Nationally, the average national kitchen remodel cost paid by Thumbtack customers is $10,000, while the average price range for Thumbtack kitchen remodeling costs typically ranges between $10,000-$50,000. Across the board, Thumbtack kitchen remodel contractors state that the average time to remodel a kitchen is 3-6 weeks.
The ability to turn the knob up or down with each part of a remodel is why citing broad numbers about kitchen remodel costs can create confusion for consumers. This Thumbtack kitchen remodel cost guide digs deeper into the variables that impact cost—construction, cabinets, countertops, appliances, flooring, design and more—so you can understand what will impact the cost of your kitchen remodel to help you make informed choices and plan and budget for a wonderful kitchen that you can afford.
What’s in this cost guide?
- Return on investment
- Average cost by project size: small, medium, large
- How to keep kitchen remodel costs low
- Project scope: changing footprint or not
- Kitchen renovation cost by square foot
- Existing conditions
- Design costs
- Contractor and labor costs
- Electrical, plumbing, demolition
- Fixtures and finishes:
- Appliance costs
- Cabinet costs
- Countertop installation costs
- Navigating a kitchen remodel
- How to hire a contractor
- Where should you start with a kitchen remodel?
- Past kitchen remodel projects from Thumbtack pros
- What to watch out for
- Value of hiring a pro vs DIY
A kitchen remodel is costly, but it also provides great return on investment, both financially by improving the home’s resale value and personally by improving day to day life in the home. Across the country, the ROI for kitchen remodels is booming, but in some regions it really pays to do the work. The Cost vs. Value 2018 report by Remodeling compares the average costs for a minor, mid-range kitchen remodel* and their respective ROIs, based on region.
|Region||Average Kitchen Remodel Cost||Return on Investment|
|Pacific Coast average||$23,587||92.9%|
|Central Southeastern average||$19,788||81.3%|
*Per the specifications of the Cost vs. Value report, a minor, mid-range kitchen remodel is defined as: updating a 200 square foot kitchen, install new, shaker-style wood panel cabinet fronts and drawers on 30 linear feet of cabinet boxes, install new cabinet hardware, install 30 linear feet of laminate countertops. Update fridge and cooktop/oven range with energy efficient models and install mid-range sink and faucet. Prices include repainting trim, adding wall covering and installing new resilient flooring.
Geography is a major factor in your kitchen remodel costs. Regional labor costs as well as material costs can be much higher in expensive cities than in those areas with a lower cost of living. As an example, Payscale states that in San Francisco, California, the hourly rate for electricians ($31.20) is 32 percent higher than the national hourly rate ($21) while the hourly rate for general contractors ($41.50) is 28 percent higher than the national hourly rate ($30). For kitchen remodeling projects, electrician costs are typically rolled into total project cost.
Your kitchen size impacts your remodel costs. The larger the kitchen the more materials, labor, and prep work required. For example, Mike Big of Big Brothers Development in Skokie, Illinois estimates that in his region customers spend, on average, $18,000 for a small kitchen remodel, $30,000 for a medium kitchen remodel, and $50,000 for a larger kitchen remodel. Here are some pricing examples for different kitchen sizes and what might reasonably be included in respective costs as shared by RJ Nassar of Opus One Design Build in Dallas, Texas:
- 40-60 square foot kitchen (small): $16,000-$18,000 for a standard renovation, including new counters, floor, backsplash, cabinets, and mid-range appliances.
- 135-165 square foot kitchen (medium): $28,000-$30,000 for galley kitchen in a townhome or smaller home, including new counters, floor, backsplash, cabinets, and mid-range appliances.
- A medium kitchen can also be $65,000-$70,000 or more, depending on finishes and components. The difference is spending $2,200 on countertops or $9,000 on countertops; $5,000 on cabinets or $20,000 on customized cabinets; $1,000 or $4,000 on tile backsplash; $800 on a hood oven or $5,000 on a hood oven with exhaust, explains Nassar.
