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In almost every case, the kitchen is the most expensive room in the home. As we have illustrated elsewhere on this site, the kitchen is also the most important room in the home. Thus, it should come as no surprise that according to a survey conducted by Professional Builder magazine, nearly 80% of builders believe than the kitchen is the key to selling a new home. However, this key comes at a high price. Whether you are designing a new kitchen or remodeling an old one, sticker shock awaits.
Relative to other rooms in the home, the kitchen has more of everything. There are far more appliances - in fact, the kitchen may have more appliances than the rest of the home combined. There is more furniture, since cabinets and countertops count as furniture. There are more lights, with general, task, and accent lighting. There are more specialized floors and walls. There is more sink space. With all of this present in one room, there should be no surprise that the kitchen costs more than any other room in the home.

The actual cost of a particular kitchen will depend on a broad range of factors. The size and layout of the space will certainly have an impact. Whether or not the kitchen is being built from scratch or an existing design is being remodeled will have an impact. However, the most important decisions from a cost perspective will be the products and materials chosen for the construction or the upgrade. Choices relating to the types of cabinets, counters, floors, walls, and appliances will swing the cost number by thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), "the number one way to decrease the cost of your remodeling project is product choices. Look around to determine whether you can achieve a similar look with a less expensive product." Obviously, the same advice also applies to new construction.

Determining an "average" price point for a kitchen construction or remodel is like determining an "average" cost for a car. Is it a sedan, a truck, an SUV? Is it a low-end model or a luxury brand? Is it gas, electric, or hybrid? Are you buying it new or used? Is it customized or off-the-assembly-line generic? Without knowing the answers to those questions, it is impossible to ballpark an "average" cost. However, a car is even simpler than a kitchen. A car is a single piece of machinery, whereas a kitchen is a space that houses multiple elements which each have their own versions of low-end versus luxury and customized versus generic. Consequently, any "average" prices for a kitchen project should be viewed as very loose and general levels that may or may not pertain to your specific situation. Actually, the comparison to pricing for a car is particularly apt because, as you will see, the cost of a new kitchen is about equal to the cost of a new car. A minor kitchen remodel is like a Honda Civic. A major kitchen remodel is like a BMW 5-Series. And an upscale major kitchen remodel is like a Maserati Gran Turismo.

With the above caveats in mind, let us consider some price point averages for kitchens based on national surveys conducted in the United States. Remodeling Magazine published by Hanley Wood conducts an annual survey in which in compares the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects across the country. The most recent average cost for a minor kitchen remodel came to about $20,000, which included replacing cabinet fronts and sinks, installing new energy efficient cooktop and wall oven, putting in new laminate countertops, repainting the trim and adding a basic wall cover, and replacing the old floors with new resilient flooring. The most recent average cost for a major kitchen remodel came to about $60,000, which included installing new semi-custom wood cabinets, adding an island, adding new laminate countertops, putting in a new stainless steel two compartment sink, incorporating new energy efficient cooktop, wall oven, ventilation system, microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and custom lighting, replacing the flooring, and repainting the walls, trim, and ceiling. While these are national averages, regional averages tend to be higher or lower depending on geographical location. Thus, the same minor kitchen remodel in the South, Mountain, and Mid-West regions may cost $15,000 to $18,000, while in the Pacific, New England, and Mid-Atlantic regions it will cost $22,000 to $25,000. However, by way of offset, the resale value of the home is also correspondingly lower or higher in those regions.

The average cost figures presented above are for what are considered to be mid-range projects which avoid high-end materials and involve a kitchen that is not more than 200 square feet in area. For upscale projects, the average price for a major kitchen remodel rises to $110,000, which includes putting in brand new fully custom-made cherry wood cabinets with built-in pullout shelves, installing stone countertops, adding an imported tile backsplash, purchasing new top-of-the-line built-in refrigerator, cooktop, commercial grade range and vent hood, trash compactor, warming drawers, and combination microwave and convection oven, installing a custom-designed undermount sink with filtration system, adding new general, task, and accent lighting, including under-cabinet lights, and replacing the old floors with cork flooring with cherry trim. Notice that compared to the mid-range remodel, the primary differences are due to material and product selection: real cherry wood in place of a low-cost wood product, stone in place of laminate, imported tile in place of low-cost paneling, and cork in place of vinyl. However, the impact on the price is dramatic, with the level nearly doubling from $60,000 to $110,000.
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The most expensive part of virtually every kitchen, and one that is responsible for 50% or more of the overall cost, is the cabinets and counters. Depending on the choice of materials, the number and sizes required, the extent of custom work, and the finish applied, the cost for cabinets can run from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000. Similarly, depending on the choice of materials, the surface area required, the extent of custom shaping, edging, and designs, and the finish applied, the cost of countertops can run from less than a thousand dollars to more than $20,000.

