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How to Demo a Kitchen

Whether you're considering a DIY kitchen demolition to save money or just want to understand the process better, knowing how it's done is important. When done correctly, kitchen removal can be cost-effective, but mishandling it can lead to unexpected problems and costs. Discover the ins and outs of kitchen demolition and why having a dumpster is important for these projects.

kitchen renovation

Prepping for Your Kitchen Demolition

Before diving into your kitchen demo, make sure you’re well-prepared for the demolition process. Here's a step-by-step guide from our team at Brackenbox to ensure your kitchen remodeling project starts smoothly:

Gather Your Tools

Demolition may seem daunting, but you don't need an extensive array of proper tools. Here's what you'll need:

Tools Supplies
Pry bar
Putty knife
Utility knife
Hammer or pliers
Wallpaper steamer
Heat gun (if necessary)
Chemical stripper (if necessary)
Reciprocating saw
Circular saw
Rubber mallet
Box fans and air purifiers (for dust control)
Heavy-duty work gloves
Safety goggles
Work boots
Dust mask
Drop cloths or plastic sheeting
Painter's tape
Construction trash bags
Zippered plastic doorways
Cardboard or red rosin paper
Resealable storage bags
Microfiber cleaning cloths

Organize Belongings to Keep

To protect your cherished kitchen items, box up dishes, cookware, and dishcloths, and store them safely in another room away from the demolition area. This step is an excellent opportunity to declutter and organize your belongings.

Safely Deactivate Utilities

Safety is paramount during a kitchen demo. Before you start, ensure all utilities are turned off:

Turning off kitchen water supply:

  • Locate the two pipes running through the wall or floor under your sink that represent the hot and cold water lines.
  • Trace these lines to find the corresponding knobs or levers.
  • Turn the knobs or levers clockwise to shut off the water.
  • Turn on both taps to drain any remaining water.

Gas shut-off for the stove:

  • Locate the gas valve, typically a lever-style handle, behind or beneath your stove.
  • Turn the lever until it no longer moves (usually a one-quarter turn).
  • Check the burners to ensure the gas is off. If you encounter difficulties or can't locate the lever, contact your gas company for help.

Handle Appliance Removal

If you're upgrading to new appliances, you can dispose of the old ones in your rented dumpster or explore other disposal options. Store any appliances you plan to keep in a place where they won’t get in the way of demolition work.

Rent a Dumpster

Rent a Dumpster

Before starting your project, consider renting a home dumpster for efficient debris removal. Demolishing a kitchen generates a substantial amount of waste such as cabinets, countertops, flooring, and backsplash materials. A dumpster allows for easy cleanup, saving you from multiple trips to the dump.

We typically recommend a 20-yard dumpster for home remodels, but our team at Brackenbox can assist you in determining the best fit for your specific kitchen demo needs. Proper preparation and having the right tools and resources in place will make your kitchen remodeling process a smoother and safer DIY endeavor.

Step-by-Step Guide to Your Kitchen Demolition DIY Project

Now that your kitchen is prepped for demolition, it's time to dive into the kitchen remodel process with confidence. Here's a detailed guide on how to successfully gut your kitchen:

Step 1: Removing Countertops

Start by tackling your existing countertops.

Tools for this step:

  • Pry bar
  • Screwdriver
  • Putty knife

How to remove kitchen countertops:

  • If you have a drop-in sink, cut through the caulk around it with a chisel or putty knife and lift it out with a helper.
  • For under-mount sinks, unscrew the brackets underneath while a helper supports the sink, allowing it to slide out after removing the brackets.
  • Insert your putty knife or chisel between the countertop and the wall, cutting through the caulk. Gently pry it forward until the counter loosens from the wall.
  • Work your way around the kitchen until all countertop sections are loosened.
  • Check inside base cabinets for any screws attaching them to the countertops.
  • Slide the pry bar under the countertop's rim and lift it with a helper's assistance.
  • Safety tip: When dealing with heavy natural stone counters like granite or quartz, we advise you to get professional help due to their weight.

Step 2: Removing Base Cabinets

With the countertops gone, it's time to address their base.

Tools for this step:

  • Pry bar
  • Putty knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer or pliers

How to tear out base cabinets:

  • Remove any trim along the bottom or sides of your base cabinets by sliding a putty knife between the trim and the wall, then prying it loose.
  • Open each cabinet section's drawers and doors to locate and remove the screws fastening them to the wall and adjacent cabinets (usually one in each corner).
  • Begin prying each cabinet section away from the wall.
  • Remove any remaining nails from the wall with a hammer or pliers.
  • Dispose of countertops and base cabinets in the dumpster to clear your workspace.

