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Remodeling Your Kitchen in 13 Easy Steps

Kristin Luna
Written by Kristin Luna
Updated January 20, 2022
A family of three by the kitchen island in a bright kitchen
Yakobchuk Olena - stock.adobe.com

Give yourself the kitchen makeover of your dreams, as easy as 1-2-3

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The kitchen is the hub of your house—and often needs more attention than other spaces. Over the years, grease, smoke, knives, dinnerware, food, and liquids all hammer away at the functionality (not to mention the aesthetics) of doors, drawers, countertops, and floors. 

Achieving the perfect kitchen and entertaining area can completely alter how you use your home. So whether you’re doing a light remodel or taking it down to the studs, you’ll want to follow these steps to remodel a kitchen yourself or with professional help.

1. Make a Plan

While a DIY kitchen remodel may be in your wheelhouse, there are a few things to consider before you decide to tackle it yourself. The first step to figuring out the best way to remodel your kitchen is answering a few fundamental questions:

  • Where are your current pain points?

  • Do you need more cabinet space?

  • What does your area currently not have that you need?

  • Are you reconfiguring the layout entirely?

  • Do you need to relocate appliances?

  • Do you need to add significant additions?

  • Are there steps you can't do on your own (like wiring or plumbing)?

The largest line item on your budget will likely be appliances. If money is tight, prioritize which appliances are worth upgrading and where you can buy a less expensive model or keep from your old kitchen. Cabinetry is another major expense, so if you’re short on funds, you may be able to cut corners by keeping your existing boxes and refacing them with new doors and adding a fresh coat of paint.

2. Set a Kitchen Budget

 A beautiful white kitchen with a large island
bmak - stock.adobe.com

The kitchen is one of the rooms where you could easily go over budget once you add in appliances, premium finishes, and fixtures. Avoid kitchen remodeling mistakes by mapping out a range you can afford before you even start shopping for your dream setup.

The average cost to remodel a kitchen is $30,000, and most homeowners spend $75 to $250 per square foot. If you're doing a smaller project limited to painting, refacing cabinets, replacing the sink, upgrading a few appliances, or installing a tile backsplash, you can budget closer to $10,000 to $15,000

If you’re going for custom cabinets, hardwood floors, granite counters, and high-end appliances, your total may well exceed $30,000. According to HomeAdvisor, the general rule of thumb to follow is spending 5% to 15% of the home’s value on your remodeling project without negatively affecting the resale price. Doing so can net a 72% return on investment when you sell your house.

Consider These Elements

Checklist for 12 cost factors of kitchen remodeling, including lighting, flooring, and design

When planning out your kitchen remodel, you’ll also want to take into account the following costs before you start mapping out your budget:

  • Design

  • Contractor services

  • Installation

  • Appliances and ventilation

  • Cabinetry and hardware

  • Countertops

  • Lighting

  • Flooring

  • Doors and windows

  • Walls and ceilings

  • Faucets and plumbing

  • Miscellaneous expenses

3. Know When to Bring in the Pros

If you plan to use professional contractors to build your kitchen, they'll have to plan out material purchases, equipment staging, cabinetry construction, and appliance delivery. Also, you won't have access to a full kitchen for much of the construction timeline, so plan accordingly. If you’re stumped about where to start, a licensed general contractor near you will be able to help you figure out in what order to remodel a kitchen. 

Other things to think about that may affect the overall budget of your kitchen include but are not limited to:

  • Will you need to add a gas line for the new kitchen?

  • Does your new vent hood require an exterior exhaust system?

  • How much subfloor damage will be caused by removing the old flooring?

4. Demo Your Old Kitchen

Now comes the fun part: out with the old to make room for the new. Before you even start ripping out your existing flooring and cabinetry, you'll want to ensure you have somewhere to dispose of it. Renting a dumpster and placing it outside a wide entrance close to your kitchen is a crucial step before you take a sledgehammer to those old cabinets that have been an eyesore since you first moved in.

Suppose you hired a contractor to remodel your kitchen. In that case, you don't need to worry about the demo other than removing your belongings from the cabinets and refrigerator and packing them away in labeled boxes for easy finding later. This is also a good excuse to purge excess dishware and donate rarely used items.

If you’re handing the demolition yourself, you’ll want to check off the items below in this order:

  • Turn off the water.

  • Turn off the gas.

  • Turn off the electricity from your breaker box.

  • Use thick cardboard or thin plywood to cover and protect any floors you aren’t removing.

