2016-09-04-trend-watch-kitchen-wall-tiles

Trend Watch: Kitchen Wall Tiles

Tiles are an increasingly popular decorating choice for kitchen walls and floors as they offer a cost-effective, low-maintenance and durable solution. Ceramic tiles in particular are hard-wearing and easy to clean (simply use a damp sponge to wipe away dirt and grime) so it’s no surprise that for many of us, tiles are the number one kitchen decorating solution.

For 2016/17, tiles are becoming an ever more key part of kitchen design with more patterns and textures available than ever before. Tiles no longer just blend into the background, but can provide a splash of colour or an interesting twist to your chosen kitchen. Here’s our pick of the top tile trends for 2016/17:

Metallic

Shimmering metallics have been enjoying a revival over the last few seasons and the trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. While cooler metallic shades like silver are perfect for bathrooms, when it comes to your kitchen try warmer tones of bronze or gold to create an attractive contrast when teamed with stainless steel appliances.

Texture

Textured tiles add an extra dimension to your kitchen scheme. They’re best kept for a feature wall or interesting splashback option. We wouldn’t recommend covering your walls floor to ceiling in textured tiles as it can become overbearing and make your kitchen feel smaller.

ted-baker-splashback-british-ceramic-tilesTed Baker for British Ceramic Tiles

Designer Tiles

Top fashion designers have been experimenting with interior design in recent years with designer wallpaper and fabrics now a common occurrence. Next on the list is designer tiles and splashbacks. Definitely consider these if you admire the signature patterns and prints of a particular designer as you’re unlikely to fall out of love with your chosen tiles a few years down the line. One of our favourite designer tile ranges is Ted Baker’s collection for British Ceramic Tiles – another stylish splashback solution. See the full range of Ted Baker tiles on our Pinterest board.

Now you’ve thought about your ideal wall tiles, why not browse for a kitchen to complement them? Search kitchens from the leading UK retailers, compare prices and quality using our online comparison tool to find the best deal for you.

2016-09-07 - FIVE MATERIALS - Not to use in the kitchen

5 materials not to use in your kitchen

From cabinets to flooring, choosing which materials to use in your kitchen can be a difficult decision. There are pros & cons of all materials and selecting the right one for you is more about considering what your requirements are. Most of us are after a low-maintenance, durable kitchen so we’ve made that our basis when rounding up the top materials to avoid using in your kitchen.

Laminate Worktops

If you want low-cost, easy-to-clean work surfaces and aren’t put off at the thought of having to replace them more regularly, then laminate could be your perfect match. The reason it’s on our list is because it’s more vulnerable to chips and scratches that can be tricky to repair, so if you don’t want the hassle of fitting new surfaces, it’s best to opt for hard-wearing alternatives like composite or granite.

Glass

Now glass is a good heat-resistant and stylish material that will certainly add a touch of sophistication to your kitchen. However, if you have young children it might be an idea to avoid it. It definitely looks great, especially in smaller kitchens where it can make them feel more spacious, but it marks easily and you could quickly find yourself growing tired of continuously wiping away fingerprint smudges!

(Uncoated) Linoleum

Linoleum is still a popular choice for kitchen floors but it does fade more quickly and is more prone to wear than more resilient vinyl. If you’re going for lino, make sure it has a protective coating to help it last longer.

Matte Paint

Matte emulsion is perfect for living rooms and bedrooms but when it comes to moisture-rich environments like kitchens and bathrooms, it’s best to swap your matte finish for satin or semi-gloss. Matte paint is harder to clean and won’t withstand stains, cleaning products and scrubbing in the same way.

Carpet

A no brainer for some, but you’d be surprised how many people still consider carpeting their kitchen. Hard flooring is always preferable for a more heat and stain resistant, hygienic flooring solution.

For help finding your perfect kitchen at the best rate, use our online comparison tool to search kitchens from the top retailers (including B&Q, Homebase and Magnet).

 

2016-08-12 - Kitchen Quality - Criteria Explained

Kitchen Quality: Criteria Explained

In our last blog we gave you a brief overview of what to look for when assessing the quality of a kitchen. Here at Kitchen-Compare, we compare kitchens from major retailers including IKEA and B&Q based on price, quality and finance. There are a number of quality indicators we look for, from construction to materials and we award each kitchen a quality score out of 10. Read on for a more detailed insight into just what we’re looking for in a quality kitchen…

Cabinets

Sturdy cabinets will ensure your kitchen lasts. The first thing to assess is the material – you want to look for a solid wood or quality grade of plywood, to provide a quality foundation. The wall thickness is also a key indicator – 18mm walls will get a higher quality score from us than 15mm. Back panels can range from a 4mm hardboard to 15mm of solid wood, so you might want to consider opting for a thicker back panel. Don’t forget to look at the cabinet guarantee too as this signals how confident the retailer is in the finished quality. You can compare the guarantee from the top retailers on our Compare Retailers page.