The most important determinant of price for a cabinet is the extent of customization, followed by choice of material. Cabinets come in three primary customization levels: pre-fabricated, semi-custom, and full-on custom. There are two types of pre-fabricated cabinets. The absolute cheapest are ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets, which come in flat packed boxes and need to be assembled at home, much like furniture you may buy at IKEA, for example. A more expensive option is stock cabinets, which are pre-assembled and delivered ready for installation. A set of RTA cabinets for a small kitchen can cost as little as $1,000, not including installation. A set of stock cabinets for a typical kitchen will run $4,000 to $5,000, not including installation.

Semi-custom cabinets allow a limited range of modifications to stock prototypes in terms of sizing, design, and finish and, as a result of this optionality, generally cost double or triple what stock cabinets cost, depending on the specific custom choices and the material used. A basic set of semi-custom cabinets will run $8,000 to $10,000, not including installation. The overall price tag can rise to $20,000 to $25,000 if an exotic species of wood or other material is used, uncommon design and sizing options requested, or a large number of cabinets required.

Full-on custom cabinets allow you to provide precise specification with respect to every aspect of the cabinet design and here, the sky is the limit in terms of pricing. Generally, custom cabinets start at around $20,000 and go up as high as $100,000. Utilizing an exotic wood such as Brazilian Cherry or Stapele Mahogany all the way around with intricate carved designs and gold leaf accents on the doors can raise the cost into the stratosphere, while a basic set of custom oak, maple, or birch cabinets can be made for as relatively little as $20,000. Because all of the work is hand-made to specifications, a set of custom cabinets can take weeks to months from ordering to delivery.

The cost of installation for kitchen cabinets is generally independent of cabinet type and runs between $70 and $150 per cabinet, depending on geographical region and the contractor selected. For an average kitchen, the overall cost of installation will come to between $1,500 and $3,000. The number will be correspondingly higher for a larger kitchen with a greater number of cabinets.

With respect to materials, as mentioned, the price of cabinets will vary depending on the type of wood or other material that is selected, and whether the material is used for the cabinet box itself, or for the doors only. Boxes made of plywood, particle board, or MDF with solid wood for the doors are orders of magnitude less expensive than all-wood cabinets. With respect to wood species, oak and birch are the least expensive, followed by maple, alder, hickory, ash, and poplar, followed by walnut, cherry, butternut, and mahogany, followed by such exotic woods as teak, bloodwood, lacewood, rosewood, zebrawood, ebony, and wenge. The choice of wood can have a profound impact on the cost of materials. For example, cherry or mahogany are about two to three times as expensive as oak. Teak is about four to five times as expensive as oak. And ebony is a staggering 15 times as expensive as oak.

Counters are not nearly as expensive as cabinets due to their smaller surface area, lesser complexity, and lack of moving parts. The primary determinant of cost with respect to countertops is the material selected. The least expensive materials are ceramic tile and laminate, which can cost as little as $10 per square foot, and most typically end up in the $20 to $35 per square foot range. A set of tile or laminate countertops for a small to medium sized kitchen will generally cost between $500 and $1,500. However, the lower cost also means a lower quality of material. Laminate damages easily and does not have the attractive look of a more expensive material. Ceramic tile has grout, which can rapidly become stained and is difficult to clean.

The next level up in terms of expense is solid-surface, such as Corian. Like laminate, solid-surface is a synthetic material. However, it offers a better look which can imitate stone and enhanced durability relative to laminate. Where a laminate countertop cannot be repaired, but only replaced, many minor marks and scratches on a solid-surface countertop can be simply sanded out. Solid-surface countertops typically cost $40 to $60 per square foot, so it is not a significant step up from laminate as far as cost. A set of solid-surface countertops for a small to medium sized kitchen will typically cost between $2,000 and $3,500.
Another mid-range option that is not much more expensive than solid-surface is engineered stone, which is a composite of stone (usually quartz) and synthetic materials. Since it is primarily made of stone, it has both the look and durability of stone, but costs somewhat less. Engineered stone countertops typically cost $50 to $80 per square foot, with a set of engineered surface countertops for a small to medium sized kitchen typically costing between $2,500 and $4,500.

