A full kitchen remodel is among the most expensive renovations in the entire home, largely due to the costs of replacing so many pricey pieces. Depending on the scale of the kitchen renovation and the size of the kitchen, the average cost of kitchen remodeling ranges from $75 to $250 per square foot.
Expect to spend a bare minimum of $12,000 for a basic kitchen renovation that includes new cabinets, countertops and installation. A kitchen remodel that includes a new floor, appliances and changes to plumbing and wiring runs significantly higher — possibly more than $50,000 for an upscale renovation in a moderately sized kitchen.
The price of the average kitchen remodeling project is approximately $24,000, or $150 per square foot.
National Average Kitchen Renovation Costs
The national average cost of a minor kitchen remodel, which leaves existing cabinet framework in place but changes their doors, fronts and hardware, is more than $22,000 in 2019, according to Remodeling. This type of project also includes 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 the kitchen, the larger the potential expense since a huge kitchen most likely includes more cabinets and usable countertop surfaces.
For a major kitchen remodel, the cost increases to more than $66,000. This includes 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 painted surfaces.
For an upscale renovation, the national average cost of kitchen remodeling nearly doubles at $132,000. This massive project includes high-end cabinets with sliding shelves, an imported glass or ceramic tile backsplash, a commercial-grade cooktop paired with a vent hood, a wall oven, an upscale sink and faucet, a new refrigerator and tile flooring. Other extras in an upscale remodel may include new task and accent lighting or a water filtration system.
Where the Money Goes
When it comes to a kitchen makeover, cabinets and countertops amount to a large chunk of the renovation budget. Expect to spend 20 to 40 percent of your kitchen makeover budget on new cabinets and installation. On average, new countertops installed by a pro account for another 10 to 30 percent of the budget. If you are purchasing all-new appliances, allot 17 percent of your budget for these, assuming that no new wiring or water lines are needed.
Naturally, the budget percentages will vary from one kitchen to the next, depending on the intensity of the project, the quality of the new items added and the installation costs. Installation costs vary greatly from city to city or even within the same locale.
Call around and research about 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. All-new cabinets are usually the biggest chunk of a kitchen remodeling budget, but 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 cabinets a completely new look, saving up to half of what it would cost to replace them with an equal amount of new cabinets, according to KitchenCabinetRefacing.com.
Refacing usually entails replacing door and drawer fronts and adding a new veneer to cabinet faces, making them look like entirely new cabinets. Changing the hardware during this process completes the upgrade, tailoring the cabinets to suit the new look of your kitchen.
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 the look of new cabinets. Painting saves up to 70 percent of the cost of completely replacing kitchen cabinets. The downside is that kitchen cabinets may be completely covered in thin layers of grease or film, which you may not notice until you're preparing to paint them. The cabinets nearest the cooktop can be incredibly difficult to clean.
Expect the Unexpected
No matter how much you budget for a kitchen remodel, plan on the project costing 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, according to a study by Discover. 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 their kitchen overhauls.
Leaving extra funds in your remodeling budget allows for cost overages while cutting down on stress. Even labor costs are likely to run higher than originally quoted if the contractor makes unexpected modifications to walls, cabinetry or under-sink plumbing.
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. An existing refrigerator with a built-in ice maker already has access to a water line, so placing a newer ice-making fridge in the same general location usually means no major plumbing work is necessary for the new appliance.
Overhauls and Home Value
If you're planning to sell your home and think a complete kitchen overhaul may mean 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 2019 Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling, you'll likely recoup 60 to 80 percent of your investment. That major kitchen overhaul will increase the sales 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 on a kitchen remodel. 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.
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 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.
- HGTV: 10 Steps to Budgeting for Your Kitchen Remodel
- HomeAdvisor: How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?
- Today: Kitchen Remodel Cost: Where to Spend and How to Save
- Remodeling: Remodeling Costs: Homeowner Perceptions vs. Reality
- Remodeling: 2019 Cost Vs. Value National Report
- KitchenCabinetRefacing.com: Should We Reface, Replace or Paint?
- HomeLight: Cash Cow or Risky Move: How Much Does a Kitchen Remodely Increase Home Value?
- Houselogic: Deceptively Easy Ways to Get the Stainless Steel Look
- Giani: Liquid Stainless Steel Refrigerator Kit Instructions
- Discover: Analyzing the Perception vs. Reality of Common Life Expenses
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.