Step 3: Disassembling Wall Cabinets

Disassembling Wall Cabinets

Demolishing upper cabinets requires careful handling.

Tools for this step:

  • Ladder
  • Screwdriver

How to demo kitchen cabinets:

  • Unscrew the cabinet doors to keep them out of your way during the process.
  • Locate and remove all screws attaching the first cabinet section to the wall and the adjacent sections.
  • Have helpers support the cabinet from below while removing each screw.
  • Carry away each cabinet section to the dumpster as it's removed.

Step 4: Removing Backsplash

Complete the final wall work.

Tools for this step:

  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Drop cloths

How to remove kitchen backsplash:

  • Lay down drop cloths to catch tiles as you work.
  • Unscrew the plates on light switches and outlets within the backsplash area.
  • Break up grout lines between a few rows of tiles using a hammer and chisel.
  • Slide the chisel under each tile in the current section and pry it off. Use a hammer or rubber mallet if needed.
  • Repeat until the entire backsplash is removed.
  • Wrap up your drop cloths and dispose of them in the dumpster.

Step 5: Flooring Demolition

The final step involves removing your kitchen floor.

Note: Before proceeding, test vinyl floors installed before 1986 for asbestos. Get in touch with a professional for safe removal if asbestos is present.

Tools for this step vary depending on the flooring material:

  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Wallpaper steamer
  • Heat gun (if necessary)
  • Chemical stripper (if necessary)

How to remove flooring:

  • For linoleum or vinyl floors, cut them into manageable strips with a utility knife and pry them up.
  • Use a heat gun and putty knife to soften the adhesive and remove it from the subfloor.
  • If you have tile flooring, break the tiles and remove them with a pry bar.
  • For hardwood or laminate flooring, cut it into sections with a circular saw and remove each section with a pry bar.
  • Subfloor removal may be required depending on your renovation plans. Use a circular saw to cut it into sections to make removal easier.

Step 6: Final Cleaning

Final Cleaning

Once you've completed the DIY kitchen demo and the demolition process, it's time to tackle the crucial "cleaning up" step. Start by gathering and removing all debris, such as broken materials, wood scraps, and discarded fixtures, and make good use of construction trash bags for efficient disposal. Then, give the entire space a thorough sweep to corral dust and loose debris. To ensure a spotless finish, use a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to cleanse surfaces, nooks, and crannies as carefully as possible.

Don't forget to repeat the process for the walls and ceiling, employing a microfiber duster or rags and a vacuum if necessary. Safety remains a priority, so be sure to inspect for any hazards, scanning the surroundings for overlooked nails, staples, or sharp objects. Lastly, if feasible, ventilate the space by opening windows and doors to disperse lingering dust and odors. Consider using a box fan or air filter to assist with the process and leave your DIY kitchen demo space clean and hazard-free.

Ready to Simplify Your Cleanup Process?

Embarking on a DIY kitchen demo journey can be both exciting and rewarding. While the process may not require specialized skills, it does require patience, proper tools, and safety precautions. However, it's important to note that some aspects, like electrical work or dealing with hazardous materials, may be best left to professionals. When you're ready to tackle your kitchen demolition, remember the importance of proper waste disposal and consider a dumpster rental to make the cleanup process a breeze. Order your dumpster with Brackenbox today and start your kitchen transformation with confidence!


How long does it take to demo a kitchen?

The time needed to demo a kitchen can vary depending on factors such as the size of the kitchen, the complexity of the demolition, and the DIY skills of the person or team undertaking the project. On average, a kitchen demolition may take anywhere from a few days to a week or more.

How much does it cost to demo a kitchen?

The cost of demoing a kitchen can also vary widely depending on factors like the extent of demolition required, labor costs, disposal fees, and any additional services needed. On average, kitchen demolition costs can range from a few hundred dollars for a small DIY project to several thousand dollars for a larger, more complex remodel. You can get quotes from professionals to learn more about pricing.

What size dumpster do you need for a kitchen remodel?

The size of the dumpster you'll need for a kitchen remodel depends on the amount of debris and waste generated during the demolition and renovation process. For a typical remodel, a 10 to 20-yard dumpster may be sufficient. However, you’ll need to assess the specific needs of your project, including the size of your kitchen and the extent of demolition, to determine the right dumpster size. Consulting with a dumpster rental provider like Brackenbox can help you select the appropriate size for your kitchen reconstruction.
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Not Sure What Dumpster Size You Need?

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