How to Repair Canvas for Your Pop-Up Camper

As you may have read, we recently acquired a 1991 Starcraft Starbust pop-up camper. Surprise! It’s a fixer! Below are some pictures of the camper the day we bought it, just to give you an idea of what we are working with here. She may not be pretty, but she’s ours and we have big plans for her.

Ripped Canvas You Say?

For those of you looking to buy a pop-up camper, a full canvas replacement is extremely expensive. We priced ours out and the best value we could find was $975. But that’s only because it was on sale at the time. The standard canvas replacement price for our camper was $1,025 no matter where we looked and shipping takes about 12 weeks.

But we had to do something with the canvas looking like it did below. There was NO WAY it would hold up for long. It had been patched with gorilla tape, points for ingenuity! But we both knew that that was definitely not a solid long term solution.

The Perfect Patch Kit

Neither Nick nor I can sew, so we needed to find a patch kit that was stitch free. We did a little research and found a super helpful glamping website, The Southern Glamper, that recommended a great sew-free patch kit. We ended up buying two full kits on Amazon to make all of our repairs, which was plenty of fabric and glue.

Required Patch Supplies

Patching Steps

  1. Remove the ripped sections of canvas from the camper
    • Unzip all of the canvas pieces
    • You will probably need a drill with a fitted bit since each section is anchored with a screw
      • Tip: Don’t forget to keep the screws in a safe place and take pictures so that you remember how everything was installed
    • From there, it should easily slide off the top and bottom tracks
    • If you have any electrical wired into the sections of the canvas, make note of that and keep that section in place while you patch rather than removing it
  2. Pick an easy patch to start with and spread that canvas out on your work space
  3. Measure your rip and add 1-2 inches all the way around it
    • This will ensure that you have enough good fabric to grip onto
    • Note: You may need to patch on both sides of the rip if your fabric has disintegrated like ours had. You’ll just want to make sure you give the glue time to dry on side 1 before starting side 2. Otherwise, this works very well.
  4.  Follow the instructions on the package
    • Cut the patches out and place them over the rips to make sure they fit properly
    • Add glue around the outer edges of the patch
    • Place the glue coated fabric over the rips in the canvas and smooth onto place
    • Let dry for 4 hours before you re-install the canvas into the camper or 1 hour before flipping and working on the other side of a particularly bad rip
      • Note: We waited 24 hours to reinstall ours just to be safe
  5. Finish the rest of the patches and let them dry
  6. Reinstall the fully patched canvas into your camper using your saved photos and screws

To Sew or Not to Sew

If you find that sewing is required on some of your patches, as it ended up being for ours, fear not! This fabric holds up very well to sewing. We actually enlisted my mom, Joy, to help us with this part. I am HOPELESS when it comes to sewing and she actually rebuilt an entire edge for us using the patch fabric, heavy duty thread, a sewing machine and a leather needle.

If you don’t have someone to turn to for help, JoAnn’s Fabrics offers sewing classes a pretty reasonable price. I will definitely be taking the introductory class, along with a no-sew curtain making class in the next month. Lastly, I totally recommend signing up for their app. Their coupons are out of control and save you a ton of money!

Patches Complete!

We now have a fully patched canvas that’s ready to rock and roll! The glue is VERY sticky and once you have your patch in place, it’s very difficult/mildly impossible to change. Just something to keep in mind as you continue through this process.

Pop-Up Camper Remodel

Leaving our beach house and moving into a rental property was not easy. We began asking all kinds of pesky questions. Like, what do you mean there are no projects? Or, what are we going to do with all of our project-free time? And, I’m sorry, but did you say no projects?

At first, we turned our focus on getting a small garden together in our petite yard. But we finished that in about a day and a half. Then we focused on the baby’s room, and then that was done within a couple of weeks. We decided that we needed something bigger, but not so big or expensive as a house with the baby coming so soon. Enter the beater pop-up camper!

Our Baby

We haunted Facebook Marketplace for months looking for a pop-up in decent condition for under $1K. We didn’t care about much, except that we didn’t want it to smell terrible and we wanted the structure to be in decent condition. Finally, we found one with some significant tears in the canvas, but otherwise, in great condition.

We are now the proud owners of a 1991 Starcraft Starburst pop-up camper. We managed to stay under our budget, with the full cost of the camper coming in at $850. The interior was in great condition, especially considering the age with no work required immediately. It’s not cute, but it’s clean and functional. The bigger issue with this pop-up is that the canvas needs work…bad. Which means, that is the first order of business!

Before Pictures

As of right now, we haven’t done much aside from clean the exterior and wash the upholstery on the couches/beds. We’ve also replaced the wheel on the front of the trailer as the one it came with didn’t fit properly. We learned that the hard way when Nick had to dead-lift half the camper off the ground after it gave out on us :-D.  We’re also installing some leveling jacks onto the trailer later this week, before we take it on our maiden voyage.

No After Pictures Yet

We’ll be sure to post as we remodel and travel, so you can join us on our journey. We hope that you enjoy seeing the progress and maybe even use some of our experience to make your camper remodel easier. The first order of business will be to patch the canvas because we do not want any uninvited guests hanging around inside with us :-).





How to Save Money on Your DIY Renovation

This post will walk you through how to budget for a renovation and some helpful tips to save money on your journey. All of our suggestions are gained from personal experience and we hope that you can use them to benefit your future projects.

