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Ideas for a Split-Level Exterior Renovation

Jagg Xaxx

Thousands of split-level homes were built in the 1960s and 1970s as suburbs bloomed around major cities. These homes are characterized by large setbacks from the street, a lack of front porches, low roof pitches, and vinyl or aluminum siding.

To deal with this home style's sometimes-dated appearance, some homeowners are looking for good exterior renovation ideas that will bring new life to their homes.


If your house is covered with vinyl siding that has faded with age or aluminum siding that has become dented, or is covered with peeling paint, replacing the siding is one of the easiest ways to improve the exterior look of your home. Siding replacement is also an ideal opportunity to add a layer of rigid foam insulation to your exterior walls, improving your home's energy efficiency. The dated wide clapboard look that is typical of mid-20th-century split-levels can be replaced with stucco, brick or board and batten, each of which will give your house a different character and feel.


The front facades of many split-level homes are dominated by large picture windows that face onto the street. These windows allow a lot of light into the living room, but also have the liabilities of significant heat loss and a dated look. Replacing the front picture window with a new, energy-efficient window can alter the look of the front of your home. You can renovate the sides by adding new windows on walls that are sometimes just plain siding. You may not want to do this if your neighbor's house is too close, and your new view would only be the side of his garage.

Roofs and Dormers

If you are ambitious enough to consider a major overhaul, replacing the roof of your home with a design that has a steeper pitch can radically transform the look and style of your house. As with new siding, you can also use this new construction to significantly increase your home's energy efficiency. Building on a steeper roof and incorporating some dormers will give your house a more classic look, and possibly allow you more headroom on your second floor, turning a formerly unusable attic into livable space. You can also change your roofing material from typical asphalt shingles to slate, terra-cotta tiles or enameled metal.


Suburban split-level houses are an expression of a retreat from civic life into the private sphere, which is why they emphasize backyard patios over front porches. You can improve the look of your home, and help to make your neighborhood more neighborly, by adding on an inviting front porch. This allows you a place to relax outside in the summer and interact with neighbors without having them intrude into your backyard. A new front porch can be as simple as an extension of your front entryway or as elaborate as a large covered area that extends across the full width of your house.