- 360 square feet and up (large): $45,000-$50,000 for a large kitchen renovation with standard finishes, but Nassar explains that with large kitchens, “anything can happen. We just completed a very high end kitchen that cost $400,000. The high-end appliances cost $100,000, the marble was custom and specially sealed, the countertops were $50,000, the cabinets were $80,000, the backsplash cost $8,000, the lighting was $15,000. They had 3 sinks, a bar area, wine storage, walk-in pantries, an eat-in area, skylights, and entire back of kitchen was all glass.”
The key ways to keep your kitchen remodel costs low are to avoid changes once the plan is in place, keep your original kitchen footprint, and source materials yourself.
- Avoid changes: Changing the materials or design after starting construction will increase your costs due to the wasted materials, extra labor and change orders required. Avoid mishaps by measuring (with a measuring tape) and marking with tape any layout changes. This allows you to visualize and walk through any spatial changes planned.
- Retain footprint: The difference between a surface makeover and a full kitchen remodel is important in understanding kitchen remodel costs. If you are working on a budget, a surface makeover is the way to go. You’ll have a fresh new look without the added cost of changing out the electrical, plumbing, and taking on under the surface work. To save money: keep your appliances in the same place, don’t take down walls, and don’t move your countertops.
- Source materials: Save money by researching the appliances, counters, flooring and tiles yourself and save on paying a designer. Always run choices by the pros before purchasing.
Cost per square foot is relative to what is included in the kitchen remodel project. There is no one template for what all kitchen remodels cost, so when you get quotes from contractors, compare beyond the price per square foot to what is included in price. As an example, if you have a 10x10 kitchen and one contractor quotes you $50 per square foot and another quotes you $75 per square foot, don’t assume cheaper is better. Richard Kaufman of American Home and Hardscape recommends, “Compare the quality of the materials and scope of work between bids, otherwise you’re comparing apples to watermelons.”
Where you live, regional labor costs, materials, cost of fixtures and finishes, type of subcontractors required (framers, plumbers, cabinetmakers, electricians), the permits required and if architectural plans are required all impact the cost per square foot. Due to these variables,
- Ken Moniz of Moniz Home Improvement in Harwich, Massachusetts explains that home remodel costs in his region can range anywhere from $25 - $100 per square foot or more.
The conditions underneath the surface of your kitchen will impact total project cost. If you have mold, termites, water damage, broken sub-floor, etc. your kitchen remodel costs will increase. In most cases, the contractors are not able to predict these unseen problems until demolition begins.
If repairs are required before the remodel can move forward, ask the contractor to outline the labor costs, the cost of materials, and their gross profit so you completely understand what the repairs cost and why.
Nationally, the average designer costs range between $90-$100 per hour. Hourly rates will be higher in cities with a higher cost of living. Designers are available for big-picture planning, drawings, fixture and finish selections, space planning and project management.
When hiring a kitchen designer, “the most important thing you can ask is ‘how many kitchen remodels have you done?’ A layout or design can look good, but if they don’t know the true workings of a kitchen it won’t execute as well as someone with long term experience,” explains Georgina Lipsey of Spatial Transitions, Tucson Arizona.
“Having a good designer who excels at space planning is critical,” states Nassar with Opus One Design Build, “especially in a small kitchen.” Even for homeowners managing their own remodel, Nassar recommends working with a pro to formulate the vision. “This might take 3-6 hours at $100-$130 per hour or more,” states Nassar, “but saves you money and time in the long run because the contractor will then have plans to work from.”
Hourly rates will be higher or lower than the national average based on location, explains designer Nicki La Herran of NBL Design in the San Francisco Bay Area, “My rate is $150 per hour with billing broken down into increments. For larger projects I bill weekly or monthly. I believe charging an hourly rate is better for the client than if I take a percentage of the final project cost. I also offer all my trade discounts to the clients.” It’s wise to hire a designer that is compatible with your contractor.
General contractor costs depend on your project scope. Most general contractors quote you a project cost that includes all the services you will have done, including their project management fees. Many general contractors expect construction plans, so don’t assume the contractor will design your kitchen for you.
