16 Money Saving DIY Home Improvements

Before you head to a hardware store or home center to tackle a repair or improvement, consider how much you'll save compared with hiring a contractor. Here's the dollars and cents for 16 popular home and garden upgrades.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Painting a Room Basics

Just because you can make a home improvement yourself doesn’t always mean you should. Before you assume you’ll tackle a job spend time considering how much you’ll save by doing it yourself compared with hiring a contractor. Think deep about the physical work required, the skill set needed and the time and money it takes to do the job, and when the savings are worth the work, go for it.

Here are some popular upgrades to improve and repair your home and how much it costs to hire a contractor compared with doing the job yourself. Use the numbers to help plan your job. The savings range from 35 to 88 percent so they're well worth the effort.


Paint a 15x20 ft room: Pro $1,842 vs. DIY $205 saving 88%

Hang a 40 in. wide wood window cornice: Pro $85 vs. DIY $48 saving 36%

Install a curved shower curtain rod: Pro $122 vs. DIY $45 saving 63%

Install a shelf and rod in a 3x5 ft. closet: Pro $101 vs. DIY $65 saving 35%

Install a 16 in. wide cabinet rollout storage rack: Pro $140 vs. DIY $80 saving 42%

Install 12-in. floor tile in a 12x15 ft. room: Pro $492 vs. DIY $295 saving 40%

Install a 36-in. Roman shade: Pro $308 vs. DIY $100 saving 67%

Hang a 36x48 in. mirror: Pro $105 vs. DIY $50 saving 52%

Repair and Maintenance

Caulk 6 windows: Pro $302 vs. DIY $65 saving 78%

Repair a torn screen: Pro $158 vs. DIY $20 saving 87%

Repair and clean gutters: Pro $131 vs. DIY $35 saving 73%

Repair a toilet: Pro $267 vs. DIY $75 saving 72%

Yard Upgrades

Prune trees and shrubs: Pro $95 vs. DIY $45 saving 52%

Lay 300 sq. ft. of mulch 4-in. deep: Pro $248 vs. DIY $150 saving 39%

Plant a 50 ft. hedge: Pro $1,075 DIY $670 saving 37%

Lay a 50 ft. 4 foot wide brick sidewalk: Pro $2,543 vs. DIY $925 saving 63%