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KITCHEN

PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE


TOP
RATED
BEST FRIDGES
For Every
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DESIGN STAR
VERN YIP S
KITCHEN REDO
BUY THE BEST!
Winner Kitchens

778
THE 8 BEST UPGRADES
YOU CAN MAKE
Tested SAVE-BIG
Products REMODELING
Ranges | Dishwashers | Microwaves GUIDE
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3 Fresh New Looks

SEPTEMBER 2016
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Contents
IN THIS ISSUE
5 Update
Our in-house appliance and home
Kitchen Planning
& Buying Guide
SEPTEMBER 2016

18 Bold in Black and White


Get an inside look at design star Vern Yips
own Atlanta kitchen, a study in the chic,
timeless combo of black and white.
30 Instant Makeover
No need for a total overhaul. Replacing
or adding a few key design elements can give
your kitchen a fresh new look right now.
experts share the latest and
greatest kitchen products, news, 22 Cozy in Color 36 Open for Entertaining
COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC ROTH

and trends. Our paint picks will help you add warmth Create a kitchen with a party-perfect flow
and personality to kitchen walls, cabinets, with tips from a pair of design experts.
12 8 Smart Kitchen Upgrades or furnishings.
As you renovate your space, make 42 Remodeling
choices that add long-term valuewith 26 Double the Pleasure Survival Guide
help from our exclusive survey of millennial This clever remodel added tons of space Our survey of contractors nationwide will
homebuyers, plus advice from the pros. without an addition. help your project run smoothly.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 1


Contents
BUYING GUIDE
Cabinetry & Surfaces
48 CABINETS
54
60
66
COUNTERTOPS
FLOORING
INTERIOR PAINT
100
Appliances
72 REFRIGERATORS
88 RANGES
98 COOKTOPS
106 WALL OVENS
110 RANGE HOODS
112 MICROWAVE OVENS
120 DISHWASHERS

Fixtures & Fittings


128 SINKS
132 FAUCETS

Shopping
134 BEST APPLIANCE STORES
136 RESOURCE GUIDE

89

114
GO TO CONSUMERREPORTS.ORG
AND CLICK ON APPLIANCES OR HOME & GARDEN

2 ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE


EDITORS NOTE

Dreams, Delivered
KITCHEN
PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE
CREATING YOUR DREAM KITCHEN can
cost a bundle. We know: Consumer Reports
spends more than $400,000 each year
to buy the appliances we test and rate. Of
President and CEO Marta L. Tellado
course, your own project probably wont cost
Senior Vice President, Brand & Strategy
Leonora Wiener Amanda Lecky anywhere near that much, but that doesnt
Editor,
Vice President, Publishing & Marketing Operations
Home
mean you dont want to save where you can.
Brent Diamond
Publications Thats where the Consumer Reports
Vice President, Integrated Content Creation
Liam McCormack Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide comes in.
Vice President, Digital We ofer what no other magazine can: product Ratings and
Jason Fox advice from dozens of appliance and home-improvement
Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer
Kim Miller
experts. Our engineers run exhaustive tests on every aspect of
Executive Director, Content the 600-plus products in our Ratings to help you choose the
Gwendolyn Bounds best. Our reader surveys track buyer experience to tell you
Editor in Chief, Consumer Reports Magazine Diane Salvatore which brands are likely to lastand which could lead to pricey
Design Director Matthew Lenning
Associate Design Director Mike Smith
repairs. And because we buy everything we test and accept no
ads, you can always trust Consumer Reports to tell it like it is.
Editor, Home Publications Amanda Lecky
Art Directors Janice Hogan, Ewelina Mrowiec, Lisa Slater Ready to make your dreams a reality? Let our honest,
Photo Editor Emilie Harjes
unbiased advice help you plan and shop your way to a smart,
Photography John Powers, John Walsh
Imaging Francisco Collado, Mark Linder stylish kitchen thats just right for you, and for your budget.
Senior Director, Product Testing Mark Connelly
Director, Content Development Glenn Derene

Meet a Few of Our Experts


Director, Consumer Safety and Sustainability Urvashi Rangan
Home & Appliance
Editors: Dan DiClerico, Mary Farrell, Kimberly Janeway, Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman,
Ed Perratore; Product Testers: John Galeotaiore, James Nanni, Testing Leads;
Peter Anzalone, John Banta, Susan Booth, Tara Casaregola, Lawrence Ciufo, More than
Enrique de Paz, Bernard Deitrick, Cindy Fisher, Emilio Gonzalez, Edward Kippel,
40 Consumer
Ginny Lui, John McAloon, Joan Muratore, Joseph Pacella, Christopher Regan,
Peter Sawchuk, Pat Slaven, Frank Spinelli, David Trezza, Michael Visconti Reports product
Consumer Engagement Testing Charu Ahuja, Director; Linda Greene, Adam Kaplan
testers, secret
shoppers,
Content Systems & Operations Strategy Peter Meirs, Director
Content Operations David Fox, Director; William Breglio; Wayne Lizardi, Anthony Terzo
researchers,
Celia Kuperszmid Ed Perratore Kimberly Janeway
and editors Lehrman Senior Editor Senior Associate
Production Eric W. Norlander; Terri Kazin, Aileen McCluskey
Content Coordination Nancy Crowfoot; Diane Chesler
(including the Deputy Editor Editor
Copy Editing Noreen Browne, Alison France, Wendy Greenield six pros pictured
Fact Checking Jane Healey, David Schipper; Kathleen Adams, Tracy Anderman,
here) put their
Sarah Goralski, Sharon Riley
years of know-
Administration Decarris Bryant, Elizabeth Scotton
how to work
Content Impact & Corporate Outreach Jen Shecter, Director for you.
Statistics Michael Saccucci, Director; Andrew Cohen,
Keith Newsom-Stewart, Martin Romm
Dan DiClerico Tara Casaregola Joe Pacella
Survey Research Steven Witten, Director; Karen Jafe, Simon Slater;
Multimedia Test Program Project Leader
Mei Fong, James David Gopoian, Kendra Johnson, Debra Kalensky, Martin Lachter,
Content Specialist Leader
Olufemi Olu-Lafe, Adam Troy

Consumer Insight Ed Farrell, Director; Karen Hofman;


Chris Holmes, Rachel Lynch, Teneisha Thomas, Andrew Vogel

Newsstand Marketing Patricia McSorley, Associate Director


Procurement Operations Steven Schiavone, Associate Director
FOLLOW US
PHOTOS: JOHN WALSH

Copyright 2016 by Consumer Reports, Yonkers, New York 10703. fb.com/consumerreports @consumerreports
Published by Consumer Reports, Yonkers, New York 10703. fb.com/crenespanol
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole youtube.com/consumerreports
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ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 3


Inside Our
Test Labs
WE TRY TO TEST models
that represent the spectrum of
products on the market. Staf
shoppers buy them at retail
outlets or online, never reveal-
ing that theyre for Consumer
Reports. (We want to make sure
OVENS Baking cookies2,000 frozen, preformed sugar cookies each year, more or less
that we test the same products
and evaluating the color uniformity when theyre done tells CRs experts how evenly
you buy.) Our experts develop an oven bakes. What happens to all those cookies? The staff gets to eat most of them!
tests that re-create the real-world
use of each product. If a product
malfunctions or performs in
an unexpected way, we try to
determine whether were seeing
an isolated case or possibly a
bigger problem. We may have an
obvious defect repaired. And we
usually buy and test additional
samples of the same product. We
do that to ensure that our Rat-
ings for every model relect the
experience you may have.

DISHWASHERS Our testers load up the racks REFRIGERATORS Engineers load each refrigera-
with dishes smeared with everything from coffee tors freezer compartment with packages of frozen
(shown) to beef chili to see how well each model spinach and cans of frozen juice to determine
stands up to typical food messes. freezer performance.

Guide to the Ratings


TIP
WE RATE PRODUCTS on a 5Excellent 4Very Good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor When narrowing your
100-point scale. These symbols
d Recommended choices, weigh perfor-
help you tell at a glance which
These are high-performing products that stand out. mance, price, and details
scored well and which didnt. that matter to you, such
Those rated Excellent aced most
c CR Best Buy as color, size, or style. For
of our tough tests; Poor indicates These products offer the best combination of performance the best combination
the product had serious laws. and price. All are recommended. of performance and price,
pick a CR Best Buy.

Consumer Reports is the worlds experiences. Were based in Yonkers, What We Do We buy all of the mainly through subscriptions and
largest independent consumer- N.Y., and are a nonprofit organization. products we rate. And all of our tests from donations. We dont accept any
product-testing organization. Each For complete Ratings for all products, and Ratings, in print and online, are free test samples of products from
year we put thousands of products consider an annual subscription to unbiased and independent. manufacturers. And we dont allow our
through rigorous tests and survey Consumer Reports magazine ($29) or What We Dont Do We dont accept name or our content to be used for any
millions of consumers about their our website ($30). any advertising; we get our money promotional purposes.

4 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Update
Product News and Expert Advice

Actual size

Big Performance
in Small Packages
AMERICAN HOUSES may be growing in size, line. Though of course the products will
but so is the number of single households appeal to bachelors, too, not to mention
in the U.S. Roughly half of all American downsizing empty nesters, urbanites,
women are unattached, and by 2025 there or anyone eager to save countertop space.
will be as many single-person households in Among the promising petite models
the U.S. as there are homes with families. are KitchenAids Artisan Mini Stand Mixer,
Manufacturers are taking note of those $400, pictured, 20percent smaller and
shifting demographics and responding 25percent lighter than its full-sized
with a bevy of super-compact countertop counterparta perennial top-performer
appliances, aimed at the single set and their in our Ratingsthe Mi Aroma Mini Rice
presumably smaller kitchens. One manufac- Cooker, $30 to $40, which cooks just two
turers representative went so far as to call or three cups at a time; and the Bella
the mini appliances part of their single lady 1.5 Slow Cooker, $15, available this fall.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 5


UPDATE | news and adv ice

MUSIC TO
A New Way to Prep Veggies
ONE OF THE HOTTEST new gadgets at this years International Home + Housewares show in
YOUR EYES
The right soundtrack can
make dining (and cook-
Chicago, spiralizers turn vegetables and fruits into fun new shapes, including noodles that ing) far more enjoyable.
can take the place of traditional grain-based pasta. That should appeal to people on low-carb But its hard to find speak-

PHOTOS: CHRISTIAN BRIDGWATER/GETTY IMAGES (TOP LEFT); GETTY IMAGES (TOP RIGHT); ROBERT RADIFERA (BOTTOM RIGHT)
diets, or those who entertain at home a lot, and to parents of kids who need a little extra ers that dont stand out
encouragement to get their daily doses of healthful produce. Three models that caught our eye: from your carefully con-
sidered kitchen design
like a sore thumb, and
installing an integrated
sound system is pricey.
Sonys new Glass Sound
Speaker aims to match
style to sound quality:
With its cylindrical shape
and faux leather base,
its designed to look like
part of an everyday table
setting. Part of Sonys
New Life Space UX prod-
uct line, the speaker uses
organic glass surrounding
an LED light to create
CUISINART FOOD HAMILTON BEACH KITCHENAID SPIRALIZER vibrations that produce
SPIRALIZER, $30 3-IN-1 SPIRALIZER, $40 BLADE, $150 360 degrees of high-
fidelity sound. The $800
This mechanical model gives the This electric 3-in-1 spiralizer from An attachment to any KitchenAid
device, which is available
forearm a bit of a workout, though Hamilton Beach lets you produce stand mixer, this new spiralizer
Cuisinart says the adaptation continuous ribbons or spirals of a is an upgrade to the brands origi- through the MoMA store,
of its exclusive food processor variety of veggies, from zucchini nal. It adds two new blades to lights up like a candle
blade technology to the spiralizer noodles to homemade potato the existing five, enabling up to when it turns on, power-
makes for easy operation. You can chips. The additional grating disk 13 combinations of spiralizing, ing up with a warm, soft
choose from thin or thick julienne, is designed for harder foods like slicing, peeling, and coring. The glow and dimming when
and ribbon slice. The blade-lock- Parmesan cheese and nuts. zucchini noodle strands are pitched the power goes off.
ing design eliminates contact with as a healthy alternative to flour-
any sharp edges and the entire based pasta. Or enjoy garnishes
unit is dishwasher safe. made from paper-thin fruit spirals.

6 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


If Your Favorite Slice is Pizza
Most Americans get their pizza fresh from the pizzeria so no special installation or construction is required.
or from the supermarket, in the form of frozen pies. But Thats a good thing, since the price tag on the oven is
there's a growing appetite for pizza made from scratch $9,900. Look for it later this year.
GE Monogram Pizza Oven
or semi-scratch using store-bought doughat home.
The DIY trend accounted for nearly 10 percent of pizza Outdoor Options
sales in 2015. Appliance manufacturers are taking notice, If youd rather keep your oven on the patio, one to consid-
with several introducing pizza ovens this year. er is the Lynx Napoli Pizza Oven, a gas-fired model that
The most innovative product weve seen is GEs comes on a freestanding cart, or that can be built into an
Monogram Pizza Oven, which came out of FirstBuild, a outdoor countertop. The oven reaches 750 degrees in
microfactory in the companys Louisville headquarters about 20 minutes so its a bit faster than GEs. At $4,000,
that harnesses the brainpower of the maker movement it costs a lot less, though its still a splurge.
to develop unique appliances for small batch produc- If youre looking for the authenticity of wood-fired pizza,
tion (the Opal Nugget Ice Maker is the most successful the Italian manufacturer Fontana offers stainless steel ov- Lynx Napoli Pizza Oven
creation to date). ens for as little as $1,400. The Fontana Gusto Wood Oven,
The Monogram Pizza Oven fits into the small space of its original dual-chamber model introduced 40 years ago,
a standard wall oven cavity, yet is spacious enough to fit is still the best seller, starting at $4,900. Thanks to their
a pizza peel and large pie. It can crank up to 750 degrees, thin firebrick inserts, Fontana ovens can reach optimal
the perfect temperature for crisp pizza, in about 30 min- baking temperatures in 15 to 30 minutes, compared with
utes. The oven incorporates a compact the 2 to 4 hours of other
interior ventilation system, wood-fired ovens.

Fontana Gusto Wood Oven

AMERICAN AS PIZZA PIE | Americans eat 100 acres of pizza each day according to the National Assn. of Pizza Operators

TREND WATCH:

Quartz and Quartzite


LATELY, IT SEEMS like every designer we interview mentions one of two
countertops options: quartz and quartzite, two materials that sound similar
and can look similarbut which have some key distinctions. Quartz, the top-
rated material in our countertops ratings on page 59, used to be known as
engineered stone, because its just thata synthetic material thats made in a
factory out of stone chips, resins, and pigments. Quartzite, by comparison,
is a metamorphic rock that originated as sandstone. Its extracted from a
quarry and formed into finished slabs that become kitchen countertops, as
WHICH IS IT? well as tiles for floors, walls, and backsplashes.
Quartzite, shown, We havent tested it in our labs, but quartzite is often compared to granite
not only sounds in terms of hardness and durability. Like all natural stones, quartzite must be
like quartz but
can look similar, sealed periodically to protect it against wine, citrus, coffee, and other would-
as well. be stains. Because its non-porous, quartz doesnt have to be sealed, making it
much easier to maintain. Quartz and quartzite cost about the same.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 7


UPDATE | news and adv ice

can of soda, says Maxine Siegel, a reg-


istered dietitian and manager of food
testing at Consumer Reports.
Cold brew, on the other hand,
begins with the same beans youd use
for regular coffee, but theyre ground
more coarsely, then mixed with cold or
room-temperature water and left to sit
for a very long time: Coaxing flavor out
of the grounds with cool water can take
12 to 24 hours or even longer. To avoid
a weak, watery drink, cold-brew coffee
also requires at least twice the grounds
needed for traditional hot brewing,
which explains why cold brew can be
pricey, whether you buy it at a coffee-

Cold house or supermarket or whip up a


batch at home. (See Cool Ways to Make
Cold Joe, on the facing page.)
Make no mistake: Do-it-yourself cold-

Coffee Is Hot
brew coffee makers arent a necessity;
theyre essentially steeping chambers
for the water and grounds. But they
make preparing and filtering the coffee
Cold-brew coffee neater and less cumbersome. The
fans claim its smoother machines also make it easier to experi-
than the traditional stuff. ment with the ratio of water to coffee
Judge for yourself with until you find the one that produces the
our tested brewers. cup best-suited to your tastes.
What comes out of most cold-brew
coffee makers isnt ready to enjoy. Its
a thick concentrate that you dilute with
water or milk before drinking.

THE BITTER TRUTH


Why bother with all of the added time

O
ONCE FOUND ONLY in boutique coffee- COLD BREW 101 and expense of cold brew? Because of
houses, cold-brew coffee has grown up, Cold brew is a very different beast from how it goes down. Fans say that cold
with sales rising 115percent between either iced coffee or the bottled coffee brewing makes for a far smoother
PHOTO, LEFT: NATASHA NICHOLSON/GETTY IMAGES
2014 and 2015. Starbucks and Peets products sold at the supermarket. All drink, without much of the bitterness
now sell it by the cup in their shops, of those start with standard hot coffee and acidity of traditional coffee.
and you can buy ready-to-drink bottled thats then chilled, creating a drink that Another selling point of cold-brew
versions from companies such as has all of the bitterness and acidity of coffee is its extended shelf life: It will
Stumptown and Slingshot at Whole regular coffee, just minus the heat. keep in the refrigerator for up to two
Foods, specialty grocers, and even To mask that bitterness, many coffee weeks. Regularly brewed coffee doesnt
some Target stores. Not surprisingly, drinkers (and manufacturers) add heaps store well in the fridge and starts to go
several appliance makers eager to cash of sugar and glugs of milk or cream stale shortly after its made because of
in on the trend sell low-tech systems and plenty of calories with them. an aromatic compound that degrades
that take the mess out of mixing up Some of the bottled coffee products as it coolssomething to keep in mind
a batch of cold brew at home. weve tested have as much sugar as a when you want a cool pick-me-up.

PRICE OF A PICK-ME-UP | DIY Home Brew $0.75 to $2.50 Price depends on cost per pound of coffee

8 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Cool Ways to Make Cold Joe
The lavor of cold-brew cofee is determined by the quality of the beans and the water,
the amount and grind of cofee used, and the length of time the grounds steep. These machines make the
process convenient, but unlike with hot brewing, they do not inluence the cofees taste.

BRUER COLD OXO COLD BREW BODYBREW TODDY COLD BREW FELLOW DUO
BRUER $80 1272880 $50 THE BOD $80 SYSTEM $40 COFFEE STEEPER
$100
How it works The Bruer How it works Place the How it works Add How it works The upper
stands out from the others container on its stand, and grounds to the stainless chambers lower recess How it works A stain-
we looked at because its add grounds and water. filter basket (in the lower holds a filter and a stop- less steel chamber atop
process is flow-through. After 12 to 24 hours, place half), then add water. per. After coffee has a glass carafe, it lets you
You place ice and water in a glass carafe beneath Once you attach the steeped, you remove the make cold-brew or hot
the upper chamber, and a the stand and flip the upper half, flip the product stopper and the filtered coffee. To release coffee
drop of water per second brew-release switch, on upside down, then back, extract fills the glass through the filter into the
drips to the grounds. The the bottom, which lets the to wet the grounds thor- lower container. carafe, you twist the two
extract, ready to drink, concentrated brew drip oughly. An optional hour Pros It makes about parts of the top chamber.
collects below, yielding into the carafe. timer will help you keep 48ounces, which yields Pros At 15 inches high,
about 20ounces. Pros The brewing cham- track of steeping time. twice that much drinkable it fits into the fridge, and
(Instructions for concen- ber can be separated Pros At 12 inches, it fits coffee. The brew chamber its permanent fine filter
trate are included.) from the stand, and at easily into the fridge; the is unbreakable plastic. ensures no gunk at the
Pros The fastest per 7inches tall, it fits easily top chamber can also Cons The handle, which bottom of your cup.
ounce, with no waiting for into the fridge. The be replaced with a cover wraps around the upper Cons If youd like to fill
coffee to drain once its release switch keeps to reduce the height chamber, is flimsy. two 16-ounce travel cups,
brewed. Permanent filter. hands clear of the brew. by 3inches. It comes in Removing the stopper sorry: This unit and the
Cons Makes among the Cons The lid doesnt seal, black and five colors. can be messy; the filter Bruer make the least cold
least amount of drinkable and the filter clogged Cons It can be tricky to needs replacing ($3.75 per brew of the fiveroughly
coffee per use. badly during our tests. assemble. pair) after about 10 uses. 20ounces at a time.

THE SCIENCE OF SMOOTH


Standard Hot Coffee Cold-Brew Coffee
As any caffeine addict knows, a regular cup of joe starts with hot The absence of hot water means that the oils, acids, and
water (between 195 F and 205 F) and coffee grounds. The water VS. other compounds dissolve much more slowly. The acids also
dissolves oils, acids, and other compounds out of the grounds, arent degraded, making for a much smoother beverage, free
giving coffee its familiar acidity and eye-opening aroma. The hot of bitterness. One downside: This coffees aroma is barely
water also degrades acids, creating coffees bitter notes. noticeable because heat is what releases it from the grounds.

Stumptown Cold-Brew Coffee $8 | Starbucks Cold Brew $3.25 to $3.95 National range

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 9


UPDATE | news and adv ice

Save Water
in the Kitchen
California isnt the only place facing a dry spell. Water managers in
40 states say that even if water conditions remain normal, they expect
shortages in some part of their state over the next decade. Thats according
to WaterSense, the water conservation partner of the Environmental
Protection Agency. That means we all could benefit from Californias
efforts to get more pop per drop, as a state water authority put it.
When it comes to wasting water in the kitchen, the dishwasher isnt
the culprit; its probably you. Too many people rinse their dishes before
putting them in a dishwasher designed to do that very joband do it
better than you can. Five ways to save:
Replace your old dishwasher. which will make the most of the
Energy Star dishwashers are about sprays in your machine.
15percent more water efficient
Keep your drinking water in the
than standard models. The most
refrigerator instead of running the
miserly use only 4 to 6 gallons
tap until its cool. Designate one
during a normal cycle. Bonus:
water bottle per person per day so
Theyre quieter, too.
that you only have to wash it once.
Give pots and pans a soak instead
Install a WaterSense aerator on
of scrubbing them under running
the kitchen faucet to reduce flow
water to loosen caked-on food.
to less than 1 gallon per minute.
Wash only full loads of dishes. Its a cheap fix for only pennies.
For maximum efficiency, load Avoid running the garbage dis-
your dishwasher according to the posal, and the water that entails,
instructions in your owners manual, by composting your food scraps.

SAVE WATER | An Energy Star dishwasher will save about 1,600 gallons over its lifetime according to the EPA

Reports of unsafe water pouring at 800-426-4791. If tests find lead


from taps in Flint and other cities but its below 150parts per billion
can be alarming. But before you (ppb), a filter can make your water
panic, you should check your safer to drink. If its higher or if
municipal water report and also tests reveal other concerns, such
have your water tested, says Chris as arsenic, bacteria, or parasites,
Hendel, Consumer Reports medi- contact your local health de-
Clear2O
cal researcher. The Environmental carafe, $30 partment for advice. Theres no
After hearing Protection Agency posts municipal universally accepted safe level for
water-quality reports every July; lead or many other contaminants.
about lead in find yours at epa.gov/safewater. In our most recent tests of
the water in But if your home was built be- water filters, our top picks were
fore lead-free pipes were mandat- the Clear2O carafe, $30, and the
Flint, Mich., ed in 1986 or if you use well water, faucet-mounted Culligan FM-15A,
Im worried a test is the best way to assess your $20. Both were top rated for
homes water quality. Your state or removing lead and other con-
about mine. local health department may offer taminants. To fill the Clear2O, you
Should I free test kits. The EPAs website
lists local labs; you can also call
Culligan
FM-15A, $20
must remove your faucets aerator
and connect the attached hose
buy a filter? its Safe Drinking Water Hotline directly to your faucet.