A kitchen remodel quote will include the cost of any materials they are supplying as well as estimated labor costs and project management fees. Some general contracting companies have all the laborers in-house, and others hire subcontractors for electrical, plumbing, tiling, painting, framing and repair work. General contractor costs are driven by the type of subcontractor labor required materials you select. Here are some examples of skilled labor costs:
- Electrical costs: S&S Electric and Residential Services in Rancho Cucamonga, California, charges $65–$85 per recessed light, including materials and labor. Price variations reflect height of ceiling.
- Plumber costs: Includes gas and water supply lines and repairs. Costs may be based on hourly rates ranging from $65-$150 per hour, depending on project scope and skill. Safety requires that a licensed plumbers handle tasks such as repairing water lines and moving or installing gas lines.
- 300-square-foot kitchen remodel: $25,000
- Full remodel including all new cabinetry, fixtures, lighting, floors, plumbing, electrical and slight floor plan change
- Labor = 80 hours and $11,000
- Materials: $14,000
- The client remodeled the kitchen because of a burst pipe, and the project included fixing the water damage.
- 300-square-foot kitchen remodel: $25,000
- Demolition costs: Matt’s Hauling and Removal in San Diego, California shares that a 12x15 kitchen demo costs: ~ $1,250 and includes: 16 work hours; debris contained in a 9-cubic-yard trailer; removal of kitchen island, all countertops and shelves, cabinets, and flooring. Kitchen bare to the drywall.
The fixtures and finishes—appliances, countertops, tiles, etc.—you choose have a major impact on your kitchen remodel cost. As an example, turning the financial knob up on custom hand-painted tile floors while also selecting a chef-grade range from Viking can mean the difference in an additional $30,000 on your kitchen remodel or not. We provide a breakdown of costs for appliances, countertops and cabinets to help you understand how these choices impact your kitchen remodel price.
Kitchen appliance costs
For many kitchen remodels, the cost of appliances is not included in the bid. Customers are expected to purchase their own appliances and the contractors will install them. Quality appliances are a good place to invest, shares Mike Big of Big Brothers Development. That said, quality mid-range appliances typically do just as well as higher-end brands like Wolf or Viking, shares RJ Nassar of Opus One Design Build, so look for chef grade appliances from companies like KitchenAid or JennAir instead of blowing your budget on a brand name. Stainless steel finishes continue to trend high and are a good choice when thinking about resale value. Here are three examples of standard, mid-range, and high-end appliances as sourced from a popular home improvement store. Always clarify if appliance costs are included when considering bids.
|Kitchen appliance||Standard cost||Mid-range cost||High-end cost|
Kitchen cabinet costs
The cost of new kitchen cabinets can range anywhere from $75-$1,000 per linear foot. Cabinet refinishing costs, on average, between $1,500-$6,000. Refinishing cabinets is a renovation technique wherein the cabinet boxes and cabinet doors and drawers remain, but the outer layer of the wood or veneer is sanded down and reapplied or stained to provide a fresh new face to existing cabinets. Refacing cabinets costs range, on average, from $1,000-$9,000, depending on the cabinet face material, linear feet, and labor required. For those interested in a brand new cabinet system, here are some examples of cabinet costs, including cabinet installation costs:
- Stock cabinets: $75 – $400+ per linear foot. These are pre-made cabinets available from home improvement stores. In one example, Virgil Miranda of New Bedford, Massachusetts charges $55 per linear foot to install stock cabinets or $70 per linear foot to first remove existing cabinets then install new stock cabinets.
- Semi-custom cabinets: $150 – $900+ per linear foot. Usually made from a higher grade MDF than stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets have more flexibility when it comes to measurement and configuration—even though they are also factory-made in standard sizes.
- Custom cabinets: $500 – $1,400+ per linear foot. These are the cream of the crop and are hand constructed by skilled carpenters to the customer’s specifications. Fuentes Woodworks—a company that specializes in custom cabinets, designed, built and installed specifically for customers’ space and design plan—charges between $500 and $700 per linear foot, including installation.
Pro tip: Always install cabinets to go to the ceiling. Flush to the ceiling makes your ceilings look taller, makes your kitchen look bigger, and makes your cabinets look custom.
