How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Cost?
A kitchen remodel can have an enormous impact on the quality of daily life, not to mention a home’s value. On average, a kitchen remodel costs between $13,388 and $40,000, with a national cost average of $25,656.
- Typical Range: $13,388 to $40,000
- National Average: $25,656
In many homes, the kitchen is a hive of daily activity: Many homeowners and families spend a good chunk of their day there, cooking, eating, chatting, packing lunches, and so on. Out of necessity, kitchens also have long-wearing fixtures and finishes, so in the busyness of everyday life, it’s easy not to notice that a kitchen is slowly aging—until something cracks, breaks, or is suddenly so dingy that kitchen remodeling is necessary. A bright, fresh kitchen can make time spent in your home feel better, even if it’s a simple refresh. But how much does the average kitchen remodel cost?
Kitchen remodels are large projects and can have significant budgets, with a typical cost range of $13,388 to $40,000, so it’s important to really think through the possibilities before making a plan, purchasing materials, and hiring a contractor. These steps can help you decide what scale of kitchen remodel you need and determine a budget that is reasonable to get the kitchen you want while maximizing your return on investment.
Remodel vs. Renovation vs. Expansion
When researching kitchen renovation or kitchen remodeling cost, homeowners will run across several terms whose meanings seem the same, similar—or downright confusing. If you’re planning to work with a contractor, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re asking for by clarifying the lingo of the kitchen project.
Remodel vs. Renovation
So what’s the difference between a kitchen remodel and a kitchen renovation? This is a tricky question. The two terms are often used interchangeably by salespeople and contractors. Technically, a renovation is a project that returns a space to a new state; it is a project that restores a space to look like new, cleaning up finishes, taking care of repairs, and sometimes replacing basic fixtures that have stopped functioning well. A remodel is a larger project that often includes replacing flooring, walls, and ceilings, and it can involve moving the plumbing and electrical connections in a room. However, the dictionary definition doesn’t matter as much as the definition used by contractors a homeowner may interview prior to hiring. Rather than assuming that you and the contractor are on the same page, it’s best to clarify exactly what you mean by “renovation” or “remodel” and check that the contractor has the same idea. Laying everything out on the table right at the beginning prevents confusion (and potentially unexpected costs) later in the project.
Expansion goes a step beyond renovation or remodeling. This type of project includes reframing a space, removing walls, and increasing the overall footprint of a kitchen. Often, an expansion involves combining a disused formal dining space with a smaller kitchen to create a more expansive cooking, eating, and gathering space that is better suited to the family’s lifestyle, or incorporating a kitchen into a great room for a more open plan. Expanding a space comes with a higher price tag because of all of the plumbing, electrical, and framing work that is involved.
Factors in Calculating Kitchen Remodel Cost
Homeowners who look up “cost of kitchen remodel” will likely find there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Kitchen remodels can cost anywhere between $75 and $250 per square foot, on average. This might seem like a wide range, and it is; the quality of materials often dictates prices, so differences can be significant. This range is a powerful tool as you budget. If you know what your overall maximum budget is and allow a percentage to cover unexpected surprises, you can tailor the choices you make as you select materials for each of the following factors to fit that budget. Dreaming of a granite countertop? Chances are you can have one—but it may mean choosing lower-grade cabinetry or shopping for reduced-price lighting. Inputting these costs into a kitchen remodel cost estimator can help you get a ballpark estimate to work from.
Installation and Labor
Installation and labor costs for a kitchen remodel average out to between $3,500 and $6,000, accounting for 15 to 20 percent of the total project budget. This is a negotiable cost, depending on what work a homeowner may be able to complete themselves and whether the contractor is open to reducing the fee in exchange for the help.
Doors and Windows
Doors and windows are another variable cost factor, depending on the configuration of the kitchen. In general, they can account for about 4 percent of the budget, or about $920 on average. In a kitchen that opens to a deck, this will be a larger portion of the budget, while in an open-plan kitchen with no windows or just a small one, it may be less.