10 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


I hate hand-
washing
dishes.
Can I put
plasticware
in the dish-
The Dirt on Clean Dishes
If you wonder why dishes come out of your of the cycle, it rinses the dishes, then checks
dishwasher with bits of food still stuck to how dirty the water is to determine the proper
washer? them, it could be because youre rinsing them amount of time and water to get everything
first. It seems counterintuitive, but prerins- clean. If youve already rinsed off much of the
ing can make your dishes come out dirtier, muck, the sensor misreads the dishes as al-
not cleaner. That goes for glasses, pots, and ready fairly clean. So the appliance gives them
Yes. Just avoid selecting
silverware, too. The reason is that most dish- just a light wash, and items come out less than
cycles such as sanitize washers costing $500 or more sold in the past sparkling. To avoid that lackluster result, dont
that use higher washing five years or so have a sensor that determines rinse; just scrape off loose food. And use one
or drying temperatures. how thorough a wash is needed. At the start of the detergents that topped our tests.
Heat can cause plastic
to degrade, says Urvashi
d RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS
Rangan, Ph.D., Con-
sumer Reports director
of safety and sustain-
ability. And it can cause
worrisome chemicals
such BPA (bisphenol
A) to leach from some
types of plastic contain- Cascade Members Mark Ultimate Clean Finish
Complete ActionPacs Dishwasher Pacs Quantum Max Powerball
ers. Although most 29 per load (Sams Club) 10 per load 41 per load
food-storage containers
are no longer made with
BPA, older plasticware
may contain it. BPA has
been linked to health
concerns including
PHOTO, TOP RIGHT: YUKI KONDO/GETTY IMAGES

cardiovascular disease Cascade Platinum


and an increased risk of Finish ActionPacs with the Power Finish
Powerball Tabs 18 per load of Clorox 34 per load Gelpacs 21 per load
breast and prostate can-
cers. Containers may
also have other chemi-
cals such as plasticizers
and phthalates that can
leach. Use plasticware
that says dishwasher
safe, and wash on the
Palmolive Cascade Complete Powder Seventh Generation
top rack only. eco+ 6 per load 21 per load Powder 19 per load

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 11


IDEA FILE | 8 smart kitchen upg rades

ATTRACTIVE FEATURES
An open layout with easy flow from
the kitchen to entertaining areas and
an island is a highly desirable kitchen
attribute, according to our experts.
Stainless steel appliances and up-
dated surfaces and floorings create
a look that says: brand new.

12 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


8 Smart
Kitchen Upgrades
Making the right remodeling decisions will
help you get a kitchen that fits your needs now
and boosts your homes value later

UNLESS YOURE PLANNING to move in the next couple of years, youre


probably not factoring resale into your kitchen update plansbut you
should. Situations change, and the house you imagined growing old in
could suddenly be just one stop on the path of life. Here are eight ways,
informed by Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of
1,573 millennials, to improve your kitchen and your homes value.

MAKE IT
1 LOOK NEW
Buyers of all kinds have long focused on
the kitchen, but it holds particular sway
over the newest wave of irst-time home-
owners. A modern/updated kitchen
topped the list of ideal home features in
our survey of millennials, registering as
most important to more than one-third of
respondents. If you plan to sell, dont rip
your kitchen down to the studs; a smaller
investment can have serious impact. For as
little as $5,000 you should be able to add
a new suite of appliances, as well as a new
countertop and looring. Applying a coat
of paint to the walls or cabinets, and up-
dating the hardware, can work wonders.

VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Stainless steel. Though it has been around for
decades, this clean, contemporary finish on appli-
ances signals updated in the mind of the buyer.
Quartz countertops. Engineered from stone chips,
resins, and pigments, quartz has started to chal-
lenge granite and marble as the go-to material in
higher-end kitchens. It shrugged off heat, scratches,
cuts, and stains in our tests, and it requires none of
the upkeep of comparably priced natural stones.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 13


IDEA FILE | 8 smart kitchen upg rades

2 OPEN UP
THE PLAN
An open loor plan with lexible living space was VALUABLE ADDITIONS
second only to an updated kitchen on millennials
list of most desired features. So if youre consider- Multipurpose spaces. Also known
as flex rooms or double-duty
ing removing a wall to connect your kitchen to rooms, youll see these advertised
an adjacent living or dining area, you can take as an additional living area that can
the plunge, feeling conident that the additional serve a variety of purposes. If your
expense will probably make your home more ap- plans include updating an adjacent
pealing to future buyers. While youre at it, add an family room, consider making sure
it can do double duty as a guest
island, the No.1 most requested feature, according room or playroom.
to the kitchen designers weve interviewed.
Dedicated laundry room. Its not
part of the kitchen, per se, but
younger buyers in particular say
they want a dedicated laundry
room, perhaps off the kitchen. Man-
ufacturers are obliging with washer/
dryer sets with a matching fit and
finish that neatly integrates into the
living space. We like the Maytag
Bravos MVWB85DW HE top-loader
and Maytag Bravos MEDB855DW
electric dryer, $1,050 each.

BOSCH

3 BUILD IN
ENERGY SAVINGS
Lowering your homes energy costs will save VALUABLE ADDITIONS
you money for as long as you live there and is
expected to be a major selling point down High-efficiency windows. Energy
Star certified windows can lower
the line. Indeed, energy-eicient was second
your homes energy bills by 7to
only to safe community on the list of attributes 15percent. That will be a selling
that would most inluence a purchase decision, point with buyers, though replacing
according to a 2015 survey by the National windows is expensiveanywhere
Association of Home Builders. from $8,000 to $24,000 for an en-
tire houseso you probably wont
Older homeowners who have felt the sting
recoup the entire investment if
of escalating energy costs tend to be driving the you plan to sell right away. A major
interest. But there are some early adopters kitchen renovation is a good time
among younger buyers, too, especially in regions to update the kitchen windows; you
PHOTO, PREVIOUS SPREAD: JANE BEILES

of the country with more extreme weather. can always switch out the units in
the rest of the house later on.
My millennial buyers usually ask for two years
LED lights. Some listings empha-
worth of utility payments, says Joe Rivellino,
size their green credentials
a real estate professional in the Buffalo, N.Y., by mentioning the presence of
area. They want to know the R-Value on LED lighting. Choose the Feit
the insulation and whether the windows have Electric 60 Watt Replacement
low-E coatings, he says, referring to two impor- 9.5W LED, a $7 bulb that delivers
superb light quality and has a
tant efficiency measures.
23-year life expectancy.

14 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Choosing easy-care materials
like quartz countertops and
wood or porcelain tile floors will
make your life easier now, and
may appeal to busy prospective
buyers. Choosing energy-saving
appliances and lighting is another
smart decision, whether you plan
to stay or move.

VALUABLE ADDITIONS
4 THINK LOW-
MAINTENANCE
Stain-prone stone countertops, dust-collecting ornate cabi-
Hardwood floors. Long-wearing hardwood flooring with
a durable factory finish is an easy-care alternative to
ceramic tile or linoleum. Engineered wood flooring, which
PHOTO, TOP RIGHT: JANE BEILES

nets, and grime-catching ceramic tile used to be symbols uses a thin veneer of real wood or bamboo over structural
of luxury, but todays homebuyers are more likely to equate plywood, tends not to wear as well as the solid stuff,
them with extra work. We call it stress-free living, says though it has the same look and tends to cost less, mak-
Miguel Berger, a real estate professional in Albany, N.Y. ing it a good choice if you plan to sell soon.
The younger generation in particular would much rather
spend their time entertaining at home than fussing over it.
Its safe to assume boomers feel the same way.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 15


IDEA FILE |

5 LOOK
FORWARD
By 2040 there are expected to be al-
most 80million seniors, accounting
for 21percent of the population. The
existing housing stock isnt equipped
to safely accommodate that many older
peopletoo many steep staircases, nar-
row walker-unfriendly doorways, and
slippery surfaces. Proactive homeown-
ers are making necessary improve-
ments nowand those changes will
beneit people of all ages. According
to a 2015 survey by HomeAdvisor,
56percent of homeowners who hired
a pro for aging-related projects were
younger than 65, and 10percent were
younger than 50.

VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Wall oven and cooktop combo. You can place
a wall oven wherever you want it, eliminating the
need to bend down to move heavy dishes in and
out of a range.
Lower microwave. It eliminates the need to lift
a pan into an over-the-range model.
Counters at varied heights. Installing some
counters that a user can sit at to work allows
BRIGHTEN UP
cooks of all abilities and ages to take part in Whether you have a windowed nook or not,
meal prep. brighten your space with paint, choosing
one of our top-rated brands on page 71 to
give walls a fresh, clean new look.

PHOTOS: JANE BEILES (TOP LEFT AND TOP RIGHT); BOB WIGAND (BOTTOM RIGHT)
6 USE THE POWER
OF PAINT
Paint keeps your home looking its best while
7 BE SMART ABOUT
SMART TECHNOLOGY
High-tech features ofer notoriously bad returns on investment
also defending its surfaces from wear, tear, because technologies tend to evolve quickly. But certain
and the elements. If youre getting ready to sell, smart devices add value and interest, including programmable
high-traic spaces like the kitchen should be thermostats, a wise add-on while youre in renovation-mode.
the irst places you paint. Do the job yourself for Ill often install a Nest thermostat because it creates the
about $100 in material costs or pay a professional impression that this is a high-tech home, Berger says.
$1,000 or so, which should cover multiple rooms. Were seeing the same benefit with lights, door locks, and
security systems. Those smart features have broad appeal with
VALUABLE ADDITIONS millennials, who grew up on smartphones, so theyre used to
Neutral color scheme. Whites and off-whites remain the being able to control things at their fingertips, says JP Endres,
top-selling interior colors and will appeal to most homebuy- a real estate professional based in Westchester County, north of
ers, allowing them to envision the space as their own. Neutrals New York City. And theyll pay 3to 5percent more for a home
appeal to all generations of buyers, according to Jule Eller, with the right amenities.
trend and style director at Lowes.

16 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


8 CONNECT TO
THE OUTDOORS
Your homes property is another
opportunity to expand its living
space. Adding a deck or patio, with
room for seating and a built-in or
freestanding grill, is a way to create
a deined space for outdoor living
on a large or small scale, and con-
necting that space to the kitchen or
open family room via glass doors is
a smart decision. (For more on creat-
ing an indoor-outdoor kitchen, see
Open for Entertaining, on page 36.)

VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Easy upkeep. [Millennial buyers] love
outdoor spaces, but whereas prior genera-
tions might have gone for the pool, Gen Yers
GO OUTSIDE recognize the maintenance costs associated
Well-equipped with it, Berger says. Theyd much rather
outdoor living
areas help expand see an outdoor fire pit surrounded by a
your homes usable simple seating arrangement.
living space and Water-savvy planting. Dont go for overly
are less expensive lush landscapes, especially in drought-
than an addition. stricken regions with high water costs.

VALUABLE ADDITIONS
Programmable thermostat. The Honey-
well RTH9590WF, $300, at right, proved
easier to use than the Nest in our tests. Both
can be controlled from a phone or computer.
Whole-house generator. Power failures
are an increasing reality, and a generator
can save all of the food in that huge
new fridge (not to mention keeping the
lights on). Stationary generators can
usually power the entire property. A
professionally installed unit can range
from $7,000 to $15,000, according to
Porch, a website connecting users with
home service pros. We like the Generac
6241, $3,500, excluding installation.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 17


IDEA FILE | bold in black & white

Bold
In Black
& White
Vern Yips own kitchen pairs
high-contrast design with
plenty of family-friendly
practicality

D
DESIGNER VERN YIP is a study in
contrasts. Although instantly recogniz-
able from his years as a high-profile
designer and host on HGTV, Yips a
down-to-earth dad. Hes as passionate
about his home life with partner Craig
Koch and their children, Gavin and
Vera, as he is about his busy design
business. That commitment to balanc-
ing fab with family-friendly shows in
every inch of his remodeled Atlanta
kitchen, which started, as so many do,
as a small space cut off from the rest of
the house. We wanted to bring it up to
date with the way we live today, which
is very different from the way people
used their kitchens when the house was
built in 1926, Yip says. The renovation
effectively doubled the space, creating
a large work area open to an adjacent
breakfast room, with cabinets galore
and an island with seating for four.

CABINET DECISIONS
Layout in place, Yip turned to the cabi-
netry, choosing a simple paneled de-
sign and a rich black finish from Omega
Cabinetry, a company he takes care to
note he has no business relationship
with. It was really important to me to
have well-made wood cabinets. They

18 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


FAMILY AFFAIR
Vern Yip designed his kitchen
with his family in mind,
choosing durable materials
with classic looks that would
stand up to years of kids and
dogs. A graphic black-and-
white scheme lends a little
designer attitude.
IDEA FILE | bold in black & white

Get the Look


get a lot of wear and tearkids arent
particularly careful when they open or
close a doorand I wanted something
that would really last, he says. When
specifying the cabinet design, he most-
Copy Vern Yips timeless style with
ly avoided the standard arrangement of these look-alike products
upper and lower units separated by a
strip of backsplash. Where we needed
upper cabinets, I tried to extend the
cabinetry from floor to ceilingits a
much more streamlined look, he says.

MATERIAL MATTERS
To create a space with equal parts
beauty and brains, Yip chose a mix of
hard-working materials with timeless
style. Were busy, we have dogs and STRIPED SHADE
kids, so we didnt want anything to be Turn a simple hanging bulb into
fussy, he says. His pretty and practical a focal point with the addition of
a graphic striped shade.
choices include espresso-stained wood Black Horizontal Stripe Giclee
flooring and white Cambria quartz Shade, $60.
countertops with subtle veining that of- lampsplus.com
fers the classic look of marble but with-
out the upkeep. I love Carrara marble,
but I know myselfstains would drive
me crazy, and I didnt want to have
to reseal the stone all the time. Quartz
looks great, and its nonporous. Its
a no-brainer. Beveled subway tile
extends all the way to the ceiling on
the back wall. Its tempting to have
fun with tile, he says. but you have
to think about all the things that will
sit on your counter. Keeping the tile
simple creates a less cluttered look. PRO-STYLE RANGE
If a hefty pro-style range like this one
is beyond your budget, consider one
DESIGNER STYLE

PHOTOS: DAVID A. LAND (PREVIOUS SPREAD, MIDDLE LEFT, AND MIDDLE RIGHT)
of our well-priced picks on page 95.
Of course, Yip was intent on giving Wolf 36 Gas Range, $6,345.
the new space a fresh new look. He subzero-wolf.com
stuck with a simple black-and-white pal-
ette but went big on pattern, painting
the walls with broad stripes and using
his own line of fabrics throughout.
The crystal pendants above the island,
from the London collection he created
for Stonegate Designs, add sparkle and
feature energy-efficient LED bulbs.
Like most people post-remodel, Yip,
HINT OF COLOR STREAMLINED STOOL
who has overseen more projects than A few aqua accents pick up the Designed for a 2001 exhibit at the
he can count, is relieved its overand pretty blue of the painted ceiling. Aqua Museum of Modern Art, this sleek
pleased with the results. The kitchen Center-Striped Tea Towel, $5 for two. seat suits any style space.
fits us perfectly now, he says. athome.com Emeco Counter Stool, $460.
dwr.com

20 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


MOD CHAIR
Inspired by Mies van der Rohes famous
Brno chair, this modern classic makes a
comfortably casual dining chair.
Mies Executive Arm Chair, $750.
modernclassics.com

FUN FABRICS
Limit the palette and even the boldest
SHERWIN-WILLIAMS mix of patterns, like these fabrics from
ALABASTER M530-7 Yips own collection, wont overwhelm.
From left: 03365 Black, $41 per yard;
03356 Black, $51 per yard; and 03364
Black, $41 per yard. To the trade.
trend-fabrics.com
That New
Black Magic
When Vern Yip remodeled his kitchen, he knew SHERWIN-WILLIAMS
one thing for sure: He wanted black cabinets. BLACK MAGIC M530-7
As it happened, Yip was ahead of the curve.
Black-and-white kitchens are a full-fledged
design trend, getting lots of love in the blogo-
sphere. Stephanie Pierce, director of design and
trends at MasterBrand Cabinets, weighs in: At
least 50percent of the designers we work with
are using two or more finishes in their kitchens,
she says. Blacks a natural choice because its SHERWIN-WILLIAMS SLEEK FAUCET
timeless and works with every other color. But OPEN AIR M530-7 This single-handled pull-out faucet has
a sleek silhouette and a spot-resistant
black isnt for every space. If you want a bright
brushed stainless-steel finish.
look in a kitchen with black cabinets, you need to 90Degree High Arc Pullout Faucet,
have plenty of natural light coming in, she says. $818. moen.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 21


IDEA FILE | cozy in color

Cozy in Color
These pretty paint shades from our
top tested brands create a warm and inviting effect

LEMON Sunny yellow is a cheerful


choice for a kitchen. It makes
even a dark room look brighter
Try Behr Marquee and mixes well with a range
(Home Depot), in Spirited of other colors, including lime
Yellow, P290-4, $43 green, as shown here.

22 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


SEA GLASS
Try Valspar Reserve
(Lowes) in
Homestead Resort
Spa Aqua,
5004-5A, $44
Soft, watery blues add
a touch of tranquility
to kitchens in coastal
settingsor anyplace
youd like to tap a
vacation-house vibe.
IDEA FILE | cozy in color

SCARLET
Try: Clark +
Kensington Enamel
in Bold and Beauti-
ful, 06D-5, $32
Theres nothing subtle
about bright red, but
its a surprisingly
versatile shade that
pairs well with a range
of colors from warm
neutrals, to navy blue,
black, or crisp white.
PHOTOS, PREVIOUS SPREAD, FROM LEFT: MARK LOHMAN; CASEY DUNN. THIS SPREAD, FROM LEFT: CLEARY OFARRELL; KARYN R. MILLET

COCOA A subtle neutral with a warm


base is a foolproof starting point
for your kitchens color scheme.
Try Benjamin Moore Adding bright accessories cre-
Aura in Chocolate ates a colorful look without risk-
Mousse, 1025, $54 ing a paint shade you may tire of.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 25


IDEA FILE | double the pleasure

Double the
PleasureA clever update expanded this
kitchens square footage
within the existing footprint,
no expensive addition required

W
WHO SAYS YOU CANT GO HOME AGAIN? Shannon
Harris chose to do just that, buying her childhood
home from her parents and moving in with her
husband, Bradley, and their two daughters. But
though the suburban Atlanta home was long on
memories, the kitchen was short on the kinds of
modern amenities a busy young family needs.
The Harrises had been considering an update
for several years when life forced their hand: A
slow leak from the old refrigerator buckled the
wood floors. And then things got worse. When
they pulled up the wood to replace it, they found
old asphalt tiles underneath, Shannon says. Re-
moving all the asphalt meant taking everything
out of the kitchenbasically a gut jobso while we
were at it we decided to remodel.
Working with architect Kristen Ware of Ware
& Associates and general contractor Jack Mattern
of the local design-build firm Modify Atlanta, the
couple opted not to add on but to reconfigure the
existing space to create a family hub with better
flow and a brighter, more modern look. Like a
lot of 1960s houses, this one was very segmented

26 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


AFTER
A reconfigured layout eliminated
the once-choppy layout and
inaccessible cabinets, creating a
more efficient workspace and a
comfortable family hangout zone.
IDEA FILE | double the pleasure

BEFORE

inside, Mattern says. And its on a wooded lot, so


getting light inside was a challenge. The solution
was threefold: To enlarge the kitchen itself, the de-
sign team extended it into the former breakfast nook,
creating a long, open space. They removed a half wall
that cut the kitchen off from the adjoining family
room, replacing it with a breakfast bar with seating
for two. And they enlarged the existing bay window
to help usher sunlight into the once-dingy space.
Because theyd been dreaming about a remodel
for so long, the Harrises had a pretty good idea of
the look they wanted in the kitchen: Traditional but
clean and simple, Shannon says. They used websites A sleek gray-and-white
such as Houzz to find pictures to share with their palette gives the kitchen a
sophisticated look that
designers, and they worked carefully with the cabi- flows seamlessly into the
net contractor to choose storage that would fit their adjoining family room.
needs, eliminating the old kitchens unusable cor-
ner cabinets and incorporating more drawers than
doors. Before they signed off on the cabinet plan, the BEFORE
couple got to see it in virtual reality. That gave us so The old kitchen occupied a small rectangle bound by a peninsula and cut
much confidence, Shannon says. off from the family room by an awkward half wall. The existing storage was
minimal and relied heavily on difficult-to-access corner cabinets. A breakfast
Bradley, the familys main cook, was in charge of table took up a large portion of the floor plan.
picking the appliances, replacing the old electric range
with a gas cooktop and a pair of wall ovens. Hes a
great baker, so the wall ovens were important, Shan-
non says. A larger fridge comes in handy when the fam-
ily entertainsas they do just about every weekend.
The efficient new layout, improved storage, and
sleek appliances get a boost from the updated look.
Warm wood floors, durable honed granite counters
in a light-reflecting gray, and a mix of geometric
backsplash tiles create a space thats as easy on the
eyes as it is to cookand livein. Of course, its still
the same kitchen Shannon grew up in. But now it
feels like its really ours, she says.

28 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


The contractor suggested a
highly textured local wood
for the bay window to help
add richness and call
attention to the detail.

AFTER
Moving the breakfast table to a nearby sunroom allowed for a longer run
PHOTOS, THIS SPREAD AND PREVIOUS: LAUREN RUBINSTEIN (AFTER)

of counters on one side of the kitchen and seating for two. Reconfiguring
a doorway on the opposite wall created more space for appliances.
A freestanding island adds prep space but can move aside if not needed.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 29


IDEA FILE | instant makeover

Instant
Makeover
You dont have to renovate to get a new look.
A few easy pieces will do the trick.

PHOTO, LEFT: JEFF HERR

ECLECTIC MIX
With equal parts rustic
and modern, this space
has a fun, personal style
thats easy to copy
even on a budget.

