11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2021

Senior friends eating outdoors on a deck
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Trying to figure out which home improvement projects to tackle in 2021?

Home remodeling can be costly, so before moving forward, it makes sense to take a step back and consider which upgrades are likely to give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Remodeling Magazine recently released its 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, which looks at home upgrades that offer the best value.

The magazine uses a statistical modeling approach that uses local housing data to determine which projects are likely to return more of the money spent on them by increasing a home’s value.

Here are the home upgrades from the 2021 report with the best potential return based on national averages.

Wondering about the projects with the worst returns? Check out “11 Home Renovations With the Worst Payoff.”

11. Fiberglass grand entrance

Front door of a home
Alaettin YILDIRIM / Shutterstock.com

Average cost: $10,044

Return on investment: 60.9%

This home improvement is about widening your doorway and adding a new door with half-glass sidelights. With this new grand entrance, you can expect the resale value to increase by about $6,116.

10. Composite deck addition

Man installing composite decking boards
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Average cost: $22,426

Return on investment: 63.2%

As described by Remodeling Magazine, this simple deck replacement uses a linear pattern and adds a built-in bench and planter.

Composite deck material is used, and the project includes three stairs and a railing.

9. Steel entry door replacement

Worker installing a lock on the front door of a home
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Average cost: $2,082

Return on investment: 65.0%

Replacing a front door with a steel door and a new lockset provides the opportunity to spruce things up when it comes to curb appeal. This improvement features a clear, dual-pane half-glass panel.

8. Wood deck addition

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Average cost: $16,766

Return on investment: 65.8%

According to the report, this 16-by-20-foot wood deck addition provides a better return than a composite deck addition, increasing the resale value of your home by $11,038. Plus, it costs less than the composite deck.

7. Wood window replacement

Winter view through a wood window
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Average cost: $23,219

Return on investment: 67.4%

This project to replace 10 existing 3-by-5-foot double-hung windows uses insulated, low-emissivity windows, which have a special coating that reflects heat to help regulate indoor temperatures.

The interior window is trimmed in stained hardwood. The exterior adds to curb appeal with an aluminum cladding that is custom-color matched to the existing trim.

6. Vinyl siding replacement

Construction workers installing vinyl siding on a house in Los Angeles, California
mediandrew / Shutterstock.com

Average cost: $16,576

Return on investment: 68.3%

This is another curb appeal project that can boost your ability to get a little more of your money back when you make an upgrade.

Remodeling Magazine suggests making sure a water-resistant barrier, like a house wrap, is installed below the new siding.

5. Vinyl window replacement

Man opening a window
Vitaliy Hrabar / Shutterstock.com

Average cost: $19,385

Return on investment: 68.6%

Sometimes the material makes a difference in your ability to recover more from an upgrade.

This can be true of window replacements as well as deck additions. Choosing vinyl over wood can potentially cost less and recoup more of the expense, as this project suggests, when replacing 10 existing windows with insulated, low-emissivity, vinyl ones.

4. Fiber-cement siding replacement

Man installing fibrous cement siding on a home
Christina Richards / Shutterstock.com

Average cost: $19,626

Return on investment: 69.4%

Replacing home siding with a fiber-cement product is likely to cost more than using vinyl.

However, according to the Cost vs. Value Report, you’re likely to recoup a greater portion of the cost by enjoying an increase in the value of your home.

3. Minor kitchen remodel (midrange)

Couple cooking at home
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average cost: $26,214

Return on investment: 72.2%

This is the only upgrade on this list that is an interior project, rather than an exterior project.

Remodeling Magazine shows that making rather minor changes, such as replacing the range and fridge and changing the cabinet fronts and counters, pays you back better than most projects. Also included: a new midrange-priced sink and faucet.

If you opt to replace the cabinets instead of just the fronts, you might want to check out the American Woodmark or Ikea Sektion collection. They earned the highest customer satisfaction ratings in J.D. Power’s Kitchen Cabinets Satisfaction Study in 2020, as reported in “4 Kitchen Cabinet Brands Earn High Marks From Homeowners.”

2. Manufactured stone veneer

Exterior of a house with stone veneer
Artazum / Shutterstock.com

Average cost: $10,386

Return on investment: 92.1%

This Remodeling Magazine project includes removing a band of siding from the bottom facade and replacing it with a manufactured stone veneer. The resale value attached to this project is $9,571, resulting in the potential to recoup slightly more than 92% of what you spent.

1. Garage door replacement

Man opening his garage door with a remote control
GagoDesign / Shutterstock.com

Average cost: $3,907

Return on investment: 93.8%

Topping the list for the best return on investment is another curb appeal project.

Spend less than $4,000 to replace the garage door, including the tracks, and you could enhance your curb appeal as well as see a return on investment of more than 93%, which is better than all other projects in this study.

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