DIY: Your ultimate guide to building a kitchen in your basement

Today’s lifestyles and expanding family living requirements are stimulating even more creative uses for basements. Gone are the days when that damp, musty area was reserved just for storage and spiders. The latest trends are showing innovative layouts for everything from offices and man caves, to game rooms and kitchens.

If you plan on adding a kitchen to this underused area, you’ll need to establish a plan for doing it safely and efficiently.

Evaluate the space

While it’s exciting to select the color scheme and brand new features to be included in your new basement kitchen, you’ll need to check the structural integrity and viability of the space before starting this renovation project. First, you’ll want to make sure you have sufficient height to handle this conversion.

Many older homes were not designed to accommodate a finished area. If yours was built before 1970, it’s likely you’ll need to do some extra preparation work. If you’ve got a crawl space or low ceilings, you can lower the basement to create the room you need. Basement underpinning for Toronto homeowners has become an excellent way to convert an unfinished space for a fraction of the cost of an above-grade addition. There are four methods used to complete an underpinning process – all of which involve dangerous excavation and/or raising the structure. It is critical to hire an experienced, professional contractor to do this work. A reputable company will obtain all the proper permits and be completely insured for your protection. Cutting corners here will put your home and family’s safety at great risk.

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Do you want a kitchen in your basement? Before you rip out pages from magazines as inspiration, make sure your basement is prepared for such renovation! Speak to a basement renovator to make sure your new space can be accommodated!

Waterproofing

Next, you’ll need to make sure the foundation is free from water leaks. Basement waterproofing starts with checking for cracks in the concrete walls and floor. Any visible moisture or water infiltration will need to be repaired. Adding internal weeping tiles, a sump pump, internal membrane or waterproof coatings will help protect your new investment from flooding, water damage and health concerns like mold and mildew. In an area where you’ll be preparing food, this will be essential.

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Waterproofing is not a DIY job! Hire a basement waterproofing company to retrofit your home before you begin your kitchen planning and renovation.

Space design & framing

Just like any addition, it’s important to hire a contractor that can engineer efficient space planning, obtain the proper building permits and comply with ordinances such as egress and other safety codes. Once you’ve approved the layout, work can begin to frame in the room.

Mechanicals

If you’ve got a newer home, it’s likely it was built with a future finished basement in mind. This will make things easier when doing your kitchen renovation as electrical wiring, natural gas piping, plumbing and ventilation connections can be made without a significant expenditure.

  • Plumbing and drains – your basement is close to all the drains in your home, so tapping into the existing plumbing to add a kitchen sink or dishwasher will be relatively easy and inexpensive.
  • Electrical wiring – just like the plumbing, circuit panel boxes are often located in the basement, so adding outlets and lighting won’t be a problem. Your contractor should include GFCI outlets and plugs with sufficient amperage to handle your heavy duty machines and appliances. Make sure this room is on a separate circuit from the rest of the house as the extra draw will overload your current service.
  • Ventilation – installing an electric hood fan will work quickly and efficiently to eliminate cooking smells. Both vented and vent-less units are available so shouldn’t be a problem to put in.
  • Heating – you’ll likely wall off your furnace and water heater from your new kitchen space, so you’ll need to run some ductwork to the new room or install an electric heater for colder months. When it’s warm, plan on running a dehumidifier to help eliminate excess moisture. Keeping the temperature comfortable will help appliances run efficiently and encourage the family to use the room more often.

Insulation & wallboard

Selecting the right below-grade insulation and wallboard will keep your new kitchen dry and beautiful for years. The best insulation choice is closed cell spray foam or closed cell XPS foam board. Both types provide exceptional vapor barrier and insulating value. They also won’t be susceptible to moisture or mould growth as traditional fiberglass insulation will. Standard drywall should not be used in a basement area for the same reasons. Make sure to choose below-grade, mould-resistant gypsum panels.

Need some help with insulation? Don’t do it yourself if you’re not sure how. Instead, consult our directory of insulation contractors to get your project started!

