7 Simple & Affordable Curb Appeal Ideas

7 Simple & Affordable Curb Appeal Ideas

Making your house look great at the first glance doesn’t have to be a costly investment. These simple and affordable curb appeal ideas can update your home while boosting its appeal to visitors and potential buyers.


House number wall planter box
This house number wall planter adds natural texture to a brick exterior. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

1. Dress Up Your House Number

First on our list of curb appeal ideas is stylishly displaying your house number. Not only does it add curb appeal but it also clearly shows your house number for first responders and ensures packages get delivered to the right home.

This house number wall planter project is a two-for-one – you get a wall planter that also prominently displays your house number. Plus, it can be built in less than half a day.

Materials 

Here’s what you need:

  • One 6-foot-long 1×6 cedar board
  • One 6-foot-long 1×4 cedar board
  • Elevated house numbers
  • D-rings
  • Titebond II Premium Wood Glue
  • Miter or circular saw
  • Sander and sandpaper
  • Pocket hole jig and screws
  • Drill
  • Wood screws
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Tape measure
  • Nail gun
  • Clamp
  • Wood sealer (optional)
  • Dirt
  • Faux plants

Instructions

Using a circular saw to cut a board
Cut boards to size with a circular saw. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 1

First, measure and cut the wood for your house number wall planter. For this project, we used cedar because of its scent, but you can use any type of wood.

Here are the cuts you’ll need:

  • Three 1x6s at 24 inches
  • Two 1x4s at 3.5 inches
  • One 1×4 at 12 inches
  • One 1×4 at 13.5 inches
Drilling pocket holes into a board
Pocket holes prevent wood screws from penetrating the panel’s front side. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 2

Choose whether you want the rough side or the smooth side of your cedar facing out, then drill pocket holes on the backs of two of your 1×6 boards. 

Applying Titebond wood glue to a board
Wood glue creates a water-tight seal between each panel board. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 3 

Apply wood glue and drill wood screws to attach the three 1×6 boards together to form the wall planter panel.

Drilling a d-ring into a board
Drill the D-rings into the back of the top board. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 4

Drill the D-ring hangers to the back of the panel.

Applying Titebond wood glue to a planter box
To keep dirt from escaping, seal the planter box with wood glue. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 5

To assemble the planter box, use the 12-inch piece for the bottom, the 13.5-inch piece for the front and the two 3.5-inch pieces as the sides. Apply wood glue and then nail them together. 

Installing planter box on house number panel
A scrap piece of wood is the perfect height to hold up the planter box place while you attach it to the panel. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 6

Use a scrap piece of wood to hold the planter box three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of the panel. Then, attach the planter box to the panel using wood screws from behind. Sand the house number planter box. If you want a glossy look, apply a wood sealer.

Install house numbers to the right of the planter box. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 7

Lay out your house numbers and mark the holes’ locations. Drill mounting holes with a 3/16-inch drill bit and attach the elevated numbers.

No green thumb? No problem! Use faux succulents instead. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 8

Hang the wall planter up on your house before adding the dirt and plants. 


Mailbox with flowers surrounding the post
Your mailbox says a lot about your home, and you. To maintain curb appeal, keep it painted well or purchase a new one that meets United States Postal Service guidelines.

2. Replace Your Mailbox

While we’re on the subject of house numbers, give some attention to your mailbox! 

Mailboxes serve a dual purpose: they collect your mail, but they also send a message about the homeowner’s attentiveness to their dwelling.

A tattered old mailbox suggests a lack of care. Don’t risk sending the wrong message: install a sparkling new mailbox.

From traditional to polished-nickel options, choose from dozens of styles and sizes. Consider whether you’ll need to enlist help for installation: a wall-mounted mailbox will only require some screws and a screwdriver, but roadside mailboxes that sit on posts might require an expert’s help.

If you have to dig a post hole for your new mailbox, call 811 before you dig to ensure that you stay clear of any utility lines.

And before you do anything, always review the US Postal Service’s mailbox requirements.

Yes, the USPS has requirements, and it enforces those requirements! For instance, roadside mailboxes must be at least 6 inches back from the curb.

If you’re installing a door slot, USPS requires that the opening be at least 1.5 by 7 inches.Find all the specifics at usps.com.

Alternatively, refresh your existing mailbox. Read “How to Paint, Stain and Repair Your Worn-Out Mailbox” for more information.


Front porch with rocking chairs, planters and a dining set
A front porch isn’t complete without comfortable chairs and potted plants. (DepositPhotos)

3. Spruce Up the Front Porch

Next on our list of curb appeal ideas is spruing up the front porch.

