Most homeowners remodel their homes to improve their quality of life. Nearly all hope the renovation adds equity to their home so that when it comes time to sell, they will recoup a portion of the expense.

But not all upgrades are smart. Over-improving or over-personalizing a home may end up costing a homeowner more money.

“One skill that I’ve developed during my time as a real estate broker is to understand which home improvements will give you the most significant possible return when it comes time to sell,” said Dan Rochon, a real estate agent with Keller Williams. “After helping hundreds of clients sell their homes for maximum profit, we have found that the best places to spend money are in the kitchen, the bathrooms and out front with your curb appeal.”

Each year, Remodeling magazine puts together a cost-vs.-value report, which compares the average cost of 22 remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 136 U.S. markets. We selected six projects to show which provided the best return on investment. In each category, we list the cost of the renovation, the amount the improved feature will add to the resale price and the percentage of the cost recouped. We used national figures, but if you go to the magazine’s website, remodeling.hw.net, you can get the breakdown by region and city.

Midrange major kitchen remodel

Cost: $66,196 / Resale value: $41,133 / Percentage recouped: 62.1%

Update outmoded 200-square-foot kitchen with functional layout of 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets, including 3-by-5-foot island; laminate countertops; and standard double-tub stainless steel sink with standard single-lever faucet. Include energy-efficient range, vented range hood, built-in microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal and custom lighting. Add new resilient flooring. Finish with painted walls, trim and ceiling.

Midrange bathroom remodel

Cost: $20,420 / Resale value: $13,717 / Percentage recouped: 67.2%

Update existing 5-by-7-foot bathroom. Replace all fixtures to include 30-by-60-inch porcelain-on-steel tub with 4-by-4-inch ceramic tile surround; new single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control; standard white toilet; solid-surface vanity counter with integral sink; recessed medicine cabinet with light; ceramic tile floor; and vinyl wallpaper.

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Window replacement (wood)

Cost: $20,526 / Resale value: $14,530 / Percentage recouped: 70.8%

Replace 10 existing 3-by-5-foot double-hung windows with insulated, low-E, simulated-divided-light wood windows. Interior finish of stained hardwood; exterior finish of custom-color aluminum cladding. Trim exterior to match existing; do not disturb existing interior trim.

Siding replacement

Cost: $16,036 / Resale value: $12,119 / Percentage recouped: 75.6%

Replace 1,250 square feet of existing siding with new siding installed to manufacturer’s specifications. Include factory trim at all openings and corners.

Roof replacement (asphalt shingles)

Cost: $22,636 / Resale value: $15,427 / Percentage recouped: 68.2%

Remove and dispose of existing roofing to bare wood sheathing. Install 30 squares of minimum 235-pound fiberglass asphalt shingles (minimum 25-year warranty) with new 30-pound felt (or equivalent synthetic) underlayment, galvanized drip edge and mill-finish aluminum flashing. Assume a rectangular hip roof; custom flashing at two average-size skylights; and custom cap treatment at vented ridge.

Deck addition (wood)

Cost: $13,333 / Resale value: $10,083 / Percentage recouped: 75.6%

Add 16-by-20-foot deck using pressure-treated joists supported by 4-by-4-inch posts anchored to concrete piers. Install pressure-treated deck boards in a simple linear pattern. Include built-in bench and planter of the same decking material. Include stairs, assuming three steps to grade. Provide a complete railing system using pressure-treated wood posts, railings and balusters.

More projects

Project / cost / resale value/ percent recouped

Upscale master suite addition / $271,470 / $136,820 / 50.4%

Upscale bathroom addition / $87,704 / $51,000 / 58.1%

Backyard patio / $56,906 / $31,430 / 55.2%

Entry door replacement / $1,826 / $1,368/ 74.9%

Garage door replacement / $3,611 / $3,520 / 97.5%