Where to start in kitchen remodel?

Planning to redo entire kitchen. Replace all drywall, cabinets and because the floor sqeaks probably the subfloor. What is the order and details that would be helpful for this DIYer?


This is a very time consuming project, realize you are going to be out of the kitchen a few months even if everything goes smoothly, which it usually doesn't.

Your best bet is:

If you are living in the house during the project – set up a GOOD, FUNCTIONAL temporary kitchen, move fridge, microwave etc. to another room in the house – spare bedroom, basement, wherever there is a functional sink nearby big enough to do dishes in. Get a hot plate to boil water on, tables for your dishes and food, etc. The more functional and user-friendly you make the temporary kitchen the better. Otherwise, you are going to add about 25-30% to your total costs because you are going to be going out to eat & ordering pizza constantly and that will really add up over a few months. Doing dishes in the tiny powder room sink isn't a good choice for 2-3 months. If you don't have anything suitable, take the time to make something suitable in the basement etc. Home depot has cheap, pre-made countertop you can buy in big sections, which is a good idea if you can't salvage the existing countertop for your temporary kitchen. Get that all set up before you start the demo and lose the use of your regular kitchen.

Demo out to studs.

Figure out approximately where you want everything to go in the new kitchen, and then do any needed new rough-in for wiring & plumbing moves. (When the studs are exposed, putting in the wiring for all your under-cabinet lighting, adding another outlet, etc. is cheap and easy, but you have to think ahead on those things carefully right now.) If you are replacing the appliances, are you buying ones that are the same dimensions as what you have now, bigger, etc.? Now is the time to figure that out.

Insulate/Vapor Barrier for exterior walls.

Drywall. If you aren't already an expert at this, drywalling is one of those skills where hiring a pro will get you materially better looking results than DIY. It's something I normally hire out, even though I do most things myself.

Once you get the drywall in and have exact dimensions, you can measure the space precisely and order the cabinets. This is something that normally takes a month or six weeks. Cheap cabinets mean shoddy materials that won't hold up and will ultimately make you very unhappy with your new kitchen. You want full extension drawers, solid wood drawers with dovetail joints, etc. This is a place where you need to spend money if you want good results.

I would redo the floor, paint the walls and ceiling while for the cabinets to come in. Be aware that old tile from the 50's & 60's often contains asbestos, so you cannot sand it off and need to be very careful about removing it.

Personally, I think the floor is someplace where you can save a lot of money. Vinyl tile has come up in quality so much that you can get very nice looking floors for very little money. In deciding whether to spend money on the floors or the cabinets, it is a no-brainer – get better cabinets.

When installing the cabinets, finding level and maintaining it over the run of the cabinets is important. Before you start screwing things together, figure out where the high spots in the floor are, where you are going to have to shim, etc. You need buddies to help you hang wall cabinets, it isn't a one person job. Everything you need to do to hang cabinets correctly is beyond the scope of what I am going to cover here, but there are plenty of guides at sites like Ask This Old House that show you how to do it. Make sure you have a lot of shims and a good, 3 foot level. You cannot do this job right with a little torpedo level.

Buying nice, high-end knobs is a relatively inexpensive way to dress up a kitchen. Restoration Hardware and places on line have much better knobs than you will find in the home center.

I don't put knobs that stick out on the drawers front of the kitchen sink, because you will bang your knees against them as you do dishes. Think about this issue when deciding how much lip you want on your countertop.

The cabinets have to be installed before you can even have the counter tops measured for. This again takes several weeks usually, which is why this is such a drawn out process.

When buying a sink, think about what all you want in it and how many holes you'll need. I have an “insta-hot” hot water heater, filtered water, and a soap dispenser in my sink, so that means I needed a 4 hole sink. One thing I didn't get but wish I had bought is a flush-mounted switch for the disposal. That makes for a very nice, clean look.

Install the appliances, have the counter-tops installed, do the final electrical hook ups etc. and enjoy your new kitchen.

It's actually not that hard of a job from a skills perspective, but it will drive you nuts because there are delays inherent in the process – no cabinet order until the walls are in, no counter top template can be made until the cabinets are in, etc. Just accept that about 2-3 month is as fast it can possibly go, and if you aren't working on it constantly, it will take considerably longer.

Good Luck.