How Much Does It Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?
Of course there's no simple answer, but here are some ways to get a ballpark estimate and ideas for saving money along the way.
Do you have the kitchen reno itch? Maybe it’s a result of the pandemic — you’ve spent so much time in that space these last couple of years staring at those aging appliances and weary cabinets. Or perhaps it’s more practical: You’ve hit the wall with how poorly your kitchen functions. Whatever the reason, you’re not alone. Among people considering a renovation project, the kitchen was the most favorite room to remodel, according to the 2021 U.S. Houzz & Home Study: Renovation Trends. A kitchen remodel can be an extensive endeavor. But, there are ways to save some dough, whether you’re eyeing a modest refresh or craving a total redo.
What Are the Types of Kitchen Remodels?
The remodeling industry divides kitchen remodels into three categories. What those categories are labeled varies in the industry. Remodeling Magazine calls them Minor, Mid-range and Upscale in their 2021 Cost vs. Value Report. Others, like Jeff Shipwash, owner of Shipwash Properties in Knoxville, Tennessee, label them simply as Small, Medium and Large. Shipwash has many years of experience remodeling kitchens himself and hiring contractors to do the work for homes he buys and flips. He defines those categories according to the extent of work being done:
Small kitchen remodel
It might include painting an existing cabinet, changing hardware, and maybe replacing a faucet.
Medium kitchen remodel
All of the above, plus a new countertop, maybe a small modification like adding an island, and a backsplash. “This type costs around $7,500 for a contractor to do the work, although it would depend on the square footage of the kitchen.”
Large kitchen remodel
This is a completely new kitchen, including appliances, sink and fixtures, cabinets, flooring and lighting. It might also include moving plumbing and installing new electrical.
What Is the Average Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?
That’s a tough one to pin down. Costs vary widely for a number of reasons: materials and products the homeowner chooses, regional differences in labor costs, the amount of demolition required, and so on. Here are three estimates:
Cost per square foot
“You should expect to pay $100 to $250 per square foot,” says Marina Vaamonde, a Houston real estate investor and founder of PropertyCashin.com.
Cost per total square footage
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) calculates cost according the overall size of the kitchen. According to their 2022 Design Trends report, average costs for material and labor range from:
- $25,000 to $75,000 for a medium kitchen (150 to 350 sq. ft.).
- $55,000 to $150,000 for a large kitchen (greater than 350 sq. ft.).
Cost per amount of work done
Shipwash’s costs estimates are based on the type of kitchen remodel:
- Small kitchen remodel: For Shipwash, this includes items that can be done for less than $100 each and that can be completed in a weekend.
- Medium kitchen remodel: “Around $7,500 for a contractor to do the work,” says Shipwash.
- Large kitchen remodel: “Between $20,000 and $40,000, with an average between $25,000 to $30,00. That said, I’ve spent $60,000 on a kitchen reno. It was a high-end house in a neighborhood of upper-price homes. I wanted to make sure the kitchen was of a quality that matched the neighborhood.”
How To Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel
A full-on kitchen remodel requires a wide range of work — demolition, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, tiling and so on — and a significant budget. But there are ways to cut costs.
- DIY some of the project: If you have the patience (your kitchen may be out of commission for a while depending on what you tackle) and beginning to intermediate skills, you can DIY many parts of a kitchen remodel, including refinishing existing cabinets, changing out plumbing or light fixtures, and installing flooring. “Tiling a backsplash is also a good DIY project,” says Shipwash. “Tile work seems so daunting when you look at it, but it’s super easy. Watch some videos to get comfortable with how it’s done. You can usually rent the tools you need, like a tile cutter.”
Unless you have advanced skills, think twice about DIY if you have to knock out a wall, move plumbing or add electrical, says Shipwash. “Hire a licensed professional for work that requires special skills and pulling a permit.”
- Consider your cabinet options: “Kitchen remodeling costs can be lowered by using stock cabinets instead of custom,” says Vaamonde. “A few ways we’ve saved money … has been to refinish cabinets and install new hardware,” says John Riedl, a Tampa, Florida-based remodeler and landlord. “This can save over 70 percent of the price of new cabinets.”
- Be choosy about floor coverings: You might be pleasantly surprised at the quality available at a relatively modest price point. “Moderately priced floor coverings today are a big improvement over older styles and materials,” says Vaamonde. Shipwash likes to use budget-friendly tile, but he also recommends luxury vinyl plank (LVP). “LVP is super-easy to install,” he says, “and it’s affordable, starting at less than $2 per sq. ft. It’s waterproof, too, which is very important for a kitchen.”
- Shop around for best prices. “For faucets, cabinet hardware, light fixtures and other items, Amazon has been a huge cost-saver for me,” says Shipwash. “I probably see about 40 percent savings over what I’d pay elsewhere.”
For appliances, he recommends going to retailers who specialize in them. “They sell all the big brand names,” he says “and almost all will have a scratch and dent warehouse. An appliance might have just a minor scratch, so it can’t be sold on the floor. You get 30 to 35 percent off just because it has a minor flaw and you can literally save thousands of dollars. They usually warranty the products, too.”