Maintenance-Free Homes: How to Make Yours One of Them

Make these 9 choices to to save hours of time all year long.

Gray house with green deck chairs and child on swing
Image: Ryann Ford Photography

Tired of home maintenance chores? So are we. 

That’s why we love these easy-care features that free up your free time -- and do it beautifully. Maintenance-free homes will always have value. Make yours one of them with these projects:

#1 Front Yard Patio

Patio in the front yard of a house

Lawns are classic suburbia; they’re also classic maintenance time-sucks. Good-looking patios, on the other hand, don’t need mowing, watering, or fertilizing. Ever. Be a trend-setter and put one in your front yard for you to enjoy and your neighbors to envy. A professionally installed brick or flagstone patio runs $15 to $18 per square foot.

 

#2 Vinyl Shake Siding

Vinyl shake siding on the exterior of a house

Vinyl shakes look as beautiful as real wood but they won’t crack, rot, fade, or need periodic staining and sealing. Even better: At $2 to $7 per square foot, installed, they’re about half the price of real wood shakes. Lots of colors available. Did we say that bugs don’t like them, either? Well, they don’t!

#3 Quartz Countertop

Low-maintenance quartz countertop in a kitchen

Everyone seems to love granite -- until it’s time to reseal it. You can get a look that’s just as gorgeous with engineered quartz countertops. Made with 95% quartz (one of the hardest known materials), a quartz countertop shrugs off stains, scratches, and germs (it’s antimicrobial).

Cost is $40 to $100 per square foot, installed, about the same as granite. But -- unlike granite -- a quartz countertop is non-porous and never needs to be resealed. For that reason, quartz countertops are starting to rival granite as the preferred choice.

#4 Fiberglass Entry Door

Fiberglass entry door on a home

What looks like and feels as beautiful as wood, stains like wood, but never chips, warps, or cracks? Answer: fiberglass. All of which makes fiberglass an ideal material for high-style, low-fuss entry doors that mimic oak, mahogany, walnut, fir, and other woods. Average installed cost for this cool curb appeal upgrade: about $3,000.

#5 Shaker-Style Cabinets

Shaker-style white kitchen cabinets in home
Image: Dwelling Studio / All Around Joe Construction

Can style be low-maintenance and gorgeous, too? Of course! These Shaker-style kitchen cabinets, with their simple lines and absence of frills and trills, make cleanup a snap. They also fit with most any design, from traditional to modern. Order them with a tough factory finish that resists stains.

#6 Turf Grasses

Buffalo grass front lawn

If you love a lawn but hate the upkeep, go alternative. Lush, green turf grasses are beautiful and specially formulated so they’ll grow well in various climates. Once established, turf grasses, like the buffalo grass shown here, require very little watering or mowing, and virtually no fertilizers or pesticides.

#7 Direct-Vent Gas Fireplace

Cat next to direct vent fireplace in living room

OK, you’re not Grizzly Adams. You don’t care for chopping firewood, cleaning a sooty hearth, or paying somebody to sweep the chimney every year. But you still like to curl up in front of a blazing fire. Solution: A gorgeous direct-vent gas fireplace ($2,000 to $5,000) burns clean, is energy-efficient, and throws off tons of ambiance.

#8 Manufactured Stone Veneer

Stone veneer on the exterior of a home

Long-lasting manufactured stone veneer won’t split, crack, or fade, and requires virtually no maintenance. At about $18 per square foot installed, its cost is slightly less than real stone veneer. It also weighs less, which means it can be installed on tall walls without the additional foundation support and wall ties required by real stone.

#9 Drought-Resistant Landscape Plants

Flowering azaleas in a home's yard

Azaleas like these are in the genus Rhododendron, a group of woody shrubs that grow in many different climates and have showy spring blossoms. Beautiful azaleas are tough and hardy once rooted into well-drained soil, making upkeep easy and reducing the need for water.

Related:  8 Remodeling Choices for a Low-Maintenance House

John Riha

John Riha

John Riha has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Follow John on Google+.