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Kitchen Renovation Project: Checklist of the Steps to Follow

Last modified: 2020-08-06 | Approximate reading time 22 mins

Léa Plourde-Archer

Renovating a kitchen from top to bottom is a large-scale project. If we do not take the time to properly organize the whole process, we can quickly find ourselves being completely disorganized, which generates overruns in both time and money.

On this blog, we have published dozens of articles about kitchen renovations. Despite this, we know that we are far from having fully covered this subject! There are so many things, big and small, to consider. That's why we thought about creating a guide and a useful checklist that can help you better prepare your kitchen renovation project.

This guide will be useful if you are taking on your kitchen renovation project yourself or if you want to better understand the different steps involved in the process when a contractor takes over the work.

Would you like to jump directly to the checklist? Click here! We also have a version that is already filled in to give you an idea of how to use it (click here)

BEFORE LAUNCHING THIS PROJECT

Couple dans une cuisine en bois moderne_couple in a modern wood kitchen

If you are reading this article, you are probably already thinking about renovating your kitchen. You may have even decided to start this project. Now, you need to clarify your objectives with regards to the room you are going to create.

KEYWORDS OF A KITCHEN RENOVATION PROJECT

- Functional

The layout of your kitchen should be focused on the daily use you make of it. As you are developing a new room, you should take the opportunity to optimize everything.

- Nice

Some people will put the aesthetic aspect at top-priority. We suggest putting this aspect in second place on your list of priorities, behind a layout that is first and foremost practical. Of course, as this is a central area in the home, do not neglect the decor of the room, because it’s important that you feel good when you spend time here!

- Durable

Is there anything more tiresome than having to replace materials or furniture too quickly? If your budget allows you to do so, opt for high-quality materials, or at least try to find the materials that offer the best value for money.

Cuisine rustique_rustic kitchen

HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS

It may seem easy to create a beautiful kitchen. Browse through the IKEA catalogue, search Pinterest, watch remodelling shows on TV, and you'll find a ton of ideas that are all more appealing than the last. However, these pretty kitchens may not meet your needs. If your main criteria for the construction of your new kitchen is its aesthetic appearance, you could easily forget essential elements in terms of the practical use of the kitchen on a day to day basis.

Make a list of your criteria and see how these points could impact the choices you will make afterwards. Here are some examples of criteria:

  • How easy it is to clean;
  • The quality of the materials;
  • The ergonomics of the kitchen;
  • The amount of storage.

Finally, if you are thinking of selling the house eventually, be aware that kitchen renovations can have an impact on the value of your property. If you opt for an unusual layout or a very daring design, it could make the sale more complicated, because the kitchen is often part of the first areas that potential buyers look at.

This does not mean that you should not think about your tastes and needs! After all, you will be the one using this room for a certain amount of time. Nevertheless, this aspect must be considered.

installation Comptoir de cuisine_man installing a kitchen counter

QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING THE PLANNING STAGES OF A KITCHEN RENOVATION PROJECT

Here is an overview of the steps involved in planning a kitchen renovation. Of course, we could have devoted a whole novel to this type of project. There are books available in bookstores that will cover the subject with even more detail, but to remain effective, we will stick to the most important points.

Is there already a kitchen in place?

Before setting up a new kitchen, you will have to settle the question of what you will do with the old layout. You may need to incorporate a demolition step to remove current structures.

Are you going to keep some items or replace everything?

If you answered yes to the previous question, you should now think about keeping some parts of the old kitchen. Are your cabinets still in good condition? Maybe you should only replace the doors? Do you still like the floor?

Are you starting with an empty room?

You bought a new house, or you want to install a kitchen in a space where this type of installation did not exist before? This situation can be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage. First, you will not have to remove old installations or deal with a pre-determined layout. On the other hand, chances are that the space will not yet be equipped with a plumbing system, unlike a room where the kitchen is already in place.

The amount of space available

Normally, when it comes to kitchen renovation projects, we are referring to a space that already exists. The shape of the room, the height of the ceilings and the location of the doors and windows are all already more or less determined and must be considered when planning the layout of your new kitchen.

Of course, you will still be able to decide to make some changes to modify the characteristics of the space (location of some walls, doors and windows), but in general, the size and shapes of the space where you will design your new kitchen will already be determined. Before moving on to the next step, you should carefully note the dimensions and calculate the amount of space you have available.

