Tackling the Vertical: Walls, Doors and Windows

By Andrea Julian, AAA Countertops – April 6, 2020

In our last article, we went over the first step in a kitchen remodel – the tear out and demo. Now that your kitchen has been dismantled, it is a clean slate and you are ready to start installing. Depending on the scope of your project, the first items you’ll want to tackle are the walls, doors and windows.  

Finishing the Walls

If your project included any demoing of drywall, now is when you’ll want to get it back up. Hanging drywall isn’t that complicated but does require some skill, patience, and basic tools including a Surform tool, flat bar, utility knife, trim hammer and a drywall screw gun.

If you’ve never hung drywall before, there are some great resources online to get you started. Check this one out on Family Handyman and this YouTube video from Lowe’s.

The basic process includes:

  1. Score the drywall with a utility knife using the drywall square as a straight edge.
  2. “Snap” the sheet, folding the backside of sheets to themselves, and cut through the paper on the backside.
  3. Smooth the rough edges using the Surform tool.  This will ensure tight joints.
  4. Cut the window and door notches from a single sheet using a drywall saw or a keyhole saw.
  5. Tac the top sheet of drywall to the wall, making sure to hold it tight against the ceiling.
  6. Measure for electrical boxes before securing the bottom portion of drywall. Make sure to take measurements from all four sides to get an accurate cut.
  7. Use a keyhole or drywall saw to cut the electrical boxes in the drywall.
  8. Hoist the bottom row into place using a foot lift or flat bar. Tac it into place.
  9. Finish installation using fastening screws using a drywall screw gun. Hide nails along windows and doors where they will be covered with trim.
  10. Tape and finish your drywall.  Here is a great how to article from Home Depot that will walk you through the finishing process.

When you’re finished with the drywall work, go the extra step and apply a coat of primer. It will seal the facing paper and protect it from damage during the rest of the renovation process.

Installing New Doors

If you are installing any new doors during your renovation now is the time to do it. Installing a new door does take a bit of skill and is considered a moderately difficult project to tackle. Here is a great article from This Old House outlining the basic process.

There are two options when hanging a new door. This video goes over the process of how to hang a new door in an existing frame. If you will be replacing the frame as well, check out this video.  The cost difference between a door and a door pre-hung in a frame is not substantial, and which way you decide to go with will have more to do with your skill level.

If you aren’t replacing the door, you might still want to take some time to apply fresh caulking and fix any trim issues. Take the door down to apply a fresh coat of paint and rehang with some fresh hinges and hardware.

Window Replacement and Maintenance

Windows are an important element to consider in any renovation. Did you know that a large amount of a home’s energy cost comes from lost hot and cold air?  Unsealed kitchen windows could be cost you hundreds of dollars annually. Even if you’re not replacing the windows in your kitchen, maximize your homes energy efficiency by installing insulation and caulking up any cracks.

If you are replacing the window, there are some basic steps you’ll want to follow. For a detailed how-to tutorial, check out this article on the DIY Network.

  1. Remove window trim and casing.
  2. Remove the old window and guide track.
  3. Prepare or repair the new window opening.
  4. Inspect and/or replace the window stop.
  5. Dry fit window.
  6. Install window.
  7. Add insulation.
  8. Add extension jambs and trim molding.
  9. Paint and add finishing touches.

Standard windows come in two main options – single hung and double hung. Single hung windows go up and down and a sliding track. Double hung windows are similar except they also tilt out for easy cleaning. You can expect to bay between $200-$400 for the single hung and up to $600 each for double hung windows, including installation.  

Note: If you are replacing your standard windows with designer windows, such as a bay or awning window, this will take some carpentry work that will need to be done before you apply the drywall.

We recommend waiting to paint until everything in your remodel is completely installed. Paint can easily be chipped or scuffed during the rest of the remodel and since we just started, we’re not done yet! You can, however, put a layer of primer on any trim so it’ll be ready for paint when you are.

In our next article, we’ll be going over the next steps in a kitchen remodel – the cabinet and plumbing.