Approximately 10 percent of a kitchen remodel budget can be planned to go toward hiring one of the best countertop installers. The national average places that dollar figure around $2,300, but the cost will depend on the homeowner’s choices of material (natural stone, for example, will be significantly more expensive per square foot than laminate) and on the total square footage of countertop needed in the kitchen layout. Countertop materials include:
- Stainless steel
- Paper composite
- Solid surface
- Recycled Glass
Custom edge routing, honing of natural stone, and the shape and number of cuts will also affect the price of the countertop. As it is one of the most eye-catching and often-used features in a kitchen, the countertop is an area where homeowners often choose to splurge on higher-end material, but if there are other priorities in the remodel, a lower-grade choice can help save money.
The cost of backsplash installation can run anywhere from $150 for a small kitchen remodel up to $10,000 for a larger and more complex project. The price will vary depending on the size of the backsplash, the materials, and labor. Some experienced DIYers feel comfortable installing a simple tile backsplash themselves. But for those who do not have tiling experience or want a more elaborate pattern, it may be worth it to let a contractor handle the installation. Ceramic tile is one of the most popular backsplash materials because it is both attractive and relatively affordable (although complex patterns and higher-quality materials can increase the cost). More high-end options like marble can cost up to $50 per square foot before labor.
As with countertops, there are myriad material options in kitchen flooring. Sheet vinyl and vinyl tile, linoleum, and laminate flooring are, in general, the least expensive options, and modern versions of these materials are quite durable and attractive. Ceramic tile and wood, followed by natural stone, are more expensive, and alternative flooring options such as cork and concrete provide additional choices. The selection of flooring will depend on both design preferences, durability requirements, and how the homeowner uses the kitchen. For example, vinyl floors are an easy-care and resilient option for families who often let children empty glasses out of a dishwasher; using concrete or ceramic floors is more likely to result in broken dishes. Natural wood is beautiful and durable, but it won’t wear well for homeowners with dogs. Kitchen flooring costs range between $1,500 and $4,500 with an average cost of $1,610 and make up an average of 7 percent of the total budget.
Lighting is a factor that homeowners often underestimate when building a plan and budget. Kitchens have multiple lighting options and requirements, and while a pretty fixture in the ceiling and a pendant over the sink are helpful for adding ambient lighting, the real workhorses of the kitchen lighting scheme are the task lights: lighting focused on the spot where the cook stands to chop vegetables, over the stove, or illuminating the eating area. Lighting costs anywhere from $500 to $2,000, and it’s advised to have the lighting plan fill about 5 percent of the planned budget, or approximately $1,150.
Walls and Ceiling
Refreshing the existing walls and ceiling with paint or wallpaper is an option in any kitchen remodel, but sometimes new materials provide extra benefits that make them worth replacing. New fire- and moisture-resistant drywall can add safety features, while paneling or tongue-in-groove ceilings can change the feel of a kitchen. About 5 percent of the budget will usually go to the walls and ceiling, which translates into an average of $1,150.
Faucets and Plumbing
If the layout of the kitchen remains largely the same, plumbing costs will be minimal, as the water and gas lines can remain in place. Changing up the look will increase the material and labor costs for plumbing to the higher end of the range. New faucets are a way to brighten and refresh the appearance of the kitchen for relatively minimal cost. Replacing faucets and plumbing costs an average of $920, or 4 percent of the remodel cost. If major pipe rerouting is involved, this percentage will be significantly higher.
Cabinetry and Hardware
The largest portion of the kitchen remodel budget usually goes to cabinetry and hardware. As the most visible and substantial feature of the kitchen design, cabinetry will often determine the style, color palette, and level of detail the rest of the kitchen will require. Therefore, 29 percent of the budget, an average of $6,670, will typically go to the cost of kitchen cabinets and hardware. However, homeowners who choose custom cabinetry or those who plan for more cabinetry than the average amount will see that budget go up; salvage or home improvement store stock cabinets can cost much less. Cabinet hardware is often a shocking expense for remodelers who haven’t purchased it before. Many remodelers are surprised by how many knobs and handles are necessary and by how much such a small piece of a large project can cost. Remember that the hardware is what takes the brunt of everyday use, and price out the cost of quality hardware you like before setting a final budget: It’s not an incidental cost.
