Renovating your kitchen can be an exciting task, yet it can also be a daunting one. With so many decisions to make – from layout to appliances to finishes – the process can quickly become overwhelming. One of the most important choices is choosing a new countertop, as these make up a significant portion of the kitchen’s surface area. They also have a major impact on the overall look and function of the space.
Planning Your Kitchen Remodel
Before demolishing your existing kitchen, take the time to plan the renovation carefully. Think about how you use your kitchen now and how you’d ideally like to use the space. Consider traffic flow, storage solutions, lighting, and any problem areas that need addressing. Draft a wish-list of must-have features like a large island, custom cabinetry, and luxury appliances.
Establish your budget upfront and make sure to get quotes from contractors. Obtain itemized estimates that break down costs for cabinetry, countertops, flooring, appliances, plumbing, electrical, demolition, and labor. Understand what is covered, and then build a 10-15% cushion for contingencies.
Selecting Your New Countertops
Choosing a new countertop is a massive decision that affects aesthetics, functionality and, ultimately, budget. Visit showrooms to view material samples in person, and bring home samples to see how they pair with your cabinets. Research the pros and cons of each material thoroughly.
Popular countertop materials include:
- Laminate: Most affordable option, available in wide variety of colors/patterns. Prone to chipping/scratching over time.
- Quartz: Made from crushed quartz blended with resin. Highly durable, low maintenance, resists scratches/stains.
- Granite: Natural stone prized for unique patterning. Requires periodic sealing to prevent staining.
- Marble: Elegant natural stone with distinctive veining. Softer than granite, can stain/etch. Needs frequent sealing.
- Butcher Block: Made from glued/compressed wood. Provides a warm, natural look but requires oiling/sealing.
- Concrete: Poured and molded onsite it can be stained/stamped in assorted designs. Porous and needs regular sealing.
- Tile: Durable, easy-to-clean option. Grout lines may trap dirt/debris so need regular cleaning.
Consider the look you want, how the material fits your lifestyle, and how much routine maintenance you’re willing to do. The good folk at Bedrock Quartz explain that darker porous marble countertops will need more frequent sealing than quartz ones. Granite is naturally hard and scratch resistant. Concrete offers more customization but needs sealing.
Demolition: Removing the Old Kitchen
Once you’ve completed the planning and design work, it’s time for the fun part—demo day. Your contractor will gut the existing kitchen, removing old cabinets, countertops, appliances, flooring, etc. This exposes the bare bones structure so new elements can be built.
Installation of New Cabinetry
With the kitchen gutted down to the studs, installation of the new custom cabinetry can begin. Skilled carpenters will use detailed drawings to construct and hang the cabinets precisely. They are affixed to the wall studs with screws and supported underneath by a ledger board or metal brackets. A laser level ensures everything is perfectly plumb and level.
Once cabinetry and countertops are installed, the final touches can be added:
- Flooring: New tile, hardwood, or vinyl flooring is laid following countertop installation. Cabinets are typically installed atop the new floor.
- Appliances: Ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers are reinstalled and hooked up. Be sure to break in the oven per manufacturer instructions.
- Plumbing/electric: The plumber finishes hooking up the sink, garbage disposal, and any appliance connections. Electricians complete lighting, switches, and outlet installations.
- Paint/trim: Walls and trim get fresh coats of paint. New baseboards, crown molding, and door/window casings are added for a polished look.
- Hardware: Cabinet hardware, drawer pulls, sinks, faucets and lighting fixtures are installed.
With some thoughtful planning upfront and the right contractor, navigating a kitchen renovation is very manageable. Before you know it, you’ll be cooking, entertaining and living in the kitchen of your dreams.