A Beginner’s Guide to Demoing A Kitchen

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Demoing A Kitchen for the First Time

This is the first time either of us has ever tackled a kitchen demo, which is why this is the beginner’s guide to kitchen demo. And just like the name of this post suggests, this post is for our fellow beginners. Our hope is that we can provide a simplified plan for you guys, one that we would have LOVED to read before diving into this intimidating tasks for the very first time. beginner's guide to kitchen demo

This guide takes you through the step-by-step process, highlights what materials and supplies you need, and also shares some simple, yet very helpful, tips to help make your kitchen demo process as effective (and organized!) as possible. Let’s dive right in, shall we?!

Demoing a Kitchen – Supplies

Where Do I Start?step by step guide to demoing a kitchen

So if you’re anything like us, you know the kitchen needs to be demoed but you aren’t exactly sure where to start in order to complete the task. Don’t worry – that’s very NORMAL. To answer that question very simply, you start by prepping for the job and here’s what that looks like.

Empty The Cabinets

We bought a few moving boxes from Lowe’s (of all different sizes) and packed up our kitchen so that the cabinets and drawers were completely empty. We labeled all of the boxes, tried to purge as much as we could, and kept some of the necessities in a separate box that is easily accessible during our renovation. Anything you use often, you’ll want to have access to so that you can still eat some simple meals at home.

Protect the Floors

protective floor coverings during demo

After the cabinets are clear, it’s time to protect your floors from the work that’s about to take over your kitchen (and entire house). I bought a few rolls of Ram protective floor covering from Lowe’s along with this tape and made sure to cover the kitchen floor as well as all of the surrounding floors. To me, investing time to do this was extremely important to keep the floors from scratching or being damaged during the demo.

Prepare For Lots Of Dust!protecting home from dust during kitchen demohanging plastic sheeting during kitchen demo

To protect the rest of the house from the dust that demo produces, I covered all of the surrounding walls and doorways with heavy duty plastic sheeting. There will still be dust in your home, but this step will help contain it as much as possible.

I even bought this zipper wall to the plastic sheeting on our doorway so that we can still access that part of the house while keeping the dust at bay as much as possible.

Get Organized

I also suggest setting up a tool table. We used a card table we had and should have put plastic sheeting over it to protect the top of it. The table is home to all of the tools and chargers we used throughout the day. It was a simple strategy to help us stay organized and keep tabs on the tools we needed throughout the day.

Make A Garbage Planordering a dumpster for kitchen demo

Another component you need to plan is where all of the material you demo is headed. Will you rent a dumpster? Will someone be coming to pick up your cabinets? Will you be donating your appliances or cabinets? Be sure to make a plan in advance so you know where these materials are headed on demo day.

Recruit a Teamrecruiting friends and family for kitchen renovation

Now, go ahead and recruit some friends and family, preferably a few with some serious muscle, and let the fun begin!

What Do I Remove First?

The first part of the demo process includes taking off the cabinet doors and the drawers. All you need is a drill for this step. Take the drill and simply unscrew the screws on both hinges, and the door should come right off.

how to demo a kitchen without being a professionalThe drawers can typically be tilted upward and pulled out of the base cabinet with no damage.

kitchen demo for beginnersThe next part includes taking down on all of the upper cabinets. I was surprised to find out that all of the upper cabinets were screwed into the studs on the wall using 4 screws, 1 on each corner. If they’ve been up there a while, you may need to apply a little muscle to get them down, but that should be enough. If you’re still having difficulty, make sure the cabinet isn’t screwed to the one next to it and if it is, go ahead and unscrew those as well. You should be able to get all of the upper cabinets down using this method.

Removing the Backsplasheasy tips and tricks for kitchen demo

If you have a backsplash in your kitchen, you can start taking it out at this stage of the day. Simply use a hammer and a pry bar to peel it away from the wall. Ours was a messy process, but the tile came off our plastered walls easier than expected.

how to remove backsplash easilyThis step does require a little muscle and depending on the glue, the walls behind the backsplash could get a little damaged in the process. That’s not the end of the world, but something to be aware of when tackling this step.

What’s Next?how to remove countertops during kitchen demo

After the cabinetry and backsplash tasks are done, now things get a little more advanced because you need to remove the countertops in order to get rid of the lower cabinets and sink.

