When Remodeling Your Kitchen, Skip The Hype

When Remodeling Your Kitchen, Skip The Hype

Chris Phillips
Jul 11, 2007
Focus on performance and avoid hype when remodeling your kitchen, says Consumer Reports. The August issue of Consumer Reports delivers their most comprehensive evaluation of kitchen tools ever. We've been waiting for this report on Great Kitchens for Less and we highly recommend it: When people ask us what to do when they're starting to re-do their kitchens, we tell the to subscribe to the online version of Consumer Reports before they buy even a single cabinet pull. Consumer Reports released a top ten list of the Most Hyped Kitchen Products with this issue. While we don't agree with every part of their list (we love high-end faucets, especaily in small hard working spaces), it is an excellent guide to avoiding hype when setting off to re-do your kitchen or upgrade appliances. We've posted their full list after the jump. 10 Most-Hyped Kitchen Products and What to Buy Instead 1. Pro-style ranges. Spending more on pro-style appliances doesn't guarantee better quality. Consumer Reports' tests continue to find that $4,000-plus professional-style ranges perform no better than less-expensive, conventional models. Some pro-style ranges still lack common features and have high repair rates. CR Advice: Consider faux pro-style ranges from mainstream manufacturers that combine stainless-steel style, performance, and reliability for thousands less. 2. Speed cooking. Faster doesn't mean better. Found in some microwaves, ranges, and ovens, speed cooking combines microwaving with convection or baking and broiling to cut cooking time. CR found the performance of speed cookers to be spotty in tests; some foods came out great, while others were undercooked. CR Advice: Look for ovens and ranges with convection, which uses a fan to circulate hot air so food can bake and roast at lower temperatures for shorter times. 3. Steam ovens & ranges. Steam didn't melt the fat away. According to CR tests, food cooked in some of these types of ovens, which all cost more than $1000, had just as much fat after steaming as before. CR Advice: Skip them. 4. Multimedia Refrigerators. Side-by-sides with TVs and calendars promise to help consumers organize their lives and their leftovers, but none of the models CR tested out-cooled the best conventional fridges. CR Advice: Save $2,000 or more by buying a top-rated refrigerator and a capable flat-panel TV. 5. Turbocharged Dishwashers. Despite claims of maximizing "washing pressure to ensure superior cleaning for the toughest jobs," CR tests revealed that most regular dishwashers including ones without a turbo cycle do very good job of cleaning dishes, even with baked- on food. CR Advice: Choose a lower-priced dishwasher that blends top cleaning with quietness and shorter cycle times. 6. Appliance Drawers. Although touted as flexible, space-saving, and stylish, CR tests of drawer versions of refrigerators, dishwashers, and microwaves show that their lower capacity, efficiency, and overall performance, plus their higher prices, negate those perks. CR Advice: For style and accessible storage, choose a good French- door fridge. Run the rinse-only cycle on a regular dishwasher for small loads. Consumers who can live without a range hood's better venting can free up counter space with an over-the-range microwave. Each costs a fraction of what a drawer costs. 7. Pricey Faucets and Sinks. CR found few performance differences between the least and most expensive versions of faucets and sinks from major brands. CR Advice: Faucets in chrome or with physical vapor deposition (PVD) finishes performed best regardless of price. All of the stainless steel sinks CR tested resisted dents, stains, scratches, and heat similarly, whether they were thick or thin. 8. Trendy Counters. CR tests found concrete to be fragile and susceptible to scratches, chips, and hairline cracks. Limestone may start out smooth, but it scratched, stained, and chipped in CR tests. CR Advice: For a stone look, go for granite or quartz. 9. "Green" Flooring. Bamboo, cork, and linoleum are all considered renewable alternatives to standard hardwood and vinyl flooring. However, some did not hold up to the usual spills, scratches, dropped plates, and sunlight in CR tests. CR Advice: For high traffic areas, consider plastic laminate and vinyl; both proved toughest overall in CR tests, generally for less money. Also, solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished several times. 10. One-Stop Shops. Shop around. Consumer Reports latest surveys reveal that no one retailer was impressive for design help, installation services, product quality, selection, and price. CR Advice: Check out CR's Ratings for the stores with the attributes that matter most. Check retailers' return policies before buying. Consider local independent stores and personal references as highly as preconceived notions about price, quality, and convenience.
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