The Budgeting

Categorize a List of Projects & Prioritize Them

DIY Renovation, Saving Money DIY Renovation, Save Money

The first step is to make a list of all the tasks that you want to complete in your remodel. We find it helpful to look at your project through the lens of “in a perfect world.” Then you can imagine everything that you would do to update your house, bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, etc. Once you have completed that list, then you should rank the tasks based on their importance to you. Let’s face it, most of us have limited resources we can afford to spend at any given time. Prioritizing the list breaks down your project into what really matters to you. Now that you have a prioritized list, you an start to break your remodel into phases that make sense for your budget.

During this process, it helps to think about what tasks must be done together. If you are an avid DIYer, then you know what we mean when we say that some projects are linked. This is a frequent occurrence in home renovation, so just ensure that you account for that in your plans.

Budget All Components

Save Money DIYNow that you have a list of each project broken into phases, it’s time to start budgeting. My favorite way to do this is to set a max budget and then give yourself allowances based on the average cost of each project component. Our Phase 1 Project Budget is pasted below for your reference. We had a max budget of $15,000 to start. We had many (oh so many! :-D) other to-dos on the list that were pushed to a later phase in order to ensure that we stayed under budget. We also gave ourselves a cushion for any unexpected issues that came up. This is always a good idea because no renovation goes perfectly. There are always unexpected hiccups along the way.

Phase 1
Project Components  Allowance 
Demo Floors, baseboards, Walls  Free
Remove Walls Engineer  $          300
Install Floors Flooring  $      2,000
Underlayment  $             –
Stair Noses  $            75
Moisture Barrier  $          250
Base Boards Baseboard  $      1,000
Toe kick  $          500
Caulk  $            15
Drywall Work Repair Drywall  $          500
Re-texture Ceilings  $          500
Appliances Refrigerator  $      1,700
Microwave  $          350
Range  $          750
Dishwasher  $          750
Paint Brushes  $            35
Pans  $              5
Paint  $          100
Plastic  $            35
Doors Interior Doors  $      1,000
Fire Door  $          300
Exterior Door  $          300
Front Door  $          300
Knobs & Hardware  $          250
Paint  $            35
Electrical Fans  $          500
Light Fixtures  $          300
Chandelier  $            95
Canned Lighting  $      1,000
Labor  $          500
Total Expenses    $    13,145

Determine What to Keep

Just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean it’s not salvageable. Look around your existing rooms for good quality workmanship. Then make notes of what could be fixed rather than trashed. There is bound to be something that you can keep. We kept our kitchen cabinetry and our stone fireplace. We simply refinished them to give them a more modern look. This saved us thousands of dollars in remodeling costs and they both look great.

If you’re unable to keep anything cosmetically, then think about what you are able to sell online. If your cabinets are in basically good condition, then you may be able to sell them on Facebook Market Place, Let Go or Craig’s List. The same goes for your ceiling fans, vanities or chandeliers. This can help you recoup some of the cost of the renovation.

Do not trash any good quality wood, if you can avoid it. We kept all of the studs from within our walls and used them for a boat load of mini-projects. One of my favorites is the floor to ceiling shelving unit in our garage that cost us next to nothing thanks to those studs. We also used them to build a stand for our chicken coop, my husband’s saw tables/work bench and a wall rack to hold all of the wood. It’s been over a year and we are still using the wood from our first phase.

Buy Materials Slowly

This suggestion is a great way to create a forced savings account for your next project. All this tip does is simplify your savings by taking the money that you would otherwise save for your project and buying the necessary tools for the job instead. This ensures that your money goes to the project, rather than to something else.

My husband and I slowly accrued a lot of the materials we needed for our kitchen remodel. When Nick “accidentally” (are we sure that was an accident? I wonder :-D) broke our kitchen counters, we had a lot of the components already purchased and waiting at our house. This made it much easier for us to start the renovation the day of the breakage.

Remodel in Sections

If you can’t complete the remodel due to budget restrictions, then go slowly. Section out the broader project into small, digestible tasks. For example, you can replace your light fixtures or repaint before you start gutting a room for a heftier remodel. This is an easy way to make noticeable improvements quickly without breaking the bank.

Demo Day!

Much like Chip Gaines, we LOVE demo day! Demolition is a no-brainer task that contractors can charge you north of $1,000 to do. For most demolitions, it’s just about effort and has very little to do with skill. If you’re comfortable with a few basic tools, then this is a great way to save money on your project. So, get your hands dirty and have a little fun while you’re at it. Also, please don’t forget to wear the proper protective gear. Insulation in your lungs is never fun…neither is concrete. Trust me…I know these things :-D.

Take Advantage of Tool Rental

Rather than buy all of the tools you need upfront, it’s worth checking out the cost to rent them from the tool desk at Home Depot. We do this a lot, especially when the tool is not something we do not expect to need again for a while. They have a lot of different options out there, which can help immensely with your upfront costs. They also offer truck rental, which has been a life saver for us since we don’t own one of our own. $19.99 for the first 75 minutes…Yes please!

Final Thoughts

We hope that you found our money saving tips helpful and that you are able to use them successfully in your remodel! If you’re interested in our other DIY Posts, please read the following posts: Beach House Renovation Story, How to Remodel Your Kitchen for $1,000, White-Wash a Stone or Brick Fireplace and 6 Tips for DIY Renovators.

6 Tips for DIY Renovators

If you’re taking on a new DIY renovation project, we have a 6 tips that will help make your experience a great one. Our goal is to help you keep your excitement for DIY alive throughout the whole process, even after you’re finished.

DIY is a great way to build sweat equity and your self-confidence. After you tackle that first project, big or small, the courage you gain in the process inspires you to dream bigger and to do more. Speaking from experience, once you catch that bug, there is no turning back.

