It’s tempting when watching home improvement shows on TV to think that a home makeover like replacing kitchen cabinets is something you can knock out over a weekend. The truth is, cabinet installation times are longer than you might think, and if you have to ask, the answer is probably “no.”
Demolition: 8-12 Work-Hours
Providing the old cabinets and countertops are simply being disposed of, demolishing your old kitchen cabinets is still a big job. How big? Plan for a full day if you have a couple of people. A very long, very full day if it’s just you. If you’re going to try to reuse your existing countertops, plan on just about doubling that estimate, as well as a fairly high likelihood of a significant delay in the event the countertop doesn’t survive the removal and reinstallation process, and must be replaced after all.
Installation: 16-24 Work-Hours
If it’s just you, forget it unless it’s a long weekend, and you’re willing to work sunup to sundown, all three days. Even with help, it should be becoming pretty clear that expecting a kitchen cabinet replacement to be finished in a single weekend if you do it yourself, is more than a little unrealistic.
What If Something Goes Wrong?
Keep in mind, these estimates are assuming everything goes smoothly. Any remodeling contractor will tell you right up front, that things never go perfectly smoothly. Not only that, even an experienced team running like a well-oiled machine doesn’t really double their work-hours, compared to an individual. The time it takes to coordinate on an unfamiliar task will add even more to the needed time.
If you genuinely need to have your kitchen cabinets replaced with minimal downtime, your best bet is to hire a contractor with a team of employees who are used to working together efficiently and know exactly what to expect. Even then, there’s a real possibility they’ll discover a problem that needs to be fixed, that could extend the time required by days or even weeks.
What You Can Do in a Weekend
A more realistic (and less expensive) weekend project that you should consider is to replace doors, drawers, and hardware. If the new doors come pre-finished, as many of ours do, you can give your kitchen a serious facelift with a fraction of the investment of time and money, when compared to replacing cabinets entirely. Even if you plan to paint them yourself, you can do so ahead of time, on a different weekend, without disrupting your ability to use your kitchen in the meantime.
In most cases, the cabinet bases themselves won’t need to be replaced. Chances are they’re in fine shape, and once the hardware and doors are all off, sanding and painting the visual surfaces is a pretty quick and easy project by comparison.