Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Top 10 Kitchen Upgrades for Your Home

By: Danny Lipford

Completed upgraded kitchen with granite countertops and tile backsplash.

Find out how to improve the look and function of your kitchen by:

  • Improve lighting
  • Replace countertops
  • Update appliances
  • Install new vent hood
  • Paint walls and trim
  • Install tile backsplash
  • Replace sink and faucet
  • Upgrade kitchen cabinets
  • Add molding
  • Replace flooring

Read episode article to find out more.

Further Information

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Danny Lipford: This week we’ll show you 10 different ways to improve the look and function of your kitchen. Stay with us.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects, tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: The kitchen is one room in the house where we all spend a lot of time—preparing meals, entertaining, the family gatherings around the holidays. So it’s very gratifying when you can do a little work in a room like this to improve its appearance. Well, equally important is to take on a few projects that can improve the function of your kitchen as well.

Well, this week we’ll share with you 10 very simple ideas that will accomplish both of these tasks. Any you’ll have a nice peace of mind knowing that the money that you’ve spent in this area is some of the best money you can spend on your home as far as increasing the value of your home.

Hey, this is going to be a fun show, and I guarantee you we’ll share with you something that you’ll be able to use at your home. Stay with us.

I love these pendant lights that this homeowner installed in their kitchen just recently. You know lighting is something that, if it’s done right, can certainly improve the appearance of a kitchen as well as the way it functions. This is a great example, because they’re very attractive, but also provide some needed illumination right on this island where a lot of food preparation takes place.

Now, almost every kitchen has a light over its sink, which is good because a lot of work takes place here, but you can do the exact same thing right under a cabinet that will provide light—very even light—all over your countertop itself.

Now, a very popular way of lighting the kitchen are recessed lights, and this homeowner recently installed a few additional recessed lights around the perimeter of the room, and they can do a couple of things.

They can provide task lighting for a particular area of your countertop. But with them being installed around the perimeter of this kitchen, they also kind of even the light out quite a bit, so that has certainly made a difference in this kitchen.

Now, if you really want to make a big difference in your kitchen, you can change your countertops. Now these countertops are plastic laminate. They’re fairly inexpensive to install, and fairly easy to change out.

Laminate countertops are typically one of two basic varieties—post formed or custom. Post formed tops are prefabricated with the backsplash attached to the countertop. This is the material you often find in the home centers. These sections are simply cut to the desired length in a fabrication shop, then attached to the cabinets with screws from the underside. Corners for the post formed require two mitered cuts, which are clamped together at installation.

Custom laminate tops offer more flexibility, because plywood is used to build the top to any dimension needed before laminated is glued on top of it. The backsplash for a custom top is a separate piece of wood, again with laminate glued over it.

This homeowner has decided to change out all of his countertops. But instead of going back with plastic laminate, he’s decided to upgrade to a material that used to be very expensive and that’s granite. Now granite is a lot less costly now, because of the newer machinery that’s being used fabricate it. Makes it less labor intensive and a lot more reasonable, and an option for many homeowner that would have never considered putting granite in their kitchen.

The next step in this kitchen is to remove the old top to make way for the new. Cutting the caulk seal around the top and backsplashes makes removing them even easier, and minimizes any damage to the surrounding wall. It’s also important to thoroughly disconnect the sink’s plumbing before removing it, and the countertop around it.

Granite typically arrives on a project with all of the fabricating done. That means those slabs can be set in place for a dry fit right away. Installers want to be sure the layout works with the existing cabinets, and that all of the slabs are level.

Only when the location of each piece is perfect do these guys begin attaching the granite to the cabinets with adhesive and seaming the slabs together with epoxy. But the result is worth the effort.

Because granite is a natural material, you’re limited on the size of the slabs that are used for kitchen countertops. So you have to put up with a seam here and there, but the installers did a pretty darn good job of making that seam disappear.

Now, if you want a countertop surface that has no seams visible at all, then you need solid surface countertops. This manmade material is available in hundreds of different colors. And the methods they have of seaming the seams together with the adhesive and all of the sanding makes them completely disappear.

Now, when you’re changing your countertops, it’s a perfect opportunity for another very good upgrade, and that’s changing out your appliances. Many stoves and ovens have certain cutouts that are required for them to fit in place, and that’s why you need to think about replacing them when you’re replacing countertops.