Here’s an easy formula to improve your front porch’s appearance: furniture, plants and wreaths.

Furniture

Front porch furniture — like gliding, lounging or rocking chairs — welcomes guests and invites them to sit, take a load off and enjoy some conversation.

You can find nice, inexpensive furniture at a thrift store to add character. Shop for something that looks good but doesn’t require refinishing.

Plants

Plants offer a nice break from your home’s hard features (such as windows, doors, roofing and siding). To add texture and soften your home’s exterior appearance, purchase plants at the home and garden center and place them in pots made for outdoor use.

Just get one or two planters — most hardware stores or gardening shops sell inexpensive faux terracotta ones — to arrange near your front entrance. Place two planters on either side of your front door or cascade multiple down the front steps.

Here’s a suggestion for a starter plant: hardy and beautiful hibiscus! These slow growers provide abundant greenery with massive (up to 10-inch) blooms.

When the weather turns colder, move the pots indoors to enjoy them through the winter months.

When you’re picking out your plants, one simple phrase should be the key to your planter or window box: “fillers, spillers and thrillers.”

  • Fillers: Leafy greens will fill the space and complete the look
  • Spillers: Flowers like Creeping Jenny flow over the container’s sides
  • Thrillers: These plants offer the “wow” factor. Pops of color will draw the visitor’s eye

To fully capture the senses, add some aromatics to emit a gentle fragrance as guests enter your home. Keep in mind that your climate will also play a role in what you should plant.

Check the online version of the Farmers’ Almanac to learn what will and won’t grow well in your area.

Wreaths

Who says door wreaths are just for winter holidays? Make any door look great with a year-round wreath. Embellish the wreath based on the current season and add or remove accessories — such as a large initial of your family’s last name — as needed.

Scan the web, shop around and purchase these items in advance and you can move them into position and dress your front porch in less than an hour!


Chelsea Lipford Wolf paints an entry door
You can paint a door on its hinges, but doors with lots of imperfections need special treatment.

4. Paint the Front Door

A new paint color is the most budget-friendly of this list of curb appeal ideas. Don’t underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. The average gallon of paint costs between $15 and $30 — a reasonable investment that packs a punch when it comes to improving the look of a home.

Options for front door colors are as endless as your imagination. However, choose one that complements the color scheme of your home’s exterior. For a monochromatic color scheme, choose darker and lighter shades within the same color. To add eye-catching contrast, pick a door color that’s on the opposite end of the color wheel as your home’s main color.

Playful pops of colors are very on trend when it comes to door updates. But classic colors and stains never go out of style. A simple coat of faux mahogany finish can give instant curb appeal and won’t cost you a boatload.

Tips

Get the most mileage out of your paint job with these tips:

1. Remove any hardware. This includes knockers, kick plates and door handles. By taking these off, you avoid getting paint on your hardware, and you can ensure that you cover the whole door with paint.

2. Clean it. Soap and water should do the job, but if there’s years’ worth of build up, use a pressure washer to power wash the grim away. 

3. Lay it flat. Taking the door off its hinges is an extra step that most likely means a two-person job, but removing the door makes it easier to apply the paint in even coats.

4. Sand it. By sanding your door before you paint, you can remove dust, debris, and old paint layers. Sanding can also help your paint stick better, giving you a cleaner, crisper fresh coat.

5. Change the locks. Now is a great time to invest in some new home security. Replace your old deadbolt and handle with a brand new set and consider installing smart locks for keyless entry.

Watch: How to Paint an Exterior Door the Right Way


Red front door with wreath
Installing a new door handle is a small change that can make a big difference. (Jason Finn, Getty Images)

5. Add New Hardware

Number five on our list of curb appeal ideas is upgrading your front door’s hardware.

It’s a simple, cost-effective and you can choose from a variety of colors and metal types, like silver, gold, satin nickel, copper, and oiled bronze.

Plus, hardware comes in many shapes and sizes, so before heading to the home center, consider the look and function you want — for instance, do you want knobs or levers? Do you want to turn, pull or push the handle to open the door? 

With all of these options, you can easily find hardware to match your personal style and enhance your home’s aesthetic on a budget.

Just consider how the new hardware will look compared with your interior doors’ hardware. You may not want, say, an oiled bronze lever on the front door if brass knobs are on two close-by interior doors. 

Or you may want to replace all your interior knobs with levers to match the front door for a consistent look throughout the home. Or at least spray the existing knobs with an oiled bronze finish to match. 

Either way, it’s your home, and it’s your decision.  


