Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Remodeling a Kitchen on a Budget


Watch this video to see how to remodel a kitchen yourself without spending a fortune by refinishing the existing cabinets and replacing the doors, drawer fronts, countertops, sink, and faucet. ...More




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Remodeling a Kitchen on a Budget

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To give this kitchen a new look on a budget, the homeowners:

  • Measured the doors, drawer fronts, and countertops.
  • Ordered new doors, drawer fronts, and countertops.
  • Removed the existing doors, drawer fronts, and countertops.
  • Patched any holes in the cabinet frames with auto body filler.
  • Cleaned and sanded the existing cabinets.
  • Primed and painted the cabinets, doors, and drawers.
  • Installed the countertops, sink, and faucet.
  • Hung and adjusted the new cabinet doors.
  • Attached pulls and knobs to the doors and drawers.

Read episode article to find out more.



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This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re helping a young couple renovate their kitchen and we’re going to do it on a modest budget. So, if you’re interested in making a big change with just a little money, you’ll want to stick around for this one.

Well it’s really a pretty good size kitchen. You know so many of the kitchen renovations that we feature here on this show are fairly extensive where we’re removing all of the cabinets, countertops, floor, kind of stripping it right back to the studs. Well you can have a great looking kitchen without going to that extreme or spending that much money by simply giving your kitchen a face lift, especially if you’re on a modest budget.

Now the young couple who live here, Jen and Jason, would love to tear everything out but you really don’t have to because you have a lot of potential here. Look at this floor, beautiful ceramic in great shape. The appliances, not bad at all. Even the cabinets are in good shape.

Now we sat down recently with the homeowners to discuss some of the things that we suggest that they could do. Some of it they’re going to do themselves to really improve the look of the overall kitchen. Replacing all the countertops and of course replacing the sink at the same time. Also, kind of doing, quite a bit of modification to the existing cabinets.

Now the best thing that we can do here, we’ve got some great boxes, but the doors, they need some help. Very plain, no character at all, so we’re going to replace all of the doors, all of the drawer fronts, we’re going to put some glass in right on either side of the sink, get rid of the balance. Check out this down here though. We’ve got this open space here with an oven. Stops and empty wall. We’re going to but about nice more inches of cabinet space below and above.

Now as the case is with just about any kind of home renovation project, you can save a lot of money by doing as much of it as possible yourself. And that’s exactly what Jason is planning on doing.

But we’re getting starting by measuring the cabinet openings for new doors and drawer fronts. Now when you do this, you want to be sure to note which openings have two doors so that you don’t wind up with one monster size door. Then Jen and I head down to the home center to pick out and order the replacement door. Now there’s a lot of options but it really helps to have an idea of what you would like to have in your kitchen like paint grade or stain, raised panel or flat. It’s also important to follow the ordering instructions carefully, because you’ll need to account for any overlay when you fill in the door sizes.

The order is in, and the doors are on their ways, so Allen and Jason can begin removing all the old ones so the modifications can begin. Now this will include things like cutting away that dated balance over the sink and removing a poorly built shelf that was tacked on next to the stove. Then, the plumbing under the sink has to be disconnected, and the mirrored back splash removed so that the old countertops can come out of there.

But by far, the trickiest job is cutting down the cabinet over the stove to accept the microwave vent hood combo. Next, Allen cuts down one of the old doors to create a new bottom for the cabinet. Then he and Jason begin assembling it and installing the new nine inch cabinet that will flank the stove. Now they’re making progress here, but there’s still a lot to be done.

Okay Allen, your doors and your drawers will be here in a couple of days but Jen and Jason are doing all of the painting. They’ve got a little more than two days work of work.

Yeah, they’ve got a lot of prep work to do before they’re ready to paint, but thankfully, most of the cabinet work is done. I’ve got one more of these to put into place, but the nine inch ones are ready.

And you were able to find regular stocked cabinets for that. That saved a little bit of money.

Very fortunate that we found some nine inch ones in stock so these are up and they’ll be painted. You’ll never know that there’s a difference.

I see the little modification you’ve done here, raise that up a bit.

Raise that up. We’ve got a really nice microwave hood oven that’s going to go up here.

Yeah, I see a lot of people still using those. It kind of saves a lot of room, you’re talking about a smaller kitchen.

It really does, but you can see we’ve got a lot of prep work to do. It’s a lot of work and of course all this old wall paper has got to come off.