A Little Background

As seasoned DIYers, Nick and I have made our fair share of mistakes. What’s important is that we learned from them and now every project we undertake is easier because of those experiences. We want to share what we’ve learned with you so that you can hit the ground running on your project.

Tip #1: Visualization

Have a vision for the finished product. This may seem simple, but it really is critical to any DIY project. If you know what you want, then it eliminates the hours of dithering that occur when you don’t. Can you tell we’ve been there before? 🙂

Whenever we do a project, we browse Houzz and Pinterest for ideas and formulate a picture in our minds of how we want the end product to look. This removes the uncertainty from the equation and we can move forward with a single, unified idea.

If you do not have an exact vision in mind, then pick a few key words that describe the look you want to achieve. Basically, it helps if you create a “brand” or “theme” for your project. For our beach house remodel, our theme was light, bright and beachy. Everything we chose for our home followed along that theme. There wasn’t a rigid picture in our minds, but we had a definite path to follow. Picking a few key words can really help clarify your goals and ensure that the final product is what you wanted.

Tip #2: Buy Everything You Need BEFORE You Start Your Project

I cannot stress the importance of this tip enough! Our first major renovation project was to build a 450 square foot deck off the back of our house in Orangevale, CA. This deck was a massive undertaking, especially since it stood 8 feet off the ground. Unfortunately, we made this mistake constantly during the course of the project. Every day we worked on the deck, we had to run out to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace or a local lumber company to get more supplies. It was a huge waste of time and increased our project timeline substantially.

Do not make the same mistake we did! Write down a list of supplies you need to complete your project, validate it against other sources (You Tube, Pinterest, etc) and have all of those essential tools with you BEFORE you start working. It also helps if you arrange them in an easily accessible area. It will save you loads of time spent looking for them if  you do.

Helpful Hint for Saving Money

This does not mean that you have to buy everything you need all at one time. Instead, you can slowly acquire the supplies you need for a project over time before your start. We are actually doing that right now for our guest bathroom and have been for about 3 months. We find that this method helps spread the cost of the renovation and is basically like a forced savings for your next DIY project.

Tip #3: Do Your Research

Nick is particularly good at this and we’ve found some great resources as a result. These are the methods we use most often:

  • To the You Tubes!
  • Pinterest it Up
  • Leverage Your Personal Network

There is one You Tube channel that we’ve found particularly helpful, especially since he has so many different projects that we’ve done already on his channel. His name is Shannon and his channel is called HouseImprovements. We like this particular channel because he always explains everything VERY thoroughly. We usually take a look at his videos before we decide to take on a project. This helps us get a very solid picture of what’s entailed before we start.

Pinterest is great for the smaller, more artsy or wood-working projects. We always look here before we build or design anything. It helps us round out our ideas and make sure we have thought of everything.

Over time, we have developed a pretty solid network of friends and acquaintances who DIY as well. We also have a couple of contractor friends who help us out when we need advice. It’s always helpful to ask someone who’s done your project before and can help give you tips and ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask! Most of your fellow DIYers are just dying for an excuse to talk about anyone’s next project!

Tip #4: Do a Test Run

Sometimes, you’re just not sure if what you want to do is going to look good. We’ve all been there! We are only human after all. There is one sure fire way to make sure that your project turns out beautifully and that is to test anything you’re uncomfortable doing before you actually do it.

For us, this discomfort occurred when we started to texture our ceilings and patch our walls. Rather than going for it and texturing the whole ceiling, we tested our method on a small scrap of drywall and realized that we sucked at texturing. So, we called a professional. 🙂 It was good to know that this was not our cup of tea before we re-textured all of our ceilings and then had to scrape it all back down.

We also started with one small section of mudding on our wall. That helped us ensure that we were doing it properly before we started on the other 10 patches that needed work. Starting small and doing a dry run on something that isn’t important to you or permanent, will help ensure that you love your final product.

Tip #5: Keep a Clean Work Space

We are not suggesting that everything needs to pristine by any means. If you’re renovating, your house will be dirty, that’s just the truth for most projects. That being said, you should definitely make an effort to keep your work space clear of debris and unused equipment. I am totally guilty of this, but do not walk by the same obstacle 10 times before you pick it up! It never ends well…trust me…I know these things :-). If you follow this tip, it will limit the opportunity for injury and help regulate the risk of cuts and other frustrating mishaps along the way.

Tip #6: Know Your Limits

This one is pretty standard, but it is definitely a requirement for all DIY enthusiasts. Sometimes, it’s just better to call a professional and it’s important to know when that time arrives. We like to use Home Advisor, if you don’t have a good contact for what you need done. The reviews and certifications are super helpful to know you’re getting a good contractor.

There are two rules that will help you judge when it’s time to call a pro from a safety standpoint:

  1. You have no experience with the project you are trying to accomplish


  1. You don’t have the foundational knowledge required to do the project

Nick and I have done plenty of projects without ever doing that exact project before. But what you do need in your toolbox are the skills to do the job. That foundational skill-set is what will get you through the project successfully. This is especially important if the project you are trying to accomplish can be dangerous. While we are big advocates of DIY, we do not recommend undertaking a job that can cause injury due to a lack of experience.

