While an older home often brings with it charm and a unique quality about it, it can also cause a lot of headaches and time spent on fixing old plumbing, water damage, dilapidated cabinets and bad electrical wiring. However, knowing what to look for when remodeling an older kitchen will help you prevent future disasters like these in your kitchen. Most of these issues are found in the kitchen and can be hidden under old flooring, behind worn-out cabinets or beneath a heavy refrigerator. One of your main focuses should be on the cabinets, seeing as how they can hide a lot of damage in and around their frames, doors and drawers. Find out what the difficulties of remodeling a kitchen are and how to identify problem areas on your cabinets with this guide!

The Challenge of Character Homes

Older homes are charming. But, with that charm comes a certain commitment to being comfortable with the unexpected–especially if you are remodeling an older kitchen.  Those architectural windows and solid plaster features that wowed you upon purchase can mean much more time spent with your renovation. Some of the most challenging renovation issues you can expect to combat with a project like remodeling an older kitchen include: 1) antiquated plumbing and electrical; 2) lead or asbestos hazards; 3) materials used are no longer made; 4) old-fashioned layouts; 5) and previous renovation mishaps and signs/materials.

Antiquated Plumbing and Electrical

One of the most common issues with remodeling an older kitchen comes down to the electrical wiring and plumbing. The popularity of galvanized pipes in the 1960s may have been the rage then, but over the years they have shown to corrode more easily and get clogged with more frequency than today’s PVC or copper alternatives.

According to Home Guide, “When breaking down the costs, rough-in plumbing cost to install a new kitchen ranges from $1,700 to $4,000 depending on the square footage and how many fixtures it has. Typical fixtures include the kitchen sink, stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator.”

When it comes to powering-up your home, it may not come as any surprise that the heart of the home is also the most power hungry.  “A kitchen uses more electricity than any other room in the home, and the National Electrical Code stipulates that it should be amply served by multiple circuits,” The Spruce says.  “In a kitchen that uses electrical cooking appliances, this can mean it needs as many as seven or eight circuits.”
Outdated electrical wiring is not only an inconvenience when you want to run your microwave and your blender at the same time and don’t have enough power, but it’s also a safety hazard.

In 2014, the National Electrical Code revised and extended a 2017 revision, that requires a specific type of circuit protection for kitchen circuits.  AFCI (arc-fault circuit interrupters) work to sense sparking (arcing) that happens when electricity jumps between faulty wire connections. AFCIs shut down the current flow to prevent a fire from igniting.

Lead and Asbestos Hazards

“If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint, but some states banned it even earlier. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning,” says the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sources of lead (and asbestos) are commonly found in the flooring, ductwork, ceilings, roofing and HVAC systems of old homes. Scraping or cutting materials that have these products produces extremely harmful dusts and powders.

Before remodeling and older kitchen, if it was built before 1978, enlist the help of a professional for lead and asbestos testing.  The fees this testing will require could be life-saving!!

If your house was built several decades ago, there’s a good chance there is lead in the paint and asbestos in the flooring, ductwork, popcorn ceilings, roofing, and HVAC system. Left undisturbed, these aren’t harmful, but if the project calls for scraping or cutting these materials, the powder or dust can be very hazardous. You can test for lead paint on your own, but for everything else you’ll need a professional to detect and abate these materials if you suspect they’re in your construction.

According to HomeAdvisor , asbestos removal costs between $200 to $700 an hour. The average homeowner will spend between $971 and $2,250 to remove toxic lead.

Can’t Find the Same Materials the Old Home Used

Building codes and standards change all the time as research and technology find better, safer, and more cost-efficient materials for builders to use.  Older homes share some unique qualities (smaller bathtubs, more narrow passageways, smaller room footprints etc.)

While most homeowners purchase and older home to preserve that old-fashioned style, they struggle to find ways to carry the design through their renovations because they can’t find the exact materials used decades earlier.

What to do? Try shopping at architectural salvage stores and recycled centers.  You can also seek out specialized remodeling companies that are expert in this type of renovation and design work to help save you some time sleuthing and save you some money too.

Old-Fashioned Layouts

The floorplans of yesteryear can be pretty confusing for the modern home builder.  Most older floorplans didn’t incorporate the popular open-style kitchen and living room that so many desire today.

Purpose driven design of old homes followed the need for live-in-staffs to have the space they needed for their specific jobs.  Rooms were more dedicated to a singular purpose than they are today.  Kitchens weren’t gathering spaces. They were rooms with a specific purpose–cooking–and dining rooms were for gathering and eating.

If your dream with remodeling an older kitchen is to create an open floor plan, it is important to consult an architect or an engineer, as well as a builder to determine cost and the feasibility of your design desires.  Eliminating a wall–even a half wall–can be costly and risky if it is a load-bearing wall.

Previous Renovation Mishaps

Like rings around a tree, older homes will also carry marks of age and renovation work.  Repeated renovations between the years the home was built until your home ownership may not be immediately apparent.  But, as you start to remove wallpaper or flooring, these years of floor-on-top-of-floor or wallpaper on top of wallpaper can start to show through.  You will be surprised to see some of the ingenuity behind certain plumbing and electrical decisions that just don’t work anymore.

Because of this, hire a capable home contractor or handyman to fix these errors and get you on your way to functionality, charm and safety.

When planning a renovation budget for remodeling an older kitchen, remember to set aside the approximately 15-20 percent for unexpected problems that WILL definitely come up. Being prepared financially for these little design hiccups will help keep your remodel going smoothly.

Remodeling an Older Kitchen – We Can Help!

If you’re looking to update an older kitchen, Summit Cabinet Coatings can help! Whether you’d like to reface or refinish old cabinets, we offer plenty of options for you to choose from so that you can create the kitchen of your dreams. We use top-grade tools and products to ensure that you get the end look that you’ve paid for, and we guarantee stain-resistant, durable finishes that will last for years to come. Call us at (970) 282-9856 for a FREE estimate on your next cabinet project!