Countertop installation or renovation cost
Nationally, average granite countertops and countertop installation costs $2,000-$9,000, depending on your zip code; type of granite slab; slab source, thickness, and color; and project size. In contrast, the cost for laminate counters and installation may be well under $1,000 due to lower material costs and a material that is easier to work with. In another example, the installation of quartz countertops (including quartz, materials and labor) may range from $40–$135 per square foot, according to 221 Construction in Kearney, Missouri.
Most fabricators charge per square foot for the stone and their installation costs, so you can turn the pricing knob down by choosing lower cost counter materials. The most affordable options will be at big box stores and Ikea, although they may not have the lasting power of natural or manufactured stone. For stone and manufactured stone, you purchase through a stone yard or showroom, although many showrooms only sell to designers or contractors—they won’t sell direct to the homeowner. If you want a high-end stone without the high-end price tag, Nassar with Opus One Design Build recommends you visit the showroom and ask which slabs are on clearance. “Usually they have 10-20 options that are reduced in price, meaning the slabs are 1/4 or /13 of the original price. For a small kitchen, you can put in a stone counter for only $800 more than you would laminate.”
When selecting countertop material, opt for neutral tones that stand the test of time. “Think about resale,” counsels Nicki La Herran of NBL Design. “If you are moving within a few years, your counters need to appeal to a broad range of people.” Nassar recommends white or black marble or granite as the high impact colors like burgundy and green are not as flexible. To add your personal style, make your style statement with your tile backsplash, which is far more cost effective to replace or change than a countertop. Tile backsplash installations cost, on average, in the realm of $10-$40 per square foot for materials and installation and is more affordable to change and update if your aesthetics change.
Final tip: Be sure the cabinets you select are sturdy enough to support the weight of your new countertops, coaches American Home and Hardscape. “I’ve had to custom build out a two by four cabinet base because the cabinet base the customers bought wasn’t strong enough to hold their stone countertop. Do your research before you buy.”
Starting a kitchen remodel is a big project. Before you begin, American Home and Hardscape in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area recommends asking yourself:
- Do I know what I want and do I have a plan? Before calling contractors, look at Pinterest, take photos, visit kitchen stores. Create a general outline of what you want your kitchen to look like plus the type of appliances and finishes you want. If you’re working with a designer, they will walk you through all of these steps
- Do I have a start and finish date in mind? Do you need your kitchen for summer break? Look at your calendar and consider potential blocks of time when you can have a non-operational kitchen for approximately two months
- Am I financially prepared to undertake this remodel and are my finances in order? Be clear on your max spend before reaching out to contractors. If you do your prep work researching finishes and fixtures, you’ll have an idea of what your remodel will cost before labor. Don’t wing it when it comes to remodel finance
Determine your budget and identify the designer and contractor you will work with. Be upfront about money from the start. “Cost engineering is going to help a great deal. Let the contractor know your max budget from the very start,” shares RJ Nassar of Opus One Design Build, “and start with importance of what needs to happen first.” Whether working with a designer or DIY the renovation vision, here are some questions to ask yourself in the beginning stages of a remodel:
- Keep the location of the counters, cabinets and walls the same?
- Replace major appliances?
- Keep all the appliances in the same place?
- If not, will we need to add gas or electrical lines to accommodate new location? (A contractor can tell you this when providing an estimate)
- Change the cabinet layout?
- Need to demolish the kitchen down to the studs (remove flooring, counters, cabinets, and drywall).
With good planning a project will start and finish with ease, states Mike Big of Big Brothers Development. “Ideally a client has finalized the project with a designer and contractor, meaning everything is picked out and designed to fit the client’s needs.” Then, Big explans, most projects begin with demolition – removing the old and making way for the new. Next, if necessary, any changes in the rough framing, electrical, or plumbing is addressed, followed by an inspection from the local city hall to make sure everything is up to code. Next is cabinet installation, followed by the countertop fabricator coming in to do a final measurement before they cut the stone. While waiting for the countertop to be delivered, remaining trim and accessory work can be prepared and installed, and/or painting is usually taken care of. Once the countertop is delivered and installed, finish plumbing occurs (setting up the sink and installing appliances), followed by installing door knobs or hardware and adjustments to the cabinet doors. “And finally,” shares Big, “we do a deep cleaning before final walk through with the client.”