Another piece of advice if you do call a pro, watch what they do and ask questions. Most of them are happy to discuss what they are doing as long as you aren’t impeding their work. We had a closet installed earlier last year and we watched while the handy-man built a wall. We now know how to add onto a wall, which is critical for our kitchen expansion project…start date TBD.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our tips for new DIYers. Welcome to the club and we hope that your next renovation project turns out wonderful! As always, if you have any questions about your current DIY project, feel free to ask us. We’ll answer what we can and get you any resources we have for what we can’t. Also, don’t be discouraged if things go a little sideways while you’re working on your project. It happens to everyone! You are not alone! Just remember that almost anything can be fixed and that there are a lot of resources out there to help you.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out our other DIY Renovation posts: Beach House Renovation Story, How to Remodel Your Kitchen for $1,000and White-Wash a Stone or Brick Fireplace.

Beach House Renovation Story

Living at the beach was a big dream of ours and last year we decided to make it a reality. We bought an ugly house in a great neighborhood and fixed it up. The full renovation took about 12 weeks. The reason it took a little longer is because we totally burned out for a couple of weeks and took a break. We had a little bit of help from friends, family and professionals, but did most of the renovations ourselves to save on cost. When you’re working that hard for a long time, it helps to just take a break once the house is comfortable enough to be livable. That is exactly what we did.

Interior Renovation Components

Below is a list of everything we did to transform our ugly house into our dream home.

  • Tear down 9 walls to create an open concept living area
    • Repair drywall from wall removal
  • Replace floors
  • Replace baseboards
  • Replace all interior and exterior doors
  • Build a closet for storage
  • Replace all fans & install canned lighting
  • Install a dining room chandelier
  • Re-texture ceilings in bedrooms (rest of house still pending)
  • Paint the interior walls & baseboards
  • White-wash the fireplace
  • Remodel the kitchen

In the following galleries, you will see all of these components come to life. We hope that you enjoy!

Beach House Renovation Gallery

Our Beach House Before

Renovation: Week 1

Renovation: Weeks 2-3

Renovations: Week 4-6

Our Beach House After

White-Wash a Stone or Brick Fireplace

When Nick and I first moved into our new home, we had quite a list of renovation projects. We took down 9 walls, re-textured the ceilings, replaced the floors, remodeled the kitchen, repainted and installed new lighting fixtures. After we finished the majority of these projects, we realized that we needed a quick face lift on our fireplace. It looked absolutely hideous with our new gray-blue paint and beach wood floors. So we did a little research and came up with an awesome, quick way to make our fireplace a statement piece in our home.

Fireplace Before

This is what our fireplace looked like before we refinished it. The pictures give you a good idea of what we mean by “hideous” with the new color scheme in our house. My husband was convinced that we would need to completely re-tile or hide the horrible stone. But I’d seen some successful transformations with white-washing brick and stone fireplaces. I convinced him to give me a chance to prove that it was just the color that was the problem, not the stone itself.

Fireplace After

Once the fireplace was finished, Nick agreed that the white-wash looked great and added awesome appeal to our family room and entry-way. It took me a few hours to create the look and very little in the way of supplies or cost.


This project has a pretty short list of supplies, most of which are pictured to the right. The only other tools you’ll need are a sheet of fine grit sand paper and a roll of blue painters tape. I always tape before I paint because I don’t color well within the lines :-). My husband teases me all the time about my shaky hands and lack of ability to draw anything remotely resembling a straight line. He’s not wrong about that either. But, if you don’t have that problem, then feel free not to tape.

The Chalked paint is for white-washing the stone and High Gloss paint is for repainting the wooden mantle piece. The brush is for the hard-to-reach grooves in between the stones and for the mantle. The lambswool stain applicator, pictured on the far right, is for white-washing the stone. This is the one tool that is totally worth the purchase. It will cut your white-washing time in at least half.

If you’re wondering about the reasons behind the paint choices, there is a method to our madness! The reason I used the Chalked paint is because it is a completely matte finish and it looks very natural on the stone. It’s the perfect base to create a beautiful white-wash. The recommendation for high gloss paint on the mantle is strictly for cleaning purposes. I like how easy it is to clean mantles and windowsills when you use high gloss paint. It’s simple, fingerprints and dirt smudges don’t stick to the high gloss finish. But, if you don’t like the way it looks, you can definitely use semi-gloss instead.

How to White-Wash Your Fireplace

One comment before we continue! You can use this method on either brick or stone fireplaces. The steps will be the same and the white-wash will work just as well on either material.


Tape the outside edges of your fireplace to protect your wall paint. Also, tape around your mantle to protect the wood if  you do not plan to refinish it. Taking this first step just helps you ensure that you do not have any messy mistakes to clean up later.

Prepare Chalked Paint

Open the paint and stir it until fully combined. Pour the chalked paint into your tray & mix with water to thin. Add water until the paint is the texture of a stain. It should be easy to spread across the stone, but still stick to it. You can use a test area to get the right consistency. If it’s too thin and drippy, just add more Chalked paint. If it’s too thick, then add more water.

Apply the White-Wash

Soak your lambswool stain applicator into the thinned paint and liberally spread the paint all over each of your stones. It only took one full coat for me to get the look I wanted, though I had to go over some stones more than once. I do not recommend using this tool to get into the crevices between the stones. Though, you can use it for the exterior edge of the fireplace.

Once you’ve finished with the stones, it’s time to get into the crevices. Soak your paint brush into the white-wash and liberally apply it to the spaces between the stones. This is the part that will be a little more time consuming. The more paint you can get soaked into your brush, the faster it will go. There is no real art to this, as all you need to worry about is large drips. If you see them, just smooth them out with your fingers or your brush. Otherwise, just do the best you can to cover all of the visible crevices with the white-wash.

Optional: Re-Paint Your Mantle Piece

If you have a mantle piece on your fireplace, now is a good time to repaint it. Once your white-washed stone is completely dry, tape around the mantle to avoid getting high gloss paint on your stone. Use a fine grit sand paper to rough up the sheen on your mantle. This will allow the new paint to stick to the wood.