At the upper portion of the price range are wood, stone, concrete, glass, and metal (usually stainless steel) countertops. These generally fall in the $75 to $150 per square foot range, depending on the specific type of wood, stone, or metal, or the type of mix and finish for concrete. A set of wood, stone, concrete, glass, or metal countertops for a small to medium-sized kitchen will generally run between $6,000 and $12,000. The most expensive countertop material is enameled lava stone, which costs $250 to $350 per square foot and will run in excess of $15,000 to cover most kitchens.

This is a general overview of the costs associated with different cabinet and countertop options. For a more detailed breakdown, as well as explanations of the advantages and drawbacks of each material type, please see our separate cabinets and counters sections, each accessible from the main menu of this site.
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Relative to cabinets, flooring and wall treatments are an order of magnitude less expensive. However, the expense associated with these elements can still be significant. The major determinant of cost, as with countertops, is the material selected. Installation can also represent a significant expense, particularly if the old floors have to be removed and the sub-floor repaired or leveled.

The least costly flooring materials are vinyl, linoleum, laminate, parquet, and ceramic tile. Vinyl and laminate are both synthetic products which can be available for as little as $1 per square foot and range up to $7 per square foot on the high end for better quality materials and more interesting patterns. Linoleum and parquet are both products made from wood combined with other materials and typically cost $3 to $8 per square foot. Ceramic tile is a clay-based product and it has a cost comparable to linoleum and parquet. For a 300 square foot kitchen, using vinyl or laminate will most typically cost between $500 and $1,000 for materials and another $1,000 or so for professional installation, bringing the total bill to around $1,500 to $2,000. Linoleum, parquet, or tile would raise the material cost to $1,200 to $2,000 with similar installation costs, meaning a total bill of $2,200 to $3,000. This would also be the cost for higher quality vinyl and laminate. Where old flooring has to be removed, the expense will rise by an additional $500 to $1,000, depending on the type of the old flooring.

A mid-range option for floors is hardwood, engineered wood, bamboo, or cork. These are natural materials and they typically run between $5 and $10 per square foot, with another $3 to $8 per square foot for installation. For a 300 square foot kitchen, the total cost would come to between $3,000 and $4,500. In case of more expensive wood species or specialty styles, the price can nearly double, moving into the $5,000 to $8,000 range. For truly exotic wood species, the price can go through the stratosphere. For example, Macassar ebony can cost up to $150 per square foot, which would make the cost of covering a 300 square foot kitchen floor with this material a whopping $45,000 (not including installation).

The high-end alternative for kitchen flooring is stone, with slate, marble, granite, travertine, and limestone the most popular options. Depending on the specific stone used, the thickness of the floor, and other requirements, stone floors will run anywhere between $15 and $40 for materials and another $10 per square foot for installation. For a 300 square foot kitchen, the total cost would generally come to between $7,500 and $9,000.

Moving on to kitchen walls, there are four primary treatment options: wall paint, wall coverings, wall paneling, and backsplashes. Painting is the least expensive option, with professional labor and materials running $400 to $800 for a 300 square foot kitchen. Wall coverings include both regular wallpaper and newer synthetic materials which can resemble many different finishes, offer easier cleaning, and are more resistant to wear and tear. Relative to painting, using wall coverings will usually double or triple the cost, raising it into the $1,000 to $2,200 range for a 300 square foot kitchen. If specialty materials or designer wallpaper is used, the cost can increase up to $7,000.

The cost of wall paneling is generally somewhat higher than wall coverings, but a lot depends on the paneling material. The typical cost to panel a 300 square foot kitchen with basic faux panels, including both materials and labor, will run between $2,000 and $4,000. However, in the case of real wood rather than synthetic panels, the cost can easily quadruple, rising to $8,000 to $10,000, or even higher if an exotic species of wood is used.

The cost of a kitchen backsplash will depend not only on the materials, but also on the size of the backsplash. A backsplash that rises less than 6 inches from the counter will be far less expensive than one which covers the entire undercabinet wall space. A backsplash can cost anywhere from $2 per square foot for budget ceramic tile to $20 per square foot for stone tile to $35 per square foot for stainless steel tile. For a 300 square foot galley kitchen with an 18 inch tall backsplash along the walls, the cost of buying and installing a backsplash will range from $400 on the low end for basic ceramic tile to $4,000 on the high end for stainless steel or another metal.
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On a similar level with flooring and wall treatments in terms of overall cost are the appliances and sinks. Aside from the sink, the major kitchen appliances are the refrigerator, the stove/oven, the dishwasher, and the microwave. Minor kitchen appliances include a vast array of products, running the gamut from food processors and blenders to steamers and broilers to toasters and coffee makers.