Now I know you’re doing all of the carpentry work to get everything ready for them to paint the cabinets, but what other things do you have to do to get these things ready.

Well you can see we’ve got a little bit of a boo-boo up here where we’ve cut out the balance. It works great on the side but you can see we have a little bit of work to do up here. Some bumps here that we’ve got to take a belt sander to and smooth that out.

Who was using the reciprocating saw on this one.

Never mind, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got a light fixture that goes up here, but we don’t know if it’s going to be a flush mount or if it’s recessed. But right now below you can see we had a false front here in front of the sink. We took it out, but you can see how flimsy this is. So here’s what my plan is. I’m going to take it another little style and put into place about the center of it and you see it’s actually going to shore up nicely plus give us two openings here for some tilt out trays.

Perfect. Right in front of the kitchen sink. You know one of the most requested projects that we get asked about is how to properly paint kitchen cabinets or bathroom cabinets, and when we come back, Jen and Jason are going to take you through it from start to finish. Now one thing they were real lucky with on this particular kitchen renovation is they didn’t have to replace the ceramic floor. That saved a lot of money and they’re spending a lot of time making sure none of it gets damaged. But if you’re having to install a ceramic floor, Joe’s got some great tips for you on this week’s Simple Solution.

When tiling a floor, you should always start in the middle of the room and work out in all directions. That creates a nice balanced tile pattern, but it also means that you need to cut border tiles to fit around the perimeter of the room. Now in this case you see we have about a 2½-inch wide piece of tile. Now you could measure and mark each of these pieces separate, but that’s not only time consuming, it could lead to mistakes because you’re measuring each one. Here’s a technique that professional tile setters use and it’s called the overlay technique. It requires no measuring at all.

Take a full sized tile and set it on the last full tile that you put on the floor. That’s the tile we’re going to cut, this one here. Now take another tile and put it on top and slide it tight up against the wall, and this case right by the cabinet there, then mark the tile below. This will be our cut line. Now we take this over to the tile cutter and slice that off, and this piece here will become our border that fits right in there perfectly. Now this technique is great because not only does it work with ceramic tile, but also vinyl tile, and any wide plank flooring you might have whether it’s wood or even laminate.

Coming up, a dramatic color change for these cabinets and this kitchen.

We’re right in the middle of a minor kitchen face lift, and homeowners Jen and Jason have already removed all of the countertops and all of the door fronts and drawer fronts and Allen has done a few modifications here and there. Now it’s time for the paint job. Now Allen, a lot of homeowners try this themselves. Some jobs are a little harder than others. This is going to be pretty tough one.

I got to tell you, I’m glad that it’s them and not us. This is an awful lot of work to be done here before paint brush can ever be picked up. But one thing we’ve got to get all the gloss off the cabinets, we’re going to use a liquid sandpaper for that. But the first thing we’ve got to do is fill all these screw holes and little imperfections. Jason, you and I are going to tackle that and I’m just going to start you out on it. Let me show you my favorite way of taking care of that.

I like to use automotive body filler because it dries quickly and doesn’t treat much. Now this is a two part system, so you add a small amount of cream hardener to the putty and mix it all together. Once they’re combined, the clock starts ticking so you have to work fast. Now you have to press it firmly into the molds, but you should remove enough excess as you can while it’s wet, because otherwise you’ll have a lot more sanding to do later. Once I let Jason take over, he picks it up pretty quickly and continues to fill the old pinch holes while Jen begins prepping the painted surfaces with liquid sandpaper.

Meanwhile, I’m adding that extra style for the sink front and cleaning up the mess I made when cutting off the balance. Before long, Jason begins applying primer to the cabinets. He’s using the sprayer to speed this up before he moves outside to set up a spray booth in the storage shed. Here, he’ll use a yellow tinted primer on the new doors because they’re finding it stressful for the cabinets after the finish coat goes on.

Back inside, the primer is dry, and Jen and her father-in-law begin applying the dark top coat. They’re using foam rollers to minimize any texture on the cabinet boxes. Outside, Jason spraying the same dark color on the doors. And finally, the walls and the inside of the cabinets get a coat of the yellow color that Jason prefers.

Okay Jen and Jason have completed just about all of the painting on the outside of the cabinet so we can move forward with the installation of our great looking countertop. Hey it looks a little expensive, but actually, it’s one of the most reasonably priced countertops that are available these days, and it’s called a plastic laminate post formed top. Now we were able to buy from a counter supply company that actually has a fabrication shop that did a lot of the work for us.