The ergonomics of the room layout

On a similar note, it will be important to think about the ergonomics of your kitchen. It is recommended to avoid lost space and impractical facilities. For example, if you use a lot of spices when cooking, you will need to have easy access to your favourite condiments. If possible, take a few days to observe your current use of the kitchen. What improvements could affect your quality of life in terms of room ergonomics? Do you or your loved ones have to put your body and your safety in jeopardy to perform certain tasks in the kitchen?

To illustrate this question, which may seem a bit odd, even alarmist, think of having to bend over and stretch your arm at length to reach the bottom of your lower cabinets. Maybe you should incorporate a swiveling tray in the lower cabinets of your next kitchen?

Check out our article on the layout of an ergonomic kitchen to learn more about it

peinture armoires cuisine_painting kitchen cupboards

WORKING WITH A CONTRACTOR

As mentioned earlier in this article, this guide is designed to help you both if you decide to do the work yourself or to hand the job over to a renovation contractor. However, even if you do DIY work, you will probably have to hire specialists to do some things including plumbing and electrical work. In some regions (including Quebec), it is mandatory.

You’ve decided to give the full job to a contractor? In that case, you will have to choose between a general contractor who can oversee the project from a to z or if you prefer to hire specialized contractors for each task. To help you in your decision-making process, read our article on this topic.

Wondering how to go about finding contractors for your kitchen renovations? Fill out the form HERE so that we can put you in contact with certified contractors.

To help you during the bidding process, here is an article that will help you establish your selection criterion:

One important thing to remember: you must always have written contracts with your contractors. Would you like to know why? Check out our article: Renovation Project: 3 Reasons to Sign an Official Contract

Cuisine_armoires de bois_kitchen_wood cupboards

ALL ABOUT THE BUDGET

Kitchen renovation projects can incur considerable expenses. This being said, if you take the time to calculate things properly, you won’t have to pay a fortune to achieve a result that lives up to your expectations. You could also avoid unpleasant surprises associated with unexpected situations by including a financial margin representing more or less 15% in your budget.

Make a first general calculation of the amount you are willing to spend on this project. It may be that this amount is completely unrealistic, not being based on precise figures. Then you can go into more detail, either by looking at all the elements that are part of the project (see the checklist below) or by talking to your contractor (if you are working with a general contractor).

Once again, to keep this article as concise as possible, here is a link to another article published on our blog that may be useful for this step of the process: How to establish a realistic renovation budget?

Also, check our cost calculators for a general idea of the budget you will have to set aside.

Lastly, we also have a price guide that could be very useful for you

Plan architecture projet de rénovation_renovation project plan

KITCHEN RENOVATION PROJECT PLANS

If you start your kitchen renovation project without having an expert design your plans, you will almost certainly run into a problem (or two, or one hundred)! In a kitchen, every inch is important and if there are errors in the calculations and the layout of the space, the whole project could be delayed or even compromised!

A general contractor will take charge of designing the plans or will deal with experts they know. However, if you are supervising the project or if you only work with specialized contractors, you may have to contact architects or technologists who will be able to prepare the plans according to your specifications, while ensuring that the project is feasible.

TYPES OF MATERIALS

When it's been a few weeks since you started the process of renovating your kitchen, you may feel overwhelmed by the different choices of materials! Indeed, you’ve been warned!

To avoid feeling lost in this abundance of choice, here is an overview of the materials for each element in the kitchen. We've also placed links to relevant articles posted on our blog, so you can learn more about different types of materials, their approximate costs, their advantages and disadvantages.

Ilot de cuisine_soumission Renovation_kitchen island_reno quotes

Countertops

The counter is an essential element in a kitchen, especially when you like to have a useful work surface to prepare the food. Therefore, do not sacrifice the quality of the material you choose for this surface.

  • Marble - a high-end material, resistant, waterproof, but expensive.
  • Wood - a noble material, which offers affordable options and other much more expensive, depending on the grade of quality.
  • Slate - a heavy material that requires a highly solid structure, offering a very interesting aesthetic element.
  • Corian - offering a malleable surface, well suited to create original shapes.
  • Granite - a countertop with a resistant surface, available in several colors and patterns.
  • Quartz - an ultra-resistant material, with a rather luxurious aesthetic appearance.
  • Concrete - a raw material, sometimes difficult to maintain, but allowing you to be very creative with the textures, hues and elements that you can integrate into the concrete.
  • Ceramic - A timeless classic, with models for every taste and every budget!
  • Metal (stainless steel, copper or zinc) - a look often associated with diners and restaurant kitchens.
  • Laminate - a product that often mimics the appearance of other, more expensive materials.