Prices on appliances vary primarily based on brand, features, and configuration. For refrigerators, size, appearance, door and interior layout, and features such as water dispenser, ice dispenser, noise level, temperature control, and energy efficiency will  all have an impact on price. Typically, refrigerators run between $500 and $1,500. A high-end refrigerator with such extras as precise temperature control in different compartments, humidity controlled crispers, a separate compressor for the freezer, LCD control panels, built-in television screen, will cost $2,000 to $3,000. Luxury models can go as high as $10,000, but a refrigerator price above $2,500 usually has significant diminishing returns.

Stoves and ovens offer an even wider range of prices than refrigerators. A budget priced range, which is the basic configuration that includes a cooktop atop an oven, will cost $400 to $600. A mid-level range will run $700 to $1,500, with gas models typically $200 to $300 more expensive than electric models. Dual-fuel ranges, which incorporate both electric and gas power cost in the $1,500 to $2,500 range. However, high-end ranges are quite expensive, coming in between $2,500 and $6,000, while commercial grade ranges can ring in at more than $20,000. The most expensive range is made by La Cornue and costs nearly $50,000. However, for most cooking needs, a range that costs more than $2,200 is overkill.

Dishwashers cost between $300 and $1,200, with excellent models available in the $500 to $700 range, providing quiet and effective operation. Although luxury models can go up to $2,500, there is rarely any reason to pay more than $1,000 for a dishwasher. Microwaves are in a similar price range, costing between $100 and $500 for countertop models, and $300 to $1,000 for over-the-range models. The more expensive models incorporate cooking sensors and convection technology, which provides more even heating. While microwaves go up to $3,000 in terms of price, buying a model that costs more than $900 makes little sense. A better approach is to buy a less costly microwave, but a more expensive range.

Unlike other major appliances, the price of a kitchen sink will depend primarily on the material used and the number and size of its compartments. A basic stainless steel sink will cost $100 to $400, while luxury models can go as high as $2,500. A solid-surface sink will cost $150 to $500 and a porcelain or quartz composite kitchen sink will cost $200 to $600. A cast iron sink will run $200 to $2,000 and a copper sink will run $500 to $2,500. The price of installation for a sink will generally fall in the $150 to $400 range.

All together, the major appliances and the sink will cost on the order of $2,000 to $3,000 on a tight budget and on the order of $3,000 to $6,000 on a mid-range budget. Buying top-of-the-line models in every category should still cost no more than $8,000 to $12,000. These are the general ranges, but for additional details and pricing information, you should take a look at our separate appliances section, available from the main menu of this site.
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The final element we will consider from a cost perspective is the windows and fixtures. As mentioned elsewhere on the site, lighting is a critical component of the kitchen. Cooks require ample light in order to be able to work effectively. In addition, the right lighting can create a feeling of cheerfulness, coziness, comfort, and class. Thus, lighting is important as both a functional and a decorative element.

With respect to windows, there are two major expense types. The first has to do with the windows themselves, while the second has to do with window treatments, such as drapes, blinds, or curtains. A single window with vinyl framing will cost $300 to $600, while one with wooden frames will cost $500 to $1,000. A bay window, which protrudes to the outside and allows in more natural light, would cost around $900 with a vinyl frame and around $1,500 with a wooden frame.

As far as window treatments, curtains and drapes run $20 to $40 per window for low-end fabrics, and $200 to $250 per window for more upscale materials such as silk, brocade, or linen. Designer curtains can go as high as $1,500 per window. The addition of curtain rods, rings, and valances can add another $100 to $1,000 to the overall price. Blinds are usually somewhat less expensive than curtains, with a $50 to $200 per window price range for quality materials, going up to $1,000 at the highest end. Installation for curtains or blinds usually runs about $100.

For lighting, a lot depend on the type of light fixture. Recessed lighting costs $20 to $60 per light, with the range going as high as $75 to $150 for high-end energy efficient models. Flush, semi-flush, and pendant fixtures can be anywhere in the $20 to $200 range, depending on the brand, style, and materials. Wall sconces are typically $15 to $50.
Installation costs are around $100 per light. Basic chandeliers can run anywhere from $50 for mini models all the way to $1,500 for large crystal chandeliers. High-end chandeliers incorporating crystals from top manufacturers, however, get into the $10,000 to $20,000 range.
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