At the heart of the kitchen are its appliances, typically including a refrigerator, oven and cooktop or range, dishwasher, microwave, and potentially a ventilation hood. Often, remodelers look to reuse some existing appliances, which is a great option if the appliances are reasonably new. If, however, some need replacement, it’s worth noting that the best appliance deals usually come as a package; the more appliances purchased together, the greater the overall savings. This approach may mean a higher up-front cost, but in the long run, it will offer significant savings. Appliances are available in a wide range of finishes (stainless steel, black stainless steel, black, white, and others) and an even wider spectrum of quality. A low-budget electric range may not offer as many heat settings as a professional-grade six-burner gas stove, but both will get the job done, so the homeowner’s personal style and priorities will dictate whether the appliances are a place to splurge or save. The cost of appliances can vary greatly, from as little as $200 to as much as $5,000 or more, depending on the type and quantity. High-end custom built-in options can cost $10,000 or more. In most cases, the appliances comprise about 14 percent of the total budget, or around $3,220, but again, that number can be skewed by luxury options.
The square footage of the kitchen affects all of the numbers in the budget. Larger spaces require more drywall, more flooring, more paint, and more cabinets. In general, the cost to remodel a kitchen can range from $75 to $250 per square foot. A small kitchen that is less than 70 square feet will cost, on average, between $5,000 and $20,000, while a larger kitchen measuring 200 square feet or more can easily shoot upward of $60,000, because a space that large is likely in a larger home furnished with more luxurious finishes, so it’s likely the design choices will be made to match the existing level of quality.
There can be significant differences in the cost of materials and labor for a kitchen remodel depending on where you live. The West Coast, and California in particular, has some of the highest average costs to remodel a kitchen, with an average cost of $40,000. On the flip side, a kitchen remodel in Ohio costs an average of $16,000. Major cities also tend to skew higher in cost, while smaller cities have a lower overall cost. If you live in an area where costs are higher across the board, it’s especially important to get more than one estimate for your job and negotiate labor costs as much as possible while respecting the contractor’s skills.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Once you’ve made the big decisions about the fun parts of a kitchen remodel—the parts you can see—you’ll still need to factor in the unseen network of pipes and wires that make the kitchen run, along with the cost of the services of someone to help plan that network efficiently.
If you can imagine the kitchen you’re dreaming of perfectly in your mind and are able to use one of the best kitchen design software options to create a plan, that’s great, and it will save a fair amount of time and money. However, it’s still a good idea to hire a professional kitchen designer to help draw up a formal plan, confirm your measurements, and help identify the small but critical items you may have missed. The average kitchen designer will make up about 4 percent of your budget. This can be even less if you use the services of a certified in-house designer at a home improvement store, whose services may be folded into the cost of the cabinets and appliances or an installation fee and will stay comfortably in the range of $100 to $800. This cost can skyrocket if you hire a certified professional to work on-site, where the expense can reach between $4,400 and $25,000, or about 10 percent of the total project cost. This fee should include 3-D renderings of the project, assistance with and sampling of material and color selections, project coordination with contractors and suppliers, and ongoing support throughout the entire remodel.
Basic fixture installation costs should not be a huge component of the budget; a simple faucet installation averages from $150 to $550, and a sink installation can cost between $100 and $600. A general contractor can perform these installations, or they may even be tasks a homeowner with basic plumbing know-how can tackle to save a bit of money. If, however, the remodel includes a change in the floor plan or moving the plumbing lines, the cost is likely to climb—installing new pipes will require a plumber (about $1,100) and most likely a permit (up to $800), elevating costs further.
Electricians charge approximately $50 to $100 an hour for labor, and if the electrical work is handled as part of the demolition process of the existing kitchen, it’s not a huge job. If the remodel is already well underway when the homeowner realizes that the electrical service needs to be upgraded to accommodate the new, larger refrigerator, or that wires need to be moved, outlets need to be added or upgraded, and permits need to be acquired, the costs to tear out finished work to replace wiring and added expense of rush jobs can be unexpectedly significant. Ideally, hire an electrician at the beginning of the process to advise and coordinate with the contractor from the start.