We were lucky because we didn’t need to preserve the countertop to remove it. We weren’t donating it or selling it so it didn’t matter if we broke it to get it out of the kitchen. And thank goodness because our countertops were soooooo heavy, so if we had to carry the full countertop pieces out, we’d be in big trouble.

removing countertops the easy wayTo get the countertop detached from the cabinets, we first used a pry bar and hammer to try and pry the countertop away from the walls. Then we used a sledge hammer and some serious muscle to hit the countertop upward (from the bottom) so it would detach from the cabinets even more. After we got the countertops detached, we hit it from the top in order to break it into smaller, more manageable pieces to carry outside.

demoing a kitchen for beginners Once the countertops are out, you can use the same method to remove the lower cabinets as you did on the upper cabinets. If you get to this point, you are almost there!!

Any Tips for Removing Appliances?tips for removing appliances during kitchen demo

Okay… now it’s time to remove the appliances. You are more than welcome to tackle this part of the demo earlier in the process if your space allows. We did the stove and the microwave earlier in the day so that we had more room to work, BUT we couldn’t remove the refrigerator until all of our cabinets were out because we needed more space to remove it out the front door.

And to get to the front door, we needed the cabinets to be removed. If you can remove the appliances earlier and would prefer to get them out of the way (even to save them from the mess if you’re saving/selling them), then go for it!

Tips For Removing Appliances

  • Have a plan on where the appliances are headed. If you’re selling them or donating them, try and coordinate the pick up that day so that these items aren’t taking up valuable space in your house/garage.using furniture dollies during kitchen demo
  • Rent a furniture dolly from Lowe’s so that no one gets hurt moving these heavy items.
  • Measure the appliances and the doors/stairways that the appliances will be exiting through to ensure that the appliances will fit. We had to remove the handles from our refrigerator in order to allow the fridge to fit out our front door.
  • Have a cap ready so that when you disconnect the stove and turn off the gas, you can also close the gas line. Turning off the gas line by turning the valve will also turn it off, but with the busy nature of demo, you don’t want someone accidentally bumping it and natural gas leaking into your home. A cap will prevent this.a easy, step-by-step kitchen demo guide
  • If you have a refrigerator that makes ice or dispenses water, chances are there is a water supply hooked up to the back of it. Make sure you empty this tubing into a bucket when you disconnect it from the refrigerator so that you do not get water all over the kitchen.

Other Beginner Tips to Consider

  • Make sure you have a bucket (or 2) on hand: From the second we started unscrewing the cabinet doors and cabinets from the walls, we made sure to throw EVERY screw into this Lowe’s bucket. Not only did we want to prevent someone from accidentally stepping on one (ouch!), we wanted to corral the screws so they didn’t accidentally scratch our wood floors.how to tackle a kitchen renovation and demo
  • Invest in a Shop-Vac: Casey swore by this 16-gallon shop vac in her bathroom renovation and now I see why! This powerful vacuum was the MVP of the day because it kept the dust under control and the kitchen clean from small pieces of debris. After every step, we vacuumed up the debris and dust and it made SUCH a difference!protecting the floors for a kitchen demo
  • Don’t just protect the kitchen floors: Be sure to add this floor covering in the kitchen, but also add it to any other traffic patterns so that all areas are safe from the demo. We made sure to cover our dining room floors, front entrance, and even the back entrance/mudroom. Better safe than sorry, right?!beginner's tips and tricks for a kitchen demo
  • Have a charging station for drills: Since we had so much help, we had three different drills going at the same time. But it was key that we had backup batteries charging while we were working so that we were not caught without a drill that had a battery. If you have a backup battery on your drill, be sure that it’s charging and ready to go when the current battery dies.how to demo a kitchen from start to finish
  • Cover the HVAC system to cut down on the dust: Do what you can to cover up any vents in the demo-ed space so that the dust isn’t sucked out of that area and circulated all over the house. Covering the HVAC won’t prevent all of the dust but again, every little bit helps, right?!removing appliances during kitchen demo
  • Get a working kitchen set up elsewhere: And last, but certainly not least, this is one tip I learned the hard way. We demoed our kitchen and then quickly realized we had no “back-up” plan set-up for us to survive over the next month. So that night we scrambled to set up a table with a few must-have dishes, silverware, a microwave, and a coffee maker. It’s made a world of a difference, but I wish we set this up before demo day. It would have made things a lot more organized and less stressful!how to stay safe during kitchen demo
  • Stay Safe: As funny as you may feel wearing big ol’ safety glasses, a dust mask, and heavy duty gloves… we cannot stress these safety steps enough! We think all three of these items are a MUST-HAVE and we don’t want you to be caught without this invaluable gear on demo day.

Tips for demoing a kitchen


Now that you know all of our tips and tricks and have read through our beginner’s guide to demoing a kitchen, are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work?! If we can do this, we know that you can too!


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The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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