30 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Ideas to Steal

POP OF COLOR
A few bright accessories add energy
to open shelving displayswithout
adding clutter.
Linework vase, Maze, BOLD FIXTURE
$44; westelm.com A show-stopping pendant, like this one
based on a well-known Mid-Century Modern
design, creates a focal point in an otherwise
simple space.
Arteriors Zanadoo 12-light chandelier,
$2,160; lumens.com
COUNTRY CONTRAST
Variety is the spice of lifeand of kitchen
design. Classic country-French chairs in a
mix of metal and wood are an unexpected
match to a modern breakfast table.
Cadence dining side chair in aged elm,
$199; arhaus.com
LOW-PROFILE SHELVES
Open shelving instead of upper cabinets
provides inexpensive storage in a space-
challenged kitchen.
DeanPenn reclaimed 36 wood shelving,
$40 each; etsy.com RUSTIC TOUCH
A handcarved wood bowl lends
natural texture to balance smooth and
Rich Base shiny kitchen surfaces.
A coat of high-gloss navy Root Wood bowl, medium,
blue paint on the base $58; bambeco.com
cabinets has a grounding
efect in a bright space.
SLEEK APPLIANCES
You can get the look of pro-style appliances
without the high price. Our top-rated ranges
BEHR GLAM HARDWARE
ELEGANT NAVY M530-7 on page 95 mix performance with great style.
Go for the gold: It mixes beautifully with
stainless steel. Samsung NX58H5600SS 30-inch gas range,
$800; samsung.com
BEHR Lewis Dolin 5-inch bar pull in brushed brass,
SIMPLY WHITE BWC-01 $11.61 each; thehardwarehut.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 31


IDEA FILE | instant makeover

MODERN LOVE
Clean lines, warm
wood, and plenty of
gleaming stone and
steel create a look
thats current and
inviting.
PHOTO, LEFT: JEFF HERR

32 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Ideas to Steal
SLEEK SEATING
Sculptural chrome bar stools are as cool as
they are comfy. Bonus: The backless design
doesnt block the view of the kitchen from ad-
joining areas when the stools are unoccupied.
HANDSOME HOOD
Turn a function into a design feature by Freddy adjustable bar stool, $361;
choosing a range hood that holds its own, sleekmodernfurniture.com
like this one with a strong, angular profile
in shining stainless steel.
Broan convertible wall-mounted range hood, THRICE AS NICE
$479; lowes.com Pendant lights dont have to cost a fortune:
Hanging multiples of bargain-priced
fixtures will make a big impact (and brighten
your space).
Home Decorators Collection 1-light pendant,
$66; homedepot.com

BACK SPLASH
An allover geometric pattern in a neutral
color scheme draws the eye to the back-
splash, helping a small space look larger.
Kiln chevron milk-white ceramic tile,
$47 per square foot; modwalls.com

FUNCTIONAL FUN
Add a splash of color on the cooktop by
picking bright cookware thats pretty enough
to leave out all of the time.
Le Creuset Signature 7.25-quart round Cool Attitude
Caribbean French oven with lid, Pale gray walls and white
$360; crateandbarrel.com
trim provide crisp, clean
contrast with the warmth of
natural wood inishes.

VALSPAR
NOTRE DAME 5006-1B

VALSPAR
BRIGHT IDEA TIMELY TOUCH PARAMOUNT WHITE 7006-22
A colorful lacquered tray is both A few minimalist elements add style, subtly.
decorative and useful. Clemens clock,
Convenience Concepts Palm Beach serving tray, $87; franceandson.com
$29; walmart.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 33


IDEA FILE | instant makeover

PHOTOS: ANDREA RUGG/COLLINSTOCK (LEFT); HEATHER KNIGHT (TOP)

COUNTRY CHIC
French country
accents help create
an elegant but
comfortable look
thats easily adaptable.

34 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Ideas to Steal
TIMELESS TILE
You cant go wrong with subway tile. It creates
a clean, pulled-together effect in almost
any style spaceand it wont break the bank.
Cobble subway tile,
TOUCHABLE TEXTURE $18 per square foot; homedepot.com
A pale color scheme gains character from
plenty of rich natural texture.
Medium scallop bowl,
$70; elementclaystudio.com

Bright Backdrop
Work an all-white palette
by choosing two contrast-
ing shades: one slightly
gray, the other pure white.

CLARK+KENSINGTON FRESH GREENS


STORMY WEATHER CW-C7 Edible plants, like a windowsill herb garden
or a miniature citrus tree, lend an appealing
ATTENTION GETTER living element to your kitchen.
CLARK+KENSINGTON Create a bold transition from workspace
Similar: Nagami kumquat tree,
SILENT WHITE CW-C1 to entertaining area by hanging a dramatic
$80 for a 2- to 3-foot tree; brighterblooms.com
chandelier above the dining table.
Napa East Collection wine barrel chandelier,
$1,799; wayfairsupply.com

TAILORED TOUCHES
For a sophisticated look, pick hardware with
simple shapes and subtle shine. Brushed
nickel fits well with a French-inspired look.
From left: Amerock 3-inch centers cup pull
CAFE CLASSIC in satin nickel, $2.59; Amerock Rochdale
Designed in France in 1934, this timeless
1-inch knob in satin nickel, $4.50; Schlage
style lends an appealing French accent
F10 Series Passage Andover doorknob with
to a casual dining area.
Addison rose in satin nickel,
Tolix Marais A chair, $56; myknobs.com
$275; dwr.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 35


IDEA FILE | open for entertaining
Open for
Entertaining
See how a pair of design pros gave
their kitchen an easy indoor-outdoor
flow. Then get tips for creating your
own party-perfect living spaces.

A
AFTER A FUN FAMILY BEACH VACATION, Blake Farrow, a builder
in Ontario, Canada, and his wife, Marina Farrow, an interior
designer, decided to renovate their lives. They sold their city
home and bought a dilapidated 1970s ranch on three acres
outside of town with the goal of creating a place for their family
to come together in nature. The setting was perfect. The house,
not so much. "It was very Brady Bunch," Blake says. A gut reno-
vation and a large addition solved that problem. Now the couple
and their three children enjoy a spread designed with flexibility
and a connection to the great outdoors in mind.
Blake describes the kitchen, a grand space outfitted for seri-
ous cooking and large-scale entertaining, as the "heartbeat"
of the house. So the couple took particular care to build in a
warm, casual style. "We wanted it to feel comfortable whether
it's just the family or a party for 100," Blake says. The latter is a
fairly common occurrence chez Farrow, and they planned ac-
cordingly. When the weather cooperates, a wall of sliding glass
doors can be opened to create a seamless flow to the outdoor
living areas. And "all the furniture is on wheels, so we can push
the table outside or move everything to create a dance floor,"
Marina says. "When entertaining is easy, it's more fun."

SMOOTH TRANSITION
The wall of sliding glass doors links inside
and out year-round. "Even when it's too
cold to be outside, you still feel sur-
rounded by nature," Blake Farrow notes.
To ensure that the connection was truly
seamless, the Farrows built the cedar
deck to the same level as the polished
concrete kitchen floor. "We wanted kids
and everyone else to be able to run in and
out without tripping," Marina Farrow says.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 37


IDEA FILE | open for entertaining

INDOOR KITCHEN
Marina's stylish kitchen design is
long on practicality. "We didn't want
to add any maintenance to our life,"
she says. So she chose easy-care
materials like tough quartz for the
countertops and grainy oak for the
cabinets. And she included features
to suit her cooking tastes: a built-in
pizza oven (not shown), a lower
counter for comfortable dough
rolling, and a huge refrigerator for
party-food storage.

OUTDOOR KITCHEN
PHOTO, PREVIOUS SPREAD: ROBIN STUBBERT/GAP INTERIORS
Blake loves to barbecue, and he
took care to design an outdoor
cooking area that's accessible for
year-round use. "We created an
overhang so the grills are sheltered,
and installed galvanized metal
behind them because it's fireproof
and easy to clean," he explains.
Fire-resistant horse-stall rubber
matting lines the deck under the
grills, protecting the cedar and pro-
viding a cushy standing surface.

38 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Connect
Indoors and Out
A close link to outdoor
spaces can make your
kitchen feel bigger. Here,
three ways to create low:

ADD A PASS-THROUGH
The simple addition of an exterior
countertop turns a window into a
functional feature. This configura-
tion allows the cook to interact with
guests as they enjoy outdoor areas,
makes it easy to transfer food and
dishes, and creates a handy bar or
buffet space.

USE WOOD AND STONE


Natural materials create a visual
link between an indoor kitchen and
the house's natural surroundings.
Granite is a wise choice for outdoor
countertops because it stands up
well to the elements.
PHOTOS, CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: ROBIN STUBBERT/GAP INTERIORS (2); DARLENE HALABY; CASEY DUNN (2)

GO FOR A GLASS WALL


Sliding glass wallswide expanses
of doors that stack at one end or slip
into a channel in the wall, appearing
to "disappear"are a newly popular
design feature. NanaWall, the maker
of the system used by the Farrows
and shown below, was one of the first
to introduce the look, but a number
of companies offer similar products.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 39


IDEA FILE |

Take It Outside
Expand your kitchen
with a space that's
great for grilling

Outdoor kitchens and entertaining


areas are popular for good reason.
"They let you extend your home's
living space without making a big
investment in an addition," says
Leslie Wheeler, communications
director for the Hearth, Patio, &
Barbecue Association.

It's easy to create an appealing


outdoor space on a budget. You
can start simply by lighting up the
night with long-lasting LEDs and a
portable fire pit to gather around.
Underfoot, gravel walkways and
patios are a lower-cost alternative
to stone and concrete. Overhead,
a ceiling fan keeps the breeze
moving. Outdoor fireplaces,
and especially fire pits, have
become popular hot spots as
homeowners look to make the
most of the space. You dont have
to do everything at once. Take a
multiyear approach, if necessary,
because poor planning or working
with inferior materials to save
money are the biggest mistakes
people make. And last, choose
a great grill. Our top three are
pictured on the next page.

40 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


MONEY MATTERS
SCREEN STAR
Most gas grills sell for
less than $300 and are Keep the mosquitos
used for three years, on from feasting on
average. Spending $400 you by tucking your
to $600 can get you a outdoor kitchen inside
top-performing midsized a screened porch. Tip:
grill; $600 to $900 can Factor ventilation into
get you a large one. your plans or risk get-
ting smoked out.

GREAT GAS GRILLS


Consumer Reports puts gas grills through a battery of tests for evenness,
indirect cooking, temperature range,
convenience, and more. Here, our top picks at every size.

c CR c CR
Best Buy Best Buy

MIDSIZED LARGE SMALL


NEXGRILL 720-0830H NAPOLEON PRESTIGE HUNTINGTON
(HOME DEPOT) PRO 665RSIB 630124
PHOTO, LEFT: TOM MARKS/MCKINNEY GROUP

$270 $2,600 $140


Superb preheating and This pricey pick performed This nicely priced model
even cooking put this grill very well overall. Perks preheated quickly and showed
at the top of our list. It has include 600 sq. in. of impressive temperature range
four burners, electronic grill surface, an infrared and indirect cooking perfor-
ignition, and a side burner. rotisserie and side burner,
mance. It has three burners and
homedepot.com and lighted controls.
napoleongrills.com a push-button ignition.
huntingtonbbq.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 41


IDEA FILE | remodeling surv ival g uide

Remodeling
Survival Guide
Consumer Reports latest survey of
300general contractors revealed
some shady pro practices and costly
mistakes homeowners make.
Heres how to avoid the common pitfalls
on the road to a beautiful new kitchen.

P
The Planning
PLANNING TO TACKLE that big kitchen renovation
this year? Welcome to the club. Home improvement
spending is projected to reach $155billion in 2016,

Phase
according to Harvard Universitys Joint Center for
Housing Studies. And the construction industry has
shed more than 2million jobs since 2007.
Though the number of remodeling pros has
declined, there are still less experiencedand less
scrupulousones out there, according to a recent Proper planning is the best predictor
survey of 300general contractors from around the of satisfaction and will minimize the
country conducted by the Consumer Reports number of costly changes you make once
National Research Center. Among the shady prac- the work is underway. So before you even
tices general contractors reported are contractors think of looking for a contractor, youll
using unskilled laborers, and winning jobs with need to spend time gathering ideas and
lowball bids and then jacking up the cost later with taking a hard look at your own budget.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ZELA LOBB

unforeseen problems. A 2015 report from Houzz, a home-design


Our survey asked crucial questions such as: website, found that half of homeowners
How much wiggle room is in the estimate? What who renovated their kitchen gathered
are the biggest homeowner mistakes? How long ideas for six months or longer. Orga-
do projects really take? The answers inform this nize your inspirational photos by using
guide. Follow our advice and you could save Houzzs ideabook feature or starting a
thousands without compromising qualityor Pinterest page; an old-fashioned scrap-
losing your cool. book will also work well.

42 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


most charge fees between 4and 7percent
of the total budgetvs. the 10to 20percent
most architects charge. Whether you opt for
an architect or a designer, insist on 3D draw-
ings: Theyll help you visualize the remod-
eled space better than flat elevations will.
Establish a system of checks and balances
between your designer and your contractor
from the start. Its those big decisions made
in the first 10to 15percent of the design
process that have the most impact on cost,
says Marc Truant, president of a design-
build firm based in Boston. An experienced ASSEMBLING
GC will help you head off things you cant af-
ford before you pay for finished drawings.
A WINNING
Though word-of-mouth referrals are best, TEAM
real estate agents can also provide leads to
Know which key
reputable GCs. The National Association
players you needand
of the Remodeling Industry offers a direc-
when youll need them
tory of certified contractors on its website,
at nari.org. (Its members must go through
extensive screening and testing, and adhere ARCHITECT
to a strict code of ethics.) Online home What They Do
services, such as Angies List, HomeAdvisor, Listen to your ideas, help you
and Porch, can also help you find pros. think through the design, and
Remember these rules as you go through the translate all of it into detailed
architectural drawings for the
vetting process: general contractor to follow.
When You Need One
CHECK CREDENTIALS. Youre knocking down walls
Even if they come with a glowing review or changing your homes struc-
As excited as you might be to get started, from your sister-in-law, you still need tural or mechanical systems.
What They Charge
avoid the temptation to rush: Chances are to check the bona fides of every profes- 10to 20percent of overall
youll be living with the results of the project sional on your short list. In our survey, project cost.
for a long time, so youll want to get it right. almost one-fifth of GCs lacked either a
Consider factoring major life changes into state license or the proper insurance, and
GENERAL
your plan, which could include low-profile 9percent lacked both. Though proper CONTRACTOR
transitions between rooms or an open-plan credentials arent a guarantee of quality, What They Do
layout to accommodate your future teenage theyre a good sign that the GC runs a repu- These MVPs take charge of
kids and their friends. table business. Whats more, our survey the project from start to finish,
Once you have a clear idea of what youd found that fully accredited GCs are better managing the schedule and
like to do and how much you can spend, its at holding down costs when unexpected hiring plumbers, electricians,
and all other subcontractors.
time to bring in the pros. For major projects problems arise. The Contractors License GCs also secure all necessary
like a gut kitchen renovation you should Reference Site (at contractors-license.org) local building permits.
PHOTO, RIGHT: CHRIS TURNER/GETTY IMAGES

gather your entire team as early as possible. has information on licensing requirements When You Need One
See Assembling a Winning Team, at right, by state and a list of licensed pros. A job is too big to do
for details. Its always best to have the ar- on yourown.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. What They Charge
chitect and the general contractor working 25percent.
together right from the start, says Dawn Trust and a good rapport between you and
Zuber, an architect based in Canton, Mich. your contractor are essential. Any negative (continued on page 44)
If youre not knocking down walls or feelings you have during the initial inter-
making other structural changes, an inte- view (Too bossy? Condescending? Rushed?)
rior designer or a certified kitchen and bath will only intensify as the project heats up.
designer can probably draw up the plans; Its also important to understand how a

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 43


IDEA FILE | remodeling surv ival g uide

ASSEMBLING A GC communicates during a project and certified home inspector. Larger contract-
WINNING TEAM to be comfortable with that method. Ask ing companies might offer a pre-inspection
(continued from page 43) whether youll be dealing with him directly, as part of their overall service. Youll still
or whether hell be delegating the job to one have to deal with any problems found, but
of his project managers (if the latter, make not in the last-minute manner that can
INTERIOR OR KITCHEN sure to vet the manager, too). Some GCs rely quickly blow the budget.
DESIGNER
on email or handwritten notes, and others
What They Do
Help with design choices, such use construction management software, GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING.
as selecting a kitchen counter- which lets a homeowner track scheduling, No matter how much faith you have in
top or the tile and tub for the payments, shipments, and more. your GC, a written contract is an essential
bathroom. Budget permitting, protection for both of you. It should specify
its worth considering a de- BE FLEXIBLE ON THE BUDGET. the full scope of the work, including a
signer for the unique knowledge
he or she brings. Find certified The number you start out with during the detailed breakdown of labor and mate-
designers through the National planning phase is likely to change when you rial costs for each part of the project. For
Kitchen & Bath Association begin to see what materials cost. GCs have example, the electrical costs shouldnt be a
(nkba.org) or the American to make similar calculations, factoring what single dollar amount. The contract should
Society of Interior
they think the job will cost against their own list the number of outlets, switches, and
Designers (asid.org).
When You Need One profit margins and unforeseen expenses. fixtures, including all model numbers. It
Trying to decide among granite, should also state a start and completion
quartz, and laminate counter- ALWAYS NEGOTIATE. date (ask for a penalty fee of, say, $50 to
tops is driving you insane. Only 4percent of the GCs in our survey $100 for every day past the deadline) and
What They Charge
said they are never willing to negotiate the include a payment schedule, such as a
4to 7percent.
price of a job (66percent are somewhat 5percent initial deposit with the remain-
INTERIOR DECORATOR willing, and 30percent are very willing). der paid at defined milestones.
What They Do Getting bids from at least three GCs will Be sure the contract also spells out exclu-
These tastemakers offer guid- give you a sense of the market rate and sions, or whats not included. Want to save
ance on decorative style, color,
provide bargaining power. Conventional money by handling the debris removal?
furnishings, and other aesthetic
concerns. wisdom holds that you should throw out That must be stipulated. For major projects,
When You Need One the highest bid, but if you think that the GC include an arbitration clause. Should a major
Never, really, but their advice offering it is the best for the job, its worth dispute arise that cant be settled in good
can be the difference between trying to get a lower price. faith, the clause provides language for reso-
a room thats so-so and one
Keeping the business of a repeat cus- lution outside the court system, often with
thats sensational. And they can
help you avoid expensive mis- tomer was the biggest reason to haggle, a state-appointed mediator. As for the fine
takes and know which corners cited by 75percent of GCs, who reported print, watch out for allowances, which give
you can safely cutand which offering a median discount of 10percent. the GC a lot of leeway in the prices of materi-
will cost you over the long term. So if more work is coming down the line, als, and can end up busting the budget.
What They Charge
be sure to mention that. Combining proj-
5to 20percent.
ects could also save you in the long run: COVER YOUR ASSETS.
RENOVATION Two-thirds of GCs said they offer discounts Nine out of 10GCs in our survey say they
CONSULTANT on multiroom jobs. provide a written guarantee for their
What They Do work, so insist on one in the contract. The
Help you plan, determine your BE PREPARED FOR SURPRISES. median time period was 15months, with
budgettheyll even be the
liaison between you and the GC When we asked GCs about job-related 14percent of respondents promising more
during the entire renovation. (as opposed to people-related) problems than three years of coverage. Even if your
When You Need One that lead to delays or cost overruns, they contract doesnt include a guarantee, youll
Youre working on a large, said that many of the culprits are hidden enjoy some protection if the contractor is
expensive, multiroom project
behind wallselectrical wiring that isnt licensed. For example, Californias Con-
and you dont have time to
manage it yourselfor you up to code, for example. Even though most tractors State License Board will rule on
want a lot of hand-holding. contractors plan for those contingencies, complaints involving patent defects (such
What They Charge we recommend adding at least a 10percent as a cabinet thats coming off the wall) for
Up to 5percent. cushion to cover such surprises. up to four years and on latent structural
On major projects its worth paying a few defects (like a buckling foundation) for up
hundred dollars for a pre-inspection by a to 10years.

44 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


CONTRACT
The Work Phase
couple of light fixtures in the hall, but that
means the GC has to get the electrician
back in, and probably the painter, too.
PLAYERS
The domino effect quickly adds up, and Most kitchen renovations
the homeowner foots the bill. are covered by one of these
Remodeling is always full of uncertainty. two types of contracts.
I always tell my clients to bump up their COMMUNICATE WITH THE GC. Choose wisely.
estimates of time and money by 20per- Engaging the subcontractors directly of-
cent, says Bruce Irving, a renovation con- ten creates conflict. If you have a question
sultant based in Cambridge, Mass. Accord- about their workor their behaviortell FIXED-PRICE
ing to our survey, kitchen projects require the GC and let him or her handle it.
CONTRACTS
With a fixed-price contract, the
a median of three weeks to complete, but Though you shouldnt engage the
general contractor provides an
a third of them take longer. subcontractors, you do need to be sure estimate covering labor, materials,
The work is messy, too. If theres any theyre being paid. If theyre not, you profit margin, and a cushion for
way for you to move out, at least during could be held liable. Stipulate in the contingencies. If the contractor
the dusty demolition phase, youll mini- contract that the GC will provide you with exceeds the budget for a foresee-
able reasonunderestimating the
mize stressalong with possible exposure lien releases (basically proofs of pay-
cost of the drywall installation, for
to hazardous materials. If your home ment) signed by the GC and subcontractor examplehe or she is on the hook.
was built before 1978, your GC will need throughout the project. That can be advantageous for the
to follow the Environmental Protection homeowner, but it can also affect
Agencys Lead Renovation, Repair and DONT DEMO YOUR MARRIAGE. the quality of the work if the
contractor cuts corners to stay
Painting Rule, which includes containing Client-contractor relations arent the only
on budgetby ordering cheaper
lead dust with plastic sheeting and dispos- ones that get tested on a remodel. Couples drywall, perhaps. Also, if the
ing of debris in heavy-duty bags. often feel the strain as well. Consider a project comes in under budget,
Store valuable items far from the January 2016 survey from Houzz, which the contractor pockets the profit,
worksite. If you have to stay in the house, found that 41percent of people who which again could encourage
subpar work.
a good contractor will help you find ways remodeled with their partner found the
to keep disruptions to a minimum, by experience frustrating; 7percent felt they COST-PLUS
setting up a food-prep space and relocat- needed couples counseling,and 5percent CONTRACTS
ing the refrigerator, for instance, during a even considered a breakup. A cost-plus contract covers
kitchen renovation. These other tips will labor, materials, and profit but
does not include an amount for

The Post-Project
save you trouble once the work begins:
contingencies. Instead, additional
charges are passed along to the
STAY INVOLVED. homeowner. That could put you at

Phase
You cant just write the contractor a a disadvantage if youre embark-
checkthen check out. Even if youve ing on a complicated project that
might reveal expensive unknowns.
moved out of the house, plan on a couple
If the project comes in under
of in-person meetings every week and budget, however, you keep the
more frequent meetings at crucial points, savings. Whats more, the contrac-
such as during the demolition phaseor Theres no such thing as perfection on a tor has no incentive to scrimp.
before tile is installed (changing the remodeling job. That said, dont make the If you trust your contractor,
cost-plus will almost always save
layout or grout color can be difficult and final payment until youre 100percent
you money and give you the best
costly once work has started). satisfied with the project. quality product, says Frank
Montgomery, a contractor based
STICK TO THE PLAN. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE. in Franklin, N.C. Most cost-plus
Changing your mind after the work is Word-of-mouth still rules, but the contracts come with a guaranteed
maximum price, or a ceiling on
under way is the biggest mistake home- power of online reviews on sites such as
additional charges. One downside:
owners make, and it can be the costliest, HomeAdvisor and Porch is getting stron- Youll need to stay on top of the
too, according to our survey. So-called ger. Whether you had a great experience paperwork unless you have
change orders, or work that arises after or not, youll be providing a valuable ser- unquestioning faith in your
the contract has been signed, inflate vice to other homeowners (and threaten- contractor.
the budget by an average of 10percent. ing to share a negative experience might
It might be as simple as adding another bring a wayward contractor back in line).