Open the your high gloss paint and stir it before use. Once the paint is fully combined, use a clean brush to paint the mantle in long, smooth motions. You want to avoid short strokes as it will leave splotchy areas in the paint job. If you dislike the finish, a foam pain roller will help correct any consistencies. Though, I didn’t have much trouble using a brush. It will take two full coats before the paint achieves full coverage.

Enjoy Your New Fireplace!

At this point, you are done with your project and you should end up with something that looks like the transformation pictured below. We hope you find this simple project helpful! If you have any questions, as always, please reach out. We’re happy to help in any way we can.

If you’re interested in more DIY renovation projects, please check out our post on Budget Kitchen Remodels.

How to Remodel Your Kitchen for $1,000

Looking for a low cost, quick kitchen renovation that looks incredible? This step-by-step guide will show you how we were able to accomplish just that for $1,023 and in only 2 days. We did all of the work ourselves and ended up with a beautiful kitchen that is a major selling point in our home.

A Little Back Story

One lazy Saturday morning, my husband and I were getting our awesome new dishwasher installed. There was only one problem: The dishwasher was too big to slide into its spot under our counters. To remedy that issue, my husband unscrewed the counter tops and lifted them up. Well, he missed a screw and ended up breaking our counter top with his hulk-like strength :-). In the picture to the left, you can see the actual break between the dishwasher and the sink.

Our original plan for this Saturday was to lift the counter up and slide the dishwasher under it, thus completing the installation of our new appliances. But now that the counter was broken, we were presented with a choice. Glue it back together and live with it or start a quickie remodel. As you can guess, we decided that it was time to start the renovation process. Though, I won’t lie, just gluing it back into place was very tempting.

Because this was an impromptu job and because we’d just bought new appliances, we knew that our budget would have to be low. After sitting down and running the numbers, we decided to keep our cost at about $1,000. Thus began the quickest DIY remodel that either of us has ever completed.

Sneak Peak of the Renovation Results

Now that we are done with the project, our kitchen is a major selling feature in our house. We get compliments all the time on our counter tops and our fixtures. When we tell people how the remodel came about and that we did it ourselves in just two days, they are always stunned. The truth is that it was simple to do and one of the more successful transformations we’ve completed to date.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to turn your dated kitchen into something special. All you need is a basic understanding of how to paint, use a drill and operate electric saws. If you can check all of those boxes, then you can easily do this renovation yourself.

Getting Started

Renovation Overview

The renovation we are sharing with you today is very simple. The goal isn’t to tear apart your entire kitchen and start fresh. Instead, the purpose of this remodel is to save as much as as you can from your old kitchen and revive it. That is the key to how we were able to do it at such a low cost. Below are a few quick bullet points that outline the tasks involved in this renovation.

  • Install butcher block counter tops and back splash
  • Install a new sink, faucet and soap pump
  • Repaint the kitchen cabinet boxes, drawers and doors
  • Install new hardware on drawers and cabinets
Renovation Components Cost Breakdown

It’s time to get down to the details! Below is a full list of everything that you will need in order to revive your kitchen. The total price is about $1,023, which is not too shabby considering the transformation and the equity you will get from it.

The pricing for your kitchen may vary depending on the size of your space. If you’re looking to lower your renovation cost even further, a great place to save is on the butcher block counter tops. There are a lot of lower cost options than walnut available at Lumber Liquidators.

Category Kitchen Reno Components Quantity  Price  Total Price Purpose & Add’l Information
Counter Top Walnut Countertops 1 12ft slab  $     467.99  $     467.99  Available in other varieties for lower prices. Recommended that you buy the wood conditioner as well.
Counter Top Jig Template 1  $          8.46  $          8.46  Cut template for miter bolts.
Counter Top Wood Glue 1  $          5.97  $          5.97  Glue counter tops together at seams.
Counter Top Miter Bolt 1  $          7.98  $          7.98  Cinch counter tops together at seams.
Sink Kitchen Sink & Faucet 1  $     219.00  $     219.00  We bought the American Standard sink and faucet combo from Costco. We love it and it came with easy installation instructions.
Sink Clear & White Kitchen & Bath Caulk 2  $          5.97  $          11.94  Seal gaps between counter tops. Seal gaps between sink and counter top. Glue back splash to wall and counter top. Seal any gaps in the cabinet doors (2 panels).
Back Splash Walnut Back Splash 2 8ft pieces  $        26.99  $        53.98  Available in other varieties for lower prices.
Cabinets Klean Strip Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser 1  $          6.98  $          6.98  Use to prep cabinet doors and cabinet boxes for paint.
Cabinets Plastic Sheeting 1  $        11.98  $        11.98  Protecting floors.
Cabinets Paint Brush Set 1  $        20.00  $        20.00  Painting cabinet boxes.
Cabinets Foam Paint Roller 1  $          4.97  $          4.97 Touch up after spray to reduce dripping & painting cabinet boxes. Any roller for ultra smooth finishes will work.
Cabinets Paint Tray 1  $          3.97  $          3.97 For use on cabinet boxes and cabinet doors.
Cabinets Painters Tape 1  $          5.97  $          5.97  Protecting walls, appliances and keeping paint lines clean.
Cabinets Cabinet Rescue Paint 2  $        17.98  $        35.96  Painting cabinet boxes and doors. Comes in white, but a good semi-gloss paint and primer combo will do for any other color.
Cabinets Cabinet Hardware Door and Drawer Drilling Template 1  $          8.00  $          8.00  Easy installation of cabinet hardware.
Cabinets Cabinet Hardware 25  $          6.00  $     150.00  Handles for cabinets. Expense is really up to you on this one, but this is about what we spent.
Total Renovation Cost        $  1,023.15  
Power Tool Requirements

The power tools listed below are not included in the renovation price as they are standard tools for any DIY toolbox. However, they are necessary in order to complete the renovation. If you find that you need to buy a lot of these tools, top of the line models are not necessary. Harbor Freight is affordable and a great option. We built a 450 square foot deck using our old Harbor Freight chop saw and it worked like a champion!

