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The Most Popular Home Improvement Projects in America

Few homeowners have the money or time to quiet every noise, seal every crack, and upgrade every appliance. So how do you decide which home improvement projects to tackle? One way to start is by finding out what projects made it onto other homeowners' to-do lists. A 2019 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University analyzed government data collected in 2017 to compile a list of the most popular home improvement projects in America. Read on for the top 12 home improvement projects and their average cost, then start planning!

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Floors and Ceilings

Floors and ceilings are magnets for dirt, stains, and dents that can kill the aesthetics of a room. So, it may come as no surprise that 5.2 million homeowners replaced carpeting, flooring, paneling, or ceiling tiles in 2017. In fact, overhauling surfaces underfoot and overhead was the most popular home improvement project in the country, and it cost homeowners an average of $3,283.

Related: These 11 Repairs Aren’t Worth Your Time or Money

Plumbing Fixtures

Whether you swap out a traditional bathroom sink for a vessel sink or a built-in tub for a freestanding tub, plumbing upgrades like these can be cost-effective ways to enhance a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, or mudroom without a complete overhaul. In 2017, 4.1 million homeowners spent an average of $1,360 on plumbing fixtures to beautify these splash zones.

Built-In Appliances

Your dishwasher and garbage disposal never take the day off, which may be why they conk out when you least expect it. To keep their kitchens running like clockwork, 3.7 million Americans replaced their built-in kitchen appliances in 2017 at an average cost of $570—the lowest expenditure on this list.

Related: 7 Bad Reasons to Renovate Your Home

Windows and Doors

Updating windows and doors not only keeps out drafts and ensures a comfortable indoor temperature, but the project can also boost curb appeal. In 2017, a total of 3.7 million homeowners paid an average of $3,422 to replace their windows and doors.

Related: 10 Sneaky Hidden Costs of Home Remodeling

Water Heaters

There are a number of signs, from rusty water to rumbling noises, that your water heater is approaching the end of its life. While many homeowners believe that replacing a water heater is a big-ticket expense, it turns out to be surprisingly affordable.  In 2017, 3.6 million Americans had to bite the bullet and replace their broken or outdated water heater with a more efficient model, at the average cost of $976.


With an average cost of $7,674 and a collective cost to homeowners of almost $26 billion, roof replacement was the most expensive home improvement project in the country in 2017. To protect their investment in their home, approximately 3.4 million Americans undertook this important improvement.

Related: 13 Renovation Lessons You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way

Landscaping and Irrigation

Whatever the size of your property, you probably put plenty of effort—and money—into keeping your greenery lush. To keep their yards well watered and attractive, 2.8 million homeowners in the United States invested an average of $2,497 on landscaping and sprinkler systems in 2017.

Air Conditioning

Over three-quarters of homes in the American Midwest, South, and West use central air conditioning, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Our increasing expectation of summertime comfort is perhaps why 2.7 million homeowners forked over an average of $5,113 on central air conditioning installations or replacements.

Minor Bathroom Remodels

In 2017, more than five times as many Americans looking to upgrade their bathroom opted for small-scale rather than large, lavish renovations. More than 2.4 million Americans paid an average of $3,435 for minor bathroom remodels, defined as professional projects that cost less than $15,000 and DIY efforts that came in under $6,000. Only 425,000 homeowners coughed up for pricier bathroom renovations.

Electrical Wiring and Safety Features

Outdated, deteriorated, or improperly installed electrical wiring can lead to fires, accidental shocks, and even death. To keep their homes’ electrical systems running smoothly and safely, 2.2 million Americans spent on average $1,473 in 2017 on replacing or updating electrical wiring, fuse boxes, or breaker switches.

Related: 10 Reasons to Consider Switching to Smart Light Bulbs

Fencing and Walls

Fences, garden walls, and other outside barriers serve many purposes. They mark the property line, keep pets and children contained, deter intruders, and preserve privacy. Given their usefulness, it’s not surprising that 2.2 million Americans spent an average of $2,356 on improvements to fencing for their property.

Built-In Heating

Over time, furnaces and other built-in heating equipment may malfunction or stop working altogether, and repair or replacement becomes inevitable. In 2017, 2.2 million Americans spent an average of $3,790 to ensure warm, worry-free winters.