So you’ve decided to tackle a home improvement project and upgrade your kitchen. Now what? We’ll guide you through the process from start to finish.
Kitchen remodeling projects start with a plan. Write down a list of needs and wants for the function and aesthetics of your remodel project. Feel free to get inspiration online from sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, and save photos that you can share with designers, contractors and suppliers.
PRO TIP: Save your photos and ideas in a shareable online folder like Dropbox or Google Drive so you can easily share them with friends, family and your kitchen designer.
Big kitchen island? Peninsula? Galley style kitchen? Open shelves? Work with a professional kitchen designer to bring your kitchen ideas into 2D blueprints and 3D, life-like designs.
PRO TIP: After the initial concept drawings, an in person meeting with your kitchen designer works the best so adjustments can be made on the fly instead of dozens of back and forth emails.
Now that you have drawings and the materials selected, you can connect with a few renovation contractors to get bids. They’ll be impressed with your organization and clarity on what you want for your kitchen renovation. It will also help with comparing renovation bids since each contractor will have the same set of plans and a list of materials.
PRO TIP: If your project doesn’t involve moving walls and appliances, you can hire a cabinet and countertop company like Cabinet IQ and a couple of recommended trade partners for tile and paint to finish your kitchen.
This will save you the general contractor’s 35%+ markup to manage the remodel project.
With current supply chains due to the pandemic, you really don’t want to start your remodel until the materials arrive. If a major overhaul is needed, make sure the suppliers are very confident in their timelines with a track record of success. You should be ordering the items you need like cabinets, countertops, tile, plumbing fixtures and appliances prior to starting demolition.
PRO TIP: When the materials arrive, make sure you check for shipping damage and order completion. The last thing you want is to start installing damaged items that you received months ago thinking they were fine.
Now that you’ve hired a professional or decided to DIY, the fun begins! Make sure your personal items are out of the way from the entrance, to the work area. Make sure your dumpster is in a place that it can stay for a while during construction and is put on plywood to avoid damaging your driveway. Make sure the workplace has the proper floor and wall protection and areas not belonging to the remodel are walled off with plastic to avoid dust contamination from sheetrock demo. Set up fans to suck out dust to the nearest exterior point of the house. Frame according to the plans and double check the measurements according to the final plans. The sheetrock is ½” on each wall so plan for this dimension where you have cabinets getting installed.
Rough-in the plumbing first according to the cabinet drawings. Plans from architects are generally a rough sketch of the kitchen renovation. The cabinet drawings should be used when determining gas lines, sink centers and where water lines for your fridge should go. Next is the electrical rough-in. It’s easier to get wires around plumbing pipes than plumbing pipes around electrical lines. That’s why electrical wiring goes last. This is your time to decide where additional plugs go while meeting the building codes. Again, use the cabinet drawings to plan out all ceiling lights and pendants, plugs, switches and the center point of the range hood.
Now that everything is roughed-in and measurements are double-checked. It’s time to put your kitchen back together. The drywall then gets hung, taped, floated and textured. It’s important to ask your contractor to test the texture on a sample board to make sure it’s what you’re expecting. After texture, have them spray a priming/sealing coat.
PRO TIP: You may think painting is next but hold off for now. We’ll explain why later.
The flooring is recommended to go next unless you are installing luxury vinyl planks. With the flooring smooth and level, it’s easier for the cabinet company to do their job well. Make sure all your floors are covered with RamBoard or another thick, protective layer after installation.
PRO TIP: Thin paper floor covering will only hold up for a few days so make sure you spend a few extra dollars on quality floor protection.
It’s time to put the “smile” of your kitchen in now. After your contractor puts in the kitchen cabinets, they’ll measure for countertops, and return a week or two later with the countertop pieces they need to install. Make sure you’re present during the final cabinet walk-through to make sure you’re happy with everything and sign off on the work. Now is the time to make any adjustments before the rest of the kitchen remodel progresses. Also, take photos of your cabinets and countertops to document the journey and make sure there’s no damage. If a scratch occurs after the photos, it’s easier to pinpoint the person responsible.
PRO TIP: Have your appliance installation company visit the site the day after the cabinets are installed to ensure the proper measurements for appliances are present.
At this point, you should have the tile and grout on site for your tile crew. Make sure you explain all the details of how the tile lays out on the wall as well as the grout color and grout thickness. A good tile company will protect your countertops to make sure they don’t damage them.
Paint should go last and here’s why. Up until this point in the process, there is still a lot of construction going on and the walls can get dinged up or covered in construction dust. Also, the countertop and tile installation is not a final product and requires caulking prior to painting. This is why caulking and painting is done after to take care of the finished details.
Install plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures and appliances. Plumbing and electrical fixtures should be staged in the garage and labeled with where you want them to go.
Your project should be 95% done at this point. Take your time, use blue tape and spend some time with all decision making parties in your household to walk your project. Put blue tape on anything you find unacceptable and take photos of it. Your general contractor may know of some of the items on your list, and have already planned to fix them. However, it’s important that you and your remodel contractor are on the same page about what’s needed to finish the remodel to your liking.
PRO TIP: Document this remodel punch list in writing or an email and send it to your contractor along with photos so everyone is on the same page. A verbal list to your kitchen remodel contractor will get lost in translation.