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 45


Buying Guide
CABINETRY
& SURFACES
48 cabinets
54 countertops
60 flooring
66 interior paint

APPLIANCES
72 refrigerators
88 ranges
98 cooktops
106 wall ovens
110 range hoods
112 microwaves
120 dishwashers

FIXTURES & FITTINGS


128 sinks
132 faucets

BUYING
APPLIANCES
134 best appliance stores

46 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


NOTES
FROM THE
TEST LABS

$400,000
Thats how much
Consumer Reports spent
last year buying
appliances to test and rate.

23,053
Thats how many items
including plates smeared with
a sticky mess of egg yolks,
peanut butter, and raspberry
jamwe washed to see which
dishwashers performed best.

7,000
Thats the number of boxes
of frozen spinach we stuffed
into refrigerators we tested
(about 125 per year).

17
Thats the number of
substances we applied to
dishes (baked-on brownie
mix, chili, creamed corn,
eggs, peanut butter, and
more) to sit overnight in the
dishwashers we tested.
BUYING GUIDE | cabinets

MIX FINISHES
Combining two or more
cabinet finishes gives your
space a more personal, less
cookie-cutter look.
Cabinets
HIGH-QUALITY STORAGE ON YOUR BUDGET: HERES WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO SHOP SMARTER

cabinetry. Use this buying guide to help You'll find that a little research

C
abinets can be your biggest
expense when remodeling; it you choose. (Note that Consumer Re- beforehand can often save you time
may account for up to 40per- ports doesn't test cabinets at this time.) at the store and money. Check manu-
cent of your budget. Not only It used to be that dovetail joints inside facturer and retail websites as well
that, they set the stage for your kitchen, the drawers were practically all you as catalogs, then take a good look at
and you'll have them for years. That's needed to distinguish high-end cabinets. store displays. You'll be able to tell the
why choosing cabinets is so daunting. That has blurred as more manufacturers quality cabinets from the polished pre-
White cabinets are popular again and offer premium features even on low-end tenders once you know where to look.
so are cabinet styles that are less fussy lines. Indeed, tests have found that you And trust your taste. A kitchen should
and more streamlined, such as the clean can have once-exclusive features and complement the rest of your home, so
lines and square corners of Shaker still wind up with shoddy construction. choose what you love.

WHATS
NEW

Gray matters.
White cabinets will never go out
of style, but the recent enthu-
siasm for all shades of gray has
made its mark on cabinets as
well. Whether you paint every-
thing in this cool neutral (left) or
choose a two-tone effect with
gray only on the base cabinets
or island, it's a very livable color
that's not likely to lose luster
anytime soon.
Integrated lighting.
Undercabinet lighting is an es-
sential and relatively inexpen-
sive upgrade. But now cabinet
designers are installing lighting
in more places, including fix-
tures that turn on automatically
when you open drawers and
cabinet doors.
Easy accessibility.
Touch-to-open drawer and
door releases are catching on,
though they're still not a widely
available feature. Easier-to-find:
PHOTOS: JANE BEILES

Pull-out storage that cuts down


on uncomfortable bending.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 49


BUYING GUIDE | cabinets

Steps to Success
SET THE BUDGET
1 Cabinets fall into three categories: stock, semi-custom,
and custom. Stock cabinets start around $70per
linear foot. (A typical kitchen has 25 to 30linear feet
of cabinets.) Home centers sell them fully assembled.
Stores like Ikea offer flat-pack versions that need to
be put together on site; styles and sizes tend to be
fairly limited. Semi-custom cabinets, which range from
$150 to $250 per linear foot, come in more configura-
tions, so theyll fit your kitchen more precisely, if not
perfectly. Custom cabinets can cost $500 or more
per linear foot. Theyre crafted to your specs and can
include many personalized features.

CHOOSE A STYLE
2 The big decision is between framed and frameless.
Framed cabinets consist of a box and face frame to
which doors and drawers are attached. Frameless
cabinets, often referred two as European-style, elimi-
nate the face frame; doors and drawers are attached
directly the cabinet box. That provides great accessi-
bility and a more contemporary look. On the downside,
the absence of a face frame can compromise rigidity.
Some manufacturers compensate by using a thicker
boxsay, -inch plywood instead of -inch particle-
board. For the European look in a framed cabinet, opt
for a full-overlay door, which covers the face frame.
DETAILS COUNT
PICK THE FEATURES Give basic cabinet

3 Accessories can improve cabinet functionality, but


theyll also increase the cost by 20 percent or more.
units a high-end look
by adding extras
like glass doors and
A pull-out trash can is a worthwhile addition. Built-in chunky, high-impact
charging stations are helpful, too. But appliance hardware.
garages, those countertop compartments designed to
conceal small appliances, dont always offer the best
organization. Instead, consider a lift cabinet with a
spring-loaded shelf that swings up and out, provid-
ing easy access to a mixer, a food processor, or other
hefty devices.
Youll save money by keeping features to the es-
On the Market
sential. But it doesnt pay in the long run to skimp on
Cabinets can vary greatly in price. Heres an overview of the
the construction. A well-built cabinet has solid wood three main types of cabinets that youll ind at stores.
drawers with dovetail joinery, not stapled particleboard;
BASIC
full-extension drawer guides rather than an integrated
Often called stock, they're are inexpensive, off-the-shelf cabinets. Some are
rail; and doors with solid wood frames surrounding a
fully assembled; others will need to be assembled on site. Many are frameless,
solid wood or plywood panel instead of veneered par-
meaning the door has no lip or "reveal" around it.
ticleboard or a medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panel.
PROS: They're a money-saving choice if you aren't too picky about style op-
tions or don't demand a perfect fit. More of them have better drawers, solid
wood doors, and other once-pricey features. And we found basic models that
held up better in our tests than some more-expensive models.
CONS: Many basic boxes are thinly veneered particleboard rather than higher-
quality plywood. Style and trim options, sizes, and accessories are still limited.
Figure on an hour or more of assembly time for each set of cabinets.

50 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


GREAT LEGS
Furniture-style
elements like turned
legs on an island
add individuality.

MIDLEVEL
These semi-custom models are a sound choice for most kitchens. Many are
made with face-frame construction, where a solid wood frame is visible around
the door and drawers.
PROS: Midlevel models offer many made-to-order custom options regarding
size, materials, finish, crown moldings and other trim, and accessories such as
range-hood covers. That can make them the best value overall because you'll
get the look you want without a custom price.
CONS: As with basic cabinets, features and quality can vary considerably.
Boxes may be veneered particleboard rather than higher-quality plywood.

Organized
Inside and Out
Working in a clutter-free kitchen is easier and more enjoyable.
Before you order your cabinets, start by making a list of all of
the items you plan to store, including pots and pans, utensils,
dinnerware, dry goods, and dish towels. Make sure youll have
easy-to-access spots for everything, plus a bit of room to grow.
Here are some popular storage options to consider as you plan
your cabinet layout:

Drawer dividers for corralling perfect for holding shallow


small items such as cooking items such as cookie sheets,
utensils and flatware. trays, and place mats.
PHOTOS: ALEX HAYDEN (BOTTOM RIGHT); CHIPPER HATTER (TOP RIGHT);

Pantry cabinets that feature Lift cabinets with spring-


roll-out trays and adjustable loaded shelves that swing
door racks. up and out to provide easy
Slide-out wastebaskets to access to mixers and food
keep trash easily accessible processors, then tuck away
but neatly out of sight. when theyre not in use.
PREMIUM Message-center cabinets Cubby units that are installed
Short of custom made-to-order cabinets, these semi-custom models offer the
that include shallow storage underneath wall cabinets to
most style and storage options.
for small items as well as hold wine or water bottles.
PROS: They generally come with plywood boxes and other premium materials
integrated dry-erase message Vertical dividers that neatly
and hardware options. Widths may come in 1/4-inch increments, rather than
GREG RIEGLER (BOTTOM RIGHT)

boards or bulletin boards. shelve cookie sheets and


the typical 3 inches, so they can fit your space perfectly.
Toe-kick cabinets that are trays on their sides. They can
CONS: While generally less expensive than fully made-to-order custom units,
installed between the floor be a good way to fill gaps
models with the most features and of highest quality can cost as much as
and the base of a cabinet, between stock cabinets.
some full-custom units. So get a price from a local cabinetmaker before
you place an order.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 51


BUYING GUIDE | cabinets

Details That Count PARTICLEBOARD PLYWOOD

What separates a well-made cabinet from a


cheap imitation? Here are the features to look
forand what to avoid.
DRAWERS SHELVES
Well-built drawers are critical Look for -inch plywood.
because drawers get the most Lesser-quality - or -inch
use. The best ones have solid- particleboard shelves may sag.
wood sides, dovetail joinery,
and a plywood bottom that fits MOUNTING STRIPS
grooves on four sides. Avoid Ask the contractor to use
stapled particleboard. -inch hardwood strips or
metal strips with bolt holes.
HARDWARE Thinner wood, medium-density
Full-extension drawer guides fiberboard, or particleboard
are better than integrated side can be a concern with heavily
rails or undermounted double- loaded wall cabinets.
roller designs. Some premium
models have a soft close DOORS
feature that stops drawers from Most manufacturers ofer a
slamming shut. Many cabinet similar range of options for all
models allow you to upgrade of their price levels. Look for a
the drawer guides. As for door solid wood frame surrounding
hinges, in past tests we didnt solid wood or plywood panels.
find any significant diferences
among the diferent types.

Get the
Installation Right
A good, safe installation can installer, talk with suppliers
prevent boxes from warping, and, if possible, at least three
ensure that doors sit flush, former customers to find out
and even keep wall cabinets how the work has held up. Ask
from falling. When the installer for copies of the installers
comes to give an estimate, insurance certificates as well.
have a plan handy. That way, he Certification in kitchen and bath
can account for the height and remodeling from the National
type of the new wall cabinets, Association of the Remodeling
the sofits, the location of Industry is a plus; it indicates
electrical outlets and plumbing, a high level of professionalism.
and other variables. Make For safetys sake, shore up the
sure the estimate includes the wall mountings. And be certain
removal and disposal of your the installer reinforces the
existing cabinets and any other mounting strips well if theyre
demolition. Before hiring an made of thin particleboard.

52 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Fake a
Custom Look
If youre buying budget-friendly stock
or semi-custom cabinets, you dont have
to settle for the ordinary. Decorative
design elements can give even basic
stock cabinets a more personalized look
in an array of styles, including country,
modern, and traditional.

Accent doors, available in a variety


of stylestextured or colored, frosted
glass, and stainless steelcan enhance
visual interest or create an industrial
look, suggests Janet Vanderlugt, kitch-
ens manager for Ikea.

Moldings, which range in style from


simple and classic to elegant and ornate,
can be added to the top, bottom, or edge
of cabinets as a finishing touch, or along
the bottom of wall cabinets to conceal
undercabinet lighting. Just be sure that
the style you choose suits the look of
your cabinets.

Legs (or feet) added to the base of


built-in cabinets create the effect of
freestanding furniture.
You can find decorative trim pieces
such as corbels, corner details, onlays,
MAKE A LIST and turnings for a great price in local
Inventory all lumber stores and home centers.
the things you
want to store,
so youre sure to
plan a place for
everything.

Pick a
Winning Finish
The finish you choose for your and author of The Kitchen For those in the market for
cabinets can set the tone for Designer blog. And its popu- something a bit more modern,
PHOTO, TOP RIGHT: PLAIN & FANCY CUSTOM CABINETRY

your entire kitchen. Options in- lar today as an easy look that matte and high-gloss finishes
clude clean and modern looks can be used to interpret any are available in almost every
for contemporary kitchens and kitchen-design theme. color (not to mention trendy
deep, rich woods for traditional If you prefer a more natural metallics, black, and white).
elegance and distressed fin-
ishes for a vintage effect.
look, consider a finish that
reveals the wood grain of the
If you cant choose just one
finish, create a layered look
TIP
The right choice for your cabinet rather than obscuring by combining two or more. To Glass doors add a light, stylish
kitchen depends on your per- it. Glazed finishes, for example, complement a natural wood look, but use them judiciously. If
sonal styleand your lifestyle. add soft, translucent color on finish, for example, add an your cabinet interiors are less-
The white kitchen is a true top of the wood but also allow accent cabinet in an opaque than-pristine, choose frosted
classic, says Susan Serra, a the beauty of the grain to show color, such as pale yellow or panes or only use glass for display
certified kitchen designer, cer- through. But that finish often blue, or in a neutral. Or go bold cabinets, as shown here.
tified aging-in-place specialist, comes at a premium price. in one area, such as the island.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/kitchen-cabinets/buying-guide.htm 53


BUYING GUIDE | countertops

Countertops
BEAUTY, DURABILITY, AND EASY MAINTENANCE ARE JUST
A FEW OF THE ATTRACTIONS OUR TOP-RATED SURFACING MATERIALS OFFER

s chameleons go, quartz is im- can see why quartz is gaining in popu- variation among brands, except for

A pressive. The man-made stone


offers an increasingly realistic
look mimicking materials such
as marble, granite, concrete, and more.
But quartz offers easier maintenance
larity. Quartz is also top-rated in our
tests, narrowly edging out granite.
To test durability we stained, sliced,
scratched, scorched, and nicked 14
materials, including the ultracompact
recycled glass, so weve rated materials.
In some instances, the finish can
also affect a materials performance. So
youll see some materials listed more
than once in our Ratings, on page 59.
than those materials. Combine those surface called Dekton. We found big To choose the countertop thats right
qualities with granite fatigue and you differences among materials but little for your budget and space, read on.

MAINTENANCE MATTERS
Tough quartz surfacing
stands up to most stains
without yearly sealing.

54 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


WHATS
NEW

The trend for neutral hues in the kitchen


continues, as evidenced by the products
that manufacturers rolled out at the years
biggest design shows. If youre embarking
on a remodel or just looking to give the
space a gentle face-lift, here are a handful
of options that combine good looks with
the promise of solid performance:

Mid-century appeal. Josef Albers, the German-born American


If you want your countertop to be a focal artist, Gray Josef Linen has a distinctly
point, or if the counter is located in another Mid-Century Modern feel, with its geometric
part of the housesay, an adjacent laundry shapes in shades of charcoal, smoke gray,
room or officethis new laminate pattern and white, beneath a fine gray linen. Laminate
from Formica, created by designer Jonathan holds up well in our tests, except for knife
Adler, will certainly turn heads. Inspired by cuts, so youll want to use a cutting board.

Quartz lookalike. Gray matters.


Wilsonart unveiled 19 new solid surfacing Gray continues its reign as the
designs early in 2016, including Dusk Ice, current it color for kitchens and
the soft gray quartz-inspired pattern shown quartz is the toughest material in our
above with medium particulates and mirror countertop tests, so this counter-
chips. Solid surfacing is a good choice for top could start to show up in more
kitchens, but we especially love it in the Pinterest boards and Houzz photos.
bathroom, where the sink and vanity top can The diagonal lines and veining of
be molded out of a single piece of material; Caesarstones Symphony Gray pro-
plus the material is waterproof and small vide an interesting geometry.
scratches can be buffed out.

Steps to 1
GET A SIZABLE SAMPLE
3
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Tiny swatches or pictures cant give you an Laminate looks better than you may remember,
adequate sense of how the material will look and its durable and budget-friendly.
on your counters. So ask for as large a sample

Success as the retailer can get. For natural stone like


granite or marble, be sure to see the actual slab
that would top your counters; natural stone can
vary significantly from store samples.
4 REMEMBER RESALE VALUE
Tiles easily stained grout lines, for example,
can raise a red flag for buyers. Stone
counters impress potential buyers and could
raise the selling price.
MIX AND MATCH
2 Varying countertop materials looks dynamic
and could save you money. For example,
5 HAVE THE INSTALLER
MEASURE
you could choose a more durable or less And make sure the contract includes
expensive material for heavily used areas and everything from the finish to the edges.
something less durable as an accent.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 55


BUYING GUIDE | countertops

TRUE OR FAUX
If you love classic
white marble,
consider look-alike
quartz, which is
more durable.
TIP
Most white stone and quartz
countertops are actually
somewhat gray. Before you

Details That Count


order your counters, be sure
to hold up a sample of your
cabinet finish against the
surfacing youre considering
Small decisions can make the diference in looks and performance to make sure the colors
work well together.
Eased profile EDGE block and concrete counters performed
The edge treatment you choose will affect differently in our tests depending on the
the look of your counters. Trimming sealer used.
laminate counters with wood can create a
higher-end look and prevent chipping. For
SEAMS
stone counters, rounded edges are less
The joints between two slabs of stone or
likely to chip. Straight and beveled edges
pieces of material can make or break the
give a more modern look, and an S-shaped
Bevel profile look. They should be almost invisible in solid-
curve called an ogee offers stone or solid
surfacing and stainless steel countertops.
surfacing a more traditional feel. Some add
For other countertop materials, seems that
to the cost, so check first.
are 1/16 inch or less is standard. Wide joints PHOTOS, FROM LEFT: ANDREA RUGG; DOMINIQUE VORILLON
are a telltale sign of sloppy installation.
FINISH
Quartz and granite are sold with polished
SINK
(glossy) or honed (matte) finishes. In our
Top-mounted sinks, also called drop-ins, sit
tests, both were about the same at fighting
Bullnose profile on top of the counter. Undermount sinks are
stains that were allowed to dry overnight.
installed under the countertop and require
Less common are leather or pebbled
a waterproof countertop material, such
finishes. Granites with proprietary sealers,
as quartz, stainless steel, solid surfacing,
such as Stonemark, performed no better
or concrete. (Water will damage wood or
than regular granite. Matte and grain
laminate countertops.) Stainless steel and
finishes help conceal scratches in stainless
solid surfacing can be used for the counter
steel better than in polished finishes, but
and sink.
expect fingerprints. Quartz performed sim-
Short ogee profile ilarly regardless of the finish, but butcher

56 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


THE WORST
STAINS FOR
EVERY
SURFACE
You might expect mustard and
grape juice to be in a lineup of
worst countertop stain offenders.
But of the 20 household products
in our stain tests, food coloring
and permanent marker proved
to be the toughest to wash away.
Many things stained bamboo,
which is no surprise given its
dismal overall score. And almost
as many items stained limestone
and butcher block with an oil-
rubbed finish. Heres what left a
visible mark on the other counter-
top materials.

Bamboo (beeswax/
mineral oil finish)
Beet juice, coffee, crayon, drain
cleaner, food coloring, pencil,
permanent marker, rust, and tea.

Concrete (with
penetrating sealer)
Food coloring, hot oil, permanent
marker, and shoe polish.

Marble
Food coloring and shoe polish.

Recycled glass
Food coloring.

MIX MASTERY Stainless steel


Mixing materials? Drain cleaner and tarnish remover.
Be sure to use
the more durable
material in the Tile
area that takes Food coloring, crayon, ink,
the most abuse. permanent marker, and rust.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 57


BUYING GUIDE | countertops

QUARTZ GRANITE RECYCLED GLASS


Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $60 TO $120 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros It mimics the look of stone yet Pros Each slab of this natural material is Pros Available in a range of looks, with
needs less maintenance. A combination unique; rare colors and veining cost more. large or fine glass pieces. Most we tested
of mineral, color, and resin, quartz stands Heat, cuts, and scratches didnt harm gran- resisted stains, cuts, scratches, and heat.
up well to cuts, abrasion, and heat. It ite in our tests. Polished and matte finishes Cons Its the only material for which
comes in vibrant colors and patterns that resisted most stains when properly sealed, we found a difference among brands.
look like granite and marble. so pick the look you prefer. Cosentinos Eco counters were the only
Cons Edges and corners can chip, and Cons Needs periodic resealing. Chips must ones that developed a thin crack during
youll need a pro to repair them. be professionally repaired. our heat tests.

LAMINATE TILE (CERAMIC OR PORCELAIN) ULTRACOMPACT (DEKTON)


Price $10 TO $40 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $5 TO $30 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $60 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros Inexpensive, easy to install, and so Pros Heat-resistant, tile is ideal for Pros Resisted damage from heat, stains,
much better-looking than you probably use near stoves. It comes in many colors, chopping and cutting, and abrasion.
remember, thanks to new printing technol- sizes, and patterns. Cons In our impact tests, pieces of
ogy and decorative edges. Stains and heat Cons It chips. The grout between tiles the edges chipped off, and Dekton, the
didnt damage the laminates we tested. can stain even when its sealed, and it can only ultracompact we tested, cracked into
Cons Cutting directly on laminate mildew. Thinner grout lines and darker two pieces on samples that were 2cen-
easily and permanently damages it, so grout might help somewhat. timeters thick, the manufacturer-recom-
use a cutting board. mended thickness.

SOLID SURFACING SOAPSTONE CONCRETE


Price $35 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $50 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $60 TO $120 PER SQUARE FOOT*
Pros Available in a range of colors and pat- Pros Best for adding the beauty of stone Pros It can be custom-dyed or textured.
terns, it can be used for counters, sink, and to a low-traffic kitchen. It withstands heat Cons It may crack. Durability depends on
backsplash. Color wont vary much from very well; small scratches can be repaired. the fabricators skill and the sealers used.
sample to slab. It resists most stains. Small Slabs vary, so buy from a stone yard. Topical sealers, which resist stains but not
nicks and scratches can be repaired. Cons It is easily sliced, nicked, and heat, arent ideal for kitchens. Penetrating
Cons It scratches and cuts easily, so scratched. Stain resistance is so-so. It must sealers resist heat but not stains, and they
a cutting board is a must. be rubbed with mineral oil periodically. must be reapplied regularly.

58 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


STAINLESS STEEL BUTCHER BLOCK LIMESTONE
Price $50 TO $150 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT* Price $50 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT*

Pros It repels stains and heat, and doesnt Pros It creates a warm, natural look in Pros It offers a stone look without
rust or discolor. Counters can include an any kitchen. Its useful for food preparation heavy veining and resists heat well.
integral sink for a seamless appearance. and is easy to install and repair. Cons Scratches and dings from our
Cons It shows fingerprints, and it dents Cons It might need periodic sealing or dropped 5-pound weight marred
and scratches easily. Matte and grain refinishing to remove cuts, dings, and the surface of this soft, porous stone,
finishes hide damage better. Stainless steel scratches. Its finish affects performance. and even a high-quality sealer didnt
can look cold and clinical. Varnish improves stain resistance, and protect against stains. Eleven of the
penetrating oils decrease it. 20substances we applied left stains.
*Includes installation.

Ratings
Scores in context: Our tests found big variations in the durability of 14materials but little difference
among brands, except for recycled glass. Thats why we rate materials, not brands.

Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor


MATERIAL PRICE SCORE RESISTS
MARBLE

Stains

Abrasion
Per Sq. Ft.

