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5 Shortcuts for a Cheaper Kitchen Remodel

Renovating your kitchen doesn’t have to empty your bank account.


There’s no way around it: Kitchen-remodeling projects don’t come cheap. The national average cost for a minor kitchen remodel is about $18,500, while a major overhaul comes in at almost $54,000. Whether you’re thinking about a minor update or a major facelift, if you get your priorities in order and you’re flexible, staying on budget is possible.

1. Know Your Limits

To save money, don’t make any structural changes. That includes adding on to the kitchen or turning an adjoining room into part of the kitchen. You should also put aside thoughts of moving a door, the sink, or the range. You’ll avoid costly additional plumbing and electrical work.

2. Cabinets

Cabinets make up one-third to one-half of the average total kitchen-remodeling budget, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Installing new cabinets often means you’ll automatically need new flooring, too.

One way to trim cabinet costs is to forego custom cabinetry and go with standard cabinets (those that come in preset sizes, colors, and materials). Sometimes a combination of standard and custom cabinetry works best. Other cost-cutting measures include opting for single-height wall cabinets, cabinets without trim molding, and blind-corner cabinets.

Or, considering rehabilitating your existing cabinets. The tired cabinets you want to replace may be structurally sound. The refacing process involves replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and placing wood veneer on the existing “box” structure.


3. Countertops

You might dream of going all out with concrete, granite, or quartz countertops. But if you want to keep costs down, tile and laminate are good options and can even give you a similar look. Tile comes in every hue imaginable and allows you to infuse your creativity into the surface with patterns, accents, trim, and focal points.

Today’s laminates are sophisticated and mimic granite and stone (without the hefty price tag). Wilsonart, for example, has six new designs in a range of natural hues that look realistic and have the patterns and details of granite. Laminate also resists staining, scratching, and chipping. A jeweled coral laminate sheet that is 48 inches by 8 feet runs $84.27 at Lowe’s, for example.

4. Flooring

Similar advice goes for flooring: You might yearn for tile or wood, but today’s laminate and vinyl can easily mimic those looks.

Vinyl, which comes in low gloss, medium gloss, and high gloss, is easy to install and simple to maintain. It typically comes in planks, tiles, or sheeting. Armstrong offers vinyl flooring that looks like stone, ceramic, wood, or slate. At Home Depot, Armstrong’s Stylistik II Bodden Bay 12 x 12–inch Vinyl Tiles (which come in packs of 45) cost 69 cents per square foot. They have the look of multisize, natural, earth-toned ceramic tiles.

Ceramic tile costs more than vinyl or laminate but it is extremely durable and has longevity. If your home is built on a concrete slab, then stained concrete is an inexpensive option that will give your floors an edgy, unique look. Another plus for vinyl and concrete: Maintenance is a breeze.

5. Appliances

If you have to put in new appliances, there’s no way around the hefty upfront costs. But you can make some of that money back in the long run by choosing high-efficiency machines. The Environmental Protection Agency says more than 60 million of the nation’s 170 million refrigerators are more than a decade old, and they’re costing us $4.4 billion a year. Energy Star Most Efficient 2013 is a program that recognizes the most efficient appliances available. You can save anywhere from $200 to $1,100 over the refrigerator’s lifetime. An Energy Star dishwasher, for example, saves up to 1300 gallons of water over its lifetime.


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