19 Home Improvement Myths Busted

Homes are meant to be lived in, worked on, and improved. But before you make a major investment in a remodel or renovation, make sure you aren't falling for one of these home-improvement myths.

1 / 19
home improvement building an addition
Sue Smith/Shutterstock

‘Go Big on Renovations and Improvements’

Instead of thinking big, think realistic. You may want a giant bump-out addition, but will the cost of that addition or remodel pay off in the long run?

Plus, would the improvement make your home look ridiculous compared to other homes on your block? That is a potential problem when it’s time to sell.

2 / 19
wall crack structural issues
Binkski/Shutterstock

‘Cracks Can Cost You Thousands in Repairs’

Cracks in the wall aren’t always that big of an issue. Most are just the result of small seasonal expansion and contractions; it doesn’t mean there’s a structural failure. To be safe, call a structural engineer to check it out.

3 / 19
hanging wallpaper
goodluz/Shutterstock

‘Wallpaper Works Anywhere’

No, wallpaper does not work anywhere. If not hung properly, wallpaper will look horrible. Also, depending on the room, it may be prone to fading or condensation.

Before choosing to wallpaper, you should consider how it will look three, five and 10 years from now. Once you put it up, you don’t want to remove it any time soon.

4 / 19
measuring level
Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

‘DIY Always Saves Money’

Just because you’re handy doesn’t mean you should always do a home improvement project yourself. Things like major roofing projects, certain electrical repairs and upgrades, and structural work may need the expertise of a professional. It’s always best to know and admit your limits.

5 / 19
builders
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‘Remodeling is Easy and Fast’

Remodeling a home is no small undertaking, but one of the more recent home ownership myths has been driven by the rise of televised DIY projects. This so-called “reality TV effect” has given a whole generation of viewers the impression that most renovation can be accomplished in 48 hours, with plenty of room in the budget for a big reveal party.

Unfortunately, that’s not normally how things run. For one thing, the flow of a reality show remodel is scripted. And the small crew shown is usually supplemented by a larger group of pros who do the lion’s share of work once the cameras are turned off. Let’s bust these myths about the history of our homes.

Reality TV shows are great fun, but remember to separate reality from the myths of reality TV. Instead, get a reality check free of myths with our ultimate guide to surviving a DIY remodel.

6 / 19
solar panels on home roof
Uwe Landgraf/Shutterstock

‘Green Means Expensive’

It’s true that some “green” home improvement products can be more expensive than their traditional counterparts, but it’s not always true. Going green may save you money in the long run.

7 / 19
backyard pool patio
Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

‘Pools Add Value’

If you think adding a pool will boost the value of your home, consider the location. If you live in a warm part of the country, a pool may help.

But in the Midwest or on the East Coast, pools can be a more of a liability. They cost a lot to maintain there in the winter and some home buyers just don’t want one.

8 / 19
bright colored living room
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

‘White Walls Will Help You Sell’

If you’re planning to sell your home, a common myth is that you need to paint all the rooms white or beige so potential buyers can visualize themselves in the home.

Instead, splashes of color done tastefully throughout the home can help sell a home. White can make the home look painfully bland.

9 / 19
bathroom kitchen remodel imagine
REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

‘Add a Bedroom Before You Add a Bathroom’

First, consider how many bedrooms and bathrooms you already have. If you only have one bedroom, adding a second bedroom is probably the smartest home improvement choice.

If you have three bedrooms and only one bathroom, you might want to add another bathroom before adding a fourth bedroom.

10 / 19
home
Ivan Smuk/Shutterstock

‘A House Needs to Breathe’

One of the most long-lived myths of homeownership is that you shouldn’t interfere with drafts or air penetration because houses need to “breathe.” Well, a house doesn’t need to breathe. But it does need to dry out, vent any combustion fumes, and provide the people who live in it with fresh, circulating air.

Often referred to as “tight” houses, construction that limits air infiltration is perfectly acceptable with modern building science by pulling in and circulating air in a strategic fashion. But don’t let a desire for a breathable home prevent you from basic maintenance like sealing up drafts around windows and doors.

A little bit of common sense and simple research will help make sure that you’re not creating a staid air pocket that might encourage moisture retention. Of course, if your home already struggles with mold or mildew, it’s important to get started remedying the issue ASAP!

11 / 19
hot water tank
Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock

‘Water Heater Tanks are Maintenance-Free’

The truth is, your water heater tank should be drained once a year. Gunk in the water can clog the system. Plus, you’ll want to check regularly for any minor leaks or signs of corrosion.

12 / 19
flush toilet
Rasulov/Shutterstock

‘You Can Flush All Flushable Products’

Just because a product says it’s flushable, doesn’t mean it’s safe for your home’s toilet or pipes. To be safe, stick to toilet paper and human waste only.

Here are 12 things you should never flush down the toilet.

13 / 19
refrigerator repair
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

‘There’s Nothing Behind the Refrigerator’

If you think the area behind your refrigerator is clean, you may be in for a big surprise. You should vacuum your refrigerator’s coils regularly to increase its efficiency. Here’s how to avoid refrigerator repairs.

14 / 19
2021 pantone color of the year
via Pantone Color Institute

‘Go With Trends’

Just because Pantone named ultimate gray and illuminating the color of the year once doesn’t mean you should paint every room in your home gray or yellow.

If you want to try trends, stick with one room or try making small changes, like adding accessories or creating an accent wall.

15 / 19
leaky faucet
photopixel/Shutterstock

‘You Can Use Cheap Products and Fixtures’

Sometimes this is true. Perhaps you can get away with a cheaper countertop in your basement bar area. However, just because two products look the same doesn’t mean they are.

A $30 bathroom faucet may look just like the $150 version, but the $30 version may be made with plastic instead of stainless steel and you may end up replacing it sooner.

16 / 19
blue paint
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

‘Paint Hides Everything’

If your walls have some damage, you can’t just slap some paint on them and call it good. Whether you have a ding in the drywall, some mold or damage from termites, you need to eliminate the source of the problem and fix the damage before you paint over it.

17 / 19
blue painters tape
Serenethos/Shutterstock

‘When Painting, You Need to Tape All Edges’

Not so! Yes, tape is a great tool to use when catching drips and creating perfect lines. However, applying the tape and making sure it’s perfectly smooth does take a ton of time.

So if you don’t need it (and you’re confident about your painting), just skip it! Here are some professional painting tips to help.

18 / 19
Bathroom Exhaust Fan
mssy/Shutterstock

‘You Don’t Need an Exhaust Fan’

Just because you have a window in your bathroom doesn’t mean you can forgo an exhaust fan. If a bathroom isn’t properly ventilated, moisture can build up and you’ll end up with mold.

19 / 19
constructor
Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock

‘All Home Improvements Add Value’

It’s no secret that improving your home has the potential to boost its market value. But not every dollar you spend impacts your home’s value. If your roof leaks, for example, a replacement will simply bring it up to the minimum standard expected by most buyers.

Similarly, if you decide to build an elaborate home gym that takes up most of the second floor, you may find that buyers may view that as an imperfection rather than a selling point.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.