Now here’s something to consider. Now the homeowners chose kind of a midline oven stove combination, and if you choose one that’s at the lower end of the pricing structure, it may end up being a problem later on when you’re selling the house. If you choose on that’s a real fancy gourmet stove oven, then it’s really expensive, and you may not get your money back.

Now the thing that really drove the decision of these homeowners to choose a black and stainless steel finish on this is that they had replaced their microwave vent hood a few months ago. And getting a microwave up off the countertop is always a good idea to save as much of that valuable countertop as you can.

But the most important selection he made here is getting a vent hood that is sufficient to provide you the ventilation you need in a kitchen. Now to determine that, you go to the unit of measurement of CFMs, or cubic feet per minute, to make sure that it’s sufficient for the size kitchen that you have.

Now you may notice here that it’s kind of rough looking towards the back part of this kitchen, and the reason for that is that the homeowners have decided to put up a really nice ceramic backsplash. And we’ll show you what’s involved in that next.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Danny Lipford: When drilling holes there are many situations when you want to restrict the depth of the hole you’re drilling and not go all the way through the board. Joe’s got a couple of techniques for us.

Joe Truini: When you go to the hardware store, you can actually buy steel collars—depth stop collars—that you can put on the end of the bit. But this technique is a much quicker, simpler approach.

Take a piece of masking tape and wrap it around the drill bit, leaving just the depth of the hole sticking out on the end. Then snip off the tape with a pair of scissors, and what you create is this little tape flag. And as you drill the hole, the tape flag will brush away the wood chips, indicating you’ve drilled down to the correct depth.

Danny Lipford: That makes the hole very visible.

Joe Truini: Now, this technique works if you’re drilling three or four holes, maybe even up to 10 or 12 holes, but beyond that the tape flag will eventually wear out and get ripped, and your hole getting progressively deeper. And you don’t want that to happen, because you’ll eventually drill right through the wood piece.

So, this is a more durable technique that works when you’re drilling several holes. It’s just a one by one block of wood that I drilled a hole through the center of. And now you can adjust the depth of the hole by just sliding the drill bit in and out of the chuck of the drill and tightening it up.

Then you just hold the block of wood right on the wood, and you just drill all the way down until the drill bottoms out to get perfectly the same depth holes every time.

Danny Lipford: We’re continuing our look at great kitchen upgrades. And one of the easiest and least expensive ways to change the look of your kitchen is to simply paint the walls. Now the first challenge is deciding on what color to paint the walls, because there’s so many to choose from.

But another important decision is the sheen of the paint you’re going to use. Now, the sheen is basically how glossy the paint finish will be. And it starts out at flat, which is perfect for bedrooms or other areas of the home. Then it goes to an eggshell, then to satin, semigloss. And in rare situations people use high gloss on walls. That’s generally reserved to use on different trim pieces or doors in your house.

Now these homeowners chose a paint that they used a few weeks ago to paint the kitchen. And they’ve chosen an eggshell finish, which is a great idea because it’s a little bit washable and the perfect type of sheen that you need for a kitchen.

Also, satin is commonly used when you use it on wall areas like this to get a little more stain resistant, because the kitchen occasionally will have those splatters and this way you can wash it right off.

Now you may think that the homeowners kind of ran out of paint or ran out of steam when they were painting, but actually they were planning ahead for their ceramic backsplash. Because they wanted their backsplash to extend all the way up to the cabinets, the owners didn’t bother painting this area.

The space available dictates much of the pattern in these situations, so Clint has already worked out the best way to use the 17 inches between the counter and the cabinets. Most of the materials in this design are six by six porcelain tile, many of which have to be cut in half diagonally to complete the pattern. The central band in the pattern is a mosaic of small polished marble pieces, which are premounted on a fiberglass mat for easy installation.

Can you imagine in the old days how long it would have taken to install all these little pieces of tile that we’ve for an accent. Now nowadays with the matted pieces of tile, it’s a lot easier and quicker to install, but maybe things are pretty expensive, this one piece over twenty dollars.

Now it also looks great not using an accent and using just full tile, so that’s one of the decisions you’ll have to make. And you can use a ceramic backsplash on just about any type of countertop—whether it’s a laminate, a solid surface, or a natural stone material like the granite we’ve used here.