Cutting

Heat

Impact
Price $50 TO $150 PER SQUARE FOOT*

Pros Marble is best for a classic stone look Quartz (engineered stone) $40-$100 84 X Z Z Z V
in low-traffic areas, such as a baking zone. Granite $40-$100 81 X Z Z Z V
Choose from many natural colors. $60-$120 69
Cons Its more porous than granite, so its Recycled Glass(penetrating sealer) C Z Z Z B
not as stain-resistant. It also scratches eas- Laminate $10-$40 68 Z V Z C X
ily, can chip, isnt very heat-resistant, and Tile (ceramic and porcelain) $5-$30 67 V Z Z X C
needs to be resealed periodically to help Ultracompact (Dekton) $60-$100 63 Z Z Z X V
ward off stains. Solid Surfacing $35-$100 53 X V X V X
Soapstone (mineral oil finish) $50-$100 46 C B Z V B
Concrete (penetrating sealer) $60-$120 40 B C Z V B
Concrete (topical sealer) $60-$120 39 Z B V C B
Stainless Steel $50-$150 39 C B Z V B
Butcher Block (varnished) $40-$100 37 Z B B B B
Limestone $50-$100 27 B B Z V B
Butcher Block (oil finish) $40-$100 24 B B X V B
Marble $50-$150 14 V B V B B
Bamboo (beeswax/mineral oil finish) $40-$100 10 B B B C B
BAMBOO
Unlike other brands, Cosentinos Eco line of recycled-glass counters developed a thin crack during our heat tests and was
Price $40 TO $100 PER SQUARE FOOT* excluded from the Ratings. Cosentinos Dekton was tested. In our impact tests, chunks of the edges chipped of, and the
Dekton cracked into two pieces on samples that were the manufacturer-recommended thickness of 2centimeters.
Pros Available in several styles, including a
parquet pattern.
Cons Bamboo is easily stained, scorched, How We Test: We applied 20common foods and household products and let them stand
sliced, and nicked. The maker might warn overnight before cleaning to test staining. Not everybody uses a cutting board, so we sliced and
against using it around a sink because chopped using weighted knives to check resistance to cutting. We put a pot illed with oil heated to
moisture can warp the material. And it 400F to see how the material resisted heat damage and discoloration. Running a weighted
might darken over time. sanding block back and forth 25times over each material tested its resistance to abrasion. And
because pots drop and other accidents happen, we dropped blunt and pointed weights from up to
3feet to test resistance to impact. Scoring is based on the drop height at which damage is irst
seen. Price is the typical range per square foot, including installation.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/countertops/buying-guide.htm 59


BUYING GUIDE | f looring

TIP
Prefinished wood
and bamboo
floors cost more
than unfinished
products, but youre
likely to save overall
because factory
finishes tend to last
longerand theyre
warranted by the
manufacturer.

Flooring
KIDS, DOGS, PARTIESTHE BEST MATERIALS KEEP THEIR GOOD LOOKS THROUGH YEARS OF TOUGH LOVE

ll flooring looks great out of engineered-wood floors are especially old floor with no need for glues or fas-

A the box, but the true test is


what happens once real life
takes over. Good news: Our
latest tests revealed a variety of options
that pair stain resistance with long-
prone to denting from dropped items.
A great upside to solid hardwood and
bamboo, however, is that many can be
refinished multiple times to get rid of
the scratches and dings of normal use.
teners. Like wood, laminate floors fall
short at resisting foot traffic and dents
but are an excellent choice for holding
up to the effects of sunlight. All tested
models scored Excellent for resistance
lasting good looks. Want to pay less for a wood look? The to sunlight and moisture.
For many shoppers, theres no better laminates we tested performed Vinyl flooring, like laminate, is im-
substitute for the warmth of wood. But about as well as solid wood. And they mune to the effects of moisture and
in an active kitchen, both solid- and can be floated: installed right over your sunlight, is moderately priced, comes

60 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


WHATS
NEW
has also garnered attention since disruptorsand some are samples and one sample of wood
Home Depot and Lowes an- classified by the Environmental flooring we tested.
Phthalate-free vinyl flooring. nounced that flooring products Protection Agency as possible or Although we found phthalate
You may have heard that Lumber they sell will be phthalate-free probable carcinogens. levels to be very low in our wipe
Liquidators suspended sales of by 2016. We support what those We recently ran our own test of new and artificially aged
laminate flooring sourced from home centers are doing. in-house tests for 13types of floor tiles, we still recommend
China pending its investiga- Consumers Union, the advo- phthalates. Our results? Phthal- caution. Parents of toddlers
tion after a 60Minutes report cacy arm of Consumer Reports, ates are used, but levels in the especially should take care to
accused the retailer of selling has long raised concerns about flooring varied. In terms of con- wet-mop the floor often and
floors that emitted high levels of phthalates. Used to make plas- sumer exposure, we found only wash childrens hands after the
formaldehyde. But another con- tics more pliant, those chemical very low levels in the air and on little ones have been crawling or
cern, phthalates in vinyl flooring, compounds are also endocrine wipes we ran across the 17vinyl playing on a vinyl floor.

Steps to Success
Use these strategies to pick a loor youll love today and tomorrow

BRING SAMPLES HOME KNOW YOUR


1 Before you buy, pick up samples of
your top flooring choices. Compare
4 TRAFFIC PATTERNS
Our top products performed best
them side-by-side where theyre go- in simulated foot-traffic tests. For
ing to be installed. less busy areas, consider one of the
topengineered-wood or bamboo
COMPARE FOR
2
floors for their natural veneer and
CONSISTENCY easy installation.
Manufacturers try to match solid-
PREPARE FOR
5
and engineered-wood flooring for
color and grain. But variations can INSTALLATION
occur from one batch to the next, so Before installing wood or laminate
buy all of the flooring youll need at flooring, unpack it and let it sit for one
one time. On the flip side, laminate to three days in the space where it
in a wide variety of designs, and with
floorboards within a given package will be installed so that its tempera-
luxury vinyl tiles and planks, is easier often have a similar pattern. To ture and moisture become acclimated
to install than sheets and can be in- reduce repetition, pull boards from to the levels in the room.
stalled over existing flooring. However, multiple packages when installing.
resistance to wear, scratches, and dents CHECK FOR
was inconsistent.
Porcelain tile flooring, or more accu-
3
MEASURE CAREFULLY
To determine how much flooring
youll need, calculate the rooms
6 CERTIFICATION
Vinyl floors with the industrys
FloorScore certification emit rela-
rately, planks, has emerged as a terrific
choice as a subcategory, though some square footage by multiplying its tively low levels of volatile organic
length times its width. (Divide an compoundssubstances linked to
models with textured surfaces showed
irregularly shaped room into smaller health problems and pollution. For
wear on the ridges or higher points
rectangles, calculate the square wood flooring, certification by the
In addition to resisting dents, which
footage of each rectangle, then Forest Stewardship Council and the
PHOTO: SEAN DAGEN

in the case of porcelain and other add them together.) Then buy 7to Sustainable Forestry Initiative offers
ceramic products is really resistance to 10percent extra to allow for mis- some assurance that the flooring
cracking and chipping, porcelain prod- takes, bad samples, and waste. Con- comes from responsibly managed
ucts are great at resisting scratches, sider buying an extra box of flooring forests. Check packaging for prod-
stains, sunlight, and moisture. for future repairs or additions. uct and manufacturer certification.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 61


BUYING GUIDE | f looring

SOLID WOOD ENGINEERED LAMINATE

On the AND BAMBOO


Best for natural warmth. Solid
flooring can usually be sanded and
WOOD AND BAMBOO
Best for easy installation and
natural warmth. This veneer over
Best for toughness, lots of styles,
and easy installation. It can mimic a
variety of natural materials and can

Market
refinished several times if necessary. substrate can be nailed, stapled, or usually be floated. The best prod-
But both tend to dent easily, a glued in place, or floated without ucts wear well, and all resist stains
problem for busy kitchens. Several fasteners or glue. Many can be and sunlight.
changed color under ultraviolet light, refinished once. But most dent relatively easily, and
Consider the pros and and some can be damaged by flood- But they can be damaged by flood- laminate cant be refinished.
cons of your top options ing. Both are challenging to install. ing, and show wear and dent easily. Price $3 to $7 per square foot*
for kitchen looring Price $5 to $10 per square foot* Price $4 to $9 per square foot*

d PREFINISHED SOLID WOOD AND BAMBOO


RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Top performers
usually resisted wear,
A1 LUMBER LIQUIDATORS A2 ECOTIMBER WOVEN A3 TERAGREN PORTFOLIO
scratches, and color CASA DE COLOUR SELECT HONEY WBH061 NATURALS WHEAT
change better than PEWTER MAPLE 10032461 $6 PER SQUARE FOOT TPF-PORTTG-WHT
$4.20 PER SQUARE FOOT $7.50 PER SQUARE FOOT
others of their type. But This top-scoring stranded bam-
dents were a challenge This top-scoring solid wood boo resisted foot traffic better Exceptional resistance to
showed excellent resistance to than most other solid floors. scratching and staining, along
for most. Here, we foot traffic and stains, and held Other pluses include superb with a finish that withstood most
focus on top picks up very well against scratches. resistance to scratches and foot traffic, are chief strengths
But it dented easily. stains. But it faded in sunlight. of this solid bamboo flooring.
with specific strengths, lumberliquidators.com ecotimber.com teragren.com
value, or both.

ENGINEERED WOOD FROM


OUR
EXPERTS
Teragrens Synergy
bamboo ofers the best
B2 HARRIS WOOD chance of avoiding dents
TRADITIONS SPRINGLOC
RED OAK BRIDLE and traic wear, usually
$5.50 PER SQUARE FOOT the shortcomings of
Toughness against scratching engineered products.
and staining with resistance to B1 TERAGREN SYNERGY
color change from sunlight made WIDE PLANK JAVA JOHN MCALOON,
this oak product a top pick. It did HE2505OK48 TEST PROJECT LEADER
dent easily. $7 PER SQUARE FOOT
harriswoodfloors.com teragren.com

62 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


VINYL LINOLEUM CERAMIC TILE
Best for practicality and easy Best for those who want a sustain- Best for projects with a bigger
installation. Many products resist able, resilient surface and lots of budget, though newer floating vari-
damage from moisture, dents, style choices. All of those we tested eties are more affordable. There are
stains, sun, and foot traffic. resisted stains and sun exposure. a wide variety of colors and sizes
But even the best still look like vinyl Some also had other strengths. and it tends to resist wear well.
up close. And scratches deeper But all fell down in at least one of But most cant be floated and are
than the decorative layer show the our tough tests. Vinyl tiles offer difficult to install. Dropped items
color of the vinyl below. more choices and better perfor- can crack it, and grout will stain.
Price $2 to $6 per square foot* mance overall. Fixing a broken tile can be tricky.
Price $4 to $9 per square foot* Price $5 to $15 per square foot* *Prices include installation.

VINYL LINOLEUM TILE

D1 CONGOLEUM E1 ARMSTRONG F4 TORINO RUSTIC


DURACERAMIC SIERRA MARMORETTE OAK SEQUOIA SIERRA GRAY
SLATE SI-74 BROWN LP066 10109111
GOLDEN GREIGE
$5 PER SQUARE FOOT
$4.50 PER SQUARE FOOT $7 PER SQUARE FOOT FROM
Strong resistance to foot traffic,
scratches, stains, dents, spills,
This product did better than
other linoleum products at
standing up to foot traffic and
This wood-look porcelain tile
performed superbly in our tests,
with Excellent marks for every-
OUR
and color change from sun expo-
sure make this a durable choice.
resisting stains, scratches, and
color change. But it dents easily.
thing except foot traffic. It can be
floated or installed with thinset.
EXPERTS
congoleum.com armstrong.com builddirect.com
With many styles that
do an impressive job
LAMINATE mimicking wood stone,
porcelain tiles are a
great choice for any
area of the home.
Lumber Liquidators
Avella is impervious to
moisture and excelled
C1 ARMSTRONG COASTAL C2 PERGO MAX PREMIER C3 HAMPTON BAY in all of our tests.
LIVING L3051 WHITE HEATHERED OAK 672976 CLEBURNE HICKORY
WASH WALNUT (LOWES) 367551 (HOME DEPOT) JOHN MCALOON,
TEST PROJECT LEADER
$3.50 PER SQUARE FOOT $2.50 PER SQUARE FOOT $1.80 PER SQUARE FOOT
Superb resistance to scratches, This flooring did an excellent job This flooring showed superb F1 LUMBER
staining, and color change from of resisting scratches, stains, and resistance to scratches, stains, LIQUIDATORS
sun exposure helped this flooring color change from exposure to and fading in sunlight. It was AVELLA BRAZILIAN
impress. It had impressive resis- sunlight. But it didnt fare as well also impressive at fending off CHERRY 10039367
tance to wear from foot traffic. against foot traffic. foot traffic. But it dented easily. $3.60 PER SQUARE FOOT
armstrong.com lowes.com homedepot.com lumberliquidators.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 63


BUYING GUIDE | f looring

CAN YOU Ratings


Scores in context: Of the 54flooring products we tested, the highest scored 96; the lowest, 33. Listed below
FIX IT? are the top-scoring models, in order of performance. Recommended models offer top performance in our tough
tests. Among those, CR Best Buys offer the very best for the money.
Before you replace
your loor, consider c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
repairing it BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE RESISTS

Rec.
Rank

Foot Traffic
Sq. Ft. Per
Box

Scratches
Stains

Dents

Sunlight (UV)

Installation
Minor damage may
enhance the rustic look
of distressed or hand- A. PREFINISHED SOLID-WOOD FLOORING
scraped floors by blend-
Lumber Liquidators Casa de Colour Select
ing in with other patina, d 1 Pewter Maple 10032461 $4.20 76 20 Z X Z B B Nail Down, Staple,
Glue, or Floating
but youll probably want d 2 EcoTimber Woven Honey WBH061 $6.00 71 23 C Z Z B C Nail Down or Glue
to fix other flaws, such Teragren Portfolio Naturals Wheat TPF-PORTTG-
d 3 WHT $7.50 69 20 C Z X V V Floating
as deeper nicks, scratch-
4 Home Legend Strand Woven Solid Bamboo Toast $3.00 23 Nail Down
es, and grooves. Check HL40S (Home Depot) 59 V Z Z V X or Glue
the manufacturers 5 Heritage Mill Brushed Vintage Hickory Pewter $6.00 56 21 V Z Z B V Nail Down
PF9759 (Home Depot)
manual for any special
Liquidators Virginia Mill Works Lexington
instructions, then follow 6 Lumber
County Oak Wirebrushed 10038443 $5.40 55 23 V Z Z B Z NailorDown, Glue,
Floating
these simple steps: 7 Allen + Roth Autumn Oak LSAR45-01 (Lowes) $5.50 53 19 V Z X B V Staple
8 Bruce Dundee Plank CB1210 $5.70 52 22 C C X B V Nail Down
1. Mark it. American Scrape Oak Brown Bear
9 Armstrong
SAS503 $7.00 51 24 V Z C B C Nail Down
A color-matched felt
marker can hide small 10 Mullican St. Andrews Solid Oak Strip 10930 $6.30 51 24 V Z C B V Nail Down
scratches in any floor. Bruce Hickory Country Natural AHS601
11 (Home $5.00 20 Nail Down
Depot) 50 V Z Z B B
Some hardwood manu- Raymore Oak Gunstock HCC58-50 Nail Down or
12 Mohawk
(Home Depot) $6.00 45 19 V Z C B B Staple
facturers even offer color-
blended filler for chips 13 Mullican Hickory Saddle 17769 (Lowes) $6.00 16 Nail Down or
44 V C X B X Staple
and grooves, available at Liquidators Bellawood Natural Red Oak Nail Down or
14 Lumber
10034544 $4.40 41 40 V Z C B V Staple
home centers and flooring
supply stores. 15 Shaw Western Hickory Passage DH83100229 $7.00 27 Nail Down or
(Home Depot) 39 V X C B Z Staple
2. Sand it. B. ENGINEERED-WOOD FLOORING
Badly worn or damaged d 1 Teragren Synergy Wide Plank Java $7.00 64 23 C Z C C X Floating
wood floors must be Harris Wood Traditions SpringLoc Red Oak Bridle Floating or Glue
d 2 HE2505OK48 $5.50 62 33 V Z X B Z Down
refinished. But you can
3 Armstrong Century Farm Hickory Natural $6.50 28 Floating
do spot repairs of wear or GCH452NALG 60 C Z X B B
damage with light buffing 4 Lumber Liquidators Bellawood Natural Hickory $5.00 34 Nail Down, Glue,
10035269 59 V Z Z B B or Floating
or sanding, followed by
5 Heritage Mill Scraped Oak Amaretto PF9773 $4.30 31 Nail Down, Staple,
staining. But be especially (Home Depot) 53 V X X B Z Glue, or Floating
careful when attempting 6 Home Legend Hand Scraped Oak Gunstock Click- $3.40 25 Floating
Lock HL16 (Home Depot) 51 V Z X B V
this with thin veneers on Mannington American Hardwoods American Oak
7 Plank $4.00 48 36 V Z C B Z Floating
engineered-wood floors.
8 Mohawk Pastoria Red Oak Natural HCC27-10 $4.30 29 Floating
(Home Depot) 41 V Z V B V
3. Replace only
9 Millstead Red Oak Natural Click PF9356 $3.00 20 Floating
whats damaged. (Home Depot) 40 V X Z B V
Heavy damage or a 10 Natural Floors by USFloors Bamboo 609LS $3.30 17 Floating
(Lowes) 33 V C X B C
cracked stone tile usually
11 Millstead Smoky Mineral PF9577 (Home Depot) $4.00 24 11 V B V V C Floating
requires chiseling out
the damaged section and C. LAMINATE FLOORING
gluing in a new piece. Armstrong Coastal Living L3051 White Wash
d 1 Walnut $3.50 76 14 C Z Z V Z Floating
But thats still easier than
d 2 Pergo Max Premier Heathered Oak 672976 (Lowes) $2.50 76 17 C Z Z X Z Floating
removing an entire row of
Hampton Bay Cleburne Hickory 367551-00087
tiles or planks. d 3 (Home Depot) $1.80 72 25 C Z Z B Z Floating

4 Armstrong Architectural Remnants Woodland $5.00 22 Floating


Reclaim Old Original L3102 62 V Z Z C Z
5 Pergo Max Natural Oak 90870 (Lowes) $3.00 62 18 V Z Z V Z Floating
6 Pergo XP Grand Oak LF000326 (Home Depot) $3.50 59 20 V Z Z V Z Floating

64 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE RESISTS
Rec.
Rank

Foot Traffic
Sq. Ft. Per
Box

Scratches
Stains

Dents

Sunlight (UV)

Installation
C. LAMINATE FLOORING continued
7 Home Decorators Collection Distressed Brown $2.00 15 Floating
Hickory 34074SQ (Home Depot) 53 V Z C V Z
8 Style Selections Tavern Oak 528976 (Lowes)
Restoration Collection
$1.00 53 21 V Z Z V Z Floating
WAYS
9 Mannington $4.30 52 17 V Z C B Z Floating
Chateau Sunset 22300
Handscraped Saratoga Hickory
TO SAVE
10 TrafficMaster
34089 (Home Depot) $1.10 51 24 V Z Z B Z Floating
11 Shaw Timberline SL247 Sawmill Hickory 255 $5.00 47 18 V C Z B Z Floating Get the loor you
12 Home Legend Santos Mahogany HL87 $3.00 13 Floating
want for less with
(Home Depot) 46 V Z C B Z
these easy tips
D. VINYL FLOORING
Congoleum DuraCeramic Sierra Slate
d 1 SI-74 Golden Greige $5.00 94 17 Z Z Z C Z Glue Down Retailers losses
Armstrong Luxe Plank Timber Bay can be your gain.
d 2 Barnyard Gray A6861 $5.50 93 24 Z Z Z X Z Floating
Tarkett Nafco PermaStone Collection Discounters such as iFloor
d 3 Natural Slate-Sand Stone NS-660 $4.70 92 27 Z Z X Z Z Glue Down
(ifloor.com) and Lumber
d 4 Armstrong Alterna Mesa Stone Canyon Sun D4112 $5.50 86 25 Z Z C X Z Glue Down Liquidators (lumberliqui-
5 Shaw Matrix Regency Gunstock Oak LX90100706 $2.00 77 28 Floating dators.com) buy directly
(Lowes) Z C X C Z
6 Mannington Adura Essex Oak Natural AW511 $5.00 76 16 C Z Z C Z Glue Down from manufacturers and
Tarkett FiberFloor Lifetime Data not sometimes offer deals
7 Berkshires Oak Harbour Brown 38163 $2.00 69 available Z B Z Z Z Floating
on overstocked flooring.
8 Style Selections Antique Oak WD4712 (Lowes) $3.00 65 40 X V Z C Z Peel-and-Stick
You also can often save
9 Stainmaster Washed Oak 737998 (Lowes) $2.50 59 19 V Z C X Z Floating
on opened or damaged
10 Mannington Black Mountain Oak Fireside 080171 $1.50 59 Data not Loose Lay or
available C B Z Z Z Glue Down boxes and flooring with
11 Home Legend Oak Graphite HLVT3024 $2.80 53 23 Floating minor surface flaws.
(Home Depot) V C X Z Z
12 SmartCore by Natural Floors $2.80 49 20 Floating Buy only what you need.
Canberra Acacia 50SLV503 (Lowes) C B Z V Z
Determine the rooms
13 Path 72102 AirStep Evolution Forest Valley Deer
Congoleum $2.00 40 Data not
available V B Z C Z Glue Down
square footage by mul-
E. LINOLEUM FLOORING tiplying length by width.
Data not Then buy 7 to 10percent
c 1 Armstrong Marmorette Oak Brown LP066 $4.50 73 available C Z X C Z Glue Down
2 Forbo Marmoleum Click Square Walnut 763874 $8.00 62 7 V Z Z C Z Floating extra to allow for the
unexpected.
F. PORCELAIN-TILE FLOORING
Lumber Liquidators Avella Brazilian Cherry See the real thing.
c 1 10039367 $3.60 97 14 Z Z Z Z Z Thinset
Paying for samples costs
d 2 SnapStone Beige 11-001-02-01 $8.00 95 5 Z Z Z C Z Floating
far less than buying floor-
d 3 Style Selections Natural Timber Ash 553878 (Lowes) $4.00 91 10 X Z Z Z Z Thinset
Floating or ing that looks great in a
d 4 Torino Rustic Sequoia Sierra Gray 10109111 $7.00 81 10 C Z Z Z Z Thinset catalog or onlineand all
d 5 Dal-Tile Forest Park Timberland FP97 $7.00 80 13 C Z Z Z Z Thinset wrong once its installed
6 Mannington Beachwood Coastline BW2T36 $2.00 77 13 V Z Z Z Z Thinset in your kitchen.
7 Marazzi Montagna Saddle ULG56241P $2.00 15 Thinset
(Home Depot) 64 V Z Z C Z
Do your own prep work.
Even if you hire a pro for
How We Test: To check for resistance to foot traic, we use an abrasion machine to see how quickly the surface
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

gloss changes. For scratches, we drag a sharp, progressively heavier rig across the looring until scratches are visible. installation, you can save
We leave grape juice, mustard, and 10other common household items overnight on each loor, try to clean them of, hundreds by tearing out
then check for staining. To test for denting, we drop sharp and blunt objects from diferent heights onto each loor. old flooring, leveling the
We measure color change after more than 300hours of high ultraviolet light levels. And to measure moisture resis-
subfloor, and removing
tance, we leave a damp sponge on the looring overnight and soak samples for a longer exposure. None of the looring
in the Ratings above swelled or warped, and none was slippery, which is why neither of those characteristics is in the any baseboard thats in
Ratings. Price per square foot is approximate retail. Square feet per box is as claimed. the way yourself.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/flooring/buying-guide.htm 65


BUYING GUIDE | interior paint

Interior
Paint
A COLORFUL NEW COAT CAN UPDATE
YOUR KITCHENS LOOK IN A WEEKEND
OR LESS, NO REMODEL REQUIRED

icking a paint has become harder

P than just deciding on a color


(as if that werent confusing
enough). Relying on past experi-
ences isnt a good way to choose a brand
because paints are frequently reformu-
lated, which changes their performance.
But there is good news. Our latest
tests revealed products that make
painting faster and greenerfor less.
And we found that a brands various
finishes perform similarly overall, so
weve combined the scores to make it
easier to use our Ratings and to shop.
That said, be sure to pick the right
finish. See On the Market, on page
69, to understand which finishes work
best in every application. Last, keep in
mind that it always makes sense to buy
the highest-quality paint. Budget paint
may cost less up front, but youll end
up putting on more coats for better hid-
ing. So you could end up spending far
more in the long run. However, price
doesnt always guarantee performance:
Some of the most expensive paints we
tried fell short in our battery of tough
performance tests, and some lower-
priced options fared far better, so dont
let a high price or a European pedigree
fool you: Check our Ratings on page 71
before you buy.