Now, this is a small section of countertop that we’re putting on one of the newer cabinets that we installed next to the stove, and you can see how well it mimics natural stone from the profile on the front to the profile on the back splash, and the material the homeowners selected here kind of a combination of a matte and a little bit of a gloss finish with texture. Boy, it’s hard to tell that it’s not natural stone.

Now fabrication also included cutting out the hole for the sink so that we’re ready to drop it right into place, centered over the window, plumbing right here, and also included cutting our miter cut. Well, what we want to do with that, that’s where we put the two countertops together. If you look here on the back of the small piece you’ll see these four little sections and this will actually accept a miter bolt. This is what happens, you mirror it on the other side, this catches the other piece, as you tighten it, it brings it in and cinches those two seems together.

And normally you would put the two countertop pieces together, crawl into the cabinet to attach it together, same way you would do your sink. You put your sink in place and hook up all your plumbing, but we’ve found a nice little trick we learned years ago in assembling as much as we can before the countertops in place.

So we first moved the counter outside with room for Allen to show Jason how to install the sink. Stainless steel sinks simply drop into the cutout area and then clips are added from below to lock them in place. But first, you need to seal around the perimeter with caulk so spills can’t leak through. Then, the sink goes in, and the clips are tightened. You can see how much easier this is to do before the counter is installed. Now it’s back inside to add the faucet. Another job that’s much easier if you’re not lying on your back inside a cabinet.

For the most part, all of the plumbing except for the final connections of the water supply line and drain pipes can be done of the floor with much more comfortable. But, when Allen and Jason drafted this piece, they realized that while it will go in okay, they won’t be adding the other piece of countertop until this one is in place. Just isn’t enough clearance.

So Allen applies sealer to the inside of the miter joint before fitting the two pieces together. Then, with Jason keeping the pieces lined up, he begins clamping them together with the miter bolts. It’s important that the two pieces remain flushed on the topside as you tighten them up below. Obviously, this would have been much easier if they had done it on the floor, but Allen’s under counter acrobatics have saved the day this time. Now why these guys do the countertops and cabinets, lets check in with Emilie with this week’s Best New Product.

Hey, having a budget is a major concern is a major concern in a remodel just like the kitchen this week, then the more work you can do yourself, the better. But if you’ve ever tried to paint kitchen cabinets, you know that brush marks and drips and holidays seem to be par for the course. The best method is to spray the cabinets. And Wagner has developed a new sprayer that works great. It’s called the control spray plus, and it was especially designed for fine finishing and detail work.

The control spray plus finishes three adjustable spray patterns and adjustable pattern width. It also has Wagner’s lock and go technology which makes switching materials and clean up a snap. Now even though this new technology makes painting a breeze, it isn’t idiot proof and that’s a nice way of saying, make sure you practice with the sprayer before tackling your kitchen cabinets.

These kinds of sprayers work best with thinner materials, so you may have to gradually thin the paint you’re using to find the right consistency. And don’t worry, a complete product manual comes with the control spray plus so you’ll be spraying and saving in no time.

After the break, the transformation continues with new cabinet doors and appliances.

That’s going to look great. This is what it looks like when you’re right in the middle of a budget kitchen makeover, and Jen and Jason are doing most of the work themselves to really keep the cost down. Now Allen and I are helping them with a few of the things, like Allen just helped Jason installed this great looking countertop. And check this out, it’s hard to believe this is an inexpensive post form plastic laminate countertop. It really does mimic the real natural stone like granite, so it’s a great way to get that look without spending a ton of money.

Now, they’ve also been able to complete all of the painting inside and outside of the cabinets. They did a few little adjustments here and there. Now it’s time for the next step which may take a little time, and that’s installing all the new cabinet doors. Now, to hang all of the doors you’ll need to do a few little prep things here. First of all we ordered these doors a couple weeks ago to make sure they arrived in time and also Jason spent last few days painting all of these with an airless sprayer.

Now we can put the hardware on and he can get busy really making this kitchen look great. Now the airless sprayer is something a lot of homeowners are intimidated by but man it works great, what about, how did it do for you.

Actually just a little bit of practice and I think it turned out pretty good.

What about the clean up though? You always hear that the spraying takes just a little time but the cleanup takes forever. How does that work out?

