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Is a full kitchen remodel a DIY task or should you hire it out? In this project, I will tackle the remodeling process by myself to see if it really is a DIY task.

  1. Make a Plan
  2. Remove Old Fixtures
  3. Rough In Plumbing
  4. Drywall Work
  5. Lay New Flooring

1. Make a Plan

This may go without saying for construction jobs in your home, but you should absolutely consult professionals first. Your vision of a modern, open-concept kitchen may not be feasible in your space because of structural limitations. So, as a disclaimer, and as good practice, consult engineers/plumbers/electricians before you start tearing out anything. With that said, a thorough kitchen remodel plan will show where to focus your physical labor. The remodeling process is expensive, there’s no use in tearing out cabinets or drywall if you don’t have to.

During the demolition phase of our kitchen remodel, I found that after I removed our old pantry, I really liked the openness of the new space. Our original plan was to build a new, shorter wall and cover that wall with large cabinets. After seeing the potential for an open-concept kitchen, I amended the plan. Of course, like most things, I had the old and new kitchen floor plans mapped out in Fusion 360, so I could easily alter the vision digitally. My wife liked the new direction so we proceeded on our slightly altered course.

2. Remove Old Fixtures

Once you have a proper kitchen remodel plan in hand, it is time to remove the old fixtures; cabinets, lighting, flooring, appliances, or counters. In a lot of home renovation shows, the cute and energetic hosts often smash cabinets and make a theatrical mess during the demo phase. While this may look fun, it is incredibly wasteful. Our kitchen was installed in 1983 and the decor matches the time period. Once I removed the cabinets, the stove, the sink, and the lighting, I took those perfectly useable elements to the local Habitat For Humanity Resale store and they gladly accepted everything. You can also get a donation receipt that may be good for a tax deduction, so don’t needlessly smash perfectly good fixtures.

3. Rough In Plumbing

Now that the older items are cleared out, it is time to prepare the room to accept the newer appliances and cabinetry. In our situation, I am having a plumber come and install a gas line to accommodate our new range. This is something that I am not comfortable doing, so I hired a licensed professional. The same would apply for moving water supply lines of drains if you wanted to move a sink. I am however comfortable moving electrical outlets and other minor electrical work. At this stage, I have to consult our plan as to where lights will be placed, appliances will be hooked up, and where my family would most likely want outlets. With the provisions for the electrical, gas lines, and plumbing roughed in, it is now time to cover the exposed structure with drywall and to prep for final flooring.

4. Drywall Work

For those of you not in North America, most interior walls are covered in a layer of paintable gypsum drywall. These large sheets can be cut to fit your space and then the seems are covered with “mud” that can then be sanded smooth. Drywalling a large room can be an exhausting and messy process. For this project I used some online tools from the video’s sponsor, The Home Depot. They have project calculators that can help you estimate your material needs. This tool was amazingly helpful. We covered the ceiling in 1/4″ drywall to cover the old textured ceiling that was now missing lighting fixtures. We also had to cut sheets to accommodate the new opened doorway to the dining room. Once painted, the room looked huge! All that was left to transform this space is to lay flooring.

5. Lay New Flooring

Now that the plumbing is roughed in and the walls are completed, I can focus on the flooring. Like I’ve done in the rest of the house, I plan on laying down acacia hardwood flooring. Keeping the flooring consistent throughout the house will help emphasize the open concept by carrying the sight lines into other rooms. I leveled the floor with additional plywood where the old walls used to be. In the old kitchen, there were a few layers of linoleum with tons of staples that needed to be hammered down. When remodeling an old space, you never really know what lies under the visible floor. While this preparation did take time, it was absolutely crucial so I could get a consistently flat foundation for the hardwood flooring. I used a flooring nailer to hammer in the tongue-and-groove floor boards and after a few days work, they were all done.

 Space Is Ready For New Stuff!

In this part of the project, we strategically tore out the old kitchen in order to get a clean slate for the updated space. In upcoming projects we are going to explore more aspects of this kitchen remodel, like whether it’s cheaper to buy or build cabinets. There is still a lot of work to be done in the kitchen but we’re making a plan and following it through. This project, so far, has been a lot of work. This transformation alone took a little over 2 weeks of full days’ work. While I was able to do a lot of the hard work I was not able to do the plumbing like I mentioned. This process would have taken a lot longer without the specialty tools and calculators that The Home Depot offers. If you need to remodel your kitchen on the cheap, be prepared for a lot of hard work and get some help.