Moving gas lines is not a small expense, running from $250 to $850 on average. Permits, inspections, and qualified plumbers will add to the overall cost. If the location of the oven or cooktop is only shifting a bit, the flexible tubing on a gas line may mean you don’t need to actually move the supply line. If the appliances are being fully relocated, plan ahead to move the lines prior to installing flooring or drywall.
Types of Kitchen Remodels
The ultimate goal of a kitchen remodel is to improve the room’s functionality and visual appeal.
Whether this involves a light refresh or completely gutting the space will depend on the homeowner’s target budget, time frame, and kitchen size.
Small Kitchen Remodeling Project
Fortunately, it isn’t always necessary to completely gut the kitchen and start from scratch. If the layout of your kitchen is well designed but some elements are beginning to look dated, or if your kitchen is less than 70 square feet, you may only need a small remodel. Investing in the cost to paint the cabinets, install new countertops, and refresh certain appliances can go a long way. Small kitchen remodel cost typically falls between $5,000 and $20,000.
Medium Kitchen Remodeling Project
If you can’t commit to a full kitchen makeover but your space needs more than just a refresh, a moderate kitchen remodel may be the best option. A kitchen that is considered to be medium size is around 150 and 175 square feet. Some ways to keep the project cost efficient could involve leaving the layout of the room intact but updating the flooring, counters, cabinets, or appliances. You might also want to tackle some of the work yourself, although it’s important to be realistic about what you can take on and what should be left to the professionals. The cost for a medium kitchen remodel will usually fall between $15,000 and $40,000.
Large Kitchen Remodeling Project
If you plan to stay in your home for many years, why not optimize the kitchen to your exact preferences? If you’ve never liked the placement of your appliances or you dream of adding a walk-in pantry, it may be well worth the extra time and cost to have a more functional space in the long run. A kitchen with a lot of square footage (200 feet or more) will give you a luxurious amount of counter space and storage, but it also means that the cost for labor and materials will be significantly higher. A large kitchen remodel may also require rerouting plumbing or gas lines, and possibly some electrical rewiring. Depending on your project the cost to remodel a large kitchen can be as high as $30,000 to $80,000.
Do I Need a Kitchen Remodel?
A kitchen remodel is no small project—the time and energy required to undergo the remodeling process (not to mention the cost) may cause homeowners to drag their feet. But the longer you wait, the longer you’ll be dealing with an unsightly or dysfunctional space. Some issues like water damage get more severe and more costly the longer you let them go unchecked. If your kitchen has any of the following problems, it’s probably time to start planning your remodel.
Do you find yourself piling groceries on top of the fridge or losing kitchen tools to junk drawers? Are your counters crammed with appliances? This is a pretty good indication that there is insufficient storage in your kitchen. It may be necessary to add cabinets or an extra pantry to accommodate your items. Even if expanding the size of the kitchen isn’t possible, creatively reworking the space to be more efficient can do wonders.
Outdated or Broken Appliances
Even the most high-end appliances peter out eventually, and when they do they can become inefficient and even dangerous. If you’ve been dealing with a range that heats unreliably or a fridge that won’t stay cold, your kitchen appliances are likely reaching the end of their life cycle. If they were all installed at the same time, you may even notice them giving out one right after the other. Be encouraged that while replacing each and every appliance is pricey, you’ll probably save on your energy bills when it’s all said and done.
Broken Cabinets or Tiles
Kitchen cabinets see a lot of action, and it’s normal for them to wear out over time. Sometimes the hinges loosen or fall off, the wood splinters, or they just become dingy. Similarly, tile floors and backsplashes get chipped or broken from use. Not only can these problems give the kitchen a lackluster appearance, but it’s possible for a loose cabinet or sharp tile chip to cause an injury if left in disrepair.
Cracking or Peeling Floor
Kitchen floors are especially vulnerable to damage due to heavy traffic and excessive heat and humidity. If your floor’s linoleum is coming unglued or the tile is starting to crack, it’s time to replace it altogether.
Cracked or Shifting Countertops
We don’t always think about how much we use countertops until they start to chip or crack. Just like a cracked plate or mug can harbor bacteria, cracks in a granite countertop can be home to germs as old food gets stuck in the crevices. Other times, a counter can even start to separate from the wall or its base over time, causing it to become unstable. You’ll want to take care of this immediately to avoid it collapsing altogether.
