What is the most affordable way to do a kitchen remodel?

Asked By: askrick on Wednesday, April 15, 2009
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Answer This question was originally asked by mary123. Hi Rick, I have a home that is about 30 years old and is in need of a kitchen remodel a kitchen that is 16' wide by 18' long. I have an L shape cabinet area with appliances that is 12' long on one wall and 10' long on the other with an eating area at the end. My problem is that I only have about $7,000.00 to spend. I had a couple of estimates that were between $10,000.00 and $12,000. I just can't spend that much and I want to change my cabinets, install new countertops and flooring. Currently I have laminate countertops that just don't look good. I can't stand those black edges that show, so I am thinking about granite tops. Also, I have a vinyl floor that is in very good shape but really would like tile. The problem is between the granite tops and tile floor, it really puts me out of budget. Can you give me your professional advice on how I can remodel my kitchen, make it look the way I want it too and stay within my budget?

Mary, thank you for your question and I will try my best to help you with this. First let me start out by letting you know that I just did a post on my blog, leveladvice.com, that addresses this issue in depth. If you would like to read it click on the following photo or text.

kitchen remodel at leveladvice.com Kitchen Remodel at LevelAdvice

I have had many clients requesting kitchen remodel projects and as you can imagine in all price ranges. Just because you want to remodel your kitchen within the budget you want to stay in, it does not mean that you can't get it done or get it done with quality.

I have to be honest with you, the things you are requesting are going to put you over your budget no matter who you hire to do the job. However, I have some great ideas that will still give you the look you want and keep you within your price range.

The first thing I would suggest that you look at is having a Kitchen Cabinet Reface. This would give you a brand new cabinet look, without having to tear out your old cabinets and buy new cabinets and then pay to have them installed. Typically you can save about have of the cost of the purchase of new kitchen cabinets and save on the cost of tear out and install as well.

With this method, all the face frames and sides of the cabinets that are exposed, are covered with wood and wood veneer. The doors and drawer fronts are replaced with new kitchen cabinet doors and new kitchen cabinet drawer fronts. New kitchen cabinet hardware is installed as well.

With this method, you you can also add additional cabinets and other options such as the deeper cabinet over the refrigerator with the full side panel as shown in the kitchen cabinet reface photo below. 

Old Kitchen Cabinets

Existing Kitchen Cabinets Before Reface

Kitchen Remodel with Kitchen Cabinet Reface

Kitchen Cabinet Remodel with Cabinet Reface

You can also purchase and install your own kitchen cabinet door hardware and kitchen cabinet drawer hardware online and save a bundle of money. You can then either drill the holes for the hardware yourself or ask your contractor to drill them for you. The kitchen cabinet hardware is very easy to install and I am sure you can do the job yourself.

cabinet door hardware

The next thing is to option for laminate countertops with a matching beveled edge that will give you a solid countertop look. Having this type of counter built and installed will run you about one fifth to one fourth of the cost of any other solid type countertop including granite countertops or solid surface countertops such as Corian. Take a look at the following photo where the laminate top looks very similar to a solid granite top.

laminate counter top with solid look

Finally we come down to the flooring. Here is where you will need to make the decision based on the what you have left in the budget after you do the kitchen cabinet reface, buy the kitchen cabinet hardware and have your new laminate tops installed. However I think you have a couple of good choices.

The least expensive way might seem to be vinyl. And, that is true if you are just pricing out the price of the flooring including installation. However, in your case, with an existing vinyl flooring and possibly another layer of vinyl and underlayment below it, if it has ever been changed, you would then incur the cost of having the old vinyl and underlayment torn out and having the new floor underlayment installed. This would amount to hundreds of dollars with all the labor and material that would be needed.

True, the laminate flooring may still cost a few hundreds dollars more, but look what you would be getting. A new laminate floor that has the look of tile, is much more durable then vinyl and stays warmer then tile. So, it's not tile flooring, but cost a lot less and will last a long time.

So, the other option is to go with a laminate flooring that actually looks like tile and can be installed right over the old vinyl floor you already have which you said is in good shape. That should mean that is still fitting tight to the floor with no bubbles or edges coming up. 

Take a look at the following photo that will show you a laminate floor we installed that looks like tile. This is the actual photo of the finished laminate floor installed over the old vinyl floor that was in good condition.

Tile look laminate flooring

To give you an example in the difference in cost between having to do the tear out work of the old vinyl flooring and underlayment and then installing new flooring underlayment and new vinyl compare to installing new tile look laminate flooring over the existing vinyl floor, it would be as follows.

Tear out old vinyl flooring and underlayment: $500.00. Supply and install new underlayment: $400.00. Trash removal: $150.00. Supply and install new vinyl flooring at $25.00 per yard installed:$1,000.00. Total estimate cost = $2,150.00

Supply and install new tile look laminate flooring over existing vinyl flooring at $9.00 per sq.ft. = $2,590.00

Now let's look at the over all price of your project. Let's say the price to buy new ready built kitchen cabinets was $5,500.00. The reface with new doors and drawer fronts would probably be about half of that or $3,000.00. The cabinet hardware would run about $150.00 if you buy it online. You install it for free. The solid look laminate tops would cost about $750.00 installed and of course the floor would cost $2,590.00. 

Lets total that all up: Total cost = $6,490.00 and you would also save on all the mess that would associated with the flooring and underlayment tear out which will keep the dust level down in the house.

Add to that the cost taking out your kitchen sink and kitchen faucet and some kitchen appliances in order to install the new tops, and re-installing them and any possible upgrades you may want and let's say that totals up to about $450.00, as you can seen you would be within your budget.

I would assume that you can take care of any painting of the walls and or woodwork, that would save you a lot of money because all you would have to purchase is the price of the paint and painting supplies.

For help with doing any of this work yourself, you can go to our extensive How To Directory or large Video Library where the pros will help give you the type of home improvement advice you need to get the job done right.

Please remember, that if you need any additional help with your project, you can simply ask me about it on Ask Rick, where as you know, I will be glad to answer any of your kitchen remodel questions or any other home improvement question.

Ask Rick a Home Imrpovement Question or Advice

I hope this helps. Rick

Rick Maselli is Founder and Editor of Showroom411.com and Ask Rick



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