Steps to Remodeling Your Kitchen

 You don't have to spend a fortune to make your kitchen look like a million bucks. Before you jump in with a sledgehammer and start knocking down your kitchen walls, establish a plan for the kitchen remodel. This might involve the following:

  • Visit home improvement stores and thumb through remodeling magazines to get an idea of the type of kitchen you want.
  • Plan your kitchen around the style of your home. Little looks worse than updating an Old World Craftsman kitchen by adding cherry cabinets and white appliances.
  • Hire a kitchen designer to draw a design to scale.
  • Try to incorporate the way your kitchen is presently used. Remember the triangle for sink, stove, refrigerator. Goofy as it sounds, it works.
  • Buy your cabinets, appliances, flooring, lighting fixtures, sink, faucet, tiles, baseboards and paint in advance; store onsite.
  • Obtain building permits, if required.
  • Interview contractors. You may need an electrician, plumber, HVAC contractor, drywaller, painter, flooring and/or tile installer, demolition crew.

Demoing the Kitchen

Kitchen Remodel Steps

Elizabeth Weintraub

Although you may derive personal satisfaction by smashing into a wall like Kathy Bates in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, or maybe I'm just talking about myself, it's better to employ a systematic approach.

  • Remove cabinet doors first. Makes demolition easier for you.
  • Most cabinets are attached to the wall by 2 screws, yes believe it, unscrew them, but make sure you have a plan for holding up the cabinets as you remove the screws..
  • Carefully remove doorway and window trim (if you plan to reuse them) by sliding a putty knife next to the nails and gently tugging, working your way to the corner.
  • Shut off the power, and remove appliances and lighting fixtures that are directly wired; cover exposed wires with wire nuts.
  • Use a crowbar to force sheets of paneling from the walls.
  • Employ a sledgehammer for brute force but do not smash the studs.
  • Recycle old appliances and take everything else to the dump.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Replace Dated Kitchen Plumbing

Plumbing inside the walls

Elizabeth Weintraub

You can hire a general contractor to hire and oversee other workers or you can hire them yourself. Be aware that a general contractor may charge you up to 30% of the total cost of the project to handle it for you, and you might want to use that money for other purposes. However, hiring a general contractor means you are relieved from supervision and chasing after tardy or no-show workers.

Hiring Contractors

Make sure your contractors are licensed, bonded, insured and will pull the necessary permits. Ask for evidence.

Establish a payment plan:

  • Pay no more than 10% up front.
  • Pay 50% when the job is 50% completed.
  • Pay the balance upon completion.

Many contractors do not want to work on top of each other and might ask you to schedule them to work on separate days. (Prima donnas, I swear.)

Replacing Older Plumbing

If you've always wanted to replace your plumbing, now that the walls are open, this is the perfect time. Here are a few tips:

  • Realize that older plumbing may break and leak. Keep buckets handy to catch water leaks.
  • Be prepared to replace your shutoff valves.
  • Consider running a new gas line if your previous stove was electric.
  • Install a shut-off valve box for the refrigerator.
  • If you don't have a clean-out, put one in.
  • Replace all the plumbing under the sink if it's galvanized.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Replace Electrical and Install Kitchen Lighting

Kitchen Remodel Steps

Elizabeth Weintraub

Many kitchen remodels involve recessed ceiling lighting, new pendants and / or breakfast nook lighting. Check with your city code department to find out its requirements for incandescent, fluorescent and halogen bulbs.

Types of Electrical Installation for Your Kitchen

You might want to consider upgrading your circuit breaker box to 200 amp; ask your electrician if it is necessary. It's important to replace all the wiring, especially if your present wiring is not conforming to code. Each appliance, except maybe the refrigerator and range hood, should have a dedicated circuit, which means you can say goodbye to the days of your microwave causing power surges.

Types of electrical jobs:

  • Overhead lighting, which includes recessed fixtures.
  • Under cabinet lighting.
  • Wiring the dishwasher, either directly or by plugging into a receptacle.
  • Wiring the garbage disposal, either directly or by plugging into a receptacle.
  • Either a 120-volt or 220-volt receptacle for the range / oven, depending on whether it's gas or electric.
  • Receptacle for the refrigerator.
  • Wiring for the range hood.
  • Receptacle for the microwave.
  • Counter top receptacles (hint: more is always better).
  • Consider dimmer switches for some or all of your lighting.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Hang Kitchen Drywall, Mud and Sand

Kitchen Remodel Steps

Elizabeth Weintraub

Hanging Sheetrock is a simple job, but mudding is an art. Mud is joint compound, best used when dumped into a mudding tray and smushed around to soften the consistency.

