2020 Kitchen Renovation Costs | Average Cost of Kitchen Upgrades


The 5 to 15% rule is widely held as the gold standard in helping homeowners estimate and budget the correct amount for remodels. This rule holds that the entire remodel should cost no less than 5% of the current value of the home — and no more than 15%. This is because spending less than 5% may result in a lesser home value, while a homeowner is unlikely to recoup an investment of more than 15% in a resale.

Cabinets make the kitchen’s first impression, and dated kitchen cabinets can detract from the aesthetic appeal of the room. Fortunately, you can change the color, look and feel of your cabinets without tearing through your bank account. Every square foot of the kitchen is potential work or storage area, so adequate cabinet space is a huge plus.

The first decision to make is whether to go standard or custom. Going custom offers more flexibility. With custom cabinets, you can create something that will fit both your space and your taste; however, custom work is significantly more expensive. Standard cabinets are the more affordable option, though standard issue does limit your options in terms of size and depth. You can also compromise by installing pull-out shelves and lazy susans in standard cabinets to maximize their storage space.

Whether you decide to go standard or custom, you’ll want to decide on the right material as well. Wood, natural or painted, is the most popular choice. It’s long lasting and durable — and you’ll find a huge variety of types and prices within the wood family. Less expensive alternatives are also available, such as composites, laminates and even metal or glass.

Whether serving as table tops for kitchen islands or covering your lower cabinets, countertops for kitchens play a significant role in both the feel and functionality of your kitchen. Size and quality of materials tend to be the largest factors that affect cost.
The options can make your head spin: stone, tile, concrete, marble, butcher block, stainless steel, recycled glass, Formica, Corian–the list goes on and on. Commonly used kitchen countertop materials range from low to moderately priced laminate and Formica, to higher priced granite or quartz, to solid surfaces such as Corian. Stainless steel and butcher block are also popular higher-priced kitchen countertop options.

The factors contributing most to the cost of new kitchen flooring are the square footage needed and the material you choose. You must also be sure to factor in installation, which, depending on the materials used, can be your biggest flooring expense.

Unfortunately, the most affordable flooring options generally add little or nothing to the value of your kitchen. That said, the cheapest way to get something under your feet is to go with vinyl or linoleum. Sheet flooring is less expensive, not only because the materials are cheaper, but also because the installation is simple and you can easily do it yourself.

The quality of the appliances in your kitchen will affect price as well as the perceived value of the room. Expensive kitchen appliances are often longer lasting and more dependable than their cheaper counterparts; however, you must also take into consideration energy ratings, brand names and warranties. Appliances that cost less but have better energy ratings may end up saving you large amounts of money in electricity or water bills over time. In that same vein, high-priced appliances may carry a lifetime warranty that will also save you money on repairs in the long-term. Be sure to research what is really behind the price of your kitchen appliances before making the investment.

A lot of factors can and will affect the cost of your kitchen remodel: materials, location, labor, unforeseen problems, etc. Materials, for example, will be one of the biggest factors in the total cost of the remodel. In many cases, more expensive materials require special installation, which increases labor and time expenses. Installing less expensive materials yourself will decrease the total cost of your remodel, so choose your kitchen remodel materials carefully.

If you want to stick with a small kitchen in the $5,000 range, the best course of action in most cases is to spend a lot of money on the materials and do the work yourself. If you have a budget large enough to do a remodel in the $20,000 range, it’s more feasible to split your money among professionals, materials and any additional labor or unforeseen costs. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, cabinetry is one of the biggest-ticket items to prepare for in your budget, followed by:

  • Labor
  • Appliances
  • Countertops
  • Flooring
  • Lighting, plumbing, doors and windows, walls and ceilings (5% or less)

If you want to cut the cost of each of these materials, consider going for less expensive alternatives. This means choosing stock cabinetry, laminate countertops and tile flooring and doing some of the painting or staining yourself.

As for the other factors that impact costs — labor, location, economy, etc. — you can do only so much of the work yourself before the remodel becomes a mess. Never approach plumbing, electrical or structural projects as DIY projects, or you could have major repairs on your hands. Prices for projects will vary by your location, so be sure to get several quotes from contractors before choosing one. You should also do remodels in the off-season if you can (i.e., fall or winter) because contractors are usually getting fewer jobs during that time and may charge less for their services.

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Cheap Kitchen Renovation Ideas

If you don’t have a budget big enough to hire a professional for your kitchen remodel, a few cheap and inexpensive projects will revitalize your kitchen. These projects include:

  • Move smaller appliances: Avoid moving any appliances with gas or plumbing hook-ups (i.e., oven, range, sink, etc.). But do consider moving some of your smaller appliances in a feng shui rearrangement around the kitchen.
  • Install stock cabinetry: Stock kitchen cabinets are an inexpensive option for homeowners who want new cabinets. You can go to any home improvement store and buy stock cabinets to match your kitchen. You can hire a cabinetry professional or handyman to install them for less than the cost of custom cabinetry.
  • Refinish kitchen cabinets: If your wood kitchen cabinets are in good shape and just need a facelift, you can take off the doors and refinish them on the cheap. This involves sanding them down and then staining or painting them to look almost brand new.
  • Invest in under cabinet lighting: To make your cabinets and countertops stand out at night, you can buy lights that attach underneath and plug into the wall outlets. It’s an inexpensive way to brighten up your kitchen space without having to hire an electrician.
  • Paint wall and ceilings: Go to a home improvement store, buy a few gallons of paint and cover any fingerprints or pawprints with a new coat of paint in the kitchen. Just be sure to caulk any holes before you go to work.
  • Install tile flooring: If your kitchen flooring looks particularly worn out and scratched up, you can pull up the flooring and lay down tile. Ceramic tiles are relatively inexpensive, and you can consult with a tiling professional ahead of time about how to lay them.
  • Create a backsplash: Akin to installing tiles on the floor, you can also put a backsplash over your oven wall or in an area above your countertops that attracts the eye when walking into the kitchen. Tiles come in many styles and colors to match any kitchen design.

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