Kitchens are one of the most heavily-trafficked rooms in the typical American home. Depending on the lifestyle of the homeowner, kitchens are used every single day, multiple times a day.

If a kitchen is well-built, it should last well over 20 years. On average, kitchens need to be renovated every 10-15 years. This is the amount of time it takes for trends to change and finishes to face significant wear and tear.

How long do kitchen cabinets last?

High-quality kitchen cabinets are expected to last up to 50 years. As the longest-lasting component of your kitchen, cabinets should outlast appliances and countertops by a minimum of 30 years. However, this is dependent on the quality of the cabinets and how well they have been taken care of.

Generally, if you have high-quality kitchen cabinets in good condition, then you won't need to replace them for at least 25 years. In fact, many cabinet manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty on their products and most custom cabinets come with a lifetime warranty.

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Of course, after a period of substantial use, cabinets and countertops are subject to the same wear and tear as the rest of your kitchen’s features. There are numerous signs that your cabinets might need to be replaced - namely, the cupboard doors won’t close and the shelves may begin to buckle and bend.

How can I tell if my kitchen cabinets need to be replaced?

Kitchen cabinets are exposed to more water, steam, and other damaging elements than cabinets in most other parts of your home. There are several ways to tell if your cabinets are in need of a replacement.

Water damage

Since most kitchen cabinets are crafted from wood, water damage is a likely occurrence. Signs of water damage include swelling, improperly closing, or dark color spots.

In some minor instances, water-damaged cabinets can be fixed. Signs of more serious water damage include warping, bubbling on the inside or outside, or mold.

When mold is caught early on it can be cleaned up and stopped, but when mold is left unidentified it will continue to grow and worsen. Not only can mold compromise the general integrity of your cabinets, but large quantities can hamper your health.

Should you repair or replace cabinets?

Kitchen cabinet refacing is when you replace the kitchen cabinet doors, but keep the existing framework and shelves as they are. Since cabinets can last for such a long time, this is a very popular technique.

If your shelves and cabinet frames are in good condition, then refacing is a great way to make your kitchen cabinets look brand new by only replacing the front-facing part that people see.

Refacing your cabinets allows you to update wood without spending a fortune, but that doesn’t mean refacing is cheap. On average it will cost around $150 to replace each door or drawer. This adds up, but not as quickly as entirely new cabinets.

If your cabinetry is made from solid wood in good condition, then you can usually expect a refacing project to last for another 15-20 years before needing a replacement.

Cabinet refinishing is when you make your cabinets look new by taking off the doors and renovating them. You can only do this if the existing cabinets are in decent condition.

For example, you might sand your cabinets down to get rid of grime and scratches on the surface. Then you could repaint them a different color and varnish them so they look brand new. You could keep the same fitting if you want, or you could screw on new handles and hinges.

Generally speaking, it's cheaper to refinish cabinets than replace them entirely.

Over the years, your kitchen cabinets eventually show signs of wear and tear. The first few times, you can reface or refinish them, but eventually you may have to consider replacing them entirely.

Before spending the money, time, and effort it takes to repair cabinets you want to be sure that you are making the right decision. Sometimes cabinets need to be replaced simply because they are old. In other instances, cabinets wear out long before they should. In this case, try to identify the reason your cabinets have worn out to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Check for any signs of warping or swelling, especially cabinets regularly exposed to humidity and water. If your cabinets are warping due to humidity, a humidifier can help slow down the damage.

How long do kitchen countertops last?

Natural stone countertops are expected to last a lifetime while cultured marble countertops have a life expectancy of about 20 years.

While countertops rarely interfere with function, an outdated look and feel can decrease the value of your kitchen. Also, it’s possible for cracks to hold bacteria. If your counter is cracked, stained beyond repair, has signs of structural problems, or simply looks outdated, it’s time for a countertop replacement.

Quartz, a man-made countertop material that resembles stone, is the most popular countertop choice among homeowners. It is practically stain-proof, scratch-proof, chip-proof; and never needs sealing. Quartz comes in an assortment of styles, many of which mimic the natural variegation of marble and limestone.

How long do appliances last?

The life expectancy of a typical appliance largely depends on how much it’s used. However, most appliances are replaced long before they’re worn out due to changes in consumer preference.

Kitchen appliances are rated to last anywhere from five to 15 years, which means replacing your appliances can give you a decade or more of reliable service. Of the major appliances, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy at 15 years and dryers last about 13 years.

When should you replace the dishwasher?

For many households, dishwashers are indispensable. However, dishwashers get old, break, and need replacements just like any other appliance.