After the electrician and plumber have finished their jobs, now is the time to hang drywall. It may take three coats of mud, which means the drywaller will need three days total for each coat to dry in between. There are products on the market that dry faster, but they may not be practical to use in a kitchen.

Hanging Drywall

This job is so easy you might be tempted to do it yourself. If so, you will need the following tools:

  • 4 x 8 sheets of drywall, commonly called Sheetrock, which is a trademarked name.
  • Utility knife and plenty of blades.
  • T-Square.
  • Drywall gun.
  • Drywall screws, typically 1 1/4.
  • 3 sizes of mudding knives.
  • Pencil.

Measure from the corner to the first stud that is within 48-inches. Transfer that measurement to the drywall and, using a T-square, draw a straight line. Again, using the T-square, cut along the line. Crack the drywall with your knee or hand to break it. Secure the drywall to the wall with screws, alternating each screw within a half-inch of the edge and about a foot apart.

Always butt finished edges to finished edges and unfinished edges to unfinished edges to create valleys.

Tape the seams and mud. Let dry. Sand. Mud again, with a larger mudding knife, spreading the joint compound further. Let dry. Sand lightly. Using a large knife, spread a finish coat, let dry and sand with 150-grit for a smooth finish. If this is too much work, consider hanging the drywall and hiring an expert to do the mudding.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Paint Kitchen Walls and Ceiling

Kitchen Remodel Steps

Elizabeth Weintraub

Lots of tradespeople call themselves painters, but few truly have a calling. This is a job that the average home owner can do, but typically do-it-yourselfers can't do it as quickly. Here are pointers to get the best job done as possible.

Painting the Kitchen

  • It is better to paint the walls before the cabinets are installed.
  • Use quality brand paint and don't buy the cheap stuff.
  • Buy semi-gloss paint for the walls and ceiling because it's easy to wipe down and doesn't retain moisture.
  • Preparation is key. Spend more time preparing the walls than painting them. Fill holes with mud and sand smooth.
  • Tape, if you must. Use painter's tape.
  • Buy the right paint brushes. Angled brushes work great on trim, but cutting in around the ceiling and floor is best done with a four-inch brush.
  • Do not use a paint tray like you see on those HGTV shows. Use a five-gallon bucket and mix all your paint cans together to ensure consistency.
  • Buy a screen to place in the bucket; it costs about $5.
  • Use a quality roller with an extension. Sometimes the handle from a garage push broom can do double duty.
  • Cut in the ceiling and floors before rolling on the paint.
  • Sand with 150-grit sandpaper between coats after the first coat is dry.
  • I don't care what anybody says, apply two coats, not one.
  • Plan to touch up the paint after the cabinets are installed.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Install Kitchen Flooring and Baseboards

Kitchen Remodel Steps
© Elizabeth Weintraub

The trend today is green building materials. It makes sense to want to preserve our environment and use environmentally friendly products. I realize some builders like to install flooring after the cabinets are installed to save on cost, but I prefer to do it before. No quarter rounds needed.

  • Cork Flooring.
    Cork is made from stripped tree bark, leaving the trees intact. It is warm and inviting, but cork can yellow in sunlight, scratches easily and moisture makes it swell.
  • Bamboo Flooring.
    Bamboo is a grass, not a wood. It renews itself every 3 to 5 years. Ask for premium bamboo, made from adhesives that do not contain formaldehyde. Bamboo can be nailed, glued, stapled or floated, and comes in horizontal or vertical patterns. Do not install in areas that get wet.
  • Recycled Carpeting.
    Most green carpeting is made from recycled plastic food and beverage containers. Their vibrant color options tend to last longer than nylon carpets. This shock-free static product does not emit volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are part of the typical "new carpet smell" but can irritate the lungs, and recycled carpets are stain resistant.
  • Linoleum Flooring.
    Linoleum is a manufactured product made from natural raw materials such as linseed oil, a binding agent obtained from pine trees (without harming the trees), renewable wood products, ground limestone and jute, which is a plant fiber. Linoleum floors are stain resistant, do not absorb water and are biodegradable at the end of its useful life, generally around 40 years.
  • Eco-Friendly Wood Flooring.
    Certain types of exotic hardwoods such as Brazilian Cherry or White Tigerwood are grown in South America. These are harvested from well-managed forests with renewable resources. Brazilian Cherry is engineered wood made from 3-ply construction using formaldehyde-free adhesives. It is generally more expensive but resilient and harder than oak.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Install Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen Remodel Steps

Elizabeth Weintraub

Hire only a professional cabinet installer to hang your cabinets. Pros will make certain the cabinets are plumb, level and are installed properly.