Check out these articles to learn more about kitchen counters:

Price guide: kitchen countertops

Kitchen countertop: 7 alternatives to stone

Cuisine armoires ouvertes_kitchen open shelving

Floors

Kitchen floors must be very durable because they are often exposed to water, food, heat and many other elements that make maintenance more difficult. That's why it's important to choose a material that suits your aesthetic tastes and that will make your life easier every day. Here are the floor materials to prioritize for the kitchen:

  • Ceramic – Much like for the countertop, ceramic is an excellent flooring material in the kitchen. To simplify maintenance, choose medium to large size tiles with a smooth surface.
  • Stone - Stone coverings are generally among the most expensive materials, but they offer good value for money because of their resistant surface and their timeless style.
  • Wood - If you opt for a wood floor in your kitchen, make sure the surface is well protected to prevent damage from water (warping). In this sense, hardwood is preferable to softwood.
  • Vinyl - Affordable and versatile, vinyl is a cost-effective alternative to wood and ceramics, as you will find several models on the market that copy the look of these more expensive materials.
  • Linoleum - This material, which has been very fashionable in the past, is back on its feet thanks to a much more sustainable and even ecological manufacturing process.
  • Concrete - Looking for a modern style? No, concrete is not only used for garage floors! This versatile material can create a very interesting flooring surface for kitchens.

Cuisine avec hotte et ilot_kitchen with hood and island

The cabinets

The kitchen cabinets, and especially the cabinet doors, experience a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis. They are slammed, they are dirty, they are opened repeatedly and so on, with these movements being replicated several times daily. If the material is not solid, signs of deterioration are quick to appear. The following are the most common types of materials for cabinets and kitchen cabinet doors:

  • Wood- Wood is a timeless material, which can fit in both modern decors as well as traditional designs. If you opt for solid, good quality wood, you will probably be able to keep your cabinets for several decades. If you need to refurbish them, you can opt for a resurfacing process instead of replacing everything.
  • MDF - You will find many types of MDF cabinets in major home improvement and decoration stores. This is usually an affordable and accessible option, especially since the surfaces can be covered with a decorative film. You could find MDF cabinets that look like hardwood or have a solid colour (blue, white, pink, green and so on).
  • Melamine - once thought to be out of style, melamine is back on the market, with designs that are much more in tune with current trends. This is always a very economical and versatile choice.

Wallcovering materials

Paint

One of the most affordable and versatile products to transform the walls of your kitchen is paint. You can choose the colour you like to match your surfaces, create a brighter, bolder or more classic space according to your preferences. Be aware, however, that for the kitchen, it is best to use products adapted to this room because this space is more exposed to moisture, heat and dirt than other rooms in the house.

Check out our article on painting kitchens and bathrooms to find out more.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper is back in force in recent years with new products that are easy to install, are of good quality and that feature beautiful patterns. For the kitchen, make sure you choose a moisture-proof wallpaper with an easy-to-clean surface.

Decorative panels

Another option if you would like to cover your walls by adding a little bit of texture, mouldings or sections in 3D (yes, you read that right!): decorative panels. You will find an impressive array of panels, made of wood, plastic, faux brick, faux stone, MDF and so on. The quality and prices vary greatly, so do not hesitate to shop around to find the product that suits you!

Wood

In the previous paragraph, we talked about decorative wood panels. If you prefer, you can also opt for separate wooden boards (so not yet installed in the form of panels) to create your wall covering. However, be sure to use the right finishing products to protect the wood and simplify maintenance.

Brick

Brick is a material that can be found in both classical homes and contemporary decor. If you would like to install real brick walls in your kitchen, you will need to plan this project, especially if your walls are not yet covered in bricks.

For a cheaper and faster option to install, you may opt for decorative brick panels. However, for real brick cladding, you'll have to think about seeing if your home's structure is solid enough because it adds a lot of weight.

Check out our article to better prepare this part of the project: Interior brick walls: cost and advice related to installation and maintenance.

Stone

Like brick, stone is a rich material that can add a touch of elegance to your kitchen. For real stone, you will have to set aside a large budget for this purpose. Of course, you can also find decorative panels that will recreate the look of the stone's surface.

Concrete

Concrete can be added in thin layers on the wall surfaces to give an industrial look to your decor. You can also find concrete tiles or products that look like concrete. Finally, you can also create a faux finish with paint or special products available at hardware stores.

