How Much Does It Cost to Remodel a Kitchen in 2021?

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Image Credit: Hunker in Partnership With Acme Real Estate

A full kitchen remodel is one of the most expensive home improvement projects, largely due to the cost of replacing so many pricey pieces. Depending on the size of the space, the average cost of a kitchen remodel ranges from $75 to $250 per square foot.

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Expect to spend a bare minimum of $12,500 for an average kitchen design that includes new cabinets, countertops and installation. A more detailed reno with a new floor, appliances, and changes to plumbing and wiring will make your total budget significantly higher — possibly more than $60,000 for an upscale job.

Tip

The price of the average kitchen remodeling project is approximately $12,500 - $35,000.

Average Kitchen Renovation Costs

Your kitchen remodeling costs can vary slightly from state to state. Also, they tend to depend on what kind of job you plan to do and overall functionality. Let's break it down between high-end, mid-range, and low-cost prices and what they actually include to help steer you towards the right decision in terms of budgeting and satisfaction.

Low-Cost Remodeling Budgets

A basic kitchen upgrade, which leaves existing cabinet framework in place but changes the doors, fronts, and hardware, starts at around $10,000. This type of project may also include new countertops and floors, a new stove and refrigerator, a moderately priced sink and faucet plus fresh wall, trim, and ceiling paint. All averages are based on a 200-square-foot kitchen. The larger your cook space, the larger the potential expense since there will likely be more cabinets and countertop surfaces.

What You Can Expect from a Low-Cost Budget:

  • An existing floor plan that doesn't change
  • Mostly DIY work
  • Refaced or refinished existing cabinets
  • A sink and faucet upgrade
  • Replaced countertops with materials like laminate, vinyl, or tile
  • Installation of LED or new lighting
  • Low-cost appliances or existing appliances

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Mid-Range Remodeling Budgets

For a mid-range kitchen remodel, the average cost may range from $25,000 to more than $50,000. It will typically include all-new, semi-custom cabinets; all major kitchen appliances, including a dishwasher and built-in microwave; an island; custom lighting; and a new sink and faucet. This project also includes fresh paint for all surfaces.

What You Can Expect from a Mid-Range Budget:

  • An existing or slightly changed floor plan
  • Professional installation
  • Semi-custom cabinets
  • An upgraded sink and faucet
  • A new kitchen island
  • Replaced countertops with stone, wood, or metal
  • New floor with tile, laminate, or stone
  • Installation of higher end appliances

High-End Remodeling Budgets

For an upscale renovation — the kind that will really up your home's value — the national average comes in between $75,000 and $125,000. This massive project often includes high-end cabinetry with sliding shelves, an imported glass or ceramic tile backsplash, a commercial-grade cooktop paired with a range hood, a wall oven, an upscale sink and faucet, a new refrigerator and tile flooring. Other extras in a high-end remodel may include new task and accent lighting or a water filtration system.

What You Can Expect from a High-End Budget:

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  • A general contractor committed to your unique project
  • Structural changes and a new floor plan
  • Installation of new pipes, electrical, and gas lines
  • Custom cabinetry
  • New countertops featuring granite or quartz
  • Overhead lighting
  • Installation of hardwood floors
  • An upgraded sink and faucet
  • A tile backsplash
  • Installation of high-end appliances

Where the Money Goes

Image Credit: Hunker in Partnership With Acme Real Estate

When it comes to a kitchen makeover, the three most expensive aspects will be the cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Expect to spend 20 to 40 percent of your kitchen makeover budget on new cabinetry and installation. On average, new countertops installed by a professional account for another 10 to 30 percent of the budget. If you are purchasing all-new appliances, allot 17 percent of your budget for them, assuming that no new wiring or water lines are needed.

Percentage of Kitchen Remodel Budget

Cabinets

20-40%

Countertops

10-30%

Appliances

17%

Naturally, the budget percentages will vary depending on the intensity of the project, the quality of the new items, and the installation costs. These numbers also differ greatly from city to city or even within the same locale.

Call around and research contractors before making final choices. You may be able to save hundreds if not thousands by ​not​ hiring the first contractor you find. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations as well.

