The 10 Most Popular Home Improvements Amid COVID-19

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Senior couple painting the walls of their home
Halfpoint /

Spending on home improvements grew in 2020, driven both by higher costs for labor and materials and by homeowners’ shifting priorities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Spending averaged $8,305 — up by $745 from 2019, according to HomeAdvisor’s latest annual State of Home Spending report.

The report is based on a poll of 5,000 Americans. It finds that homeowners are funding improvements in part with money once spent on travel, restaurant dining, entertainment and commuting.

The following home improvements are the most popular of 2020, HomeAdvisor says.

10. Deck or porch

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Households that did this type of project in 2020: 14%

Adding a deck is among the home upgrades that offer the most bang for your buck, as we reported in “11 Home Upgrades With the Best Payback in 2020.”

If you’re unsure what type of deck to get, consider the real thing: Decks made of wood boards have a slightly higher average return on investment than those made with composite boards, according to Remodeling Magazine.

9. Fencing

Neighbors chat at a fence
Koldunova Anna /

Households that did this type of project in 2020: 16.1%

If you are dreaming of creating an outdoor living space, adding a fence is a good first project. It defines a space and can add privacy.

For more ideas for creating an outdoor oasis without taking on major renovations, check out “11 Ways to Upgrade Your Yard for $100 or Less.”

8. Roofing

Man installing asphalt shingles on a roof
Christina Richards /

Households that did this type of project in 2020: 16.3%

If you’re replacing your roof and unsure what material to use, consider asphalt shingles. An asphalt-shingle roofing replacement is among the 10 best outdoor home upgrades for your money, according to a 2020 analysis by Remodeling Magazine.

6. Smart home devices (tie)

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Households that did this type of project in 2020: 19.2%

Smart home improvements can be as simple as installing a remotely controlled thermostat, a video-camera doorbell or electronically controlled door locks, lightbulbs and smoke detectors, says Consumer Reports.

Several such devices — from Roomba robotic vacuums to the myQ smart garage door opener — were among the most popular purchases during Prime Day 2020.

Bigger-ticket projects include installing a smart home security system. Or, you may want to spring for a control unit that lets you manage your home temperature, lighting and security from a single point.

6. Exterior painting (tie)

Woman painting the exterior of a house
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Households that did this type of project in 2020: 19.2%

If you plan to do a painting project yourself and are unsure which paint brand to go with, consider Sherwin-Williams. In J.D. Power’s 2020 Paint Satisfaction Study, consumers rated it the best brand of exterior paint and exterior stain — not to mention the best brand of interior paint, too.

5. Kitchen renovations

Carpenter kitchen remodel
Michael Dechev /

Households that did this type of project in 2020: 22.6%

A kitchen remodel is the dream of many homeowners. And with homes more the focus of our lives now, wear and tear in living spaces is increasing, the HomeAdvisor report says.

Fortunately, homeowners find that a kitchen remodel pays them back with plenty of happiness. A 2019 analysis by the National Association of Realtors found that a complete kitchen was one of only two home upgrades that earned a “Joy Score” of 10 out of 10, as we reported in “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.”

4. Landscaping

Landscaper working in a yard
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Households that did this type of project in 2020: 24%

Home improvements that the HomeAdvisor report classifies as maintenance projects includes general maintenance projects, cleaning projects and landscaping projects. Of these, landscaping was most common during the pandemic, with homeowners completing 3.4 such projects, on average.

3. Flooring

Worker installs flooring
Halfpoint /

Households that did this type of project in 2020: 25.8%

Installing a new floor was one of the most popular remodeling jobs during the pandemic, according to HomeAdvisor.

It’s also a popular home improvement project in general. A 2019 analysis out of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that more than 5.2 million homeowners replaced indoor flooring in 2017, making it the No. 1 renovation.

2. Bathroom renovations

Man installing bathroom tile
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Households that did this type of project in 2020: 30.9%

While bathroom renovations are among the most sought-after home improvements amid the coronavirus pandemic, they are among the worst for your money.

Midrange, upscale and universal-design bathroom remodels all ranked poorly in Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report.

1. Interior painting

woman painting her home
stockfour /

Households that did this type of project in 2020: 34.5%

When home was just a pit stop in a busy life spent elsewhere, you may have not have paid attention to the plaid wallpaper that was there when you moved in. Now, it shouts, “Replace me! Paint me!”

The HomeAdvisor report concludes:

“More time spent at home, also means more time noticing problems in the home.”

If this type of project is in your future, be sure to first check out “Paint Your Home Like a Pro With These 12 Tips.”

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