Types of Kitchen Cabinet Installations

Basically, you will have wall cabinets (which are secured to the wall and do not touch the floor) and base cabinets (which are also secured to the wall and do touch the floor).

Not only are the cabinets secured to each other, but they must be level with each other. Your choices in cabinets typically include crown molding and bottom molding, plus scribes. Scribes cover the spaces between the wall and cabinets.

Installation of Kitchen Cabinets

The company or store that sold you the cabinets should provide you with qualified installers. It should not take more than a day to install the cabinets.

Review the layout with the installer beforehand to make certain the installer knows where the cabinets are supposed to be installed. Also, realize that the cabinets will not sit flush with the ceiling nor the corners -- because no room is perfectly square, not even new construction -- which means you may need to caulk the spaces and touch up the caulk with paint.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Do Template, Order Kitchen Countertops and Install

Kitchen Remodel Steps
© Elizabeth Weintraub

If your countertops are to be fabricated, this will cause the longest delay. The installers will insist on measuring for the template with the cabinets in place.

Measuring for the Countertop Template
The cabinets can't be installed until the electricians and plumbers are finished. Once the measurements are taken, you might have to wait from 7 days to 7 weeks for the countertops to be fabricated, depending on your supplier.

I chose quartz for my countertops because it is heat resistant and holds up better than granite. Besides, granite might lose its trendy appeal. Quartz is a bit more expensive, but when you're thinking about not remodeling your kitchen again for maybe another 50 years, the material you choose is important.

After my cabinets were installed and the template measured, the quartz fabricators told me it would take three weeks to receive the finished product. I told them I was switching to granite from another supplier. Suddenly, the quartz installers found time in their schedule to accommodate my request to deliver my countertops within five days. Funny how that works.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Install Kitchen Backsplash

Kitchen Remodel Steps

Elizabeth Weintraub

Obviously, if your backsplash is the same material as your countertop -- assuming it's fabricated from the same product such as quartz, granite, soapstone or a number of others -- the backplash can be installed at the same time as the countertops.

However, if you choose a material that differs from the countertop such as tile, aluminum, concrete or wood, that backsplash cannot be installed until after the countertops are installed.

Waiting for Settlement Before Installing a Backsplash

Most heavy stone countertops require a few days to settle before an installer will come out to put in a backsplash. That's because the countertops may settle a little. It might not be significant, perhaps 1/32nd of an inch, but it could result in an unwanted seam if you don't wait.

Choosing a Backsplash
I'm going to make your job a whole lot easier right now. Just take a sample of your countertop and cabinet door to your favorite and highly recommended tile store. Many tile stores employ design-oriented individuals who will help you to choose the perfect backsplash.

Some involve designs on the diagonal, employing various sizes and types of tile as accents. Consider picking up an complementary color in your kitchen this way.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

Install Kitchen Appliances, Faucet and Hardware

Kitchen Remodel Steps

Elizabeth Weintraub

Hardware -- the pulls and knobs -- can make or break your cabinets. I prefer pulls over knobs, except for small drawers, but it's an individual choice. Choose a style and type of finish that complements not only your cabinets but the age of your home. Try to avoid trendy finishes that will scream "time warp" in a few years.

Contractors Can Complete the Kitchen Remodel

This is when you call back the electrician and the plumber to install your appliances. Electricians will finish out the installation by adding receptacle plates and pulling forward your receptacles to match the backsplash.

Typically, your range hood will be installed first. This might require a roof jack to vent the exhaust. Never vent exhaust directly into your attic.

Take great care to cover your flooring when wheeling in the heavy duty appliances such as the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. Make certain each is aligned and plumbed.

If you have an undermount sink, it will already be installed by the countertop installers; however, any other type of sink is installed after the counters and backsplash are in place. The plumber will hook up your faucet and insert the airgap for your dishwasher into the countertop.

Check for leaks. Make sure every appliance is working properly before paying the contractors in full.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.