66 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Steps to
Success
Many aspects of paint performance
depend more on the quality of the
base than on the color. The tint
base largely determines the paints
toughness and resistance to dirt and
stains, and the colorant contributes
to hiding and how much the paint
will fade. Heres how to ind the
perfect paint and color for the job:

START SHOPPING ONLINE


1 Manufacturers websites and Facebook
pages offer a wealth of tips on choosing
colors, including photo galleries of fin-
ished rooms and calculators to help you
figure out how much paint youll need.
Theyre also good places to check for
deals such as free samples and military
or moving discounts.

GET THE COLOR PERFECT


2 Certain hues are specific to a brand. But
retailers can often match colors. With
paint-color formula books and color-
matching computer technology, you dont
have to rely on the skills of a sales clerk,
though one with a good eye and mixing
equipment with clean nozzles can help.
Because the paint base and sheen can
differ slightly among brands, be sure to
have the sales representative put a dab
of the color on the paint chip or sample

TIP youve taken with you, then let it dry.


Some stores keep a hair dryer on hand to
speed the process.
To get the color,
quality, and durabil-
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
ity you want, take
a swatch to your
preferred retailer
3 Paint large swatches on different walls
and look at them at different times of day
and in different light. Fluorescent light
and have the clerk
enhances blues and greens, but it makes
color-match the
warm reds, oranges, and yellows appear
chip into the top-
dull. Incandescent light works well with
performing formula
warm colors, but it might not do much
of your choice.
for cool ones. Color intensifies over large
areas, so its better to go too light than
too dark in a given shade.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 67


BUYING GUIDE | interior paint

Details That Count


The features most important to you depend on the job at hand. Most of the time
and expense of painting goes into the prep work, so get a coating that can last longer even if it
costs a few dollars more per gallon. Here are the features we consider when testing paints.

HIDING
ABILITY
If youre changing
walls from dark to
light, youll need a
paint thats good at
hiding. Many new
paints can cover a
contrasting color with
a single coat. But for
best coverage and
a perfect finish we
recommend two, even
with a top-scoring
paint brand.

RESISTANCE
TO STICKING
Some interior paints
never seem to dry
completely. They
can make a window
difficult to open or
cause items to stick to
a shelf.

MILDEW
RESISTANCE
This is especially
important in a kitchen, STAIN CHANGE
where moisture and RESISTANCE IN GLOSS
humidity can encour- Satin and semigloss Some paints dull,
age mildew growth. finishes generally are become shinier, and
better than flat paints even change color
SURFACE
PHOTOS: SMITH COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES (TOP LEFT);
at resisting stains, but when cleaned
SMOOTHNESS there are exceptions. aggressively. Semi-
Interior paint should gloss paints are the
dry smooth, without SCRUBBING most likely to change,
showing brush or RESISTANCE so consider that when
roller marks or leaving This is very desirable using semigloss on
GETTY IMAGES (BOTTOM LEFT)

a grainy surface. for paints in rooms surfaces such as


with lots of activity handrails and doors
like kitchensthat that will need frequent
may need frequent cleaning.
and rigorous cleaning.

68 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


WHATS
NEW

Self-priming paints.
Manufacturers have
eliminated a step. All of
our top picks let you skip
priming. Paints that are
self-priming are noted
in the Ratings. For most
surfaces, one coat of
a recommended paint
should be enough to hide
most colors beneath.

Water beats oil.


For years, pros relied
on oil-based paints for
projects that required
an extra-hard, durable
finishlike baseboards,
window and door trim, and
kitchen cabinets. But now,
improvements in water-
based latex paint (and laws
requiring lower volatile
organic compounds, or
VOCs) have forced latex to
match oils durability.

Less odor.
Many manufacturers
FLAT AND MATTE claim that their paint is

On the Market Flat finishes hide imperfections well but are the least
stain-resistant, so theyre better for low-traffic areas.
free of VOCs, though
the tints used to color
the bases might have
EGGSHELL AND SATIN some. Those solvents,
We generally test most lines from major brands, Use them on fairly smooth, well-prepared surfaces be- released into the air as
and weve found that some of the best-performing cause their shine can accentuate imperfections on the paint dries, have been
paints are not always the most expensive in a brand's wall. These paints are best for kitchens, and also family linked to headaches,
lines. Here are the types of paints to consider. The rooms, kids rooms, hallways, and the like. Some might respiratory problems, and
gloss level affects perception of color. Flat paints change sheen when scrubbed. air pollution. Most paint
(and textured walls) absorb light, so colors seem companies now say that
darker. Glossy paints and smooth surfaces reflect, so SEMIGLOSS their products contain
colors look brighter. One note about our Ratings (see Shinier still, these paints are formulated to stand up 50 or fewer grams of
page 71): Because a brands flat or matte, eggshell or to stains. Theyre generally the easiest to clean, but VOCs per liter, and some
satin, and semigloss formulations perform simi- some may tend to dull when scrubbed. Theyre ideal we tested are claimed to
larly overall, weve combined the scores into one to for kitchen and bathroom walls, windowsills, and other not have any VOCs at all.
simplify the selection process. Keep in mind that the woodwork. Semigloss paints require a smooth, well- But even those greener
degree of glossiness may differ from one manufac- prepared surface with few flaws and imperfections. formulations might not be
turer to another. entirely odor-free.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 69


BUYING GUIDE | interior paint

FROM The Behr Marquee is the only


excellent paint in our Ratings

d OUR because it aced many of our tough


tests. The satin and semigloss are the
RECOMMENDED EXPERTS best choices for kitchens because
most stains will wipe of easily.
PRODUCTS That's important because it not only
Our recommended makes clean-up easy but the sheen
products are high- 1 BEHR won't dull because you had to use lot
MARQUEE
scoring paints that did of elbow grease on the stains.
$43 (HOME DEPOT)
well overall in our tough homedepot.com ENRIQUE DE PAZ, TEST PROGRAM LEADER

performance tests.
Among those, CR Best
Buys ofer the best
blend of performance
and low price. We have
found that a brands
flat, eggshell or satin, c CR c CR
Best Buy Best Buy
and semigloss paints
perform similarly
overall, so weve 2 VALSPAR RESERVE 3 BEHR PREMIUM 4 CLARK+KENSINGTON
$44 (LOWES) PLUS ULTRA ENAMEL
combined the scores to $36 (HOME DEPOT) $32 (ACE)
The Valspar Reserve interior
make it easier for you paint from Lowes is self-priming. Behr Premium Plus Ultra interior The Clark+Kensington Enamel
to compare. Its superb at hiding old paint paint from Home Depot is self- from Ace is self-priming, is
and impressive at resisting stains priming and superb at hiding impressive at hiding old paint,
but is not as smooth as some. old paint. It left a smooth finish and left a smooth finish, but
The paint withstands scrub- but wasnt the best at resisting it wasnt the best at resisting
bing, and aggressive cleaning stains. The paint withstands stains, which could be a problem
didnt change the sheen. The scrubbing well, and aggressive in the kitchen. The paint with-
paint lacks volatile organic cleaning didnt change the sheen stands scrubbing, but aggressive
compounds. VOCs can cause much. It has low levels of volatile cleaning will change the sheen.
headaches and dizziness, and organic compounds. The paint has low levels of vola-
are linked to pollution, smog, and homedepot.com tile organic compounds.
respiratory problems. acehardware.com
lowes.com

HIGHS & LOWS


Once again, our tests have
shown that price has little $105 VS.
$17
to do with quality. The bottom
two paints in our Ratings FARROW COLOR
& BALL PLACE
are the most and least INTERIOR INTERIOR
expensive formulas we tested. PAINT (WALMART)

70 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 21interior paints we tested, the highest scored 83; the lowest, 43.
Many paints, including most recommended products, are exclusive to one retailer, as noted in parentheses.
The Right
c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor Paint for
BRAND & PRODUCT PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS RESISTS FEATURES

Your Needs

Claims Zero VOCs


Mildew

Sticking

Fading

Self-Priming
Recommended
Rank

Hiding

Staining

Gloss Change

Scrubbing

Surface Smoothness
If youre selling your
home soon, you
need an inexpensive
paint that freshens
d 1 Behr Marquee (Home Depot) $43 83 Z X C Z C N N N N
in one coat. Buyers,
d 2 Valspar Reserve (Lowes) $44 79 Z X Z Z C N N N N and homeowners
Behr Premium Plus Ultra sprucing up for the
c 3 (Home Depot) $36 78 Z C X Z X N N N N
longer haul, need
Clark+Kensington paint that can also
c 4 Enamel (Ace) $32 76 X C C Z X N N N N
withstand stains,
5 Benjamin Moore Aura $54 74 Z C V Z X N N N N N
scrubbing, mildew,
6 Valspar Signature (Lowes) $34 73 X C C Z C N N N N and more.

7 Behr Premium Plus Enamel $28 71


(Home Depot) Z C Z Z Z N N N N N
INEXPENSIVE
8 Olympic One (Lowes) $27 71 BUT EFFECTIVE
X C Z Z V N N

9 True Value
EasyCare Ultra Premium $24 67 X C X X V N N N N

10 Benjamin Moore Regal Select $54 65 X V C Z V N N N N

11 True Value
EasyCare Platinum Enamel $35 64 C C C Z V N N N N

12 HGTV Home Showcase $40 63


OLYMPIC ONE
by Sherwin-Williams X C X X V N N
$27 (LOWES)

13 Olympic Icon (Lowes) $25 62 C V X Z X N N N

14 Sherwin-Williams Emerald $65 61 X C V Z V N N N N

15 Sherwin-Williams
Duration Home $61 61 X C C Z C N N

16 Ace Royal Interiors $27 60 X V V Z X N N BEHR PREMIUM


PLUS ENAMEL
17 Glidden High Endurance $23 60 $28 (HOME DEPOT)
(Walmart) Z B X Z C N N

18 HGTV Home Ovation


by Sherwin-Williams $29 57 X B Z Z V N
BEST FOR
19 Glidden Premium $25 54 C V C Z C N N N N LONG-TERM
(Home Depot)
VALUE
20 Farrow & Ball Interior $105 52 V X B X C N N N

21 Color Place Interior (Walmart) $17 43 C B V X C N

How We Test: Score is mainly hiding, surface smoothness, and resistance to staining, scrubbing, gloss change, stick-
ing, mildew, and fading. Results relect white, pastel, and medium-tint bases. Hiding is coverage of contrasting color
mainly with one coat. Staining is resistance to water- and oil-based stains. Gloss Change is appearance change after
rough cleaning. Scrubbing is ability to resist an abrasive cleaner. Surface Smoothness is absence of roller marks when BEHR PREMIUM
dry. Resists Mildew is ability to inhibit mildew growth. Resists Sticking is ability to resist tackiness when dry. Resists PLUS ULTRA
Fading is resistance to lightening from sun rays passing through a window. Price is approximate retail per gallon. $36 (HOME DEPOT)

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/paints/buying-guide.htm 71


BUYING GUIDE | refrigerators

Refrigerators
THE BEST NEW MODELS MAKE ROOM FOR MORE FRESH FOOD
AND CONVENIENT FEATURES, AND OFFER ATTRACTIVE ENERGY SAVINGS

merican shoppers are piling Some other freshness claims are

A more fresh foods into their


grocery carts. And retailers
are responding by making
more room for fruits, vegetables, and
other perimeter foods that are usually
more difficult to verify. Whirlpool, for
example, has been putting produce
preservers inside many of its crisper
drawers. Thats supposed to extend
freshness up to 25 percent by absorb-
placed along the outer edges of stores. ing the ethylene gas that can accelerate
The freshness trend isnt only changing ripening. Kenmores AirTight Crisper
the layout of many American super- has a special gasket and dimpled sur-
markets; its also having an impact on face that the company claims will help
refrigerator design. retain moisture in produce.
Take the Samsung Chef Collection Then theres the novel door-in-door
RF34H9960S4, a top-scoring model compartment on several new Kenmore,
with four doors. Its bottom-right cham- LG, and Samsung fridges. It lets you
ber can be switched from freezer to access beverages, condiments, and
refrigerator for those whod rather have the like without reaching all the way
more room for produce than Popsicles. into the fridges main compartment. In
Another feature weve seen more of theory, that can preserve freshness by
in our labs is dual-evaporative cooling. reducing temperature swings. We
With standard refrigerator design, the cant guarantee that claim, but the HIGHS AND LOWS
Bottom-freezer
fresh-food compartment is cooled with new door is a cool new place to keep refrigerators like this
air from the freezer. Our tests confirm the ketchup. one from Jenn-Air
that refrigerators with dual evaporators Customizable door panels, new fin- keep more fresh food
at eye level. But youll
are better at maintaining optimal hu- ish options, four or even five doorsthe have to stoop to get
midity. They also keep ice cubes from options abound. Read on for more on into the freezer.
tasting like fish and other smelly foods. the best and worst of whats new.

ers swear by the convenience of

Steps to 1 bottom-freezers because they


keep more fresh food at eye level,
but top-freezers and side-by-sides
2
PICK A STYLE can make more efficient use of CONSIDER SIZE

Success Theres a configuration to suit


every household. French-door
models are exploding in popularity
space in a smaller kitchen. For
more details on the pros and cons
of each configuration, see On the
Always measure where you plan to
put a new fridge before you buy.
Make sure it can fit through door-
Consider your space and and they come in a range of styles, Market, page 76. ways. Allow room for the refrigerator
your lifestyle as you shop some with a freezer drawer, others doors to swing all the way open, and
with lower doors. Many consum- for a 1-inch clearance around the

72 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


sides and back of the appliance for as green as possible. The Environ- per year, or more than $500 over
adequate airflow.
As for capacity, most manufactur-
ers recommend 19 to 22 cubic feet
3 mental Protection Agencys Energy
Star rating is a good place to start.
It means that a product is in the top
the life of the unit.
For an apples-to-apples compari-
son, look at the EnergyGuide labels
for a family of four. But if you do a big DECODE THE 25 percent of the market. Efficiency of your favorite fridges to compare
weekly shopping trip or buy in bulk, ENERGYGUIDE LABEL varies by model (i.e., an unlabeled the annual operating costs and the
you may need moreup to about 30 Energy efficiency has become a top-freezer might be more efficient kilowatt-hours used per year.
to 33 cubic feet. Our tests found that big selling point. New fridges are a than an Energy Star-approved We give all of the refrigerators
the amount of usable capacity was lot more efficient than those made French-door model). We also test we evaluate an overall score for
often less than the amount claimed. a decade ago, but its helpful to for energy consumption, which can energy efficiency.
understand the label so you can go add up to a $50 to $60 difference

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 73


BUYING GUIDE | refrigerators

SAMSUNG

GE

Details
That Count BLUESTAR

WATER FILTER LED LIGHTING THROUGH-THE-DOOR


It can remove small particles or contaminants LEDs take up less space than incandescent DISPENSERS
such as lead and chlorine, and impurities that lightbulbs, use less energy, and can be placed to Ice and water dispensers are installed in some
cause bad tastes or odors. You can also add a light the interior uniformly. French-door models and in almost all side-by-
filter to the refrigerators water-supply line. sides. Our latest reliability survey indicates that
SPECIAL SHELVES refrigerators with this convenient feature are
DIGITAL CONTROLS WITH Adjustable door bins and shelves can be moved slightly more repair-prone than those without it.
TEMPERATURE READOUTS to create room to fit tall items. Elevator shelves
These are more precise than dial controls and let you crank them up and down without remov- DUAL EVAPORATORS
can include readouts in degrees for the refrig- ing their contents. Pull-out shelves or bins im- This feature, which is becoming more com-
erator and the freezer compartments. prove access to stored items. Split shelves allow mon, helps maintain optimum temperature and
you to adjust them to different heights. moisture levels inside the fresh-food section of

74 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


WHATS
NEW

More options for small spaces.


Playing to the urban-living trend,
Bosch continues to invest in its
line of 24-inch-wide appliances.
The big news this year is that
consumers now have the option of
applying custom paneling to the
refrigerator ($2,500) or opt for a
refrigerator with a glass doorthe
first of its kind in this width.

Built-ins from Blue Star.


Best known for cooking appliances,
BlueStar has new line of refrigera-
tors, starting at $9,850, with many
features a home chef will appreci-
ate. They include fully extending
shelves in the refrigerator (left) and
freezer section that can fit a full-
sized commercial sheet pan. The
shelves and bins are customizable,
and the soft, self-close glides on
the fully extending drawers are a
nice added touch. The fridge will
be available in a variety of colors,
including a matte black finish thats
another example of how black is ri-
valing stainless steel in the kitchen.

Luxury service plans.


LG is launching a new brand of
ultrapremium refrigerators, dish-
washers, and cooking appliances
called the Signature Kitchen Suite.
Well reserve judgment on whether
the appliances are a hit until we
get them in our labs for testing. But
what really got our attention was
LG
their customer-service plan for the
brand. Buy an appliance and you
get a dedicated kitchen concierge
to answer your questions and solve
any problems as long as you own
a refrigerator. It should also prevent strong food DRAWERS THAT the appliance, which comes with a
odors from migrating between the refrigerator CONTROL HUMIDITY
and freezer compartments. three-year warranty compared with
Crisper drawers are available in all but basic mod- the one-year warranty on many
els, some with controls that maintain optimum other appliances.
MULTIMEDIA COMBOS humidity levels. Some models also have drawers
As the kitchen becomes the new living room, you can set cooler than the rest of the refrigera-
more manufacturers are hawking $3,000-plus tor. (You might want to keep fish, cold cuts, and
refrigerators that incorporate high-tech equip- other meat at lower temperatures.) Some drawers
ment such as TVs, digital-picture or music can chill or thaw their contents quickly.
devices, and family-organizing centers. You can
save hundreds and get better performance by
buying such equipment separately.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 75


BUYING GUIDE |

On the
Market
BUILT-INS
Pricey and made to fit almost flush
with cabinets and counters, these
sleek beauties typically come as
bottom-freezer or side-by-side
styles, but sometimes as French-
doors or four-doors. Theyre
usually wide (30 to 48 inches), with
a capacity of 25cubic feet (about
70percent is usable). Look for
optional front panels to match your
kitchen cabinets. Get the look for a
little less with freestanding cabinet-
depth versions. Another option:
A column fridge, as narrow as 18 THERMADOR
inches, that can fit in small spaces.

TOP-FREEZERS BOTTOM-FREEZERS FRENCH-DOORS SIDE-BY-SIDES


Theyre traditional models that are They range from 30 to 36 inches They have two narrow doors on top, The fridge is on one side and the
good for a lot of storage in a fairly wide, and claimed capacities ap- and a freezer below. Sometimes freezer on the other, and usually
tight spot. They tend to offer the proach 30 cubic feet, though theres one drawer (or more) in- there are through-the-door ice
most space for their size (typically usable space is less than that of between. Widths range from 30 to and water dispensers. With widths
28 to 33 inches wide). Manufac- comparable top-freezers (which 36 inches. Claimed capacities go typically 32 to 36 inches, manufac-
turers may claim capacities up to cost less than these, too). Instead up to 34 cubic feet, though usable turers claim about 30 cubic feet ca-
22cubic feet, but our tests found of the freezer (which you use less) space doesnt match that of com- pacity, but only about 70 percent is
about 20 percent less. Allow for a being at eye level, your fridge parable top-freezer models. The usable. Narrow doors are a plus for
wide swing of the doors, and get shelves are easily scannable. But space-saving, small-swing doors small kitchens but dont open wide
used to crouching down to reach youll have to squat to rifle through have the added value of opening enough for, say, a pizza box, and
lower shelves and drawers. frozen goods. only half the fridge when stashing tall, narrow compartments make
smaller items. More of these now items stuck at the back hard to
have in-door water/ice dispensers. find. Overall, theyre not as energy-
or space-efficient as other types.
ICON: NIKITA KOZIN

COMPACTS OR MINIS Theyre perfect for a dorm room, an office, or a kitchenette. Keep in mind that some models have only one-quarter
the capacity of a regular fridge but cost just as much to operate. Temperature performance can be iffy in some
models (allowing them to rise above 40 F, the point at which food may sprout harmful bacteria, so save these
babies for sodas and other beverages or for temporary storage of snacks (rather than milk or other perishables).

