It's no secret that a kitchen remodel almost always provides the
best bang for the home improvement buck. Spacious cabinets, neat countertops, fancy fixtures and state-of-the-art appliances can make even the chef who is best at making reservations want to hang out in this hub of most homes.
Pore through the pages of one of the many decorating and remodeling magazines next time you're at the checkout counter of your local grocery store and you'll see first-hand what you've been missing.
You may be surprised to learn that your harvest gold or olive green appliances have been replaced by stainless steel, black or appliance white as the most sought-after finishes. The same holds true for your kitchen sink, faucet, flooring, cabinets and lighting. And while your gold-speckled plastic laminate countertop was once the rage, it has long since been replaced by solid surface materials -- manmade or natural -- that minimize maintenance and maximize style and appearance.
You may have found also that bringing your kitchen into the new
millennium isn't cheap and isn't devoid of certain disruption, to say the least.
Fortunately, you needn't throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water when it comes to updating your kitchen. You might just find that with a clever kitchen cover-up caper, you can have your cake and eat it too!
A kitchen cover-up isn't for everyone. Whether it will work for you
depends upon several factors, such as the layout of your kitchen and the condition of major components such as cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring. If the existing layout works, the cabinet boxes are in good shape, the appliances are serviceable, counters are structurally intact and the flooring free of rot, your kitchen may be a perfect candidate for this cost-cutting alternative to gut-and-replace remodeling.
As the name implies, a kitchen cover-up involves covering over
exiting surfaces with new finishes. You may know it better as resurfacing or refacing. It isn't a particularly new idea. The process of installing new vinyl flooring (tile squares or sheet goods) over existing material has been a popular project for as long as we can remember. However, today the resurfacing process has matured well beyond flooring and cabinets and the materials and methods employed make it an increasingly attractive choice.
What follows are a few major elements of a kitchen remodeling
project and how you might deal with them using our kitchen cover-up caper.
Flooring: If you like the look of tile, stone, granite or hardwood
flooring without the traditional cost associated with these finishes or the work required to remove the existing flooring, consider snap-together floating floors that rest atop existing flooring material. There are a myriad of styles, finishes, brands and prices from which to choose. The common denominator is that they are showroom quality easy-to-maintain finishes that can be installed handily by most do-it-yourselfers.
For more information visit www.edgeflooring.com.
Cabinets: One of the best ways to improve the appearance of your
dark stained cabinets is with a fresh coat of paint. Remove the doors and sand down the frames to bare wood. Apply a coat of oil base primer and at least two coats of high quality semi-gloss oil base enamel. While you're at it, toss the doors and (for a painted finish) replace them with new paint-grade medium density fiberboard doors. They take paint beautifully.
If you like the beauty of natural wood, brighten the existing finish
with a wood bleach or reface the cabinets with the species of your choice. For example, you can cover your dark oak cases with maple veneer and complete the job with a nice light finish. Add a new set of maple doors, concealed hinges and handsome door pulls and your kitchen will be the envy of your neighborhood.
Check with a local cabinet shop, refacing company or visit
Countertops: It's been nearly 20 years since we first suggested to a listener of our radio program that she cover her existing plastic laminate countertop with ceramic tile. In doing so, we explained, she would need to cut back the bullnose edge to align with the cabinet face and cut off the backsplash to make way for a new uniform tile splash. Beyond that it was a function of cutting, gluing and grouting the tile. Resurfacing kitchen countertops is now one of the newest and most popular elements of a kitchen cover-up.
Now there's a technique that transforms tired old counters into
gleaming granite in just two or three days for about two-thirds of what true granite costs. This new material is 95 percent genuine granite, ground and blended with polymer resin that is formed into large slabs only one-quarter inch thick. It is then installed right over existing counters for a real granite look. It's heat-, stain- and scratch-resistant, doesn't need sealing, and (unlike real granite) carries a 10-year warranty.
Appliances: New flooring and snappy cabinets and countertops can
make old appliances look especially bad. Conversely, refacing both cabinets and appliances makes older kitchens look like new. Try brand-new face panels purchased either from the original manufacturer or as an add-on custom-order face panel kit. Panels from the manufacturer simply slide into existing frames, whereas add-on panels offer all the latest designer fronts for almost any make and model of refrigerator or dishwasher.
Want real stainless steel? How about the new fingerprint-less
gleaming version? Perhaps a chalkboard or a cork bulletin board refrigerator front? Maybe a splash of brilliant color? You can even have lavish, rich wood grains with a beautiful finish and detailed trim.
Check with your local appliance dealer or visit www.frigodesign.com.
Plumbing Fixtures: Though a sink can be painted, the finish, while
beautiful, is temporary at best and won't hold up to the abuses that most kitchen sinks are subjected to. Therefore, we suggest that this is one area where you should consider replacing rather than refacing. What's more, attempting to replace a sink and faucet down the road -- after the improvements have been made -- can be costly and inconvenient.
We suggest that you spend a tad of the money you'll be saving to
install a shiny new sink and glistening faucet. As with appliances, stainless steel sinks and satin nickel or Venetian bronze are popular when it comes to faucet finishes.
Visit your local plumbing showroom or check out www.moen.com.