Flooring

There are a variety of flooring options available for today’s trendy kitchens. Laminates work very well for basement locations. They are scratch- and-moisture-resistant and come in a variety of patterns and designs that imitate ceramic tile and hardwood. They are installed with a floating, tongue and groove system over the concrete floor, so repairs can be easily made. Laminate flooring will also hold up well to the weight of a heavy refrigerator and stove. If you’d like to add a little color and texture, throw rugs make the perfect addition.

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When you’ve decided what floors to put in your basement kitchen, call a flooring contractor to install the flooring! Use our directory to find an expert that works in your neighbourhood.

Ceilings & lighting

Molded coffer and tin tile selections can add function and decor features to your basement kitchen ceiling. They provide sound blocking and generally hang on a grid for easy access to plumbing and wiring.

Without a window to allow natural light to brighten the room, you’ll want to pay special attention to lighting selections. Recessed cans work well to broadcast light throughout the room. By spacing them close together, you’ll eliminate dark spots and shadows. Under-cabinet lighting should also be considered for an inexpensive, yet functional solution to illuminate the prep counter.

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When you’re ready to pick out light fixtures to suit your newly renovated space, don’t forget to search our directory for furniture and home accessories stores in your neighbourhood. Then, use our directory to find an electrician to conduct all electrical work.

Cabinets, sinks and faucets

Whether you are creating a full-size kitchen or a mini-kitchenette, new selections are available for cabinets and sinks that will fit into the small footprint of your basement space while adding decorator touches. Use light-colored painted or stained cabinets to help brighten your new kitchen. This is also a great place to take advantage of new cabinet options:

  • Roll-out shelves;
  • Pull-out wastebasket;
  • Salvage bins;
  • Customizable drawer inserts for organizing everything from flatware and cooking utensils to spices!

Stainless steel sinks are trending for basement kitchens. They’re available in single- or double-bowls and can be used with most countertop styles. Consider how you plan to use the area when determining sink location. Do you want it along the back wall with a prep counter or on a bar where you can socialize while working? Faucet styles are limitless. If you’ll be using the kitchen for canning, consider adding a wall-mounted, pot-filler faucet or one with a pull-out spray hose.

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Countertops

While your countertop area may be limited, there’s no reason you can’t have some fun selecting from the various options available today. Quartz and granite countertops are popular for their durability and variety of colors and edges. Solid surface, manufactured materials such as Corian and Avonite are non-porous and resistant to stains, mildew and germs. If you’re on a little tighter budget, you can always choose the classic laminate countertops that also offer some new, high-definition finishes for lasting beauty.

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Appliances

Full-size kitchens or kitchenettes can easily include all the conveniences of an upper-level cooking space. Of course, you can always add a standard-size refrigerator, stove and dishwasher if you have the space. If not, you’ll be surprised at the options available such as refrigerator drawers, beverage and wine coolers, and ice makers that fit easily under the counter. Microwave/oven combos can save space too, or you can use a convenient microwave oven/vent hood combo to ventilate the room. Dishwasher drawers are great space-saving options that offer easy loading of glassware and dishes.

choosing-kitchen-appliances

Furnishings and accessories

Add a dining table and chairs or bar stools, and you’ll instantly have a place to entertain. Just like your upper-level kitchen, as long as there’s somewhere to sit and snack, your family and friends will stick around. Add some colourful paintings and accessories to show off a little of your personality.

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Don’t forget to take a look at our directory of furniture and home accessories stores to find places to shop at! These stores have a ton of options for you to choose from!

Fire Safety

While you never expect to have a kitchen fire, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to prevent disaster. Make sure there’s easy access to the basement exit. Also have a fire extinguisher close by in case of a small fire. Smoke detectors or heat sensors should also be added as they will alert you to a problem in that area.

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Adding a kitchen to your basement is a fantastic idea for expanding your living and entertaining space. Your investment will also provide extra value when you sell your home in the future. Whether you design a full-size, extra kitchen or a smaller bar space, you’ll be adding a convenience you and your family will enjoy for years to come.

When you’re ready to begin your kitchen design process, consult our directory of kitchen planning and renovation specialists! They have the knowledge, skills and experience you need to get your project started!

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