76 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


d TOP-FREEZERS
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Most models we
c CR
tested chill and Best Buy
freeze adequately
and include pull-out
shelves or bins, split
A1 LG LTCS20220S A2 LG LTCS24223S A3 GE GIE21GSHSS
shelves, spill guards, Size tested 66HX30WX3D | $950 Size tested 68HX30WX33D | $1,080 Size tested 68HX33WX33D | $1,170
and room on the
This 20.2-cu.-ft. (claimed) model With a capacity of 23.8 cu. ft. This model provides excellent
door to hold a gallon provides excellent energy and (claimed), this model delivers energy efficiency and slightly
of milk. Top-scoring noise performance, and very very good temperature perfor- less impressive temperature
good temperature performance. mance and superb energy effi- performance and noise level. But
models typically It offers an icemaker, spillproof ciency and noise level. It has gal- youll benefit from gallon door
deliver more consistent shelves, gallon door storage, a lon door storage, an icemaker, a storage, an icemaker, pull-out
freezer light, and touchpad con- freezer light, touchpad controls, shelves in the freezer, a freezer
temperatures. Once trols. It is Energy Star certified. and spillproof shelves. light, and spillproof shelves.
you know how much lg.com lg.com geappliances.com

space you have,


particularly the
width, look at our
recommended models BOTTOM-FREEZERS: CONVENTIONAL
to find ones that fit
your space. Fridges
that have higher
energy-eficiency
scores use less
electricity for their
capacity. And if your
household isnt large,
remember that a
smaller conventional B1 KENMORE ELITE 79043 B2 LG LDC24370ST B3 KENMORE ELITE 79023
refrigerator is likely Size tested 69HX33WX33D | $1,400 Size tested 69HX33WX33D | $1,300 Size tested 70HX33WX31D | $1,300

to use less electricity Superb temperature perfor- This model boasts 17.1 cu. ft. This 21.8-cu.-ft. model (15.9 actu-
mance and exceptional energy of total usable capacity. It has al) provides excellent tempera-
overall than a larger efficiency and noise level helped excellent temperature perfor- ture performance and energy
model will. this 23.8-cu.-ft. model earn a top mance, energy efficiency, and efficiency. Other pluses include
spot on our recommended list. noise level as well as digital con- spillproof shelves, digital con-
Other pluses include digital con- trols, spillproof shelves, and an trols, and an open-door alarm.
trols, spillproof shelves, and an open-door alarm. kenmore.com
open-door alarm. lg.com
kenmore.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 77


d RECOMMENDED MODELS

BOTTOM-FREEZERS: FRENCH-DOORS

FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
This 22.2-cubic-foot
(claimed) three-door
French-door cabinet-
C1 SAMSUNG
RF28HDEDPWW depth GE Cafe CY-
Size tested 69HX36WX34D | $2,700 E22USHSS refrigerator
This 27.8-cu.-ft. model (claimed) only ofers modest usable
offers an external water dis-
penser, dual evaporators, a built-
space, but it has two
in water filter, ice storage in the notable features: a hot
fridge, and spillproof shelves. Its
excellent in temperature perfor-
water dispenser and a
mance, energy efficiency, noise built-in Keurig K-cup
level, and crisper performance. C18 GE CAFE
samsung.com CYE22USHSSS brewing system
Size tested 79HX36WX30D | $2,970 JOE PACELLA,
geappliances.com PROJECT LEADER

C2 KENMORE ELITE 74093 C3 LG LFXS32766S C4 GE GFE26GSHSS C5 GE PROFILE


Size tested 69HX36WX36D | $2,800 Size tested 69HX36WX36D | $3,600 Size tested 70HX36WX35D | $1,990 PWE23KMDES
Size tested 69HX36WX29D | $2,600
This model with 21.5 cu. ft. of Its quiet, energy efficient, and This roomy model has 25.7 cu.
usable capacity offers an exter- temperature accurate. It offers ft. of capacity (claimed) and This quiet cabinet-depth
nal water dispenser, dual evapo- 21.5 cu. ft. of usable capacity, delivers excellent temperature model provides exceptional
rators, a built-in water filter, ice special adjustable shelves, split performance and energy effi- temperature control and energy
storage in the fridge, and spill- and pull-out shelves, ice and ciency. Among its features are efficiency. It offers an internal
proof shelves. It provides excel- water dispensers, a temperature- dual evaporators, an external water dispenser, dual evapora-
lent temperature control, energy controlled meat/deli bin, gallon water dispenser, an open-door tors, spillproof shelves, and digi-
efficiency, and noise level, and storage on the door, and a child alarm, spillproof shelves, and tal controls.
very good crisper performance. lockout dispenser. digital controls. geappliances.com
kenmore.com lg.com geappliances.com

78 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BOTTOM-FREEZERS: FOUR-DOORS

FROM A top-rated four-door model,


the Samsung Chef Collection
OUR RF34H9960S4 bottom-freezer
refrigerator has 23.4 cubic feet
EXPERTS of usable capacity, the most
of any fridge weve tested. One
D1 SAMSUNG particularly cool feature: You
CHEF
COLLECTION can convert the lower-right
RF34H9960S4 compartment from freezer to D2 LG LPCS34886C D3 KENMORE ELITE 72483
Size tested 73HX- Size tested 73HX36WX37D | $6,000 Size tested 69HX36WX36D | $3,600
fridge with the touch of a button.
36WX36D | $5,400
Overall, this is an excellent Temperature control throughout
samsung.com JOE PACELLA, PROJECT LEADER
refrigerator, with 33.5 cu. ft. of this fridge was outstanding in
claimed capacity and impres- our tests, as was energy effi-
sive temperature performance ciency and noise. It features a
and energy efficiency. It boasts pull-out middle drawer with four
good ice-making, and among its temperature settings for meat/
features are an air filter, an open- seafood, drinks, deli meats, and
door alarm, a built-in water filter, chilled wine, and has adjustable
spillproof shelves, and digital shelves, touchpad controls, and
controls on the door. pull-out freezer bins.
lg.com kenmore.com

SIDE-BY-SIDES

E1 SAMSUNG RS25H- E2 SAMSUNG RH25H-


5121SR 5611SR
Size tested 69HX36WX34D | Size tested 70HX36WX35D | $1,600
$1,900
Overall, this is a very good refrig-
This 24.5-cu.-ft. model (claimed) erator, with an external water dis-
offers outstanding temperature penser, dual evaporators, a door-
performance, energy efficiency, open alarm, a built-in water filter,
and quiet operation. Its also spillproof shelves, and digital con-
loaded with features, including trols on its front door. It received
an innovative ice and water dis- excellent scores in our noise and
penser, and dual evaporators. energy-efficiency tests.
samsung.com samsung.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 79


d RECOMMENDED MODELS

BUILT-INS

F1 MIELE MASTERCOOL
KF1903SF
Size tested 83HX36WX25D | $8,600

With a claimed capacity of


18.7cu. ft., dual compressors,
and dual evaporators, this model
delivers superb temperature,
crisper, and noise performance,
along with very good energy effi-
ciency. It has spillproof shelves,
an open-door alarm, and digital
controls.
mieleusa.com

F10 SAMSUNG
RS27FDBTNSR
Size tested
84HX48WX26D
F4 THERMADOR $6,570
FREEDOM COLLECTION samsung.com
T36BB820SS
Size tested 84HX36WX25D | $7,400

Superb temperature control and


extremely quiet operation with
very good energy efficiency make
FROM It just missed our recommended list, but this Samsung 48-inch-
wide side-by-side had very good performance overall. It stands
this 20-cu.-ft. model a top choice.
Dual evaporators should help OUR out because it has the largest claimed capacity of any built-in
model weve ever tested26.5 cubic feetand ofers the most
keep food fresh. It offers gallon
door storage and meat/deli bins
with temperature control.
EXPERTS usable space, measured in-house, at 20.3 cubic feet.
thermador.com JOE PACELLA, PROJECT LEADER

80 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


KENMORE

F3 JENN-AIR JF36NXFXDE MOST & LEAST RELIABLE BRANDS


Size tested 83HX42WX26D | $8,500 In our survey of almost 80,000 readers who bought a new refrigerator between 2010 and 2014,
we found that Electrolux and Frigidaire were the most repair-prone brands of bottom-freezers
This very quiet 24.2-cu.-ft. model
(claimed) provides superb tem- with icemakers. Whirlpool and KitchenAid are among the more repair-prone brands as well.
perature and energy efficiency, KitchenAid is also the most repair-prone brand of side-by-sides with icemakers. When it comes
along with very good crisper per- to top-freezers with icemakers, Kenmore is among the more reliable brands.
formance. It has dual compres-
sors, dual evaporators, an open- PERCENTAGE REPAIRED PERCENTAGE REPAIRED
door alarm, spillproof shelves, OR HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS OR HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS
and a built-in water filter.
jennair.com bottom-freezers top-freezers
ICEMAKER ICEMAKER
Electrolux 45% Whirlpool 19%
Frigidaire 35% GE 19%
KitchenAid 26% Frigidaire 16%
Whirlpool 25% Maytag 15%
Maytag 22% Kenmore 13%
GE 19% NO ICEMAKER
LG 19% Frigidaire 12%
Kenmore 19% GE 11%
Samsung 18% Whirlpool 11%
NO ICEMAKER Kenmore 10%
Amana 24%
Whirlpool 21% side-by-sides
F5 KITCHENAID GE 15% WITH ICEMAKER
KBBR306ESS
Size tested 83HX36WX26D | $8,200
Kenmore 12% KitchenAid 29%
This 20.9-cu.-ft. model provides Samsung 23%
excellent temperature and noise Source: Our findings are based on Consumer Reports 2014
Annual Product Reliability Survey of almost 80,000 readers who
LG 22%
performance; energy efficiency
and crisper performance are very
purchased a new refrigerator between 2010 and 2014. Each fig-
ure represents the percentage of fridges that were repaired or
Maytag 22%
good. It has dual compressors, had a serious problem. Differences of fewer than 5 points arent
meaningful, and weve adjusted the data to eliminate differences
Whirlpool 21%
dual evaporators, an open-door
alarm, a built-in water filter,
linked to the age and extended warranty/service contract
coverage of the refrigerators. All refrigerators in the graphs are
Frigidaire 21%
spillproof shelves, and digital full-sized, freestanding models. Models within a brand may vary,
and design or manufacture changes may affect future reliability.
Kenmore 20%
controls.
kitchenaid.com
Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve
your odds of getting a reliable model.
GE 18%

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 81


BUYING GUIDE | refrigerators

Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 246 refrigerators we tested, the highest scored 87; the lowest, 31. c CR Best Buy d Recommended
Recommended models performed the best overall. CR Best Buys combine value and performance. Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor

BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES

Energy

Energy

Fridge Usable

Height (In.)

Exterior

Water

Stainless/
SS-Look Option
Dispenser
Recommended

Rank

Temperature
Performance

Noise

Width (In.)

Depth (In.)

Capacity (Cu. Ft.)


Eficiency

Ease of Use

Cost/Yr. ($)

Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Exterior

Exterior

Claimed
A. TOP-FREEZERS
c 1 LG LTCS20220S $950 67 X Z Z V 40 16.7 11.7 5.0 66 30 33 20.2 N
d 2 LG LTCS24223S $1080 67 X Z Z V 44 19.6 13.9 5.7 68 33 33 23.8 N
d 3 GE GIE21GSHSS $1170 67 X Z X V 47 17.7 12.1 5.6 67 33 33 21.2 N
d 4 Frigidaire Gallery FGHI2164QF $1100 65 X Z C B 39 15.0 10.8 4.2 69 30 32 20.5 N
d 5 Frigidaire FFHT2021QS $750 64 X Z X B 43 16.8 12.1 4.7 69 30 32 20.4 N
d 6 Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF $900 64 X Z X V 45 14.4 10.9 3.5 67 30 30 18 N
c 7 GE GTE15CTHRWW $540 64 X Z C V 40 11.6 8.2 3.4 62 28 30 14.6
d 8 Frigidaire FFHI1831QS $880 63 X Z C B 43 14.7 11.2 3.5 66 30 31 18 N
d 9 Kenmore 79433 $1250 62 C Z X V 54 19.4 13.8 5.6 69 33 32 23.5 Int. N
d 10 GE GTE18ISHSS $900 61 X Z C B 43 14.0 9.6 4.3 67 30 33 18.2 N
d 11 Kenmore 78032 $1000 61 C Z X V 52 19.6 14.0 5.6 69 33 32 23.7 N
d 12 LG LTC20380ST $1000 61 C Z X V 46 16.4 11.4 5.0 66 30 32 20.2 N
13 GE GTS18GSHSS $690 60 X Z C V 46 13.4 10.0 3.4 68 28 29 17.5 N
14 Frigidaire FFHT1814QW $600 59 C Z X B 60 15.2 11.7 3.5 66 30 31 18 N
15 Ikea Energisk B18W $500 59 C Z C C 52 13.7 9.9 3.8 69 28 32 17.6 N
16 Maytag MRT711BZDM $1100 58 C Z X V 46 18.1 12.1 6.0 66 33 32 21.2 N
17 Whirlpool WRT511SZDM $1000 58 C Z X V 46 18.1 12.1 6.0 66 33 32 21.2 N
18 Frigidaire FFTR1514RW $510 58 X Z C B 42 13.8 10.6 3.2 61 28 30 14.5
19 GE GIE18GSHSS $850 58 C Z C V 44 13.9 10.3 3.6 67 28 31 17.5 N
20 Whirlpool WRT106TFDW $570 57 C Z C B 42 12.9 9.4 3.5 66 28 32 16
21 Hotpoint HPE15BTHWW $510 54 C Z V B 40 11.6 8.2 3.4 62 28 30 14.6
22 Frigidaire FFTR2131QS $900 53 C Z C B 55 14.4 9.7 4.7 69 30 33 20.5 N
23 Whirlpool WRT549SZDM $820 52 C Z X B 49 16.0 11.5 4.5 66 30 33 19.1 N
24 Hotpoint HPS15BTHLWW $500 50 C X V B 45 11.6 8.2 3.4 62 28 30 14.6
25 Haier HRT18F2APSS $900 50 C Z C V 44 15.1 10.9 4.2 65 30 32 18.1 N
26 Whirlpool WRT318FMDM $720 49 C Z X B 49 15.2 10.6 4.5 66 30 33 18.2 N
27 Whirlpool WRT519SZDM $770 47 C Z X B 53 16.0 11.5 4.5 66 30 33 19.1 N
28 Amana ART308FFDW $700 43 V Z X B 45 16.1 11.2 4.9 66 30 32 18.2 N
29 GE GTE16GTHWW $630 42 V Z C V 38 11.9 8.6 3.3 65 28 30 15.5
30 Maytag MRT519SZDM $770 41 V Z X B 53 16.0 11.5 4.5 66 30 33 19.1 N
31 Frigidaire FFTR1621QW $650 41 C C C B 68 13.3 10.1 3.2 65 28 30 16.3
32 GE GTS16GTHWW $580 38 V Z V V 44 11.9 8.6 3.3 65 28 30 15.5
33 Whirlpool WRT541SZDM $1050 38 V Z X B 49 18.1 12.1 6.0 66 33 32 21.3 N
34 Summit Ingenious Series FF1935PLIM $1500 38 C C C V 93 17.1 12.2 4.9 73 30 27 18.1
35 Frigidaire FFTR1831QS $630 37 V Z V B 53 14.7 11.2 3.5 66 30 31 18 N
36 Frigidaire FFHT1614QW $620 36 V Z C B 47 13.6 10.4 3.2 65 28 30 16.3
37 Maytag MRT318FZDM $720 30 B Z X B 49 15.2 10.6 4.5 66 30 33 18.2 N
38 Frigidaire FFHT1521QW $570 29 B Z C B 36 12.0 8.6 3.4 61 28 30 14.5
B. BOTTOM-FREEZERS
d 1 Kenmore Elite 79043 $1,400 83 Z Z Z C 59 17.1 12.3 4.8 69 33 33 23.8 N
d 2 LG LDC24370ST $1,300 83 Z Z Z C 59 17.1 12.3 4.8 69 33 33 23.8 N
d 3 Kenmore Elite 79023 $1,300 81 Z Z Z C 58 15.8 10.9 4.9 69 30 34 21.8 N

How We Test: To measure temperature performance we see how uniformly models maintain 37 F in the fridge and 0 F in the freezer, even as we
crank up the heat in our labs. Storage is also key, so we measure usable capacity, excluding nooks that manufacturers include but we dont think are
usable. We also measure height, width, and depth (HxWxD), rounded to the nearest inch. Noise is measured with the compressor running. Noise is
how much the unit will cost to run per year based on average electricity prices.

82 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES

Energy

Energy

Fridge Usable

Height (In.)

Water

Stainless/
SS-Look Option
Dispenser
Recommended

Rank

Temperature
Performance

Noise

Cost/Yr. ($)

Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Exterior

Exterior

Exterior
Width (In.)

Depth (In.)

Capacity (Cu. Ft.)


Eficiency

Ease of Use

Claimed
B. BOTTOM-FREEZERS continued
c 4 Kenmore 69313 $950 80 Z Z Z V 44 13.4 8.9 4.5 66 30 31 18.5 N
d 5 KitchenAid KRBR102ESS $1,550 77 Z Z C V 54 14.9 10.7 4.2 69 33 31 22.1 N
d 6 Maytag MBF2258DEM $1,300 77 Z Z C V 54 14.9 10.7 4.2 69 33 31 22.1 N
d 7 Whirlpool WRB322DMBM $1,260 77 Z Z C V 54 14.9 10.7 4.2 69 33 31 22.1 N
8 Amana ABB2224BRM $1,250 72 Z Z C V 56 15.3 11.1 4.2 69 33 31 21.9 N
9 Amana ABB1924BRM $1,220 71 Z X C V 51 12.5 8.9 3.6 66 30 31 18.5 N
10 KitchenAid KBRS19KCMS $1,300 67 Z C X C 63 12.1 8.6 3.5 67 30 31 18.7 N
11 KitchenAid KRBR109ESS $1,530 67 Z C X C 63 12.1 8.6 3.5 67 30 31 18.7 N
12 Maytag MBF1958DEM $1,260 67 Z C X C 63 12.1 8.6 3.5 67 30 31 18.7 N
13 Whirlpool WRB329DMBM $1,400 67 Z C X C 63 12.1 8.6 3.5 67 30 31 18.7 N
14 GE GDE23GSHSS $1,580 66 X X X V 65 16.2 12.3 3.9 68 33 33 23.2 N
15 GE GDE23ESESS $1,700 65 Z X C V 71 17 12.7 4.3 68 36 33 23.1 N
16 Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart E522BRX5 $1,800 63 X X X V 55 13.4 9.7 3.7 67 32 29 17.5 N
17 GE GDE20GSHSS $1,490 63 X X C V 61 13.7 10.2 3.5 67 30 33 20.4 N
18 Bosch B11CB50SSS $2,150 62 X X X V 38 8.4 5.8 2.6 79 24 26 11.3 N
19 Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart RF170WDRUX5 $2,300 61 X X X C 58 13 9.7 3.3 68 32 28 17.3 Ext. N
20 Fisher & Paykel RF175WCRUX1 $2,000 48 C V X C 65 12.4 9.4 3 69 33 28 17.5 Ext. N
21 Haier HBQ18JAD[W] $900 43 X V V V 76 14.9 10.4 4.5 66 30 32 17.5
C. THREE-DOOR FRENCH-DOORS
d 1 Samsung RF28HDEDPWW $2,700 87 Z Z Z X 70 20 13.3 6.7 69 36 34 27.8 Ext. N
d 2 Kenmore Elite 74093 $2,800 85 Z Z Z X 74 21.5 15.4 6.1 69 36 36 31.7 Ext. N
d 3 LG LFXS32766S $3,600 85 Z Z Z X 74 21.5 15.4 6.1 69 36 36 31.5 Ext. N
c 4 GE GFE26GSHSS $1,990 84 Z Z X X 48 17.1 11.3 5.8 70 36 35 25.7 Ext. N
d 5 GE Profile PWE23KMDES $2,600 84 Z Z X X 47 16 11.1 4.9 69 36 29 23.1 Int. N
c 6 GE GNE29GSHSS $1,800 83 Z Z X X 66 20.9 14.7 6.2 70 36 34 28.7 Ext. N
d 7 Samsung RF28HFPDBSR $2,000 83 Z Z X X 56 20 13.3 6.7 69 36 34 28.1 Ext. N
d 8 Samsung RF30HDEDTSR $2,800 83 Z Z Z X 81 20.9 14.1 6.8 69 36 35 30.2 Ext. N
d 9 GE Profile PFH28PSHSS $2,900 82 X Z X X 57 19.8 13.2 6.6 70 36 36 27.7 Ext. N
d 10 Samsung RF28HDEDBSR $2,400 82 Z Z X Z 62 20 13.3 6.7 69 36 34 27.8 Ext. N
d 11 Samsung RF26HFPNBSR $2,300 82 Z Z C X 55 18.3 13.3 5 69 36 33 25.5 Int. N
c 12 LG LFC24770ST $1,500 81 Z Z Z X 55 17.4 12.6 4.8 69 33 33 23.8 N
d 13 Kenmore Elite 74033 $3,100 81 Z Z X X 68 19.1 13.1 6 69 36 34 29.6 Ext. N
d 14 LG LFXS30766S $2,700 81 Z Z X X 68 19.1 13.1 6 69 36 34 29.6 Ext. N
d 15 LG LFCS31626S $2,000 80 X Z Z X 70 20.8 14.6 6.2 69 36 34 30.6 N
d 16 Samsung RF323TEDB[SR] $2,400 80 Z Z X C 73 21.8 14.7 7.1 69 36 36 31.6 Ext. N
d 17 GE Profile PFE28RSHSS $2,800 80 X Z Z X 73 20.1 13.3 6.8 69 36 35 27.7 Ext. N
d 18 GE Caf CYE22USHSS $2,970 80 Z X X X 66 15.1 10.1 5 70 36 30 22.2 Ext. N
19 GE Caf CYE22TSHSS $2,800 79 Z X X X 66 15.1 10.1 5 70 36 30 22.2 Ext. N
20 LG LFXS29766S $3,400 79 Z Z Z X 75 19.6 12.8 6.8 69 36 35 28.5 Ext. N
21 Kenmore Elite 71313 $1,600 79 Z Z Z C 59 17.4 12.6 4.8 69 33 33 23.9 N
22 KitchenAid KRFF507ESS $2,900 79 Z X Z X 74 18.3 12.8 5.5 69 36 34 26.8 Ext. N
23 Bosch 800 Series B22FT80SNS $2,100 78 Z Z X V 51 15.5 11.2 4.3 69 33 32 22.1 Int. N
24 Samsung RF261BEAE[SR] $1,400 78 Z Z C X 57 18.6 13.4 5.2 69 36 35 25.5 Int. N
25 Samsung RF20HFENBSR $1,400 78 Z X X C 66 14.8 10.2 4.6 71 32 30 19.4 N
26 KitchenAid KRFF302ESS $2,000 77 Z Z X V 50 15.2 10.9 4.3 69 33 32 21.7 N
27 Whirlpool WRF532SMBM $1,600 77 Z Z X V 50 15.2 10.9 4.3 69 33 32 21.7 N

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 83


BUYING GUIDE | refrigerators

BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES

Energy

Energy

Fridge Usable

Height (In.)

Stainless/
SS-Look Option
Recommended

Rank

Temperature
Performance

Noise

Cost/Yr. ($)

Exterior

Exterior

Exterior

Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Water
Dispenser
Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Width (In.)