It’s not uncommon for older kitchens to suffer from water damage, whether it’s a ceiling pipe that has sprung a leak or a drip under the sink that has gone unnoticed. Over time, this can damage drywall and cabinets and create the perfect conditions for mold to grow. If the damage is severe enough, it may take significant repairs to get the space back to a functional and sanitary state.
Benefits of a Kitchen Remodel
Some of these numbers are big—some kitchen remodels may require financing or saving before taking the plunge. You may be wondering whether it’s worth it to remodel the kitchen at all. Beyond the appeal of designing the kitchen you’ve always wanted and making necessary repairs, there are other significant and long-term benefits to remodeling the kitchen.
Increased Home Value
Kitchen remodels provide one of the best returns on investment of any home improvement project. Experts estimate that a quality remodel can recoup between 57 and 78 percent of the project cost by increasing the value of the home. Unless the purpose of the remodel is to put the house on the market immediately (in which case it’s key to look at what kind of upgrades would best suit that purpose), it’s sensible to choose products and materials that you’re comfortable living with and be confident that your investment will pay off if you do eventually decide to sell. The best way to maximize the increase in home value is to work with a contractor or design professional who can guide your choices to maximize their impact.
Many older kitchens were designed with one cook in mind, while in many households today there may be several people congregating in the kitchen at once. Adding work spaces, dedicated storage for appliances, and creative spaces for appliances that are used daily can reduce the time spent preparing and cleaning up meals and allow for better use of shared space.
If your kitchen was very trendy when it was last decorated, it probably feels like it has a date stamp on it, and if it’s not a popular trend, you might be anxious to update. A remodel is an opportunity to bring the kitchen into a more contemporary style and to choose to work with today’s trends or choose a timeless, classic look that will age well.
Improved Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
Older appliances use far more water, gas, and electricity than they really need. Energy-efficient models will lower utility bills and are kinder to the planet, as are many of the sustainable options for flooring, countertops, and cabinetry.
Adding ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets to a kitchen reduces the likelihood of electrical shocks in a place where water and electricity are often side by side. Many older kitchens are not up to current codes, so updating and acquiring the necessary permits to modernize the safety of the kitchen will both increase the safety of your home and increase the home’s value (homeowners, however, may not be aware that permits are a hidden cost associated with common remodeling projects). A kitchen remodel also offers an opportunity to reconfigure the storage to be more efficient, reducing the number of sharp items on the counter and providing good lighting for tasks involving knives and hot pans.
Kitchen Remodeling: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
A kitchen remodel, whether big or small, is a huge undertaking with a lot of moving parts. Homeowners who search for “kitchen remodel labor cost” may try to mitigate the cost by looking for parts of the project they can do themselves. If you’ve tackled many other renovation or construction projects before, you may be able to complete part of the remodel independently. However, for the vast majority of homeowners, this will be a job for a professional contractor. Even if you feel confident that you can complete a small portion like installing tile or painting kitchen cabinets, you risk jeopardizing another part of the project by doing something incorrectly or out of order. The possibility that you’ll need to bring in a contractor mid-job to handle a challenge that your DIY skills can’t address can result in completed work being torn out or budgets soaring past their stop point. And there’s always the possibility that you’ll irreparably damage your home—or yourself.
Working with a carefully chosen contractor buys you access to professional resources and suppliers (which can save both hassle and money), assures you of polished results, and results in a job completed more quickly. Most importantly, leaving the potentially dangerous elements of a remodel such as plumbing and electrical work to the pros will ensure that they are completed safely and effectively. Of course, there’s the possibility of conflicts with your contractor, but asking the right questions and checking references before hiring should alleviate the likelihood of that happening.
How to Save Money on Kitchen Remodel Cost
Many of the opportunities to save on kitchen remodeling costs are in the selections you’ll make during planning—deciding on economy-, middle-, or luxury-grade materials, choosing higher- or lower-end appliances, and negotiating with contractors or suppliers. There are some other ways to economize and get the most out of your budget.
- If feasible, maintain the footprint of the existing kitchen as much as possible, which will save on building costs and plumbing and electrical work.