Cabinet Cost Considerations

To keep your kitchen remodel cost down, think about your existing cabinets before opting to completely replace them. While all-new cabinets are usually the biggest chunk of a kitchen remodeling budget, if your current cabinets are in good shape and are well placed, they may just need a makeover. A cabinet refacing company can give those outdated door fronts a completely new look, saving up to half of what it would cost to replace them, according to KitchenCabinetRefacing.com.

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Refacing usually entails replacing door and drawer fronts and adding a new veneer, making the cabinets look entirely new. Changing the hardware during this process completes the upgrade.

For a DIY approach, painting the cabinets and swapping the old hardware for new is another way to save loads of money while still achieving a fresh look. Painting saves up to 70 percent of the cost of a complete replacement. The downside is that your cupboards may be completely covered in thin layers of grease or film, which you may not notice until you're preparing to paint. The cabinets nearest the cooktop can be incredibly difficult to clean. But feel free to check out our guide on how to clean kitchen cabinets before painting here.

Unexpected Concerns

No matter how much you budget for a kitchen remodel, plan on the pricing to be as much as 20 percent more than expected. In other words, don't go by estimates or store prices alone, even if you are installing some items yourself. Unforeseen problems may arise, such as discovering a rotten subfloor beneath you're old flooring. A new refrigerator may be too large to fit where the old one sat, so nearby cabinets may need to be moved or modified. A plumber or electrician may be needed if you are installing a new dishwasher.

Many homeowners completely underestimate the cost of a kitchen remodel. Of nearly 1,000 people surveyed in 2019, 78 percent of them underestimated their remodeling costs by almost half. In other words, those surveyed spent nearly twice as much as they thought they would on an overhaul.

Leaving extra funds in your remodeling budget allows for cost overages while cutting down on stress. Even labor costs for a small kitchen with limited square footage are likely to run higher than originally quoted if the contractor makes unexpected modifications to walls, cabinetry, or under-sink plumbing.

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The best way to cut down on unexpected electrical or plumbing expenses is to stick with your existing kitchen layout, even if you are replacing appliances. A current refrigerator with a built-in ice maker already has access to a water line, so placing a newer version in the same general location usually means no major plumbing work is necessary.

Overhauls and Home Value

If you're planning to sell your home and think a complete kitchen overhaul automatically means a great return on your investment, think again. Spending tens of thousands on your kitchen may actually decrease your profit on a home sale. According to the 2021 Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling, you'll likely recoup 60 to 80 percent of your investment. That major kitchen overhaul will increase the sale value of the home, but not by as much as you spent.

On the bright side, a brand-new, state-of-the-art kitchen can mean far more interested buyers, so your home may sell quicker provided that the rest of the home is in similar shape. If a bidding war takes place in a hot market, you could sell your home for more than the perceived market value.

Even minor updates such as fresh paint and refaced cabinets can increase the visual appeal of the kitchen, which means more potential buyers may be willing to pay a fair price compared to a kitchen that looks terribly outdated and needs a lot of work.

How to Save Money

Besides saving on cabinets, there are plenty of other ways to save money while renovating the kitchen. Countertops that are in good shape can be resurfaced, refinished, or painted to look like virtually any counter material you prefer, even granite. Save the most money by painting or resurfacing them yourself with a DIY kit that includes paints or epoxies with real stone flakes in them for a realistic stone appearance.

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Update the look of functional but outdated appliances with stainless steel paint, stick-on film, or magnetic cut-to-size sheets to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The paint requires a clean surface and goes on as thin, light coats that are applied with a roller. The end result resembles a brushed steel surface. The stick-on sheets work like contact paper and must be cut to size. The magnetic version, usually for dishwasher fronts, also must be cut to size.

Save even more money by doing at least some of the renovation work yourself. Even if you choose not to do major projects such as electrical work or flooring, jobs such as painting the walls and ceiling or adding a backsplash can be learned and completed relatively easily, omitting some of the labor costs.

If you still need to find ways to significantly trim your renovation budget, consider which kitchen upgrades mean the most to you right now or are necessary, such as replacing an oven with malfunctioning burners. Look for appliance sales around major holidays, as there are often great deals at these times. Save some parts of the renovation for another season or another year if funds are tight and you plan to keep your home for a while.

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As an Emmy Award winning creative director, writer and producer I have worked on content for brands like Disney, BravoTV, TBS, Universal, E! and MTV. But I mostly love rearranging furniture and repotting plants at home.