For ceramics, see the section dedicated to backsplashes

Dosseret cuisine mur de briques_soumissionrenovation_brick kitchen backsplash_renoquotes

Backsplash

Ceramic

If the kitchen is already equipped with a backsplash, there is a good chance that it is made of ceramic. In recent times, we’ve seen a lot of "subway" style tiles, which are white rectangles arranged in a staggered way to take on the appearance of New York subway stations. However, it is far from the only option for ceramic tiles. Visit a ceramic shop to discover the hundreds of models available, with a wide variety of colours, textures and even shapes. With these tiles, you could transform a dull kitchen into a colourful, modern, creative, daring or classic space, according to your tastes.

Adhesive backsplash

This second option has been gaining popularity in recent years as it is easy to install and generally affordable. In fact, the self-adhesive backsplash allows you to choose from a wide variety of surface finishes, while avoiding having to pay the costs associated with the original material, be it brick, tile, wood, or stone.

Fake or real brick

Even if you could very well buy an adhesive backsplash that reproduces the look of the brick, you may want to use real brick or a false brick decorative panel. If you choose real brick, make sure it does not overly interfere with your counter space and that your wall will be able to support the excess weight.

Metal

For a bolder backsplash style, you could install metal panels or tiles. This option is especially interesting if you are aiming to create a look reminiscent of a restaurant kitchen. A metal backsplash can also add a touch of luxury to a more classic style kitchen.

Looking for other material ideas for your kitchen backsplash? Check out our article: 9 kitchen backsplash ideas

Poignée de tiroir cuisine_door handle drawer kitchen

Accessories (handles, hinges)

This may seem like a trivial detail, but accessories can have a big impact on the appearance of the kitchen. Obviously, the hinges and all the hardware that are part of the cabinet structure will not necessarily be visible on a daily basis.

In this case, it is more a question of choosing good quality elements, because you shouldn’t skimp on the budget for hardware. If you buy low-end materials, you will have to replace them quickly because they will undergo a lot of wear every day.

When it comes to cabinet handles and drawers, it's better to buy good quality products, but you'll also need to think about the aesthetic aspect. Will your handles have a very ornate or minimalist style? Would you like to create a colour contrast with your cabinets? In stores, you will find plastic or metal handles.

If you can, test the ergonomics of these handles, because you will have to use them every day. A handle could be very pretty, but with an uncomfortable grip, you may regret your choice.

Do you prefer kitchen cabinets without handles?

In modern kitchens, it is not uncommon to find cabinet doors without handles. Either there is a space where we can place our fingers to pull, or a hollow spot in the top or bottom of the cabinet used to open the door or the drawer.

These cabinets look good but are not always ergonomic, especially for people who have weaknesses in their hand muscles. If you or someone close to you may have trouble opening the cabinets, it's best to opt for doors with handles.

Storage kitchen drawer

Storage

You must take the time to think about the issue of storage in your kitchen. The functional aspect of your kitchen depends on the efficiency and the quantity of storage that is available in this room. Here is an overview of the different types of storage in the kitchen:

Cupboards

Avoid creating areas that are not accessible. To achieve this, you can install multi-level lazy susans, especially in lower cupboards. You can also opt for drawers installed on railings, or separators which can be installed in top or bottom cupboards to ease access to the objects that are stored there.  

For the cupboard this is underneath the sink, you can also include storage boxes as well as a railing system for the garbage and recycling bins. Lastly, you can also use the back of the cupboards to install a variety of adapted accessories such as small shelves, spice racks or bag distributors. 

Drawers:

Kitchen drawers can easily become messy. Trying to find a kitchen tool in a drawer that is full of stuff can be frustrating, even dangerous if there are any sharp objects such as knives or peelers. It is therefore recommended that you install storage trays inside the drawers so that each object is well organized and easy to find. For bigger drawers, you can also install a system that is set up with trays or brackets to divide the surface and create a space for each element. 

Shelves:

Have you opted for a kitchen with open shelving, or are you considering setting up a few shelves to display your cookbooks? One of the things to take into account when it comes to open shelving in a kitchen is that you should make sure that they are used to their full potential.

Will they be mostly decorative, so you can show off your prettiest knick-knacks, or will they be used to access your everyday dishware? In both cases, you will have to make sure to create a pleasant visual harmony with the rest of the room. 

Check out this article for more information: 5 kitchen storage ideas

Évier et robinet de cuisine_kitchen sink and faucet

Plumbing and electricity

We have gathered the subjects of electricity and plumbing in one same category as, even though we know that electricity and water do not mix well, those two elements often go together during the renovation process. For example, if you must redo the plumbing from A to Z, you will take advantage of the fact that the walls are open to update electrical installations in the room. Let’s start by talking about the main components that are a part of kitchen plumbing.

