Top 10 Green Home Improvements Plus Their Costs – DIY Green Living Ideas

In today’s fractured world it is next to impossible to find one thing on which everyone agrees, but Eco-friendly home improvement choices are one of them. Green is good. Good for the planet. Good for our health. Good for the future. Green remodeling means energy efficiency, resource conservation, and a healthy indoor environment.

But some Eco-friendly home remodeling upgrades, whether DIY or done by a pro, make more sense than others. Cost is always an understandable concern. Many green choices will eventually pay for themselves many times over in long-term cost savings and increased resale value of your home. Others will never justify the increased upfront costs. Let’s investigate…

1. Green Flooring

Options abound in the selection of Eco-friendly flooring. Sustainable wood choices like bamboo (actually a grass) make attractive flooring substitutes to oak and maple. No one likes to cut down trees unnecessarily and wood flooring is also available from reclaimed wood that spent its previous life as barn siding or kitchen cabinets.

reclaimed-wood Image credits: Jetson Green

This wood lends a unique look to your flooring, but expect to pay from $10 to $15 per square foot for your one-of-a-kind reclaimed wood flooring installed.

Cork flooring is an Eco-friendly alternative to wood flooring. Ground-up bottle-stoppers are reformulated for flooring that is warm, lasts for generations and great for spills from little kids.

cork-floors-kitchen-westlake-residence Image Credits: Cornerstone Architects

Compared to reclaimed wood, cork flooring is a significantly less-costly, albeit not as stylish, economical alternative. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per square foot of cork flooring installed.

And while you are making over your flooring, do not overlook the plywood underlayment – choose plywood that employs soy-based adhesives rather than traditional urea-formaldehyde. Your home environment will immediately become healthier without the toxins that adhesive leaks into the interior air. A 3/4-inch thick sheet of 4 x 8-foot formaldehyde-free, soy-based assembled plywood will run about $50.

2. Decks: Green Flooring for Outdoors

hardwood-deck Ipe Hardwood Deck by: SD Independent Construction

Don’t forget to go Eco-friendly outside as well as in. Composite decks formed from wood waste and recycled plastic will outlast pressure-treated wood, will never need staining and preserving, will clean easily, will not crack and will never leave a splinter in your toe.

The downside will be the upfront costs, but expect future buyers to look kindly on that long-lasting, maintenance-free outdoor space. A pressure-treated wood deck typically clocks in at around $15 per square foot, while decks fabricated from composite materials start in the neighborhood of $35 per square foot.

3. Cool Roofs

Dark roofs make houses hotter, light roofs make houses cooler. To achieve these benefits companies can coat your roof with reflective materials, some of which are applied like paint, sprayed directly on the surface of an existing roof. Of course, this is a one-season solution. Energy conservation wizards are currently working on tiles that will go from light to dark as needed – they can cut the sunlight absorbed into your house by 80% when they are white and slice heating costs by 20% and more when they turn black. You can find a cool roof coating formulated with acrylic polymers, resins, fillers and titanium dioxide pigments for about $100 for a 4.75 gallon container

If rather than applying it yourself, your would prefer to hire a professional, expect to pay anywhere from a few to several thousands of dollars to properly apply liquid roof coating. You should know that most liquid roof coatings are only suitable for durable membrane-based flat roofs and aging metal roofs.

Energy Efficient PVC membrane on a flat roof PVC roof by: New England Metal Roof

If you have a flat or low-slope roof that is starting to show the signs of age and may thus require replacement soon, then consider installing one of the following membranes; white, energy-efficient PVC and TPO membranes, or white EPDM rubber roof. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per foot for EPDM rubber membrane installed. PVC or TPO will cost $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot installed.

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