Now one of the things that you might consider is to seal all of the grout joints with a clear sealer that’ll help to resist any of the stains that may be present and may occur in a kitchen area.

Now that’s one great upgrade, but another one we have for you is upgrading your kitchen sink. And, boy, there’s a lot to choose from out there on different types of sinks.

This homeowner chose a composite granite sink that’s really nice looking and very sleek and durable. But it’s also very heavy, so one of the things you have to make sure of if you choose an undercounter mounted sink, that it’s installed properly.

An accurate cutout is necessary so that the sink fits properly when it’s glued in place. The adhesive that’s used seals the sink and holds it in place. But until it dries, temporary braces are set under the counter to keep it in position. Stainless steel sinks are also popular for undermount applications, and can be less expensive than the composite.

For top mounted sinks, you’ll find a variety of options from which to choose. But even if the budget is tight, don’t pick the cheapest model you can find. Kitchen sinks get a lot of use and abuse, so you want one that will last and maintain its look for years to come.

While there’s a lot of options in kitchen sinks, the ones that I like best are the ones that mount under the counter, like this one. One of the main advantages is that you don’t have the rim around the edge of the sink that will prevent you from wiping crumbs or water right into the sink. And I just kind of like the sleek look of an undercounter mount.

Now, while you’re changing your kitchen sink, there’s the time to also consider upgrading your kitchen faucet. There’s a number of different kinds to choose from, all kinds of different finishes.

But one of the things you’ll need to know is how many holes you’ll need to drill into the countertop. This one has one hole for the faucet itself, and an additional hole for a little soap dispenser—a real popular item these days.

Hey, when we come back, we’ll show you some other options for upgrading you kitchen, including how to change the look of your cabinets and your kitchen floor.

Announcer: Let’s join Danny at the home center to check out this week’s Best New Product, brought to you by The Home Depot.

Danny Lipford: Many homeowners have realized how convenient it is to have a pull out faucet on their kitchen sink. These were introduced a few years ago, and they make a lot of sense, because they make it so easy to clean the sink area. And if you cook with some of the big pots and pans, and you need to fill them up with water, you can set them right beside the sink and fill them right up. That’s real convenient.

Well, Price Pfister, who made this product, thought, well if it works for the kitchen, it may work for the bathroom. So they’ve just recently introduced the Catalina lavatory faucet.

Now, it looks like the conventional faucet, with the arched design and it has the nice lever handles. But to make it even more convenient, the aerator pulls right out with a 55-inch stainless steel hose. And you can twist the end of this to change it from a spray to more of a stream. And that can be convenient in a lot of situations.

Now, this is available in either a polished chrome or a brushed nickel. And it installs like any other lavatory faucet, and it only cost about a hundred dollars.

This week we’re looking at a number of different upgrades for you kitchen. Now one of the things that can change the look of your kitchen more than anything else is to change the look and style of the kitchen cabinets.

Now, if you’re doing a lot of alterations that may require relocating appliances or basically changing the layout of your kitchen, you may need all new kitchen cabinets. But here’s a few other alternatives to change the look of the cabinets themselves.

Now, these homeowners chose to replace all of the hardware—very inexpensive, very do-it-yourself way to really change the overall look. They had a little trouble deciding on exactly what hardware they wanted, but they made a great choice.

Another option is to replace all of your cabinet doors. You can take all of the doors, measure them, have a cabinetmaker make all new doors for you, and then the installation there is fairly simple.

Another option that has been very popular over the last few years is to completely repaint all of the cabinets, and all of these ideas are great options.

Although replacing hardware is a fairly simple process, you can save yourself some aggravation by removing a piece of your old hardware and taking it with you to the home center. Then you can match up the mounting holes between the old and the new to ensure a good fit.

Door replacement is a great way to upgrade the look of a kitchen, because it minimizes the time a kitchen is out of use—unlike the removal and replacement of an entire set of kitchen cabinets. While new doors aren’t cheap, they’re far less expensive than a complete set of cabinets, and the change out of doors requires much less labor.

Painting is, of course, inexpensive and do-it-yourself friendly, but good preparation is a must to make it last on kitchen cabinets. You have to remove all of the dirt and grease by cleaning them with a solvent first, followed by a light sanding.

