Guess what the best bang for your buck in home renovations is? About as sexy as flannel pajamas … beefing up attic insulation hit the top spot.

In fact, adding insulation and 9 other practical upgrades outscored the coveted kitchen and bathroom renovations. One thing to keep in mind is that earning a decent return isn’t the same as making a profit.

These are the 10 projects that reportedly earn the biggest payback for homeowners

1, Attic Insulation

The simple task of blowing loose fiberglass insulation into an attic pays back the best. How much insulation you’d need at your home depends on your climate and the building energy code where you live.

2. Manufactured Stone Veneer

Adding manufactured stone to a home’s exterior adds a look that many buyers like and are willing to pay more for.

3. Garage Door Replacement

Spiff up your garage with a new, uninsulated four-section steel door that reuses the existing motorized opener and adds new galvanized steel tracks also . Spend a bit more and you can get almost as good a return.

4. Steel Entry Door

Replacing a home’s front door with a fresh one has been a reliable winner.

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel

Updating a kitchen with new cabinet and drawer fronts and hardware, new wall oven, cooktop, sink, faucet and laminate countertops adds to a home’s value. But take the project upscale for an upscale major kitchen remodel and the payback changes. A “major” kitchen remodel — including top-of-the-line cherry cabinets, stone counters, cork floors, new lighting, ceramic or glass backsplash, built-in wall oven, cooktop, refrigerator, warming oven, trash compactor, commercial range and vent hood — and you’ll recoup less of the investment, the study finds. A major kitchen remodel done with midrange products pays off better.

6. Fiberglass Entry Door

Invest on a new entry door made of fiberglass in a simulated wood grain, stained front and back with a decorative window including PVC-clad trim, new mortise lock with lever handle and integrated deadbolt.


7. Siding Replacement

Upgrading a home’s siding is an expensive project but has a strong pay back. There are a variety of siding products on the market, from vinyl and foam-backed vinyl, to fiber cement and engineered siding.

8. Wood Deck Addition

Composite decking is the newer alternative to wood plank decks. The best composite products are low-maintenance and offer a longer lifespan. But a nearly identical project done with composite planking costs almost four times the price of wood — and it recoups approximately half of the cost.

9. New Vinyl Windows

Vinyl windows beat wood windows when it comes to recouping cost, but not by much. Keep in mind wood windows are more expensive.

10. New Roof

There’s nothing cheap about replacing a roof, but maybe that’s why buyers pay a premium for a home with a new one already in place (and why this may be a good negotiating tool). At least they know the project is out of the way for a long while.

You probably have the idea by now. Money spent on practical, no-frills upgrades offers the best financial return.

Many of the projects with the best return are improvements to a home’s exterior. That may be because they improve “curb appeal,” or the impression the home makes on buyers and passers-by. Work done on windows and siding, for example, paid off better than money invested in work on kitchens and bathrooms.