Best kitchen brands: Planning a kitchen Kitchen costs
Our guide takes you through typical kitchen costs, how to get a bargain kitchen, where and how you can cut costs.
It should be no surprise to learn that that kitchens vary in price dramatically from brand to brand, and even between each company's different ranges.
Work out roughly how much you need to spend and then decide on a budget before you start your kitchen – 22% of shoppers we surveyed went over budget, and only 9% came in under budget.
To help you get a realistic idea of costs before you order, we asked the big kitchen firms – B&Q, Homebase, Ikea, John Lewis, Wickes and Wren Living – to give us prices for their top, mid and lower-spec kitchen ranges so that we can give you an idea of how much you should expect to spend on a new kitchen.
Prices for a basic, standard set of eight units (see details below under 'Kitchen units') for a small kitchen, varied from around £500 to almost £5,000, and that’s just for the units, excluding installation and appliances. The majority of the kitchens cost between £1,000 and £3,000.
Here’s a general indication of how the lower, mid and top-price kitchens varied on price across the brands:
- Top – £2,000 - £3,000
- Mid – £1,000 - £2,000
- Lower - £700 - £1,000
You can see fuller details of the average prices for each brand, as well as how consumers rated them on quality of products, value for money and customer service in our survey, by clicking on the brand names in the top left-hand menu.
Although some of the brands don’t vary too much on price, their overall customer scores did – there is nearly 20% difference between the top and bottom.
Take a look at the best and worst kitchen brands page to see how the companies you're interested in rated.
Kitchen budget planner
To help you assess how much you will need to spend, download our budget planning calculator to work out costs for extra work on heating, plumbing and electrics.
The price brackets for each brand quoted above were based on the cost for a sink and base unit, two base units with a drawer and shelf, a base unit with four drawers, two wall units with a door and two shelves each, a housing unit for an oven, all including handles, hinges and fixings, and a 40mm worktop. This would make up a small, basic kitchen, so you would need to consider how much more you would need and multiply the prices out, then add prices for appliances and labour on top.
Of course you can pay far more than this for a bespoke kitchen. A costly bespoke design will give you flexibility for pieces to match your specifications, but cheaper units work just as well, provided they’re installed properly.
More expensive units tend to be made from thicker wooden boards and arrive pre-assembled (and glued together), making very strong and rigid units (carcasses). In some instances, cheaper units can be cut with a lesser degree of accuracy and lead to poor and misaligned assembly. However, as long as units are fitted properly and the correct shelf fixings are used, then both types will be sturdy and take the same weight on shelves.
It’s important to check that 800mm and 1,000mm-wide units have a centre-supporting shelf bracket, as these widths of shelf can tend to bow.
Our kitchen brand pages detail each brand's star rating for quality of products and finish, something 48% of people in our survey said was the second-most-important thing when buying a kitchen. Find out which brand came top for quality, and value for money, in our guide to the best kitchen brands. You can also read customer comments about each brand's kitchen quality.
Kitchen doors and drawers
New worktops and cupboard doors are a low-cost way to spruce up a kitchen. Doors can costs upwards of £100 each, but you can buy one for as little as £5, especially if you look on sites such as eBay. However, some cheaper door fronts are covered with a printed paper film, which can scratch and damage easily.
Cheaper wood-finish doors often have just a veneer, while a better-quality door is coated in a thicker surface layer, making it more solid and durable. You’ll get a wider choice of door, such as high gloss or solid wood, if you spend a bit more.
Upgrading to soft-close doors and drawers makes a marked difference when using your kitchen. Soft-close drawers, which close slowly without slamming when pushed, are designed for years of use, with hard-wearing mechanisms. Cheap basic drawer runners can be clunky in comparison, but will still do the job.
Prices vary from £50 to more than £500 for the same length of worktop, depending on the finish and material. Laminate is cheapest and is long lasting and durable, but not the best quality.
Solid-surface worktops have a thicker surface layer, which can be sanded and buffed, so joins are masked to give a better finish.
The more expensive solid wood or granite will give a beautiful finish that should last a lifetime with proper care. Wood worktops can warp if poorly stored, so check thoroughly before installation.
Quartz worktops are similar in appearance to granite, but are more durable and even stronger.
A typical list of appliances for a kitchen, including a washing machine, built-in oven, hob, cooker hood, dishwasher and fridge freezer, will cost from around £1,500 for budget Best Buys.
For a top-of-the range Best Buy American-style fridge freezer, dishwasher, range cooker and hood, you'd pay around £5,000. Read our full guide to kitchen appliances to see how much you have to pay to get a Best Buy - they're not always the most expensive - and to help you choose the best for you.
Installation and tradesman costs
Installation is an extra expense on top of the kitchen itself and could be anything from £250 for pre-assembled units up to around £1,000, depending on the size of your kitchen and what's being installed. Your kitchen's plumbing, electrical wiring and waste water pipes also have a bearing on the overall cost. The more pipework and wiring you need to move, the higher the cost of your kitchen improvement will be.
Many kitchen companies offer an installation service, at extra cost. We asked customers about their experiences with the kitchen brand they used for installation, including the speed and quality of installation, the amount of mess made and the communication with their installer.
Overall customer scores ranged from 81% to 65%, so it's worth taking a look at our guide to kitchen brand installation if you want to use the company you're buying the kitchen from.
But you don't have to use the kitchen company you buy from to install it; 46% of people in our survey found their own installer, and 10% installed it themselves.
32% of these people did it because it was cheaper than using the company, and 38% just prefer to use their own tradespeople. Which? members can find plumbers, electricians and kitchen fitters recommended by other Which? members using Which? Local.
Second-hand and bargain kitchens
You can buy a second-hand kitchen at a bargain price, but it’s vital to check it all fits well and that care has been taken to avoid damaging the kitchen when units are removed from another building.
Look out for sales to grab a bargain – post-Christmas and pre-Easter are usually good times to buy a new kitchen.
Once you've found a company you like, if it can't reduce the price any further, ask whether it will include the sink or certain appliances for no extra charge. Avoid giving a company more than 25% deposit before everything is delivered. If you're able, pay at least £100 of the deposit on your credit card. This will give you extra rights, should you encounter problems later on.
Check the payment schedule before signing any contracts for products and fitting.
Whether you get a new kitchen or a second-hand one, if it's from a big brand, it's worth checking how highly its customers rate it.
Our fitted kitchens review rates and ranks the most popular fitted kitchen brands based on customer feedback, including B&Q, Homebase, Ikea, John Lewis, Magnet, Wren Living, Wickes and Howdens Joinery.