air leaks in a home.
9. Paint your front door and shutters
Giving your front door and shutters a fresh coat of paint will “instantly make your home warmer and more inviting,” says Macfarlane.
So what paint color should you choose? “Deep, moody hues add drama, while softer hues convey peace and tranquility,” says Macfarlane.
You can use Lowe’s Color Calculator to estimate how much paint or primer you’ll need. Generally, 1 gallon of paint covers 250 square feet, while 1 gallon of primer covers 200 square feet, Macfarlane says.