Drawers & Shelves

Drawers should provide easy access – expect to be able to open them at least three quarters of the way. Check what the weight is for the pan drawer too: if you’re planning to store heavy items here, make sure it can hold more than 25kg.

For shelves, check for anti-tilt plastic or metal fixings to stop them from tipping. Next, consider how many pre-drilled holes are in the walls for shelf adjustments. Some units come with less than two, those with four or more will make repositioning your shelves to suit your storage needs much easier (and so secure a higher quality score from us).

Hinges

Always look for a soft-close door hinge. Most kitchens do come with these as a standard as it is now a popular choice with consumers. The hinge should also enable to door to be opened fully for ease of access. Hinges can vary by up to 30 degrees so don’t be afraid to test them out.

Ratings & Certifications

In our overview blog, we discussed FSC ratings as a quality signal. Another rating to pay attention to is the prized FIRA Gold Product Certification. FIRA is an independent association for furniture validation. Products are subject to thorough testing and achieving Gold certification is a stamp of high quality.

Now you know how we assess kitchens here at Kitchen-Compare, why not start comparing the quality scores for your dream kitchen?

2016-08-03---Kitchen-Quality

Kitchen Quality: What You Need To Know

With so many styles of kitchen available in seemingly endless materials and finishes, distinguishing between several very similar kitchens can be a tough task. Cost is always a top factor to consider but quality is equally as important. At Kitchen-Compare we carry out a number of quality checks on the kitchens we feature, scoring each out of 10. There are a few key things to consider when determining the standard of a kitchen. (Hint: it’s all in the details)

Practicality – your kitchen can come either pre-constructed or flat pack. Which is preferable, depends on what is easier for you, there’s no difference when it comes to the quality. If you’re having a lot of cabinets fitted, a flat-pack option may be preferred – think of the practicalities of delivering and maneuvering 9 or 10 pre-constructed cabinets. If you don’t have confidence in your DIY abilities, then it may be best to opt for pre-constructed.

Cabinet construction – your cabinets form the foundation of your kitchen so pay close attention to how they’re constructed. Look for solid wood frames over less-resilient MDF.

Thickness – most cabinet walls, floors and tops measure from 15mm to 18mm in thickness. While it doesn’t seem like a big difference, an 18mm cabinet will be far more robust.

Guarantee – the guarantee attached to your kitchen cabinets can be anything from 1 – 25 years so it’s a good idea to pay close attention to this as it shows how confident the retailer is in the quality.

Drawer functionality – how far can you pull the drawers out? You should be able to extend them at least three quarters of the way out, with no signs of wobbling.

Shelves – how many pre-drilled holes are there to reposition your shelves? The more there are, the more you can customise your cabinets to accommodate your storage. Also check for anti-tilt fixings to stop shelves from tipping.

Check the FSC rating – the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sets standards for, certifies and labels products to encourage responsible management of forests. If it’s important to you that your kitchen has come from a renewable source, then make sure you look out for the FSC rating.

At Kitchen-compare we independently review the kitchens available from all major retailers, making it easy for you to compare what’s on offer and find your perfect kitchen. Use our comparison tool now to start your search.

2016-07-14 - Kitchen Installation - Budgeting Cost-1

Kitchen Installation -Budgeting & Cost

A large chunk of your kitchen renovation will need to be set aside for installation fees. Here are some useful tips on how to budget for your kitchen fitting and reduce your costs:

 

Entire re-fit or partial replacement?

Before contacting a fitter for a consultation make a list of the tasks that need to be completed. For example, are you planning on simply changing the doors on your cabinets and retaining the carcasses to save on costs? Or do you need an entire re-fit that includes removal of old units, installation of appliances, tiling, plastering and decorating?

 

Quotes

Gather at least three quotes from a selection of tradesmen so you can compare prices on all of the tasks on your list. It may be worthwhile to split the jobs and hire one tradesman to fit the units and another to tile the floor and install splashbacks if it works out cheaper. You don’t have to stick to a single fitter but it can make life easier to have one person in charge of the entire project who can see it out from start to finish.