Flower bed with concrete border in front yard
Add concrete borders to give any flower bed a sense of order. (©Mariusz Blach, Adobe Stock Photos)

6. Install Concrete Borders

Lawn borders contain your mulch and define flowerbeds and pathways, giving your landscaping a finished look.

It doesn’t cost much to install concrete borders — expect to pay an estimated $2 per linear foot for materials. Out of all these curb appeal ideas, this is the most hands on, do-it-yourself project, so keep in mind the time and labor it will take.

Expect to dig a trench, build and install wood forms, pour in some gravel and then top that with concrete mix. Add just a few extra steps if you want to color the concrete mix, and give this project about three days to cure.

In a week, your flower beds will look better than ever and your front yard will have a sense of order to it — all thanks to a simple border!

Read “How to Build Concrete Borders” for more information. 


landscape lighting
Want to add ambiance to your yard? Add landscape lighting. (Alberto Sava via Canva)

7. Install Exterior Lighting

While we’re on the subject of lawns, here’s another home curb appeal idea: install exterior lighting.

Adding a few lights to your front yard allows you to literally shine a spotlight on your home’s best features. 

Landscape lights are easy to install, and solar varieties are self-sufficient, so they won’t put a strain on your energy bill. 

First, light walkways with garden lights or bollard lights, then move on to accent lighting. Use spotlights or up/down lights to highlight features like a large tree or a flag pole. 

Want to add some ambiance to your patio? Hang some string lights

Before you install landscape lighting, test the layout and determine the focal point for the brightest light. Simply tape flashlights to stakes and position them around the yard at night to see how halogen or incandescent landscape lights will look. 

You can also place luminaries – composed of a white bag with sand and a candle inside – around your yard at night to mimic the look of solar-powered landscape lighting.

For more inspiration, read “Landscape Lighting Design Tips.”


Did we miss a project? Add more curb appeal ideas in the comments below!


Further Reading

Bench Plans: Stylish Garden Seating with a Plant Shelf

Bench Plans: Stylish Garden Seating with a Plant Shelf

Plant shelf/bench combo with free plans
This plant shelf/bench combo is perfect for patios and decks. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Free bench plans are now available for Tips for Today’s Homeowner newsletter subscribers.

This two-in-one seating option offers space for guests AND plants! No green thumb? No problem. Use the plant shelf as a countertop — it’s the perfect height to pull up a chair and set your drink down.

Subscribe to the Tips for Today’s Homeowner newsletter for the full plans.

Subscribe to our weekly Tips for Today’s Homeowner newsletter below (it’s free) and get the bench plans now! You’ll receive the latest Today’s Homeowner TV episodes, contests and giveaways, how-to tips, radio shows, podcasts, Best New Products and Simple Solutions.


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The plant shelf is wide enough for large planters. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

ABOUT THE PROJECT: We first featured this bench project on the Today’s Homeowner TV episode titled, “Expanding a Patio for Entertaining” in Season 24.

Homeowner Corrina Murray loves her plants just as much as she loves spending time in her backyard with her family.

However, her collection of container plants was cramping her outdoor entertaining space. So, we built her this bench that unites her love for both!

And now you can build the same bench with our plans. Enjoy!


Further Reading

Previous articleSnakes Could Be Hiding in Your Pool Noodles

Backed by his 40-year remodeling career, Danny served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for more than a decade. His extensive hands-on experience and understanding of the industry make him the go-to source for all things having to do with the home – from advice on simple repairs, to complete remodels, to helping homeowners prepare their homes for extreme weather and seasons.

Snakes Could Be Hiding in Your Pool Noodles

Snakes Could Be Hiding in Your Pool Noodles

Snakes often turn to pool noodles for shelter from the heat. (Deposit Photos)

Pool noodles are popular foam flotation devices for swimmers of all ages, and they come in handy outside the water, too.

For instance, woodworkers can protect saw horses with one, families with small garages can make car door bumpers to prevent accidents, and you can even turn one into a kitchen faucet extension to fill buckets of water.

No matter how you use pool noodles, be careful because snakes sometimes find shelter from heat in their holes. The dark, cool environment inside these foam tubes is ideal for small reptiles and other creepy crawlies as temperatures rise.

A Salado, Texas, resident learned that after finding an adult rattlesnake and several baby snakes inside a pool noodle, according to USA Today.

Following that incident, the Salado Volunteer Fire Department immediately issued a statement to the public, advising people to store pool noodles in elevated, sealed locations to prevent rattlesnakes, water moccasins and other venomous snakes from using them as habitat.

However you use a pool noodle, here are some tips to keep you safe.