Hiring a contractor doesn’t have to be hard work. However, it is an important relationship that can make or break your kitchen remodel—so put in the time and effort to research pros and get multiple quotes. Several hours of due diligence can save several months of frustration.
- Are they licensed and insured to work in my state?
- Do they have good reviews?
- Do they have a portfolio of work I like?
- Do they answer my calls and emails in a timely way?
- Are my questions and concerns treated with respect and do I get clear answers?
- What will approximate cost be and do they provide a clear breakdown of costs?
- Might there be additional costs beyond what is in the scope of work?
- Are they available in my timeframe and do I understand when the project will complete?
- Do they provide a signed contract outlining timeframe, budget, and scope of work?
Kitchen remodel costs vary based on your project scope, repairs required, finishes selected and zip code. It can be helpful to compare and contrast sample jobs to understand what costs what where. As a regional example, Maples Construction Co. in Knoxville, Tennessee shares three examples of job costs (in 2017). Remember that showcases such as these don’t dictate what a kitchen remodel will cost in your home.
|Size of remodel||Work done||Finishes installed||Total cost||Cost per sq ft|
|7x8-foot remodel||Frame whole kitchen; plumbing for gas and water; install cabinets; install flooring; paint walls||Stainless steel appliances; soft-close hardware and brushed-nickel pull; vinyl click flooring; paint walls||$4,500 price includes labor and materials, but not appliances. Price part of a whole home remodel, hence lower than standalone work||$100 per square foot|
|Demo old kitchen; install cabinets; install backsplash; install lights; build-in island; install countertops; paint walls||Soft-close hardware; white shaker cabinets; granite countertop; 60/40 double sink; LED strip lighting under cabinets||$11,000, including labor and materials||$57 per square foot|
foot surface make-
|Installed countertop; refinished and repainted solitary cabinets; paint walls; install backsplash; install plumbing line for gas stove; install new appliances; build-in island||Marble countertops w/ decorative edges||$6,200, including labor and materials (not appliances)||$24 per square foot|
Everyone has heard kitchen remodel horror stories. Watch out for these red flags before partnering with a construction company:
- Be suspicious of pricing that’s too good to be true
- Never pay for a project in full up front. Designate milestones and pay as project milestones are completed. Each state has their own regulations to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices. As an example, in Tennessee, a contractor can only take 30 percent of the total cost of a project upfront, shares a representative at Maples Construction Co.
- A company with numerous poor reviews. There will always be one or two unhappy clients (and how a company responds is a good sign of how they treat their customers overall) but consistent bad reviews are a serious red flag
- Poor communication from the start. Kitchen remodels can be draining. Don’t hire a contracting company that makes a challenging project even harder
Safety, reliable results, lower stress, quicker outcomes and a professional look are the perks of hiring a pro over DIY. Home remodeling shows make kitchen remodels look easy, but without professional know-how and adequate people power a small DIY remodel can drag on for many months—even years. Realistically consider your free time, skill level and how you want to use your free time. Unless you are a licensed plumber or electrician, never move plumbing pipes or electrical wiring on your own. You can do real damage to yourself, your family, your home and even your community. Structural integrity is also a serious safety factor. If you don’t have building know-how, you can create safety risks through poorly installed flooring or improperly secured cabinetry.
When it comes to vision, never DIY the design, recommends Nassar with Opus One Design Build. Hire a designer from the beginning, even if you’re DIY project management, agrees Georgina Lipsey of Spatial Transitions, Tucson Arizona. “I suggest anyone doing a kitchen remodel have at least a two hour consultation with a designer to guide them on where to place the three main elements (fridge, sink, oven).”
Professional kitchen remodeling contractors do this work everyday. They are efficient, have all the proper tools and equipment, and know what materials are required. They have reliable pros they work with to accomplish your project on time and to your specifications. The kitchen is the center of operations for your home, it pays to place its upgrade in the hands of trained professionals.