Plumbing

First, the experience you will have when renovating your kitchen plumbing system will be quite different if you must deal with outdated installations. In that case, you may need to replace everything. On the other hand, if you are setting up a kitchen in a room that served another purpose beforehand, you will have to start with the bases.

Before you start thinking about the type of faucet you want or the sink that will suit your décor, you’ll want to consult a plumbing expert that could help guide you regarding your needs. It should be mentioned that in several parts of the country, it is not possible to complete plumbing jobs yourself.

As a homeowner, you can replace a faucet or a sink, but if you touch the pipes, this is not allowed, especially if you are living in a rental home or a commercial building.

If you decide to risk it without having the proper knowledge and experience, your home insurance coverage could be refused. Thinking of doing business with an unlicensed plumber? The little money you will save may be lost as you will be exposed to fines. It is therefore clear that plumbing work should always be left to professionals.

What are the plumbing elements that are a part of the kitchen?

  • The plumbing;
  • The faucet;
  • The sink;
  • The dishwasher;
  • The accessories (garbage disposal, water filter);
  • Other plumbing éléments that are sometimes located in other parts of the home (water heater, air conditioning and heating, etc.).

There is a lot to say about plumbing, so instead of making this long article even more extensive, here are links to articles to check out if you are at the plumbing stage during your kitchen renovation project:

Looking for a plumber for your kitchen renovation project? Fill out the form here

Éclairage cuisine_kitchen lighting

The electricity

We could almost repeat the same elements mentioned in the previous paragraph. Indeed, electricity is another home renovation field where you should not try to play the expert without having the right knowledge and experience. Just one bad wiring installation could multiply potential dangers in the home!  

In your new kitchen, you will probably want to have proper lighting for accompanying the different activities that will be carried out in this room:

  • Meal preparation;
  • Kids homework;
  • Evenings between friends;
  • Any other function that your kitchen is used for (office, living room, dining room)

Lighting conception is an art that is much harder to master than what initially appears. Therefore, we strongly suggest hiring experts, either interior designers, decorators or other specialized contractors. They will be able to help you develop a lighting system that will make your kitchen especially welcoming and practical!

Check out this article about lighting to make your ideas about this :

Beyond all these considerations about lighting, you must also think about electricity for appliances that are installed in this room. These appliances are amongst the most voracious elements in terms of energy inside the home, therefore, it is more than necessary to install an electrical system that adheres to current norms and fulfills the needs of these devices.

In many old homes, electrical panels are not up to current standards and have a hard time providing enough electricity for things to work properly. To avoid all dangers and nuisances (such as power outages), take this opportunity to update some (or all) the components that are a part of the electrical system that powers your kitchen. The following articles talk about outdated electrical systems and electricity in general:

Think about the energy usage within your kitchen

Last note about plumbing and electricity: we haven’t talked a lot about the subject of energy but it is important to mention that both of these systems can have a major impact on how much power your home consumes. This renovation project could be the perfect moment to update your installations, replacing systems that are too energy-intensive. Here are two articles that will give a few ideas on this subject:

Looking for an electrician for your kitchen renovation project? Fill out the form here

Outils travaux de rénovation_renovation tools

THE BASIC TOOLBOX FOR A KITCHEN RENOVATION PROJECT

Regardless of whether you have decided to hire a contractor or to do certain things on your own, you should have access to some basic tools to be able to make repairs later and/or to contribute to the project as such:

  • A drill;
  • Pliers;
  • Oscillating saw;
  • A multi-headed screwdriver;
  • A hammer with short handle;
  • An adjustable wrench;
  • A siphon;
  • A box of finishing nails;
  • A tape measure.

WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO GO DURING THE RENOVATION

A kitchen renovation is a large project and above all, it is a process that could highly affect your daily life for a few days, even a few weeks. To avoid being overly inconvenienced, you must make a plan that will help you know what to do so that you can eat, have access to water and a small space for your meals. Your well-being and that of your loved ones depend on it, as a kitchen renovation can be very cumbersome every day.

Here are the questions to ask yourself:

  • Will I stay on-site during the work?
  • Can I install a small temporary kitchen in another space (living room, basement, corridor?)
  • How long will the work take (if all goes well)?
  • Do I have solutions if the work lasts longer than expected?

Check out this article for a better of the various steps of a renovation project: From the ground up: stages of a renovation project

CHECKLIST TO FOLLOW FOR YOUR KITCHEN RENOVATION PROJECT

Download the PDF   +    Download the document that has already been filled in with examples


To see examples of kitchen renovation projects completed by contractors affiliated with RenoQuotes.com, check ou 10 examples of kitchen renovation projects
Checklist kitchen renovations

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