There are plenty of investments that will increase the value of your home. But, unless you are actively preparing your home for market, it's important - when figuring return on investment - to consider the longer-term maintenance implications associated with your choices. Here are some key cleaning considerations for popular home-improvement investments:
Kitchen and bath remodel. Kitchen and bath remodels typically add the greatest value to homes, but often bring increased (or at least different) maintenance requirements in order to preserve investment value. For example, wildly popular granite and marble countertops can be highly susceptible to damage and stains when liquids - especially acidic types - are allowed to linger on surfaces. Abrasives and cleaning solutions that are either highly acidic or alkaline are off limits for cleaning stone surfaces as they damage the sealants. Even with proper routine care, stone surfaces generally require resealing every 2-3 years. When choosing new cabinets, vanities, fixtures and appliances, consider these questions as well: How easily can internal pieces be removed for proper deep cleaning? Are there nooks and crannies that might be difficult to clean and collect grime as a result? And how susceptible are the new surfaces to smears, fingerprints, scratches and stains?
Carpet to hard wood. No matter how much regular vacuuming, steam cleaning and shampooing you do, carpets will always be sanctuaries for dust, dander, and odors. Converting to hardwood adds value by making a home appear richer and smell cleaner and also creating a neutral palette for styling, making it easier for prospective buyers to envision themselves living in your home. However, different hardwood flooring choices have dramatically varying durability characteristics and implications for both routine cleaning and longer-term maintenance (details can be found in this recent MaidPro Tidy Times article).
Paint. Outside or in, nothing improves a home's appearance - and value - faster than a fresh coat of tastefully colored paint. But when it comes to routine cleaning and longer-term maintenance, paint finishes are definitely not created equal. Gloss and semigloss finishes are more durable, moisture resistant and easier to clean, but also tend to highlight surface flaws, require greater skill to apply, and can be difficult to repair without repainting completely. At the other end of the spectrum, flat and matte finishes mask imperfections, touch up nicely, but are much tougher to clean. In between are eggshell and satin finishes, which are easier to clean but less capable of being spot fixed than flat or matte and more susceptible to routine wear and tear than gloss or semigloss types.
Windows. Whether replacing old windows, adding entirely new ones, or going from smaller panes to large, the intention, aside from energy efficiency, is to let in more light and improve views. These latter benefits only materialize, however, when windows are cleaned properly, inside and out, at least twice per year, preferably following the big spring and fall pollen seasons. Key cleaning considerations when planning window investments: Is surrounding wood or other finish work susceptible to damage from window cleaning solutions? Will windows be easily and safely accessible for cleaning? For example, if they do not fold inward and you dislike ladders, better figure the cost of routine professional cleaning into your long-term ROI calculations. And will the new windows be as easily maintainable in year 10 or 15 as they are in year one? For example, wood-framed windows that fold in easily when first installed, may fold in far less easily after 10-15 years of exposure to various weather elements, whereas metal or fiber glass frames may hold up better.
Make more space. Home value is clearly tied to square footage. So, how much of your home's existing square footage is being squandered through simple disorganization, poor use of space or accumulation of junk? Investing in thoughtfully designed storage solutions - racks, shelves, hooks, drawers, closet systems, and so forth - can work wonders by making existing space more usable. Well organized homes feel more spacious, which is a plus if you are trying to sell. But, they also deliver other returns. For example, a garage that doubles as an efficient storage space and a space that accommodates two cars, protects the value of the vehicles as well. What is more, well organized homes are much easier to clean and keep tidy, which is a definite plus if you are planning on sticking around for a while.