Poorly installed or damaged trim cheapens an entire space, says Anna Moore of Platinum Remodeling & Handyman Services in Minneapolis. Whether upgrading the trim enriches a home varies by the project.
If a home is well kept, its value will benefit, says Penny Smith of Penny Smith Appraisals in Newport Beach, Calif. Clean, sleek trim could improve a home’s value, but there’s no way to estimate a blanket percentage, she says.
Mike Kozenko, with Tyke Appraisals in Chicago, said it’s impossible to say if changing trim alone has a significant impact on a home’s value, but that upgrading will likely help a home sell more quickly.
Choose trim wisely
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Smith says the trim should match the home and neighborhood’s style.
“You’re not going to put the same kind of trim on a colonial as you are on a modern,” she said. “You’re an artist, and it’s about the pallet.”
Though each job varies, Moore says spicing up a standard 300-square-foot living room costs less than one might think. Here are a few cost-effective projects for a room of that size:
▪ Crown molding: Standard 3 1 / 4-inch crown molding starts around $1,000 and goes up from there. Crown molding makes any room look nicer, but it works especially well in a room with tall ceilings.
▪ Bigger, better baseboards: Tearing out builder-grade baseboards and installing 4 1 / 4-inch trim costs about $700 for a single room. Homeowners usually want to replace this trim throughout the entire house to make it match.
▪ Window and door casing: Trimming a standard window or door with slightly larger casing costs about $150 to $200.
▪ Wainscoting: This trim, which covers the bottom portion of a wall with a cap on top, lends itself to homes with more traditional, rather than modern, style. It also fits best in more formal rooms, such as living or dining rooms.
“Assuming the wainscoting materials cost around $300 or less, you’re probably looking at a full day’s install for two carpenters, or about $1,500 total,” Moore said.
These prices reflect paint-grade trim but not the painting, which happens after installation. Each project is different. For stained trim or custom styles, prices can increase dramatically.
Consider what you want first
Homeowners enjoy these improvements, and they can make the home more salable. However, Kozenko warns not to do any project for the sake of resale value alone. More often than not, the amount spent eclipses the return on investment when a home sells.
“If you want to do it for yourself, go ahead,” Kozenko said. “But don’t do it for someone else, because they might not like it.”
Smith said improving a home too much will price it out of the market. She advises homeowners not to go crazy with elaborate custom trim if they live in a home that falls in the middle of the price range for their area.
Smith disagrees that upgrading a home before selling is a waste. She said if the homeowner doesn’t do too much, such projects should help improve value.
“I think you only get one chance to make a first impression,” she said. “You’ve got to catch someone’s eye, and you’ve got to make an emotional impression.”