  • Remove appliances.

Once you’re ready to start the demo process, remove your old kitchen items in this order when applicable:

  • Garbage disposal

  • Sink

  • Countertops

  • Dishwasher and other appliances

  • Cabinets

  • Trim

  • Backsplash and drywall

  • Light fixtures

  • Flooring

5. Update the Plumbing

Rack of clean dish-ware by the kitchen sink
Pixel-Shot - stock.adobe.com

If you're installing a new sink or reorienting the drain system, you'll likely need to revamp the plumbing. It's helpful to figure out your basement or crawl space access challenges before you install the cabinets and flooring, as most plumbing is easiest to access when you're working with a blank slate. This is also a great time to clean up and maximize the plumbing layout for additional storage beneath the sink. 

Plumbing mistakes can quickly make your project go haywire. So even if you’re planning to DIY your kitchen, bring in a licensed local plumber to address any plumbing needs.

6. Install Lighting

Modern kitchens have many electrical requirements, so it's wise to hire an electrician for such complicated and dangerous work. The garbage disposal needs a dedicated plug beneath the sink and a switch on the wall. The dishwasher needs a dedicated plug behind it, as does the refrigerator. If the oven or stove is electric, you'll need a higher voltage wire to handle the load, high-amp circuit breakers, and different plug connections for each. 

Plugs installed in the backsplash for coffee makers, mixing machines, or other commonly used kitchen items require a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) setup. New ceiling lighting or under-counter LEDs will often need to be placed on a new circuit, as well.

7. Pick the Flooring

This part of the project is also highly variable, as material costs on the best flooring type you choose dramatically range from $0.60 per square foot on the lower end for laminate flooring to $25 per square foot for hardwood floors. Doing the job when the entire room is empty will save a lot of time on labor because you won't need to work around an island and cabinetry. However, it's still a pretty intense process to ensure the floor is level and you get the finishing touches just right—a job for which you might want to hire a local flooring company.

8. Remove Drywall

While it's common during a kitchen remodel for the drywall to be removed entirely—including from the ceiling to upgrade lighting or repair damage from demolition—the quantity will be lower than a typical home renovation project. Renting a drywall lift is around $40 a day. Other professional tools like an automatic drywall compound taper (also known as a bazooka) will significantly speed up an otherwise time-consuming aspect.

9. Paint the Room

Most kitchens don’t require a lot of painting because of the amount of space cabinets and appliances occupy. But if you’ve installed lights in the ceiling or demoed the rest of the room back to the studs, you’ll need to prime and paint the affected or new areas. Even if you’re hiring out other components of your kitchen remodel, this part of the process is one you can tackle by following these painting tips.

10. Install Cabinetry

A bright kitchen with green cabinetry
brizmaker - stock.adobe.com

One of the biggest showstoppers in your new space will be the kitchen cabinets. The options for finishes are almost endless, as are the style selections. Modern hinges and drawers have transformed how we interact with our storage solutions and made reorienting the layout in the kitchen a major planning exercise. 

Cabinet installation requires a fair amount of skill to keep everything level, but mounting cabinets to the wall is a relatively simple procedure involving screws, studs, and a level. If you’re not confident doing the work yourself, you can hire a local cabinet maker to build and install your cabinetry.

11. Add in Countertops

Typically made from a solid slab of rock, countertops can be quite heavy. Hire a local countertop installer or have multiple people help during this stage to avoid damage and personal injury. Most stone-cutting shops include installation as part of the contract because of how difficult it can be for customers to do it themselves. But you can save significant money if you're confident in your ability to do the countertops independently.

12. Hang the Backsplash

If you opt for a trendy kitchen backsplash, you'll want to install it once the cabinets and countertops are in. Prepare the wall for tile or stone panels by installing a suitable substrate before applying adhesive. Finishing steps like grout or caulking are often the last piece of the project.

13. Install Your Appliances

A couple spending time in kitchen while man is preparing dinner
Monkey Business - stock.adobe.com

The cherry on top of your kitchen is when you finally get to add the finishing touches: the appliances. Refrigerators will require a special dolly to get into the house, but it usually has wheels on the bottom for maneuvering once you're inside. Dishwashers and ice makers might require a plumbing reorientation, and you might need to connect ovens or stoves to natural gas in addition to their ventilation system. Bring in an electrician to help if you're DIYing your kitchen remodel. 

Now that you're done with your kitchen remodel, invite your friends over to celebrate a job well done. Cheers!

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