Masonry Stairs

It’s no surprise that the materials that top this list are also some of the oldest materials in the home improvement world. Though some of our top five are a bit more expensive than their alternatives, the longevity, durability, beauty, and ultimate value of these materials them good investments despite the higher initial cost.

1. Masonry

One of the oldest (and easily the most durable) building techniques in the world, masonry is an easy choice for our list. The nationwide average cost of brick or stone siding installation is $9,600. Since this figure includes homes where masonry doesn’t make up the entire house (i.e. houses that are sided in brick on the first floor but are clad in another material on the second story), the actual cost of covering your whole house in brick or stone may be more costly. However, when you consider that these materials can last for centuries, the investment is a sound one when building a home or considering the cost of adding a second story, even if it’s twice the price!

You can also integrate masonry on walkways and exterior stairs for a low-maintenance, and relatively inexpensive, path. The average stone steps cost is about $150 per step.

2. Traditional Tile

You can find tile in bathrooms, kitchens, flooring, and even roofing. However, no matter where it is installed tile is an unmatched performer (and isn’t hard on the eyes, either). Tile installation in bathrooms has seen some competition in recent years from tub and shower surrounds, but when it comes to durability, tile’s longevity is something that can’t be denied. Even when grout around tiles becomes stained or unstable, the tile itself can be salvaged and polished to create an appearance that looks brand new. Ceramic tile installation averages just under $2,000 nationwide, and saying that price will bring a lifetime of performance is actually an understatement; when properly installed, tile can literally last for generations!

3. Hardwood

Whether it’s used in flooring, furniture, or wall panels, hardwood’s beauty is something that homeowners have admired for centuries. The best thing about hardwood, however, is that it can give any other material a run for its money when it comes to longevity if it is properly maintained. The best way to illustrate this is the practice of building with reclaimed lumber. In recent years, the practice of collecting the wood from buildings that are scheduled for demolition has really caught on. When sanded and refinished, these salvaged boards are used to create flooring that has a unique and authentic look that, despite their already long life, can be expected to last for decades more! New hardwood floor installation averages about $5,100; since reclaimed wood often takes a lot of effort to make it ready for installation, it can actually be more expensive than new hardwood!

4. Metal Roofing

Though metal roofing can certainly be considered a classic material, new technology has made this oldie even better. Though there are metal roofs on barns and other structures that have been around for over 100 years, these are often criticized because of their lack of insulation and their tendency to be very noisy during rain showers. With today’s metal roofing, you get the same incredible durability without the noise; installation of these roofs is also now done so that a metal roof will insulate just as well as a roof of asphalt! Though generally two or three times more expensive to install than asphalt shingles, the longevity of these beauties makes them an excellent investment over the long haul.

5. Copper Gutters

Though gutters often get neglected or ignored, the fact is that they are responsible for keeping the damaging effects of precipitation from hurting your home in other areas. When you are looking to replace old gutters, the most folks in America disregard copper because of the price (averaging about $5,600 per installation compared to $1,000 or $2,000 for the competition). However, just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is the best. Copper gutters don’t just give a property a unique, classy appearance, they are also far more durable than vinyl, aluminum, or wood gutters and are likely to last a lifetime. While it is easy to see how the price of copper gutters might be off-putting, when it comes to performance, there is simply no competition.

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