Modern dishwashers are designed to last around 10 years, but if you start seeing signs of wear and tear before that point, it may be time to invest in a new dishwasher:

  • Rust on the exterior, indicating a water leak
  • Standing water, indicating a serious clog
  • Cracks or damage to the door or frame
  • Leaking water on the floor under the unit
  • Dishes that aren’t clean after a wash cycle

In some cases, a repair or parts replacement can fix these issues, but most of the time, a full replacement is the best option.

When should you replace the refrigerator?

When refrigerator parts are on the fritz, it can cause plenty of issues, including ruined food, wasted money, and the risk of bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.

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Refrigerators are designed to last up to 13 years, but the average lifespan is about 10 years. These signs can be indicative of a need for replacement:

  • Excessive condensation
  • The motor is loud or runs too hot
  • Food that spoils faster than normal
  • The freezer is too cold and leaves ice buildup or causes freezer burn
  • Excess energy use with no changes in habits

It’s not uncommon for attachments such as ice machines or water filters to break after three to five years. However, if your refrigerator has broken parts, a replacement may be the best option.

When should you replace the stove?

Cooking is virtually impossible without a functional stove. Like most kitchen appliances, a stove has a lifespan of 10 years or more.

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However, if you spot issues, replacement is most likely the right choice, especially if:

  • The glass is cracked
  • One or more burners won’t light or heat up properly
  • The oven heats unevenly, with particular areas heating faster than others
  • Preheating takes longer than usual
  • There is a strong smell of gas in gas units, indicating a potential leak

Signs it’s time to renovate your kitchen

Committing to a kitchen remodel is a big decision. It’s expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient. However, in many cases, the remodel is less of a matter of a homeowner wanting a new space and more a matter of the house really needing it. It can add value, improve functionality, and allow homeowners to really appreciate their space.

It’s outdated

As mentioned earlier, the kitchen is one of the most highly-trafficked rooms in the home. Because people spend so much time in the kitchen, it’s important that the space meets their needs and works efficiently for each household. 

Modern kitchens tend to be large, clean spaces with neutral colors and dedicated spaces for coffee preparation, small appliances, and food preparation.

A kitchen remodel can update the look, feel, and function of the kitchen. 

If the appliances in a kitchen are outdated and worn, a kitchen remodel is the perfect opportunity to install new appliances and elements that will improve the functionality and design of the space.

People may also choose to remodel the kitchen purely based on the appearance of the room. Since people spend so much time in the kitchen, it’s important that the room is enjoyable to be in. If the cabinets are too old for the homeowner’s liking and they would be happier in a more modern space, then a remodel is a good choice.

Also, when remodeling the kitchen, choosing more durable materials and timeless design will ensure that the kitchen will last longer. For instance, an enamel or stainless kitchen sink can last around ten years, but an acrylic material will last about 50 years.

You have the financial means

Of course, in order to remodel a kitchen to your liking, you must have the appropriate budget for the project. Most homeowners would probably renovate their kitchens if they could, but like any renovation project, the budget should be well-planned and thought out in advance.

The industry average for a kitchen remodel is between $14,000 and $43,000, depending on the scope of the remodel and the size of the kitchen. The common coverage for a standard kitchen remodel includes the kitchen island, sink, faucet, lighting, cabinets, backsplash, and floor.

For homeowners who are trying to decide whether or not they can afford a remodel, consider your home’s equity and the costs of renovating the kitchen versus purchasing a new home with an improved kitchen.  It’s often much less expensive to update and renovate your existing spaces than move.

Financing a kitchen remodel is also an option.

There are damages that need to be fixed

On average, homeowners use their pantry three to four times a day, which amounts to about 1,460 times per year. Because kitchens are used so often, they are more prone to damage. Over time, you may accrue a list of things that need to be repaired in the kitchen, including broken drawers or cabinets, water leaks, missing or damaged floor and backsplash tiles, and broken built-in appliances. While you can choose to repair broken items individually, it may be more efficient to do it all at once.

The kitchen is worn down and difficult to clean

Old kitchens can look dingy and dark if they haven’t held up well over the years. Over time, countertops get dinged, dented and scratched. The staining on your kitchen cabinets wears off and food spatters land in areas that cannot easily be reached. In the pantry, lots of oils, ingredients, heat, and moisture can degrade the appearance and sanitation. If no amount of cleaning gets rid of the stains or discoloration, it’s definitely time for a kitchen upgrade.

When it comes time for the remodel, use quality materials that are durable and built to last. These will also be easier to clean. For example, high-quality resin countertops should last at least 10 years, are bacteria-resistant, and easy to clean. If you choose a standard stone countertop and keep it properly sealed, you can expect the surface to last up to 100 years.

Should I remodel my kitchen?

Whether your space is outdated, damaged, or you just want a change, talk to the contractors at BWBE. We are a trusted, experienced, and professional remodeling team that will work with you to get the most out of your budget.

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