One note of caution before you proceed! If you’re not familiar with using any of the saws listed below or if you don’t already own them, then you should consider sending your counter tops out to be cut. Lumber Liquidators recommended an affordable local cut center for us when we bought our counter tops. We didn’t use them because felt comfortable doing it ourselves. There are two main reasons we make this suggestion:

  1. The last thing you want to do is ruin your brand new counter tops with a bad cut due to inexperience.
  2. If you have to buy the saws and the saw blades, it may save you money to have a professional make the cuts using your dimensions. They can also make the miter bolt cuts that you need for any seams in your counters.
 Tools Quantity  Price Total Price Recommended (R) or Essential (E)? Purpose
Wagner Home Décor Paint Sprayer 1  $         79.97  $        79.97  R Quickly paint your cabinet doors.
Caulking Gun 1  $           5.00  $        10.00  E Caulk crease in cabinet doors if you have two panels, seal sink to counters, glue back splash to wall and counters.
Jigsaw & Blade 1  $         75.00  $        75.00  E Circular cut into counter top for sink installation.
Skill Saw & Finishing Wood Blade 1  $      225.00  $     225.00  E Straight cuts on the counter tops.
Power Drill & Bits 1  $         75.00  $        75.00  E Remove cabinet doors & counter tops. Install cabinet hardware. Drill a hole to start your sink cut and install your sink.
Router 1  $         50.00  $        50.00  E Route a divot into the bottom of the counter top for your miter bolt.
Tool Cost      $     389.97

It’s Time to Roll Up Your Sleeves & Start Your Renovation

The first step of any renovation is to dismantle or demo your existing setup. In this case, you do not want to smash anything with a sledge hammer since you will be keeping most of the existing structure. We’ll walk you through the quickest and safest way to ensure that your kitchen is still standing once you’re done.

Also, be sure to save any screws or miter bolts that you encounter during the demolition. This will save you both time and money later down the road as most of these items can be reused.

Turn off Your Water

For your first step, find your kitchen sink’s water shut off valve and turn it off. Then turn on your kitchen faucet and run it until the water stops flowing. This is a very simple first step and it’s a little out of order, but we recommend you do it right away so that you don’t forget. We are all human and doing this early will help ensure that disaster does not befall you early in the game.

Remove Your Cabinet Doors

Grab your drill and drill bit set. Pick out a bit that is correctly sized to the screws in your cabinet hinges. This should fit comfortably into the screw’s head and the drill should not over-rotate when activated. This is very important because you do not want to strip the screws in the hinges since we plan to re-use them later. Once the handles and hinges are completely removed from the door, it should be bare and ready to paint.

Set the hinge screws aside for safe keeping. We trashed our handles and their screws. But if yours are in decent condition, keeping them can save you the additional investment in hardware.

Next, remove the hinges from your cabinet box. Use the same bit as before and unscrew the hinges from the boxes. Once the hinges are completely removed, store them together for safe keeping. Your cabinet boxes should now be completely bare and ready to paint.

Remove Your Drawers & Unscrew the Faces

The next step is to remove your cabinet drawers from their slots. Once the drawers are all out of the cabinet boxes, it’s time to use your drill again. Size the bit correctly to avoid stripping the screw and unscrew any hardware such as knobs or handles. Tip: Because you are going to have a few sets of screws, it is a good idea to keep them in a labeled box or Ziplock bag for simplicity.

Once the hardware is removed, it’s time to unscrew the drawer face. Use your drill and the correct size bit to detach the face from the drawer. Be sure that you keep these screws in a safe place! You will definitely need them once you’re ready to reassemble your drawers later.

Unhook Your Sink Piping

We have PVC piping and a Badger garbage disposal. Since everyone has a different setup under their sink, we’d recommend that you look up your disposal manufacturer and the type of plumbing you have on You Tube for more specific instructions.

Our set up is very simple. We just unscrewed the PVC piping from the bottom of the sink and then used a screw driver to loosen the disposal. Once the disposal was loosened, Nick detached the exterior drain from the actual disposal by unscrewing it. Be sure that you take mental or actual notes on how you took everything apart and keep all of the parts handy. This will make reassembly much easier.

Once your sink is completely detached from the piping beneath it, use a razor blade and cut around the exterior edges where the sink meets the counter tops. This will remove any caulking. Now you can simply lift your sink out of its insert and dispose of it. Our old sink was terrible and I did a pretty ridiculous happy dance when we finally tossed it to the curb!

Remove Your Counter Tops

Now that your sink, cabinet drawers and doors are all removed and set aside, you are ready to remove your counters. It is important that you complete the other steps first as this will allow for ease of access. It is also necessary because if your kitchen sink is a top mount (i.e. it sits on top of your counter), it will hold your counter in place until it is removed. If it is mounted underneath your counters, then you should remove your counters before your sink.