 

Choose a reputable professional

If you’d like to hand the entire project onto one company make sure they are qualified to complete all jobs including plumbing, electrical work and light installation. Choose professional fitters who are certified to carry out the work so you don’t end up having to re-do shoddy work carried out by a rogue tradesman and shell out more cash than you first intended.

 

Do some of the work yourself

If you’ve got some experience of home renovation, you can save money by doing some of the work yourself, like tiling or painting. Bear it in mind that you may need to fork out for tools and equipment where as a proper fitter will include all of that in their quote. Always get a registered fitter to install appliances like ovens and gas cookers to stay on the safe side.

 

Finally, always work within your budget but set aside a cash buffer for emergencies that you can call on if needed.

2016-07-08---A-guide-to-kitchen-worktops

A Guide to Kitchen Worktops

Confused about kitchen worktops? Here’s our concise guide to the pros and cons of granite and laminate to wood and stainless steel:

 

Granite

Granite is a luxury countertop material that is super durable, comes in a variety of finishes and is heat resistant. It needs very little maintenance and so, despite its higher cost, it’s great value for money in the long term, especially if you only need a small piece for a galley kitchen. Plus, because you can put hot pans straight onto a granite worktop you’ll never need to worry about unsightly heat marks, unlike marble worktops that can scratch and stain easily. However, because each slab of granite is unique you might not be able to achieve a uniform finish throughout your kitchen. It can also be tricky to remove heavy granite if you’d like to refresh your space later down the line.

 

Wood

Wooden worktops add warmth and natural beauty to a kitchen. They tend to work with any style (including gloss cabinets and painted shakers) and lots of colour varieties are available, such as maple, cherry, oak and teak. You can also apply a wood stain to create a colour that complements your design palette. Wooden countertops need to be regularly treated so that they remain sealed, safeguarding them from water damage and general wear and tear. They can also become scratched and dented, unlike hard granite tops, because they have a softer texture.

 

Laminate

Laminate worktops are popular because they are affordable, easy to fit and require little maintenance.  Better yet, they come in a variety of designs and graphic patterns so you can achieve the look of granite or marble without spending a fortune. On the downside, laminate counters can often leave behind a tell-tale line across worktops where edges have been joined together and they don’t stand up to high heat. However, if they do become scratched or damaged they can be easily removed and cheaply replaced.

 

Stainless steel

For kitchens that get a lot of use, stainless steel counters are a useful option because they don’t stain, they’re heat resistant and affordable. The shiny surface reflects the light and makes smaller contemporary spaces look spacious but scratches, dents and smudge marks can appear on the surface. However, many would say that this adds to the charm of a heavily-used stainless steel worktop.

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B&Q announced as iKBBI Installation Standards Partner

The Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installers (iKBBI) has recently announced that retail giant B&Q have pledged support to the Installation Standards Partnership – an initiative that was launched in 2012.

B&Q, the largest UK home improvement retailer, has joined the 5-stage initiative, which has an objective to define best practice and create the UK’s first independent industry standard for the installation of Kitchen,Bedroom and Bathroom products.

Speaking on behalf of B&Q, Justin Adgar, B&Q Homefit National Operations Manager, commented on the announcement by saying: ‘At B&Q we are absolutely committed to offering our customers the best possible experience. B&Q will work in partnership with the iKBBI and share the common purpose of raising the skills, value and perception of the professional installer’.

Launched in 2007, The iKBBI, which is a not-for-profit registered and government sanctioned institute dedicated to the Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom industry, has an objective to define and raise installation standards, whilst supporting reputable installation businesses and providing the UK consumer with an informed choice.

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The Installation Standards Partnership will involve those participating retailers joining forces for the first time to address the wider perspective issue of installation standards, whilst leading change and supporting their respective installer populous.

The first stage involves the independent accreditation of the participating retailers’ installer population against a set foundation criteria which covers the basics including their compliance to gas & electrical regulation, their insurance credentials and their history within the industry. This criteria, over time, will be developed to meet the needs of the ever changing regulation that relates to property development.

The combined working of some of the UK’s leading Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom brands will form a truly unique approach to the challenge of reducing the number of KBB installation related complaints, which was reported at a staggering £69m in 2011-12.

iKBBI director Damian Walters said: “I’m delighted that B&Q has committed to positive change together with Tesco and John Lewis. This provides a great platform to start the process of defining standards to the benefit of the entire industry. The fact that these businesses have stepped up and committed is quite admirable and I hope that others will soon follow to support the task of positive change.”

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For more details on the iKBBI or the Installations Standards Partnership go to

http://www.ikbbi.org.ok or call 0845 519 2007 for more information.