- If you have the skills to perform some of the labor yourself, such as demolition, cabinet installation, or painting, negotiate with the contractor to see if the labor costs can be reduced in exchange for your work.
- Choose stock cabinets instead of custom. Unless you have an odd space to fill, custom will almost always be more expensive.
- Ask about refacing the cabinets instead of replacing them. If you’re happy with the layout of the cabinets and want to upgrade the appearance, this can be a significant cost savings.
- Shop, shop, and shop some more: Hunt down lower costs on everything from flooring to light fixtures and cabinet pulls by looking in specialty shops, salvage stores, online sale sites, and local resale shops.
- Choose a budget and stick to it. If a particular component is important enough to spend more than you anticipated on it, decide where else you can sacrifice to stay within the budget.
- Plan for contingencies. If you’re opening up the walls, there’s always a potential that you’ll find something that unexpectedly needs repair or replacement. Discuss those possibilities with your contractor and include them in the budget—as much as $3,000 to $5,000.
Questions to Ask Contractors About a Kitchen Remodel
A general contractor that you trust can be an invaluable partner in the remodeling process, helping you keep everything in perspective and keeping much of the stress off your plate. To choose the right contractor, ask friends, relatives, and neighbors for recommendations, ask the contractor for references, actually call the references, and hire the contractor whose style and manner you feel most comfortable with. Remember, this is someone who will be spending a lot of time in your home, so your comfort with the contractor is important. Before getting started, make sure you have answers to the following questions:
- Are you licensed and insured? Do you have liability insurance?
- Who hires the subcontractors? How many subcontractors will there be? Will I have a say in those decisions?
- Does the contract include material costs and permit costs, or are those itemized separately?
- What is the down payment? Is it negotiable? What is the payment structure after the down payment?
- What is the anticipated timeline for the project? What might change the timeline?
- Will I be able to remain in the house for the duration of the project?
- Do you have photographs of work you’ve done on a kitchen remodel near me?
- Can you provide contact information for references nearby?
- What challenges do you foresee in my project? How will those be handled?
- Do you work with multiple suppliers and brands of appliances, cabinets, and flooring, or are the options limited to specific companies with which you’re affiliated?
- Will you be my main point of contact? How can I get in touch with you?
- Can I see an up-to-date business license?
- Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?
- Do you provide a warranty?
- Do you offer financing?
- Who will oversee project management?
- Will you clean up after the project?
Kitchen remodels are exciting, but they can also be a little scary (so many decisions!) and overwhelming. Budgeting thoughtfully and deciding on your priorities, along with working with carefully chosen professionals, should make the process smoother. To help you get started as you plan your project, here are some questions that remodelers often ask as they’re just beginning the process
Q. How much should I budget for kitchen remodel?
The first decision you’ll need to make before you create a budget is the degree of remodel you plan to do. A reasonable budget for a minor remodel using quality but economical materials will be between $10,000 and $15,000, but it may require you to do some of the work yourself. A midrange remodel, including higher-grade materials and more help from professionals, could be budgeted between $15,000 and $40,000, while a major remodel with high-end appliances, custom cabinetry, and luxury finishes can stretch beyond $80,000. On average, the range for a kitchen remodel will cost between $13,388 and $40,000.
Q. How much does it cost to replace kitchen cabinets?
In an average kitchen remodel, replacing the cabinets costs between $4,000 and $13,000 with an average cost of $11,100. The cost could reach as high as $30,000 or more in a high-end kitchen remodel. The cabinet grade you select and the linear footage of cabinets in the kitchen will affect the total cost.
Q. What is the most expensive part of kitchen remodel?
In general, the cabinets and their hardware are the most expensive component of a kitchen remodel. They account for approximately 29 percent of the overall budget, or about $6,670 on average. There are options to make this less expensive: Assembling a collection of stock cabinets and adding molding can be less expensive than custom or semi-custom work, and refacing the existing cabinets can vastly reduce the cost. To an extent, the most expensive element of a kitchen remodel is what you choose to prioritize; custom natural stone countertops can eclipse the cost of basic cabinetry if that’s where you’ve chosen to push the budget.