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.

2016-06-21-Designing-your-Kitchen-Kitchen-Lighting

Designing your kitchen (4) Kitchen Lighting

Here’s are our guide on the pros and cons of different types of kitchen lighting:

Pendants

Perfect for providing a stunning visual impact, pendants offer practical lighting over island countertops, dining areas and breakfast bars. They can be adjusted to the right height and create an eye-catching focal point that looks ultra-modern in contemporary styles of kitchen. However, they must be paired with other types of lighting in the kitchen space to ensure that other areas aren’t left in shadow: layer up different varieties of lights to add interest and depth.

Under-cupboard lighting

These lights provide something called ‘task lighting’ – they illuminate workstations and countertops that would otherwise be left in shadow by the cabinets above. They are a practical option for preparation spaces and draw attention to the items inside your cupboards, such as crockery and ornaments. Lights can be added inside the cabinets as well to truly highlight your favourite display pieces, transforming a dark glass-fronted or traditional solid wood cupboard into a showcase.

Uplights

Uplighters illuminate the ceiling and top cabinets of a kitchen, which bounces the light off the surfaces to create a softer light. You can pair these with directional spotlights that can be adjusted to point at different areas of the space as required. They offer great flexibility, allow you to personalise your light sources and highlight key areas.

Recessed spotlights

These spotlights are very common in kitchen spaces and can be scattered across the ceiling to provide a reliable base light. However, this type of light alone can look harsh. Combining it with under cupboard lighting or even toe-kick lights, which are placed just above floor level and make superb night lights, helps to build layers of illumination throughout the kitchen.

Remember that LED lights consumer less electricity than traditional bulbs and that if your kitchen is a social space choose ambient lighting that has a warm feel. Why not opt for dimmable lights in a cosier painted shaker kitchen? Compare kitchen prices here and find some great images and ideas on lighting choices.

2016-05-26---Designing-your-Kitchen---Kitchen-Cabinets

Designing your kitchen (3) Kitchen Cabinets

Style and functionality are the two key things you’ll need to consider when selecting your kitchen cabinets. The perfect marriage of these two elements will result in a kitchen that looks fantastic and improves your style of living.

Style

  • Modern gloss cabinets look sleek and give off a contemporary feel that creates space and light in small spaces, especially if you choose pale colours or go for a bright white. Opt for handleless cupboards and the look will be streamlined even further by the uninterrupted lines and uncluttered finish.
  • To make an immediate impact choose bright cabinets, such as this red gloss option, that makes a feature of your cupboard space and adds vibrancy and character to a larger kitchen.
  • For a subtler touch of character consider painted shaker cabinets in subdued colours that combine a modern look with a traditional feel and warmer appearance. Or go for the ultimate classic look and invest in solid wood units that are luxurious and will stand the test of time. In each case, make sure that your choice of cabinet teams well with your chosen worktop.
  • Handles are often the finishing touch in a kitchen and help to personalise your space. Choose from bow, bar and cup candles to knobs, glass door pulls and inset handles.

Functionality

Think about mixing up your cabinet sizes so they suit your needs and tailor the inside of your cupboards to match. For example, pull-out pantry cupboards that are tall and slim can fit in tight spaces but provide lots of room and are easy to access. You may also want carousel style corner cabinets that maximise space, shelving units that you can completely pull out of corner cupboards, soft close hinges, larder units, extra drawers and deeper pan drawers.

 

Take a look at our Pinterest page for some fantastic design ideas that feature different cabinet styles, colours, finishes and materials! There’s heaps of inspiration all in one place!