Unlike any other home remodeling project, a kitchen renovation encompasses so many different things – layout, function, design – which can easily overwhelm even the most determined homeowner. If you’re contemplating a kitchen remodel, start by thinking about a few basic questions so you can decide the best direction to take.
What are your needs and desires?
Is your kitchen a complete gut – new everything – or are you just interested in sprucing up the look – maybe just new countertops or floors? Do you need more overall space to function or entertain? More cabinet storage space? Think long and hard about what you truly need and what extras you can’t live without.
Is it worth the trouble? Are you sure you’re ready for all the mess that goes along with remodeling a kitchen? A little inconvenience short term can pay off in the long run as a kitchen remodel retains added value to a home. This can be key if you decide to sell your home sometime down the road.
Surface level or all the way? Again, think long and hard, and be honest with yourself – is a full-scale kitchen remodel called-for or will a basic surface-level reno be sufficient? No shame in either choice, just be sure you have a game plan in mind before starting the project.
Now – the fun part begins! Consider all your needs and desires, budget and timeline and get ready to talk design! Keep in mind – you don’t necessarily have to go it alone. Check around for Professionals who can guide you through this process. Their experience and expertise can prove invaluable.
Basic Kitchen Plans
It helps to have some type of blueprint/model as a reference point. Start by checking out the five basic kitchen floor plans that represent classic workflow models. The L-shaped or U-shaped floor plans are a couple of the options to consider. Take a look at these floor plans to determine if any might be conducive for the kitchen re-model you have in mind. Never hurts to be armed with plenty of information when starting a project of this magnitude.
Hire a Professional
Okay, so you have great ideas for the remodel, but no idea of how to proceed? Your best bet is to hire a contractor. Find a licensed contractor who deals extensively with residential kitchen remodeling. He/she will have experience working with and hiring other subcontractors such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers. This will save you time, money and will take the burden off your shoulders.
Considering DIY? You could save money on labor charges, but in truth, you may slow down the project and even add additional costs as you learn skills necessary to complete along the way. Is it really worth taking the risk?
You need to apply for permits NOW. Permits must be obtained from several different agencies including the city and county for building permits, electric and plumbing, as well as, the water company for water and drainage. If a contractor is handling your renovation, he will obtain the required permits. If you are going it alone, start by calling your local city or county permitting agency.
Before demolition begins be forewarned as some kitchens – especially in older homes – may contain hazardous materials such as lead-based paint and asbestos. Both will require special handling processes. Once demo-ed, you will need to haul away and dispose of the hazardous waste. Check your local waste stations to confirm what materials they will accept. Again, a licensed contractor will know this information upfront.
Building and Repairing
Depending on your new kitchen’s configuration and the changes you are considering – replacing windows, adding a window, or maybe taking down a wall – you are looking at major construction. What appears to be even minor remodeling may require extra joists or support for new, heavier appliances or built-ins like a kitchen island. Updated plumbing and electrical is no picnic either if you have no trade experience. Professional contractors and subcontractors have years of experience and are able to turn around a plumbing or electrical project relatively quickly to keep things moving forward.
A new kitchen may illicit increased plumbing needs. That new kitchen island with the sink or that automatic ice maker will require new supply and drainage pipes. Moving a sink or fridge to another wall will mean more of the same. Plumbers know to “rough in” the new supply and drainage pipes as needed for sinks, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
Electrical systems are best left to the professionals. A service panel needed to power a modern kitchen should have at least a 200-ampere service. You will need to increase your service capacity if you currently have less than that. It’s likely that an Electrician will abandon your old wires in favor of running new wires through the walls to power lighting and appliance circuits. If you decide to do the work yourself, you may also find it easier to run a new circuits than deal with a tangle of old wires.
Now is the time to not only think of the look of your kitchen, but the feel of it as well. Insulation comes into play while the walls are down and cavities are exposed. Exterior walls should be insulated with fiberglass batt to provide a buffer between the kitchen and the outdoors. It’s best to install a high-quality insulation rather than the blown-in which is less-effective.
Remember to have an inspector from the local permitting agency to approval the electrical system before closing up the walls. Once approved, drywall can be hung and the seams filled in with joint compound. After drying, the joint compound is sanded several times until it is smooth. Finally, the walls are ready to be primed and painted. Note that in the final hours of the remodel there will inevitably be some scars and dings on your walls. Be prepared for some additional spackling and touch-up painting to those walls that have already been painted.
Today you can find a wide variety of flooring choices ranging from vinyl – the least expensive – to tile, laminate, and wood. Your choice depends upon the look you’re going for, your budget and your timeline. A few options and facts are listed below…
- Vinyl – Least expensive flooring choice and can usually be laid in one day.
- Tile – Requires the application of cement backing board and will need to be grouted. Each step requires drying time. This flooring option is labor-intensive and can be costly.
- Engineered wood – Looks and feels like solid hardwood, but is fairly moisture-tolerant.
- Laminate flooring – Popular choice for kitchens because of its tolerance to moisture, as well as, scratch and dent resistant.
- Hardwood – Hardwood is not resistant to water/moisture and can warp if not maintained properly.
Important tip: Due to ongoing heavy work during a remodel, the kitchen floor should be one of the last things completed to avoid wear and tear.
Your local cabinet supplier should have work crews who can hang your cabinets, usually over a period of a day or two. If you are sub-contracting the work, any competent carpenter can do this job. If you decide to do it yourself, plan on having an extra pair of hands or two.
Again, you will find wide array of choices and colors available for your countertops. Ceramic tile, granite and stone have been around for years, but other choices include newer, man-made materials such as Silestone, Corian and Formica. Go with a specialized shop for fabrication. Installation looks a lot easier than it is. The key to installation is a level countertop. If the base cabinets have not been installed properly, it will be impossible to level the countertops. A simple test involves a marble or an egg – if level and everything is installed properly, it shouldn’t roll.
Sinks and Fixtures
Your plumbing was roughed in during the earlier phases of the remodel. Now it’s time to set the sinks into the countertops and make the final connections. Add your selected fixtures – the sink faucets and handles and hook-up that dishwasher. You’re good to go here.
They may be small, but every detail matters. Add your cabinet knobs, any outlet covers and what about that recessed light cover that was removed for painting? Take a look around to be sure everything that needs to be replaced or installed is complete. Better to take care of these things before everything is cleaned up and put away and forgotten about.
An Inspector will need to visit your house one last time to approve the “final” permits. If everything passes inspection, your permit application will be stamped “Approved.” The contractor can advise you when it’s time to schedule the inspection.
Finally – the remodel is complete…but it’s a dirty mess! A good contractor follows up his work with a housecleaner who specializes in building-related cleaning. He won’t walk away until your kitchen is ready for you to begin your work! If you’re doing it yourself, take a breather and hire a housecleaner.
Kitchen complete! Now go ahead and enjoy the new space and convenience! A kitchen remodel can be a painful process, but it doesn’t have to be. Align yourself with a professional who shares your vision of a beautiful and functional kitchen and make your remodel dreams come true!
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Style Flooring, Cabinets, and Countertops offers a level of attention and knowledge to our customers that big box stores just can’t! Our focus is to provide every client with outstanding service, high quality products, and competitive prices. We ask questions to get an accurate understanding of our clients wants and needs. Our extensive knowledge and product offerings allows us to help our clients find the best possible option for their lifestyle, look, and budget.
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