All cabinets are screwed into the counters from the bottom up. An example of this is pictured on the left. You will want to remove all of the screws with your drill and set them aside for later use. Tip: Pay attention to how the counters are anchored while you remove the screws. You will need to re-do this when you install your new counter tops. If you have laminate counter tops, you should have miter bolts holding the seams together. Loosen these, remove them and set them aside to use later. After you’ve removed all of the screws, you will simply lift up.

The counters should come up easily. If they do not, then check for any missed screws. You do not want to force it as you could accidentally damage your cabinet boxes. Tip: Check for the two screws that hold your dishwasher in place. Those are the screws that caused our counter tops to break in the first place :-).

Once your counters are removed from the cabinets, set them aside and save them. You can use these to get the exact lengths for the cuts you need to make on your new counter tops.

Demo Complete!

Now that your demolition is complete, you should be left with something that looks like the pictures below. We didn’t take pictures before we started painting (whoops!), so you will see white cabinets boxes.

Paint the Cabinet Boxes

The key to an awesome paint job is great preparation. The first part of this is also the least fun: Taping. As a rule, you should tape anything that you don’t want to get white paint on. We taped any portion of our appliances that butted up against the cabinet boxes. We also taped along the walls and ceilings next to the cabinet boxes for clean lines and minimal touch-up later.

Place Plastic Sheeting

Next, you will roll out the plastic sheeting directly under the cabinet boxes. This will ensure that any dripping from the boxes doesn’t end up on your floor. Despite your best efforts here, some paint may drip on your floor. It happens to the best of us. If it does, just keep a wet cloth handy and wipe it up right away. This should prevent any stains.

Prepare Cabinet Boxes for Paint

Once everything is taped and the plastic sheeting is in place, it’s time for the Klean Strip Sanding Deglosser. Use a terry cloth rag and a generous dollop of the deglosser. Then take the wet portion of your terry cloth and scrub the finished portion of the boxes. The goal is to rough up the finish and to remove the top layer of glossy sheen. This will ensure that your new paint will stick.  If you have trouble accomplishing this with only the deglosser, you can also use a sheet 220 grit sand paper. The combination of the deglosser followed up by the sand paper should do the trick without any issues.

Ready, Set, Paint!

Now that the cabinet boxes are taped and roughed up, they are ready for the Cabinet Rescue Paint. Make sure that you stir the paint well once it’s opened. We used the paint tray and the foam roller for the easy-to-access areas of our cabinet boxes. We then switched to the paint brushes for smaller, decorative strips and corners. Try to cover your brush marks as much as possible by blotting with your paint brush or going over your painted areas with the foam roller. Foam rollers offer a very clean finish, which is why we recommend them for this project.

Painting is easier if you choose a path and stick to it. For example, complete all of the bottom cabinets from left to right and then move to the upper cabinets, completing them from left to right. That way you can start from the beginning for the second coat without stopping. By this point, it is very likely that the first coat will be dry and ready for another coat.

We used about 3 coats of the Cabinet Rescue Paint before we achieved the look we wanted. Note: If you’d rather do gray or another color, a good quality semi-gloss paint & primer combo will work just as well.

Cut & Install Counters

Once your cabinet boxes are painted, it’s time to move on to your butcher block counter tops. Before you start installing, make sure that your cabinet boxes are completely dry. If they are even a little bit tacky, this could cause damage to your butcher block counters and create touch-up needs for your cabinets.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

An oldie but goody! In this case, it is a great rule to follow. It is also the first step to properly installing your counters. The good news is that your butcher block counters come already cut into a standard width. So all you will need to worry about are the length cuts and the sink cut. But first, let’s talk about the length cuts.

Remember those old counter tops you set aside for a rainy day? Well, it’s time to put them to work! Using your old counters to calculate the proper cut lengths for your new counters makes measuring super simple. If you decide to change any cuts from your old set up, make sure that your measurements are dead accurate. Any gap in your counters due to inaccurate measurements will be very noticeable.

Once you are measured up and ready to make your cut, you will use your skill saw with a fine tooth finishing blade. Ask you local hardware store which one is the best for a clean cut if you’re uncertain. To keep the cut straight, use a clamped down straight edge along your cut line. Make sure that you measure your cut line from multiple points along the straight edge to be sure it’s level.

Cinch & Anchor Your Counter Tops

After you have finished your length cuts, take your counter tops into your kitchen and lay them out. Look them over for visual appearance and make notes of where you have any seams in your counter tops (i.e. where two cuts meet). All the seams must be cinched together and anchored. In order to accomplish this, you will use miter bolts.

Miter bolts are basically a bolt with two, long nuts attached (pictured to the right). You sink the bolt and nut into the underside of each counter top and then tighten them to cinch your counters together at the seam.

Unfortunately, the butcher block counter tops do not come pre-routed for miter bolts. But don’t worry! We’ve hunted down some instructions that easily lay out how to make these cuts.

This is exactly how we did it, except that Nick made the cuts freehand because we didn’t know about the jig…dangit :-)! Tip: Before you get started on the cuts, you will need to find a level work space.

Now that your miter cuts and your length cuts are complete, you can place all of your counter tops back on top of their appropriate cabinet boxes and install them. Before you anchor anything down with screws, you must install the miter bolt and cinch the counters together. Please use these step-by-step instructions to accomplish that.

Once all of the seams are cinched together, it’s time to anchor the counters to the cabinet boxes. This is where the old screws that held your old counters in place are useful. This will prevent you from making an unnecessary purchase and ensure that you have the right size screw for the job. As long as you paid attention and took mental notes while you demo’d your old counters, this will be very easy to re-create.

