Kitchen Makeovers for Dummies

by : Ashwin

Even with all its great attributes, esthetically our home needed some help. Many of the fixtures where outdated and just not our taste. The point of my telling you all this is not to give you a step by step list on how to remodel your home. It’s more of a pep talk to all who underestimate their ability to take on projects that will significantly improve the look and value of your home. When to Hire a ProfessionalMy husband and I consider ourselves handy but we are also realistic. I have forbidden him from most electrical and plumbing jobs. This is not so much out of concern for his safety as it is a matter of keeping my sanity. A plumbing job that I was told would just take a half an hour usually spirals into a full weekend project with multiple trips to the home improvement store. He is definitely capable of those tasks. I’d just rather leave them to a professional and concentrate our time and energy on home makeover projects we can complete on time and on budget. Kitchens and bathrooms are the two rooms that pretty much sell your home. You would be amazed how a few basic updates can add tremendous value. The Makeover BeginsAfter tackling the low hanging fruit like painting, changing light fixtures and cabinet hardware we were on to the bigger jobs. We decided the kitchen was the next to check off the list. Our kitchen had an outdated tile backsplash and worn laminate countertops. We knew both of those had to go and fast. In order to stay within our budget and achieve the most dramatic results we focused on these areas in our makeover. We decided on granite countertops, which we assigned to a professional to install, and a tile backsplash which we added to our to-do list. After a professional created a template for our countertops it took about two weeks until they were in. In the meantime, we chose our new faucet, an easy to install backsplash tile and grout and created a list of tools needed to complete the job. We also lined up a plumber to reconnect the faucet once the counters and sink were installed.

Demolition timeThere were a few things we did ourselves to help keep the cost down. First was the demo. I am not going to lie, smashing those awful countertops with a sledgehammer did feel pretty good, and it saved a few hundred dollars in labor costs. Most countertops are either screwed on or glued to your cabinets. If its glue, take a blade and slice along the seam and they will separate easily. If they are screwed on, make sure all the screws are taken out before you try to remove the tops. But before you lift that hammer to start smashing, make sure the water is turned off and the faucet, garbage disposal, dishwasher and ice maker are disconnected. This is usually a pretty easy task but consult a basic plumbing how-to book if you run into trouble. Now on to the backsplash. Chipping away the old tile without creating huge holes in the sheetrock is a tedious job. About halfway through the project and five holes later we decided that we would just cut around the tile and replace the sheetrock. Yes, this sounds scary and I was weary of the idea of hanging sheetrock but after a quick tutorial from the local hardware store owner we cut our demo time in half and created a smooth solid surface to secure our new backsplash to. I swear half of the projects that make our stomachs turn with fear are not so bad if you have the time and a basic set of tools. Before you attempt this project take a look at the layout of your kitchen. If it’s going to involve a lot of intricate cuts and spacing then this may not be the ideal first tiling project to undertake as a rookie. Also, be realistic about the pattern you choose. Unless you’re Michelangelo, refrain from the mural of the Italian cherub over your stove, it’s never going to turn out like the picture. The supply listWith that said, we chose a basic tumbled marble in two shades. We thought it would accent our cabinets and bring out the colors in the granite. Now the grout-Don’t go too dark. People tend to pick colors like taupe and khaki but don’t be fooled. These colors are at least two shades darker once mixed. Stick with ivory or antique white when working with earth tone tiles like tumbled marble. Other tools and supplies that should make your home improvement store shopping list include two buckets, one to mix the grout and one to fill with water. A handheld grinder with a carbide bit, a large sponge, premixed adhesive, stone sealer, a package of tile spacers, a tile float and a pair of heavy duty rubber gloves. Once the counters were in and we got over how amazingly different this stone made our kitchen look, we set aside a weekend to put the finishing touches on our kitchen makeover. Divide and ConquerWhen you are satisfied with the pattern you have chosen, take measurements and divide the project up. Work from the outside in so all cut tiles are concealed in corners and finished edges are on the borders. Let the adhesive dry at least a day before sealing the tile. Then wait at least a day before grouting. In my opinion the grouting is the hardest part. If you don’t break a sweat while grouting then you aren’t doing it right. The consistency of the grout is important. Add a little water then mix and repeat until it is the thickness of pudding. Not so thin that it will slide off the float but not to hard that it won’t move if turned upside down. The key to the grouting process is to move quickly and complete the job. If you stop in the middle and come back to it the next day, chances are you will never get the grout to match. So allow yourself enough time. Once you grout a section go back over with a wet sponge and wipe away the excess. After about an hour you will see a white film form on the tile. Go back over the tile with a sponge until they are clean. Take special care around outlets. Cover them with plastic and cut the power while working with water. For step-by-step instructions on how to tile a kitchen backsplash visit ().

Once the grout is dry and you have applied another coat of sealer take a step back and admire your handy work. You just added value to your kitchen not to mention the satisfaction of completing a home remodel project on your own. With a few successful projects under your belt you will be steps closer to a home makeover without breaking the bank.