Applying a pool noodle to a sawhorse
Snakes can find their way into pool noodles such as these.

Pool Noodle Sawhorse Protection

If you use pool noodles to protect sawhorses, make sure there is a firm seal between the foam and wood so snakes can’t slither in.

Inspect the noodles and confirm that nothing will crawl out while you’re working. If the noodle isn’t secure, tighten it down with electrical tape or duct tape, filling any gaps.

If possible, store your protected sawhorses in a garage, shed, or indoors to limit exposure to the elements and unwanted inhabitants.


Hand holding pool noodle to kitchen water faucet.
After using a pool noodle as a hose extension, make sure it dries completely before being put into storage.

Pool Noodle Hose Extension

If you’ve used a pool noodle as a hose to fill buckets from your kitchen sink, be sure the inside of the noodle is dry before you store it. Moisture inside the noodle creates cooler temperatures, making it an ideal space for snakes.


Joe Truini in garage with pool noodle bumper
Snakes seek shelter from the heat in cool garages.

Pool Noodle Car Door Bumper

Using pool noodles as car door bumpers in your garage can be an effective, inexpensive way to protect your car’s paint, but it could also provide a perfect home for snakes.

Close off the noodle’s ends so nothing can find its way inside, and avoid leaving your garage door open for long periods to limit access for snakes and other animals.

Your garage’s cool pavement is also an ideal spot for snakes to cool off and hide from the sun.

If you see a snake, stay calm and call your local animal control office; some police or fire departments also respond to snake sightings. Don’t gesture toward the snake and, remember, the snake likely won’t bite you if you leave it alone.


What to Do If a Snake Bites You

If the snake does bite you, stay calm and call 9-1-1. Try to remember everything you can about the snake’s features such as color, patterns, head shape and size, and tell the operator.

If possible, have someone take a picture of the snake from a safe distance. This will help medical staff treat you when you arrive at the hospital.

Remember, you aren’t a cowboy, and this isn’t the Wild West. Never cut into a snake bite or suck out venom with your mouth, as infection and dental problems could worsen your condition.

Advances in modern medicine have improved treatment for snake venom, so bites increasingly are less deadly, but you should always see a doctor right away.


Further Reading

Cornhole Game: How to Build the Board

Cornhole Game: How to Build the Board

Cornhole, a game that’s been around for centuries, is a popular pastime for tailgate entertainment or backyard fun. You just need a cornhole board and some bags — and a free afternoon with family or friends!


History of the Game

Many people believe a cabinet maker in Germany invented the cornhole game in the 14th century. 

As the story goes, Matthias Kuepermann found a group of boys throwing stones into groundhog holes for fun. Worried for their safety, he crafted the cornhole board, replacing groundhog holes with wooden boxes with round holes and stones with bags filled with dried corn.

Because of its simplicity, the game hasn’t evolved much. These days, the corn-filled bags are sometimes replaced with plastic and resin beads. But some die-hard cornhole enthusiasts insist on using real corn kernels.  

Players in the United States even compete at state and national levels. And now, there are efforts to make the cornhole game an Olympic sport

You can build a cornhole board for your backyard. The process is simple, but it might require a few specialty tools if you don’t already have them on hand!


Child grabbing a cornhole bag from the top of a cornhole board game in a backyard.
Whether you’re passing time in the backyard or competing for bragging rights, the cornhole game is a fun activity for all ages.

Building Your Own Cornhole Board

Materials

  • (2) 2-by-4-foot by ½-inch plywood
  • (4) 2-by-4 studs
  • (4) 3/8 by 4-inch carriage bolts
  • (8) 3/8-inch washers
  • (4) 3/8-inch nuts
  • (16) 3-inch wood screws
  • (24) 1-½-inch wood screws
  • Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue
  • Drill
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 6-inch hole saw
  • Miter or circular saw
  • Carpenter square
  • Tape measure
  • Sander and/or sandpaper
  • Exterior paint or wood stain and spar varnish

Hands holding a pencil and a carpenter square on top of a piece of wood.
Use a carpenter square to get accurate angles for your cornhole game’s leg pieces.

Cut the Cornhole Board’s Wood Pieces

Using a carpenter or speed square, mark 25 degrees and cut along that angle. Then mark a straight line 12-and-1/4 inches from the angle’s long side. Repeat this three more times to create your boards’ legs.

For the frames, you’ll need four straight cuts at 21 inches and four straight cuts at 48 inches.

Edge of a piece of wood cut at 45 degree angles.
The 45-degree cuts on the leg pieces will make them easier to fold

Now back to your leg pieces. You need to cut them on the square side to make them easier to fold and unfold. Mark 1 inch in from each side and 1 inch down on each side. Connect those marks with a straight edge to draw a 45-degree angle on each corner. Cut the two triangles on each leg.