Cut & Install Your Sink

If you’ve purchased a new sink, it should come with a cutting template. We simply cut out the over-the-counter mount instructions, taped it to the counters and traced the cut line into the wood with a pencil. In our renovation, we measured really well and did the cut in our garage before installing the counter tops.

But we found videos after the fact that showed the installer making the cuts after the counter was already installed. In retrospect, we should have done it this way as you can visually see that your sink will be centered over your cabinets before the cut is complete. This video will show you exactly how we made the cut to install our sink. It will also help you purchase the correct saw blade for the job, which is very important.

Once you’ve made the cut, follow the instructions that came with your sink to install the faucet and soap pump. Then reconnect the plumbing to the sink under the cabinet. We used plumbers putty to create a water-tight seal around the disposal drain as ours leaked. Ace Hardware was a life saver for this one as this was their idea.

If you encounter this issue as well, you can simply roll the putty into a long string, circle it around the drain, mount the disposal piece on top of it and scrape away any excess putty with your fingers. Once this is complete, you will use the clear kitchen and bathroom caulk to seal the outside of the sink and keep water out from under the counters. Just be sure to wait for the appropriate amount of time before before running the water.

Sand your Counter Tops

Since your counters do not come finished, you will need to use a 220 grit sand paper to create a smooth finish. We used an electronic palm sander, but you can do it manually with a hand sander as well. All you need to do is work the sander in circular, smooth motions. Do not press too hard as you do not want to gouge the wood. Keep an even, light-medium pressure as you carefully sand the surface of your counters. Once this is finished, you can rub in the wood conditioner we recommend or any mineral oil specifically for the purpose. This will give the counters great color and really prepare them for use near water and food.

Cut and Install Your Back Splash

This is one of the easiest steps of the entire renovation. Once you’ve finished installing your counters, you can really do this at any point in the process. You simply measure the length of your cuts and use a chop saw or a skill saw to make the cut. Once the cut is complete, you caulk the bottom and the top to glue it into place. We used clear kitchen caulk along the seam between the counter and the back splash. Then we used white caulk for the wall to back splash seam. But you can use clear in both areas, as long you create a good seal.

Paint Your Cabinet Doors

This step comes after you make the cuts for your counter tops and install them for a very good reason. We made all of our cuts in the garage and this kicks up a lot of dust. We also painted our cabinets in the garage to avoid them getting dirty or covered in bugs (an unfortunate reality in Florida). Doing the counter tops first and waiting for the dust to settle gives you the best chance at having a great paint job on your cabinet doors.

In order to accomplish this, we first caulked around the two pieces of our cabinets with while caulk to cover any gaps. Then we roughed up the cabinet doors the same way we did with the boxes, using the deglosser and a terry cloth rag. Once they were ready to paint, we spread out a large plastic sheet and laid each cabinet door and drawer face up on top of it. We made sure that there was a small space between each piece so that any edges could get coated with paint as well. Then we busted out my Wagner Home Decor Paint Sprayer! This isn’t a required tool for the job, but I SO recommend it. It made painting so much easier and saved my back a lot of strenuous bending.

Once the sprayer was filled with paint and thinned with water according the manufacturer’s instructions, we cracked the bottom of the garage door for ventilation and went to town! We did about 3 coats of paint on all of the doors and drawer faces before we achieved the look we wanted. We also went back over each of them with a foam roller after each coat to eliminate large drips and even out the paint job. Overall, this was the easiest painting experience ever thanks to the sprayer!

Because of the humidity here, they took a little while to dry. But once they did, they looked fantastic! Note: You should also flip over the cabinets once they are completely dry and paint the backside. You won’t need as many coats on this side as it’s not visible, but it gives your doors a clean, finished look.

Install Cabinet Doors Onto Cabinet Boxes

This part is simple because you saved and labeled your old hinges. The holes are already there to guide you and you already have the right size screws. So, just grab your old cabinet hinges along with your drill and follow the existing holes to install them. The process is the same for replacing your drawer faces.

Install New Hardware

If you had existing hardware on your cabinets, you will need to use white wood putty to fill in the old holes. Once it is dry, you can sand it down with fine grit sand paper to blend it. If you painted your cabinets another color, then once you’ve sanded down the putty, you can simply paint over it with the color you used. If you didn’t have existing hardware, then you can skip this step and start installing your new hardware right away.

Before you start installing, we recommend that you buy a guide to help you from a hardware store. Measuring correctly for handles is more difficult than you may think. The guide will make it super easy for you to line up your handle with the appropriate set of holes and mark them with a marker. At this point, all you need to do is measure the distance from the bottom of you upper cabinets or top of your lower cabinets to the first hole. As long as that stays consistent throughout your installation, you will end up with a clean finished product.

Once you have your measurement, you will place your guide onto the cabinet door and use your template to pre-drill holes into the cabinet. Use a drill bit the same size as your hardware screws for the pre-drilling. After the holes are drilled, you will simply line the handle up with those holes and screw them into place from the back. Use a screw driver to tighten while you hold the handle in place. We have found that drills are a little too powerful for hardware screws and have a tendency to break them. This is why we recommend a screw driver.

Renovation Complete!

At this point you can breath a sigh of relief and accomplishment because your renovation is complete!  We hope you found our step-by-step guide helpful. As a note, we didn’t include the appliances in this estimate because prices can vary so much. But you can get a solid set of stainless steel appliances for around $1,700.

Below is a full work up of our before and after pictures. We hope you enjoy the results and that you are encouraged to try it for yourself! If you have any questions, please reach out to us!



If you’re interested in more remodel ideas check out our post on how to White Wash a Stone or Brick Fireplace.