We use an enamel latex paint and just cleaned up with water. That was it.

That’s great. And also the enamel and latexes now are so much better than they used to be so it’s really safe to use those for the durability on a set of cabinets like this. Now, I can show you how to put the hardware on which this is so simple because the milling has already been done on the doors that were ordered, and these are your pin hinges that a lot of people are going with now. This allows you to have a very seamless look on your cabinets without having this overlapping hardware that it had before. And here, all you have to do, push it in place, hit it with a mallet, and you’re ready to go.

The plastic anchors that are mounted on the hinge screws expand to fill the holes in the door. Talk about easy instillation. Now, when the hinges are in, we start setting up to hang the door. I like to level and clamp, but just a small scrap piece of wood just below the opening so that I can rest to door on it as I drop in the screws. Now this will ensure an easy margin across the cabinet, and as you add more drawers, you can easily just line them up next to each other. Now this job doesn’t require a lot of specialized tools, but I say that a good cordless drill driver pretty much a must if you want to get this job done quickly.

Now, with that said, it’s an incredibly do-it-yourself friendly job, and Jason picks it up pretty well. Meanwhile, Allen shows up to get the appliances in so that they can start using their kitchen. It begins with the new disposal for the sink which has this new cool counter mounted air switch. This thing works great and it’s really quiet. Next is the microwave vent hood combo which hangs on this wall mounted plate.

Now, this plate lines up the appliance so that you can set it in place, connect the power, then you add more screws from the cabinet above to finish securing it. Finally, the glass goes into the doors for the display cabinets and the new drawer fronts are added to the drawers and false front locations. The cabinets are pretty much complete, so it’s time for that distress finish that Jen wants. To get it, she’s lightly brushing around the edges of each door with a little sand paper, just enough to reveal that yellow primer beneath the black. So far, it’s looking pretty good.

So Jen, looks like you’re admiring some of your husband’s handiwork.

I am, I’m just a little disappointed in some of the gaps I’m seeing in the cabinet doors, so just trying to see what we can do about it.

Well, you know they’re old cabinets, so the cabinets frame may have shifted a little bit. Fortunately, you have some hinges here that you’ve used that are easy to adjust. Let me show you. Open that door, my screwdriver here, and what you have is couple different screws here. And when you have a gap like I saw here, you can actually eliminate that by tightening one of the screws here, and some times that gap’s bad enough that you have to do a little on each side, but with just a little bit of adjustment here, that will actually move that hinge to the inside more and you can see it tightened that up perfectly, so with the screwdriver, you can make your husband’s work look a little bit better.

All right.

While Jen gets the rest of the doors adjusted and starts tweaking things for the grand tour, let’s check out one of your recent questions.

Danny, I have a question for you. What is hard water? Is that something that I should be concerned about?

Hard water is water that has a high mineral content such as calcium and magnesium. And while it’s not considered dangerous to safety or health, it can create costly maintenance problems in your home. Most effective may to solve these hard water problems is to install a water softener. Now most operate by filtering the water through large salt tablets, replacing the harsh minerals with sodium.

Now, smaller units can be installed under the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink, but to solve the hard water problems throughout the entire house, a larger more expensive unit must be installed to filter the water before it enters the home. Now these units are about the size of a water heater and can cost a few thousand dollars, but in the long run, it can eventually pay for itself with the savings in maintenance problems created by the continual exposure to that hard water.

Don’t go anywhere or you’ll miss the grand tour.

Before this project started, Jen and Jason’s kitchen was dated, a little plan and certainly in need of help. But they made some good decisions and did a lot of work to turn it all around. The new doors made a big difference in the cabinets, and combined with a new color, hardware, and distress finish, they give the room a warm, old world feel that works perfectly with this new textured laminate countertops. You know this stuff is one of the least expensive countertop options, but it looks so much like real stone, it’s sure to fool a few people, and it certainly makes this kitchen look great.

What a transformation. You know the thing about kitchen face lifts is that you can spend just a little bit of money, and little bit of time and end up with a kitchen that looks like this. Now Jen and Jason tell me that it’s a little harder and took a little more time than they originally expected but they’re so happy with the results of their hard work. Now if you want more information on kitchen face lifts, kitchen renovations, or anything to do with your home, drop by our website at todayshomeowner.com.

Hey thanks a lot for being with us this week. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you soon.

Next week it’s all about green as we start our two part series called Going Green.