Three well-known kitchen companies have won our first ever Best Buy accolade for fitted kitchen units. The top brand scored 92% and 90%, while the other two got 78% for their units.
This year, we wanted to take things one step further and actually assess kitchen units in our lab, awarding Best Buy status to the very best.
Kitchen Best Buys
To be eligible to be assessed for a Best Buy, kitchen brands needed to gain a customer satisfaction score of 70% or above in our latest survey of kitchen owners.
They also needed four or five stars for all of the individual aspects we asked people to rate: quality of products and finish, durability, customer service and value for money. Only four brands made the initial cut, and only three came away from our lab tests with Best Buy status.
Our top scorer scooped incredible scores of 92% and 90% for two different units, with five-star ratings across almost all elements, including the quality of the unit and its joints, and the strength of the hinges. The two other Best Buy units scored 78% each, and got high marks of four and five stars across the board.
Overall, the fourth brand did well, with scores of 68% and 63%. However, its quality rating – marked down for some imperfections and uneven joints – meant it achieved three-star and two-star ratings for its two ranges.
How Which? assessed kitchen units
Most kitchen brands have one or two base units that are used across some or all of its kitchens – it’s only the doors and accessories that make each range and style different. Some companies offer either pre-built or flat-pack units; others have just one option.
Because we assessed three units from each brand – a drawer unit, floor cupboard and wall unit – we can apply Best Buys to the full range of kitchens that use the same base unit.
Our experts assessed four main areas:
- quality of the unit
- the loading of shelves, doors and drawers
- smoothness of doors and drawers; and
Each category was made up of a selection of assessments that contributed to an overall star rating.
For quality, this meant examining the joints for any irregularity and gaps, assessing whether the method used to construct the units is likely to impact its build quality, and looking for imperfections, sharp edges and corners and splinters.
We also looked at how well the drawers, shelves and hinges dealt with force being placed on them by applying pressure. This included the shelves and base of the units, base of the drawers, the drawer fronts – when they were partly open and again when fully extended – and the door.
While doing these assessments, we paid particular attention to whether the joints seemed to be under any particular stress. Shelves, drawers or joints that flexed considerably, or came off their runners or shelf supports, scored less.
We also checked how smoothly the drawers ran in and out, whether they could be accidentally knocked or pulled off the runners, and how easy they were to remove and replace.
All of our assessments were done with standard hinges and drawer runners, and then again with soft-close fittings, where there was an option. Although soft-close fittings do give a kitchen a high-end feel, they didn’t impact our ratings, so opting for standard fittings could be a simple way to cut the cost of your kitchen without reducing its quality.
Visit our full guide to planning a kitchen for more on the types of kitchen, how to plan a kitchen layout, kitchen design ideas and how to cut costs.