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Which? reveals the best and worst fitted kitchens for 2019

Howdens, Ikea, John Lewis and Wickes are among the brands rated by owners and assessed in our lab

Three well-known kitchen companies have been awarded Best Buys for their kitchen units, following a survey of more than 2,200 owners and testing in our lab.

We’ve assessed units from almost all the big UK kitchen brands in our lab, to find out how well built they are. So whichever company you’re considering for your new kitchen, you can find out what our expert assessors thought in our new results tables.

Plus, we’ve surveyed customers to find out how their buying experience went, and what they really think of the most popular kitchen firms, including B&Q, Homebase, Howdens Joinery, Ikea, John Lewis, Magnet and Wickes.

The best unit overall scored an impressive 79%, while the lowest scorer got 57%. And, as is so often the case, it’s not necessarily the most expensive brands that scored highest.

Head to our best and worst kitchen brands page to find out which three brands make Best Buy kitchen units, or keep reading to find out how we put kitchens through their paces to find the best.

Most popular kitchen brands

Out of the 10 brands included in our customer survey, Howdens Joinery was the most commonly purchased, for the second year running. A fifth of the people in our survey had bought a Howdens kitchen.

However, independent brands were the most popular overall – 29% went with a local kitchen firm.

If you’re looking for a reliable local firm to buy or fit your kitchen, check Which? Trusted Traders.

What makes a Best Buy kitchen unit?

Kitchens needed an overall score of more than 70% to become a Best Buy. The score takes into account:

  • Lab assessment of build quality, loading, how smoothly parts work and hinges
  • Customer survey feedback from real customers, including a customer service rating, durability rating and overall customer score

Buying a kitchen is about more than just the quality of the units, cupboards and drawers. The experience you have when buying it from a company, and how it stands up to family use over several years are crucial, too. That’s why we’ve taken results from our customer survey into account alongside lab assessments.

Our Best Buys are for specific branded kitchen base units, rather than the brand overall.

Most kitchen brands use one or two base units across some or all of their kitchens. Different ranges may well use the same base units, accessorised with the different doors, drawer fronts and handles that make each range and style different.

We assessed all of a brand’s different base units, so the results apply across any ranges thatuse them. Make sure you carefully check the name of the kitchen you’re buying, to make sure you’re getting the units we’ve recommended.

Kitchen units in the Which? test lab

We assessed a drawer unit, floor cupboard and wall unit from each brand, taking into account four main areas:

  • quality
  • loading of shelves, doors and drawers
  • smoothness of doors and drawers
  • hinges

Each test involved a range of assessments. For quality, for example, some of the things we looked at were: the material the kitchen is made out of; how well the parts fit together and whether there are any imperfections or sharp edges and corners.

We looked at both flat-packed and pre-built kitchen units, depending on how the brand sells them.

The best unit scored 88% in our lab assessment, with five stars in almost all the areas we examined. The lowest-scoring units got 61% – we found very sharp edges and corners, uneven joints and shelves that are easily dislodged.

Find out more about our lab assessments in how we test kitchens.

Customers’ favourite kitchen brands

We rated 10 major kitchen brands in our customer survey, as well as independent kitchen companies. One brand achieved a 90% customer score, while the lowest-scoring brand finished 29 percentage points lower, with 61%.

Independents did well, finishing in third place overall. But while they scored as well for durability as the best big brands, customers rated them as slightly less good value for money.

Head to the best and worst kitchen companies to find out more about each brand to help you choose your next kitchen.

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