Inexpensive Interior Improvements
By: Danny Lipford
When looking to spruce up your home, there are literally dozens of ideas that can make an impact that won’t break the bank at the same time. Of course, you still need to live by the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” so you also don’t want to purchase materials that are inferior.
Changing the Flooring
On the inside of your home, changing the flooring can make a tremendous difference; and if you are doing the job yourself, then the labor savings will help cut down on the overall cost of the job. One of the simplest floors to install is vinyl tile. Often called a “peel-and-stick” floor, you can easily cover a bathroom, laundry room or even a kitchen in only a day.
The cost of these tiles vary depending on the thickness and the manufacturer. While this is an easy do-it-yourself job, this is also where you need to be aware of “cheap” vs. “inexpensive.” Vinyl tiles that have a thickness of 3 mil or less will be very affordable, but they won’t last very long either.
Wear and tear of higher traffic areas will mean that you’ll be replacing the floor again in a very short time. The thing you want to look at with vinyl tile is not the price, but the thickness. Tiles that are from 6-12 mil will handle high traffic areas much more easily.
trafficMASTER® Allure Vinyl Flooring
But, for a really easy and affordable do-it-yourself job with a twist, you should really check out this new floor by trafficMASTER®. Their product is called Allure Vinyl Flooring. It looks like a very high end hardwood floor and the vinyl planks stick to each other, so no messy adhesives are used.
In fact, the manufacturer claims that only a razor knife is needed to install this floor. It comes in three finishes – light oak, hickory and cherry – and can be installed on top of any existing hard surface, such as vinyl or concrete.
The best part is the price. It only costs $1.69 per square foot, which means an average 12’ x 12’ room would only cost around $250 in material. This is a product exclusive to the Home Depot.
Carpet has long been a favorite material for flooring since it’s comfortable on the feet and helps create a welcome feeling in a room. But, installing carpet is usually a job best left for the professional installer, and this is where the cost of a improvement project can really skyrocket.
Here’s a great inexpensive alternative for carpet. A carpet tile, such as this one manufactured by Legato, can be installed by practically anyone. In fact, they were designed specifically for the do-it-yourselfer. Each carpet panel is just under 2’ x 2’ and is straight on two sides and features unique wave edges on the other two sides that interlock.
The material that holds each panel to the floor is the specialized padding manufactured into the back of the panels that grips the floor, keeping each panel right where you set it down. It requires no glue, adhesives, or nails and you can install it wall to wall for the look of traditional carpeting or make your own area rug to define a conversation area.
However, easy installation is only part of the story. Since the carpet panels are precisely engineered, they can be moved at will. So if your children are drawing with permanent markers and get ink on the carpet, you can simply lift out the stained panel and replace it with a new one, or you can switch it with a panel located under a sofa where the stain won’t show.
There are twelve colors available and, the material will run about $2.67 per square foot. That means an average size room (12’x12’) would cost under $400 in materials.
Ceramic Tile Grout Cleaner
Ceramic is also another low cost flooring if you can install it yourself. In many cases you may already have ceramic, but it just doesn’t look as good as it used to. The tiles may be fine, but the grout lines are dirty and dingy.
If attempts at cleaning have failed, here’s a solution that costs very little. Most home centers will carry a grout stain that can be either applied by brush or with a handy built-in applicator, similar to applying shoe polish. Grout stain is a high performance sealer that extends grout joint life and reduces daily maintenance to a minimum.
A grout stain can help bring back the original luster of the grout line and can make a world of difference in the appearance of the floor. You can usually find these stains in a variety of colors and sizes, even up to a gallon.
However, a little bit goes a long way, so this is definitely an inexpensive transformation. For a bottle of grout cleaner and a ½ pint of grout stain, you’ll spend just under $20.
Faux Finish Painting
Moving from the floors to the walls, one of the most dramatic changes a room can experience is a simple coat of paint. But here’s another idea, take only one wall in a room and make it an accent wall by applying a faux finish. By only painting one wall, you save both time and money. Plus, there are new tools available to make this job a breeze.
Practically everything can be done with a roller, which means a wall can be completed in a matter of hours or as soon as base colors are dry. Even the faux work can be done using a specially designed roller. Most of the faux specialty tools will run between $5-$10, or you can save a few dollars by applying the faux finish with a rag, piece of sponge or even a wad of plastic wrap.
It looks great and it’s really not as difficult as you may think. But, if you want some training, you can even get that for free at some of the larger home centers. Very often they will offer demonstrations and training at no cost during the weekend. Add the cost of some paint, and your project can still come in under $50.
Next, we turn our attention upward. Many homes are equipped with ceiling fans, but over time they can become dirty, ragged, and somewhat distressed. Here’s a fabulous fix-me-up for your fan that will only cost a few dollars.
Remove the fan blades and clean them of any dust and dirt. It may be that the blades are reversible, which means you have a totally different color on the other side. Another possibility is to simply purchase a set of replacement blades. You can buy packs of four or five starting around $12.
Even if yours aren’t reversible or are a color that you don’t like, you can paint them! Take a little sandpaper and rough up the surface of the blade after you clean it. Wipe it down once again to remove any lingering dust from the sanding. Then, using a good quality spray paint – any color you choose – coat the blade with a thin layer of paint. Wait for that coat to dry, then apply a second coat. This will make a dramatic change in your ceiling fan.
For an even larger effect, install a new light kit at the bottom of the fan to completely alter the appearance. Most of the newer fans today either come with a light kit or can accept one. This is such a minimal cost for an impressive change.