In this blog post, we’re going to run down the full kitchen remodeling checklist we believe you should follow to get the best results.
This is both an item-by-item checklist and a high-level overview of the thoughts that should be running through your head as you decide what parts of your kitchen will stay and what will go.
The checklist will include priorities, budget, expectations, hiring contractors, material, timing & preparation.
A kitchen remodel can take anywhere from a few weeks to multiple months depending on the steps you’ll need to take and the magnitude of the job. Hiring a contractor to do the job can be costly, but not as costly as attempting to do the job yourself without having a proper plan in place and knowing the steps involved.
Just like in math, where there’s an order of operations, the same goes for kitchen remodeling.
Your first priorities should be to figure out your budget, plan your designs & figure out your must-haves.
From paint colors, appliances, flooring & features it can feel like you have unlimited options. It’s important to narrow down your abstract ideas like, “I want a more modern kitchen” to specific wants and needs.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Will I need space to entertain & dine?
- What are my “must-have” features and what’s just nice to have?
- What will be on display?
- What elements can I use from my old kitchen?
- Will there be a general theme?
Visiting hardware stores and showrooms will give you ideas about what your want and even plant new ideas in your head.
It will take around 1-2 months for all of your materials to arrive meaning you’ll want to get them ordered ASAP. Measure every space, order as many samples as your can for cabinets, paint, etc, and apply for permits.
For any job where electrical, mechanical, framing or plumbing changes will be made, a permit will be required.
Your last priority should be to establish a temporary kitchen for your family to use during the project. Most homes don’t have a 2nd kitchen, so you’ll have to get creative. A dorm-sized refrigerator, portable microwave, and an outside grill are all great options. Crashing dinner time at Mom’s house works too!
Your budget will be guided by your more dire wants and needs first. Make sure you get exactly what you want or else the whole job won’t really be worth it. Things that matter less to you can be filled with cheaper (but not low quality) substitutes or even worked on later.
According to Home Advisor, the average cost of a kitchen remodel in the U.S is $25,600 including labor.
How much should you spend on your renovation?
A good rule of thumb is to spend around 5-15% percent of your home’s value on a kitchen remodel.
So if your home is worth $200,000, then $20,000 would be a good target.
Here are some tips to save money on your remodel:
- Opt to refinish your cabinets instead of replacing them
- Leave your appliances where they are, even if you’re upgrading them
- Use tack lighting instead of recess lighting
It’s important to start with a proper budget breakdown so you can decide what needs to be tacked off and what you can afford to upgrade. For example, the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel is by far installing new cabinets. If you don’t want to spend $15,000 on that category, a proper plan would be to find out how to simply refinish your cabinets and give them a more modern look.
According to HGTV, here’s how you can expect the budget to breakdown
- 35 percent: cabinets
- 20 percent: labor
- 20 percent: appliances
- 10 percent windows
- 5 percent: fixtures
- 3 percent: fittings
- 7 percent: other
Step 1: Tear-Out & Demolition
Once you’ve finished your planning, budgeting, and ordering materials, it’s time to start demoing your kitchen.
Pro Tip: Don’t start your demolition until your materials arrive!
Follow this checklist to make sure you don’t cause any hiccups
- Clear out your fridge & cabinets completely
- Turn off water
- Turn off gates
- Turn off electrical from your breaker box
- Rent a dumpster to have ready for trash
- Remove appliances
- Place a drop cloth on the floor
It’s important you have a plan to get rid of waste so call your local dumpster rental company and ask for a 10-20 yard can.
Although demolition is an activity that can be done DIY, we strongly recommend doing your research heavily before embarking on this project.
This is the best article we could find online discussing the precautions to take:
Step 2: Framing & Plumbing
Now that your kitchen has been completely gutted, you can work on the internal plumbing.
Most framing and plumbing needs to be completed before the drywall and flooring can be installed. You’ll need to have access to the wiring for inspection and installing outlets.
Here are some common plumbing issues to avoid and fix during your remodel:
- Using Incompatible Pipes causing premature corrosion and leaks
- Not Installing Vents On Fixtures & Sinks which prevents sewer and air fumes from being expelled outside.
- Selecting The Countertops Before The Sink causing your sink to have an inaccurate size that doesn’t fit the countertop space or hook up to the pipes.
Step 3: Professional Inspection
It depends on your city, but usually, two inspections are required for a kitchen remodel. At this stage, the city will send one or two people to do the rough-in inspections and electrical inspections.
You or your contractor are responsible for scheduling the rough-in inspection. If it passes inspection, you’re good to go. If not, the inspector will give you a checklist of what needs to be fixed. Once that’s done, you’ll schedule an inspection again.
Step 4: Install Drywall & Paint
Ok, so you’ve made the necessary fixes and installations to the framing, plumbing & electrical systems.
Now it’s time to close up the walls and hang new drywall.
Materials You’ll Need
- Drywall screws and drill
- Putty knife
- Drywall mud
- Drywall tape
- Fine sanding block
- Spray texture
- Primer & paint
Step 5: Install Doors And Windows
Windows and doors may be an afterthought, but updating them allows you to add a layer of natural light to your space that can play beautifully with your color choices and of course add value to the space. Windows can also highlight vocal points in your kitchen that you want to literally shine through.
Step 6: Install New Flooring
When it comes to flooring in your kitchen, you’re looking for durability, the ability to clean & water resistance. Our favorite option is stone tile but it can stain easily if it’s not properly sealed and can be expensive. Sheet vinyl and cork are both budget-friendly options. Porcelain tile is your best option if you’re looking for durability.
The only other thing to consider when picking your flooring is when to install it. Yes, because most flooring styles like tile & hardwood need to be installed before cabinetry. However, some floating floor types like luxury vinyl flooring and laminates have to be installed after the cabinets.
Because your floor will be floating on the subfloor and connected by a locking system, it will need space to expand and contract as the temperature rises and falls. If you install heavy cabinetry first, it will block the floor from expanding causing issues down the road like buckling.
Floating floors are clicked together instead of adhering to the floor.
Step 7: Install Cabinets & Plumbing Fixtures
Cabinets are the largest part of a kitchen and by far the most expensive. According to Home Advisor, the average cost of a cabinet installation ranges from $1,900 to $9000, however, we’ve seen that price routinely get as high as $15,000!
Step 8: Install Countertops
The final immovable object to be installed will be your countertops.
Step 9: Install New Appliances
This includes lighting, appliances & plumbing fixtures. Use caution moving heavy objects on the new flooring. Although you will have given the flooring ample time to set, this still isn’t the time to mess around.