Assembling a wood rectangle.
Lay your cornhole game frame on a waist-high table for easy drilling.

Assemble the Frame

To mark the hole for the legs to attach to your frame, measure 1 and 3/4 inches from one side and 1 and 3/4 inches from the short end. Drill all the way through with a 3/8-inch drill bit. Then set aside.

Drilling in a a screw to a piece of wood clamped down on a table next to Titebond III Ultimate wood glue.
Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue will keep your frame in place and add some waterproofing to your cornhole game.

To lay out your frames, lay two 48-inch pieces parallel to one another and set the 21-inch pieces at the ends, between them. Apply a bead of wood glue rated for exterior use, like Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue, and attach the pieces together with 3-inch screws.

Apply more wood glue around the top of your new frame, and set the 2-by-4 sheet of plywood in place. Attach it with 1-and-1/2-inch screws through the plywood into the frame below.

To create the hole for the bean bags, mark 9 inches from one end, then measure and mark the center of the board near that 9-inch mark. 

Using a 6-inch hole saw, cut a hole with your mark at the center. A hole saw this large can be a little tricky, so take your time!

Flip the board over to attach the legs.


Drilling a leg onto the underside of a cornhole game board.
Folding legs will save storage space.

Attach the Legs

On the end of your board with the hole, set your legs in either corner with the longer part of the angle on top. Clamp the leg half an inch from the end and use the existing hole in the leg to drill a 3/8-inch hole through the frame. Then sand the ends of the legs to round the cut angles.

Next, slide a carriage bolt through the hole from the outside, then one washer, a wood leg, another washer and finally the nut. Hand tighten.

Repeat as necessary until both of your cornhole boards are assembled!


A stained cornhole board game with red and blue bags.
Stain your cornhole game for a finished look or customize it by painting it with your team colors.

Add the Finishing Touches

No matter which finish you choose for your boards, first sand them thoroughly

Start with 150- or 180-grit sandpaper. Once you’ve sanded all of the surfaces, step it up to a 220- or 300-grit sandpaper to create that smooth, slick surface that’s synonymous with cornhole boards!

Gloved hand applying stain to a cornhole game board.

Staining: In long, even strokes rub your wood stain with the grain of the wood. Follow with a clean rag to wipe up the excess stain. Once it has dried for a few hours, start applying a clear topcoat, like spar varnish, that is safe for outdoor use.

Let the coat completely dry before sanding with 220-grit sandpaper, wiping clean and applying another clear coat. Repeat for a third time.

Painting: If you’re choosing to paint your boards, select an exterior semi-gloss paint and make sure your design covers all the wood on the top so the surface will be appropriately slick. Several coats might be required.

Once your topcoat or paint is dry, you’re ready to start keeping score! 

To get your backyard ready for more summer fun, add some hanging string lights. Use planters or shepherd’s hooks to keep the good times going past sundown.


Further Reading

DIY Tips for Installing Cement Backerboard

DIY Tips for Installing Cement Backerboard

Man laying floor tiles.

When tiling over plywood, you should always put down a layer of cement backer board first, which will provide the necessary support for the tile. Here are eight important steps to keep in mind when installing cement backer board:

  1. Check the plywood subfloor for any movement and squeaks. Use 2 inch drywall screws to fasten down any trouble spots, driving the screws through the plywood and into the floor joists below.
  2. Use a notched trowel to spread thin-set mortar over the plywood subfloor.
  3. Lay the cement backer board into the thin-mortar, making sure to overlap any seams in the plywood subfloor by at least 4 inches.
  4. Fasten the backer board using an impact driver and backer board screws; space the screws 4 inches apart around the perimeter of the backer board sheet and 8 inches apart across the center.
  5. Leave a one-eighth inch gap between the backer board sheets and stagger the sheets so that four corners don’t meet at a single intersection.
  6. Cover the seams between the backer board sheets with fiberglass mesh tape.
  7. Spread a thin layer of thin-set mortar over the taped joints.
  8. Once the mortared joints have cured, you can start setting the tile.
Previous articleHow Much Does a Bed Bug Exterminator Cost? (2021)

Joe Truini is a seasoned contractor, accomplished author and hosts Simple Solutions on Today’s Homeowner TV. He also hits the airwaves every week alongside Danny Lipford as co-host for Today’s Homeowner Radio. Joe is a handy guy, who’s always on the lookout for ways to make the job of home improvement easier and more efficient.