If the cabinets haven’t been painted before, they’ll need primer and more sanding before you can apply the finish coat. Here’s a tip to minimize your brush strokes. Adding a paint conditioner to the finish paint will promote better adhesion, and minimize the appearance of brush strokes. in the finished product.

I mentioned earlier these homeowners were having a bit of a challenge to figure out exactly what hardware to use on their kitchen cabinets. And they did a smart thing here by buying a number of different knobs they were considering and hinges. Then they actually brought them home and installed them on their cabinets to see which ones they liked the best. Not a bad idea, because you know how it is in the store, they always look a little bit different than when you actually get them installed.

Now another upgrade that will work with any room in the house, and that’s adding other moldings. Now here they added a two-and-a-half-inch crown molding on the top of the cabinets. Then, where you would traditionally use crown molding, they had a five-inch piece of crown molding installed.

Now you can also enhance an adjacent room, such as the breakfast room they have here, with chair rail, that always makes a difference as well. And a lot of times adding molding—very, very reasonable.

Now something that’s a lot more expensive in most kitchens is the replacement of the kitchen floor. This home already has ceramic tile on the kitchen floor, so the owners aren’t planning a change. But for many adding ceramic is a great way to upgrade. Ceramic is available in a wide range of styles and prices. And of course it stands up well to the moisture and wear and tear of a kitchen.

If you’re adding ceramic over a wooden floor system, be aware that you’ll have to first install a layer of cement backer board. If you’re going with the look of wood with an engineered hardwood or a wood look laminate, be sure that the product warranty covers installation in a kitchen situation.

Boy, we’ve talked about all kinds of kitchen upgrades in this week’s show. When we come back, right after our Around the Yard, we’ll recap all of them for you.

Announcer: Let’s head outside for Around the Yard with lawn and garden expert Tricia Craven Worley brought to you by TimberTech composite decking.

Danny Lipford: Tricia, this whole thing about bulbs is kind of mysterious to me. I mean some you have to refrigerate, others you have to plant months in advance. That’s kind of tricky.

Tricia Craven Worley: Well, it’s not really as tricky as you think. It’s just there are a few steps involved. And you’re right, some bulbs you do have to refrigerate. You look at the packet or talk to your nurseryman about which ones they that involves.

Now, something else that bulbs need. They really need to be health when they go in. So when it comes time to plant, when you take them out of the refrigerator, if that’s the kind of bulb it is. And I actually have a little bath for them.

Danny Lipford: OK. All right.

Tricia Craven Worley: Now, let me show you what it is. I’ve taken two gallons of warm water, and then two teaspoons of just a baby shampoo—which is very, very mild.

Danny Lipford: OK.

Tricia Craven Worley: And then one teaspoon of an antiseptic mouthwash.

Danny Lipford: Now that seems like that would be detrimental to the growth of the bulb?

Tricia Craven Worley: Well, actually, it’s killing bacteria in our mouth, and the same thing on the bulbs—it helps with bacteria.

Danny Lipford: OK.

Tricia Craven Worley: And then just a quarter teaspoon of instant tea.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Tricia Craven Worley: Maybe that’s to wake them up a little bit.

Danny Lipford: Everybody needs that caffeine.

Tricia Craven Worley: But this mixture helps to bath the bulbs—we’re just going to put them in here. And what it does, it coats them with just a protective coating.

Danny Lipford: And you do this just before you’re ready to plant?

Tricia Craven Worley: Just before you’re planting, just a really nice bath, and after that you can stick them in bed.

Danny Lipford: After you’ve completed your kitchen upgrade, you may want to add a few little decorative element, like these homeowners have done to really tie it all together.

Let’s review our kitchen upgrade that we’ve looked at this week. Improve the lighting for function and form, install new countertops, update the appliances, install a new vent hood, add some color with a fresh coat of paint, create an interesting backsplash, put in a sink and faucet, upgrade the cabinets, add some new moldings, and improve the flooring.

There you have it. A number of ways to improve what is probably the busiest room you have in your home. Now if you need any more information on upgrading your kitchen or anything to do with improving your home, check out our website at dannylipford.com.

Hey, thanks for being with us. Hope to see you next week.



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