Depth (In.)
Eficiency

Ease of Use

Claimed
C. THREE-DOOR FRENCH-DOORS continued
28 Samsung RF26J7500SR $1,800 77 Z X Z X 68 16.4 11.9 4.5 69 36 34 25.5 Ext. N
29 GE GFE28HSHSS $2,160 77 Z X X X 86 19.4 13.1 6.4 70 36 34 27.7 Ext. N
30 Kenmore 70333 $1,900 77 Z X X X 75 16.4 11.4 4.9 69 36 32 23.9 Ext. N
31 LG LFXS24566S $2,000 77 Z X X X 75 16.9 11.5 4.9 69 36 32 23.9 Ext. N
32 Samsung RF28HFEDBSR $2,650 77 Z X X X 88 20 13.3 6.7 69 36 34 28.1 Ext. N
33 GE GNE26GSDSS $1,800 76 Z Z V X 58 20 13.8 6.2 70 36 34 26.4 N
34 KitchenAid KBFS22ECMS $1,800 76 Z Z X C 51 15.5 11.2 4.3 69 33 32 22.1 Int. N
35 GE GFE27GSDSS $2,400 75 Z Z C X 61 17.6 11.9 5.7 69 36 34 26.6 Ext. N
36 GE Caf CFE28TSHSS $3,100 75 X X X X 70 15.1 10.1 5 70 36 35 27.8 Ext. N
37 Samsung RF18HFENBSR $1,250 75 Z X X C 54 13 8.9 4.1 71 33 29 17.5 N
38 LG LFC22770ST $1,400 75 Z X Z C 71 15.4 11.1 4.3 68 30 33 21.8 N
39 Kenmore Elite 74053 $2,800 75 Z X X X 67 15 9.7 5.3 69 36 29 23.5 Ext. N
40 LG LFXC24726S $2,500 75 Z X X X 67 17.4 12.6 4.8 69 36 29 24 Ext. N
41 LG LFX21976[ST] $2,700 74 Z C Z C 63 13.5 9.7 3.8 70 36 28 21 Ext. N
42 Kenmore 71323 $2,100 74 Z X Z X 62 15.3 11 4.3 68 30 33 21.8 Ext. N
43 Samsung RF263BEAE[SR] $1,700 74 Z Z X C 61 17.1 12 5.1 69 36 35 25.6 Ext. N
44 Samsung RF220NCTASR $1,500 74 Z Z X C 56 16 11.4 4.6 67 30 34 21.8 N
45 Frigidaire FFHN2740PS $1,670 74 X Z X C 54 19.1 13.9 5.2 70 36 34 26.5 N
46 Maytag MFT2778EEZ $3,000 73 Z X C X 77 18.3 12.8 5.5 70 36 33 26.8 Ext. N
47 KitchenAid KRFF305ESS $2,000 73 Z Z X V 59 17.4 12.5 4.9 69 36 34 24.8 N
48 Whirlpool WRF535SMBM $1,300 73 Z Z X V 59 17.4 12.5 4.9 69 36 34 24.8 N
49 GE Profile PFS23KSHSS $2,300 73 Z Z C X 52 14.3 10.5 3.8 68 33 33 22.8 Ext. N
50 LG LFX25974ST $1,700 73 Z X X X 71 16.2 11.2 5 69 36 32 24.7 Ext. N
51 Frigidaire FFHB2740PS $1,800 73 X X X C 74 17.5 12.6 4.9 69 36 34 26.6 Ext. N
52 Kenmore 7200[2] $1,200 72 Z X C C 61 14.6 10.4 4.2 70 33 32 21.7 Int. N
53 Bosch 800 Series B22CT80SNS $3,100 72 Z X X V 54 13.9 10.4 3.5 72 36 29 21.9 Int. N
54 Jenn-Air JFC2290V[EP] $2,800 71 Z X X C 57 13.5 10.4 3.1 72 36 28 21.8 Int. N
55 Whirlpool CoolVox WRF991BOOM $2,400 70 X X X X 76 16.4 11.7 4.8 69 36 34 26.8 Ext. N
56 KitchenAid KFIV29PCMS $3,000 69 X X C X 71 17.6 12.4 5.2 70 36 34 28.6 Ext. N
57 Electrolux Wave-Touch EW28BS85K[S] $3,200 69 X X X X 80 18.1 11.9 6.2 69 36 34 27.8 Ext. N
58 Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart RF170ADUSX4 $2,400 69 Z C X C 59 12.6 9.3 3.3 68 32 28 17.2 Ext. N
59 Frigidaire Gallery FGHB2866PF $1,900 68 X X X C 86 18.6 12.3 6.3 70 36 34 27.8 Ext. N
60 Samsung RF23HCEDBSR $3,100 68 C Z X X 81 16 11.1 4.9 69 36 29 22.5 Ext. N
61 Maytag MFF2558DEM $1,550 68 Z X X V 78 17.2 12.4 4.7 69 36 33 25.2 N
62 Whirlpool WRF560SEY[M] $1,600 67 X X X C 57 13.3 9.3 4 68 30 33 19.6 Ext. N
63 Electrolux EI27BS26J[W] $2,200 67 X X X C 75 17.7 12.7 5 70 36 33 26.7 Ext. N
64 Frigidaire Professional FPBS2777RF $2,400 67 X X X C 87 18.2 12.3 5.9 70 36 32 26.7 Ext. N
65 Bosch B26FT70SN[S] $2,650 67 Z C X C 84 16.4 11.2 5.2 70 36 33 25.9 Ext. N
66 LG LFC28768ST $1,700 67 C Z Z C 79 20.1 14.1 6 69 36 33 27.7 N
67 Kenmore Elite 74023 $2,400 67 C X X X 83 19.5 13.5 6 69 36 34 29.8 Ext. N
68 LG LFXS30726S $2,500 67 X X X X 83 19.5 13.5 6 69 36 34 29.8 Ext. N
69 Kenmore 73063 $3,000 66 X X V C 82 18.6 12.9 5.7 69 36 33 26.6 Ext. N
70 Frigidaire Gallery FGHN2866PF $1,950 66 X X X C 85 19.5 13.8 5.7 69 36 31 27.8 N
71 Kenmore 70343 $1,900 65 X X C C 90 18.2 12.2 6 69 36 34 27.1 Ext. N
72 GE Profile PNS20KSHSS $2,200 65 Z C C C 62 12.3 8.9 3.4 66 30 33 20 N
73 GE GNS23GSHSS $1,440 65 X X C C 62 15.3 11.3 4 69 33 33 22.7 N
74 Kenmore 70443 $1,800 64 X X C C 71 14.6 9.9 4.8 69 36 29 21.9 Ext. N
75 Frigidaire Gallery FGHG2366PF $2,200 64 X C X C 74 15.3 11.1 4.2 70 36 29 22.6 N
76 DCS RF195AUUX1 $3,000 61 X C X C 59 12.5 9.1 3.4 69 36 28 19.5 Ext. N
77 KitchenAid KRFC302ESS $3,300 61 Z V Z C 83 14.3 11 3.3 73 36 28 21.9 Int. N

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor

84 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES

Energy

Energy

Fridge Usable

Height (In.)
Exterior

Exterior

Exterior

Water

Stainless/
SS-Look Option
Recommended

Rank

Dispenser
Temperature
Performance

Noise

Cost/Yr. ($)

Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Width (In.)

Depth (In.)

Capacity (Cu. Ft.)


Eficiency

Ease of Use

Claimed
C. THREE-DOOR FRENCH-DOORS continued
78 Haier HB21FC45NS $1,900 59 X C V C 70 14.6 10.1 4.5 70 36 28 20.6 N
79 Haier HRF15N3AGS $1,100 59 Z C V V 56 11.2 8 3.2 71 28 27 15 N
80 Viking DDFF136D[SS] $3,700 57 Z V C C 65 11.7 8.7 3 69 36 28 19.8 Ext. N
81 Maytag MFC2062DEM $1,800 54 Z V X C 81 13.6 10.2 3.4 69 36 28 20 Ext. N
82 Whirlpool WRF540CWBM $1,800 54 Z V X C 81 13.6 10.2 3.4 69 36 28 20 Ext. N
83 Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart RF201ADUSX5 $2,600 53 C X X C 55 14.4 10.5 3.9 71 36 28 20.1 Ext. N
84 Frigidaire Gallery FGHF2366PF $1,900 52 X V X C 83 13.9 9.7 4.2 70 36 29 22.6 Ext. N
85 Maytag MFT2574DEM $1,980 45 V Z X X 62 16.4 11.7 4.8 69 36 33 24.7 Ext. N
86 Maytag MFF2258DEM $1,550 43 V Z C V 53 15.5 11.2 4.3 69 33 32 22.1 N
D. FOUR-DOOR (OR MORE) FRENCH-DOORS
d 1 Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4 $5,400 84 Z Z Z X 99 23.4 14 9.4 73 36 36 34.3 Ext. N
d 2 LG LPCS34886C $6,000 84 Z Z Z C 73 24.4 15.7 8.7 73 36 37 33.5 N
d 3 Kenmore Elite 72483 $3,600 84 Z Z Z X 70 21.1 15.4 5.7 69 36 36 29.9 Ext. N
d 4 LG LMXS30746S $2,850 84 Z Z Z X 70 21.1 15.4 5.7 69 36 36 29.9 Ext. N
d 5 Samsung T9000 RF32FMQDBSR $3,500 83 Z Z Z X 70 22.9 13.7 9.2 72 36 36 31.8 Ext. N
d 6 LG LPXS30866D $3,900 82 Z Z Z C 74 21.7 12.8 8.9 69 36 37 29.8 Ext. N
c 7 Samsung RF28HMEDBSR $2,700 80 Z Z Z X 73 18.8 13.3 5.5 69 36 34 28.2 Ext. N
d 8 Samsung RF23J9011SR $3,000 80 Z Z Z X 64 16.1 10.1 6 72 36 29 22.5 Ext. N
d 9 Samsung RF25HMEDBSR $3,000 80 Z Z X X 66 16.6 11.7 4.9 69 33 34 24.7 Ext. N
10 Samsung RF31FMESBSR $3,300 79 Z Z X X 69 19 13 6 69 36 36 30.5 Ext. N
11 LG LMXC23746S $2,800 79 Z X Z X 58 14.7 10.7 4 71 36 29 22.7 Ext. N
12 Samsung RF23HSESBSR $3,330 76 Z X Z X 67 15.1 10.5 4.6 69 36 29 22.6 Ext. N
13 Whirlpool WRX988SIBM $2,600 74 X Z X X 68 17.9 12.7 5.2 69 36 34 28.1 Ext. N
14 Samsung RF30HBEDBSR $3,200 73 X Z X X 75 20.5 13.9 6.6 69 36 36 29.5 Ext. N
15 Maytag MFX2876DRM $2,900 73 Z C Z X 88 17.5 12.3 5.2 69 36 34 26.2 Ext. N
16 KitchenAid KRMF706EBS $4,000 71 Z C Z X 88 17.1 11.9 5.2 70 36 34 25.8 Ext. N
17 Whirlpool WRV986FDEM $3,000 71 Z C Z X 88 17.1 11.9 5.2 70 36 34 25.8 Ext. N
18 Kenmore 72383 $2,400 70 X Z X C 70 18 12.9 5.2 69 36 34 28.1 N
19 Samsung RF24FSEDBSR $3,000 66 X C X C 67 14.3 10.2 4.1 69 36 28 23.6 Ext. N
20 Blomberg BRFD2650SS $2,700 58 C X C C 85 17.7 11.4 6.3 73 36 34 23.3 Ext. N
21 Blomberg BRFD2650SSN $2,700 54 X V X C 115 17.5 11.4 6.1 73 36 34 23.3 Ext. N
22 Samsung RF28HMELBSR $3,250 31 Z B Z X 158 18.5 13.1 5.4 69 36 34 28.2 Ext. N
E. SIDE-BY-SIDES
d 1 Samsung RS25H5121SR $1,900 83 Z Z Z X 58 18.6 11.8 6.8 69 36 34 24.5 Ext. N
d 2 Samsung RH25H5611SR $1,600 80 X Z Z X 63 19 12 7.0 70 36 35 24.7 Ext. N
d 3 LG LSXS26366S $1,700 78 Z Z Z X 63 20.7 13.8 6.9 69 36 34 26.2 Ext. N
d 4 Samsung RH29H8000SR $2,500 77 X Z Z X 71 22.9 14.9 8.0 69 36 36 28.5 Ext. N
d 5 LG LSC22991ST $2,200 76 X Z X X 53 15.6 11.1 4.5 69 36 29 21.6 Ext. N
d 6 Samsung RS22HDHPNSR $2,400 76 X Z Z X 76 19.5 14 5.5 69 36 28 22.3 Ext. N
d 7 LG LSXS26326S $1,350 76 X Z X X 64 20.6 13.7 6.9 69 36 34 26.2 Ext. N
d 8 GE Profile PSS28KSHSS $2,200 76 X X Z Z 83 17 11.9 5.1 70 36 33 28.2 Ext. N
d 9 GE Profile PSE25KSHSS $1,800 75 X Z C Z 63 16.1 11.4 4.7 70 36 33 25.3 Ext. N
c 10 GE GSE25ESHSS $1,260 74 Z Z C C 64 16.5 10.7 5.8 70 36 32 24.7 Ext. N
d 11 Whirlpool WRS975SIDM $1,800 74 X Z X X 53 18.7 12.3 6.4 69 36 34 24.8 Ext. N
d 12 GE GSE22ESHSS $1,350 74 Z Z C C 54 14.4 10.3 4.1 68 34 33 21.8 Ext. N
d 13 Kenmore 51813 $1,400 72 X Z X C 61 16.1 11.6 4.5 66 33 33 21.9 Ext. N
d 14 Whirlpool WRS586FIEM $1,600 72 X Z X C 66 18.9 12.3 6.6 69 36 33 25.6 Ext. N
d 15 GE GSS20ESHSS $1,540 72 Z X C C 58 13 8.8 4.2 68 32 32 19.9 Ext. N
d 16 Samsung RH29H9000SR $2,350 72 X Z Z X 73 21.2 13.4 7.8 69 36 36 28.5 Ext. N
17 Frigidaire Gallery FGHS2655PF $1,350 71 X Z C X 63 17.4 11.8 5.6 70 36 34 26 Ext. N
18 Whirlpool WRS950SIAM $1,900 71 X X X X 98 22 13.6 8.4 70 36 34 29.8 Ext. N

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 85


BUYING GUIDE | refrigerators

BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES

Energy

Energy

Fridge Usable

Height (In.)

SS-Look Option
Depth (In.)

Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Water

Stainless/
Dispenser
Recommended

Rank

Temperature
Performance

Noise

Cost/Yr. ($)

Total Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu.Ft.)

Exterior

Exterior

Exterior
Width (In.)
Eficiency

Ease of Use

Claimed
E. SIDE-BY-SIDES continued
19 Kenmore 51783 $1,250 70 X X C X 67 14.6 9.8 4.8 69 36 29 20.6 Ext. N
20 GE GSS23HSHSS $1,490 69 X Z C C 67 15.2 11 4.2 70 33 33 23.2 Ext. N
21 Electrolux EI26SS30J[S] $1,700 69 X X X X 77 16.1 11.3 4.8 70 36 34 26 Ext. N
22 Frigidaire Gallery FGHS2355PF $1,500 68 X Z C X 59 15.4 10.4 5.0 69 33 34 22.6 Ext. N
23 Kenmore Elite 51823 $2,000 68 X Z C C 60 17.1 11.6 5.5 66 33 32 21.9 Ext. N
24 Samsung RS25H5000SR $1,400 68 C Z Z X 74 18 11.8 6.2 69 36 34 24.5 Ext. N
25 Kenmore Elite 51773 $1,800 67 C Z X X 47 21.8 14 7.8 69 36 34 27.6 Ext. N
26 Fagor FQ9925XUS $2,300 67 Z C Z X 86 14.5 10.2 4.3 69 36 28 20 Ext. N
27 Whirlpool WRL767SIAM $1,710 67 X X C X 85 19.4 12.7 6.7 69 36 36 26.5 Ext. N
28 Whirlpool WRS321CDBM $1,650 66 X X X X 72 13.7 9.9 3.8 69 36 29 21.4 Ext. N
29 Frigidaire FFHS2622MW $950 66 X Z C C 74 17.9 12.3 5.6 70 36 32 25.5 Ext. N
30 Kenmore 51133 $1,120 66 X X C X 83 19.2 12.5 6.7 69 36 34 26.5 Ext. N
31 GE Caf CZS25TSESS $3,050 65 X X X X 75 14.7 10.5 4.2 72 36 28 26.4 Ext. N
32 Frigidaire Gallery FGHC2331PF $1,500 65 X Z C C 65 15.1 10.1 5.0 70 36 29 22.6 Ext. N
33 Samsung RH22H8010SR $2,500 63 C Z Z X 59 15.5 10.5 5.0 69 36 29 21.5 Ext. N
34 Maytag MSF25D4MDH $1,260 62 X X C C 87 16.4 11.1 5.3 69 36 32 24.6 Ext. N
35 GE GSS25GSHSS $1,170 61 C Z C C 65 16.3 11 5.3 70 36 33 25.3 Ext. N
36 Samsung RH22H9010SR $2,350 60 X C X X 61 15.3 10.3 5.0 69 36 28 21.5 Ext. N
37 Frigidaire FFHS2322MW $950 60 X X C C 72 15.7 10.9 4.8 70 33 32 22 Ext. N
38 Whirlpool WRS571CIDM $1,250 59 X C C C 83 14.6 9.8 4.8 69 36 28 20.6 Ext. N
39 Electrolux EI26SS55G[W] $1,800 58 C C X X 90 16 10.9 5.1 70 36 33 26 Ext. N
40 KitchenAid KSF22C4CYY $1,700 55 X C X C 80 13.4 9.1 4.3 66 33 33 22 Ext. N
41 Amana ASD2575BRS $1,050 52 C Z C C 65 15.8 10.6 5.2 69 36 32 25.5 Ext. N
42 Whirlpool WRS335FDDM $1,260 51 C Z X C 63 15.4 10.2 5.2 69 36 33 24.5 Ext. N
43 Kenmore 50023 $900 48 C Z C C 60 15.7 10.6 5.1 69 36 33 25.4 Ext. N
44 Amana ASD2275BRS $1,200 46 C C C C 76 13.1 9.8 3.3 66 33 33 21.2 Ext. N
45 Samsung RS261MD[WP] $1,200 45 V Z X X 71 18.1 12 6.1 70 36 34 25.6 Ext. N
46 Frigidaire FFSS2314QS $950 45 V Z X C 60 15 10.3 4.7 69 33 33 22.6 Ext. N
47 Kenmore 51123 $950 43 V Z C C 67 15.5 10.3 5.2 69 36 33 25.4 Ext. N
48 GE GZS22DSJSS $1,700 43 V X X C 63 14 9.7 4.3 70 36 28 21.9 Ext. N
49 Frigidaire FFSS2614QS $900 43 C C C C 102 18 12.2 5.8 69 36 32 26 Ext. N
50 Whirlpool WRS576FIDM $1,350 42 V X C X 90 18.9 12.3 6.6 69 36 34 25.6 Ext. N
51 Whirlpool WRS325FDAM $1,000 37 V C C C 84 15.1 10 5.1 69 36 33 25.4 Ext. N

BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES


Exterior Height
Temperature

Exterior

Bottom-Freezer
Recommended

Exterior

Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Water Dispenser

Stainless/
SS-Look Option
Performance

Width (In.)

Depth (In.)

Side-by-Side

French-Door Style
Rank

Ease of Use

(In.)
Energy
Eficiency

Noise

Total Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Fridge Usable Ca-
pacity (Cu. Ft.)

F. BUILT-INS
d 1 Miele MasterCool KF1903SF $8,600 81 Z X Z X 83 36 25 N 14.1 10.6 3.5 N
d 2 KitchenAid KBFN502ESS $9,000 80 Z Z Z C 83 42 26 N N 17 13 4 N
d 3 Jenn-Air JF42NXFXDE $8,500 80 Z Z Z C 83 42 26 N N 17 13 4 N
d 4 Thermador Freedom Collection T36BB820SS $7,400 80 Z X Z X 84 36 25 N 14.3 9.8 4.5 N
d 5 KitchenAid KBBR306ESS $8,200 80 Z X Z X 83 36 26 N 14.9 11.4 3.5 N
d 6 Jenn-Air JB36NXFXRE $7,400 80 Z X Z X 83 36 26 N 14.9 11.4 3.5 N
7 Bosch Integra 800 Series B36BT830NS $7,500 78 Z C Z X 84 36 25 N 13.8 9.2 4.6 N
8 Thermador Freedom Collection T36BT810NS $8,000 78 Z C Z X 84 36 25 N 13.8 9.2 4.6 N
9 Miele MasterCool KF1803SF $8,100 77 Z X Z X 83 30 25 N 11.4 8.5 2.8 N

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor

86 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES

Exterior Height
Temperature

Exterior
Ease of Use

(In.)
Exterior

Bottom-Freezer

Side-by-Side

French-Door Style
Recommended

Rank

Performance
Energy
Eficiency

Noise

Width (In.)

Depth (In.)

Total Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)
Fridge Usable Ca-

Stainless/
SS-Look Option
pacity (Cu. Ft.)
Freezer Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Water Dispenser
BUILT-INS continued
10 Samsung RS27FDBTNSR $6,570 76 X Z Z X 84 48 26 N 20.3 13.5 6.8 Ext. N
12 Liebherr CS2060 $5,000 75 Z X Z C 80 36 25 N 13.9 10.4 3.5 N
13 LG LSSB2791[ST] $8,500 73 Z X X X 84 42 26 17 11 6 Ext. N
14 Liebherr CS2062 $5,300 73 X X Z C 81 36 25 N N 13.7 10.2 3.5 N
15 Thermador Freedom Collection T30BB820SS $7,000 73 Z C Z X 84 30 25 N 12.2 8.6 3.6 N
16 Bosch Integra B30BB830SS $6,500 73 Z C Z X 84 30 25 N 12.2 8.6 3.6 N
17 GE Monogram ZIPP360NHSS $8,500 72 Z C C X 84 36 26 N N 14 10 4 N
18 Viking VCBB5363ERSS $9,050 72 Z X C X 83 35 24 N 15.3 11.7 3.6 N
19 Sub-Zero BI-42UFD/S $9,800 72 X Z X X 83 42 26 N N 17.4 13.4 4 N
20 Viking VCSB5423SS $10,160 70 X X X X 83 42 26 N 18.3 11.1 7.2 N
21 Dacor Discovery DYF36BFTSR $8,000 69 Z C X X 84 36 26 N 15.8 12.5 3.3 N
22 KitchenAid KBFN406ESS $8,500 69 X X Z C 83 36 26 N N 14.5 11 3.5 N
23 Jenn-Air JF36NXFXDE $8,000 69 X X Z C 83 36 26 N N 14.5 11 3.5 N
24 Sub-Zero BI42SIDS/PH $9,800 69 X X X X 84 42 26 N 16.4 11.8 4.6 Int. N
25 GE Monogram ZIC30GNZII $7,050 67 X X C X 80 30 24 N 11.5 8.7 2.8 N
26 Sub-Zero IT36CI $7,600 67 X X Z B 83 36 25 N 15.1 10.4 4.7 N
27 Liebherr HCB1560 $5,600 67 X C Z C 80 30 24 N 10.9 8 2.9 N

A TALE OF
TWO FRIDGES
What you get when you pay
$1,000 more for a refrigerator

As French-door refrigerators become more


popular, the price range for them has also wid-
ened. You can now spend less than $1,500 for a
three-door French-door refrigerator with basic
features and limited capacity and more than
$1,900 $2,900
GE GE PROFILE
$5,000 for a luxury four-door version thats
GFE26GSHSS PFH28PSHSS
huge on storage and innovation.
Those are two ends of the extreme. But even
among midrange French-door refrigerators, you
might find two similar models with a price dif-
ferential of $1,000 or morenothing to sneeze
at, especially if youre renovating on a tight How They Compare temperature-controlled drawer with settings
budget. So is it worth spending more? A pair of Both French-door models offer excellent en- for meat, deli, and beverages. And it features a
GE French-door refrigerators recently tested by ergy efficiency and quietness. In terms of stor- drop-down shelf for tall containers.
Consumer Reports offers some insights. age capacity, the pricier GE Profile has a slight Those convenience features are nice, as is
The GE GFE26GSHSS, $1,900, and the edge, offering 19.8 cubic feet of usable capacity the extra capacity inside the GE Profile. The
GE Profile PFH28PSHSS, $2,900, both make compared with its brandmates 17.1cubic feet. upgrades might even be worth the splurge. But
our recommended list, so its clear that you Now lets look at the features. Both French- its good to know that if you don't have an extra
can find top performance in a less expensive door refrigerators have an external ice and $1,000 in the budget, you can still get a superb
French-door refrigerator. In fact, the $1,900 water dispenser, but the GE Profile comes with French-door refrigerator.
model scored a couple of points higher overall an LCD display and hands-free precise auto-fill, See our Ratings for the complete list of rec-
because of slightly better temperature control. which lets you walk away while the machine ommended French-door refrigerators, including
That helped it earn a CR Best Buy distinction. automatically fills any container. It also has a other CR Best Buys from LG and Samsung.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/refrigerators/buying-guide.htm 87


BUYING GUIDE | ranges

Ranges
WHETHER YOU WANT RESTAURANT STYLING OR SOMETHING A BIT MORE STREAMLINED,
OUR TOP PICKS OFFER GREAT LOOKS AND PERFORMANCEAT EVERY PRICE

HAIER

88 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


WHATS
he range is the workhorse of the kitchen, NEW

T and if its stylish, its probably the center-


piece, too. Electric radiant smooothtop
ranges remain the big sellers, but you have
more options than ever, including double-oven
ranges for the multitasker in all of us. And though
Smaller sizes.
Big, beefy ranges have gotten a
lot of love in recent years, but now
were seeing many of the same
a cooktop and wall-oven combo has its appeal, the features and design details in much
two appliances often cost more than one range. smaller packages. Perfect for the
At Consumer Reports we buy every range we tight floor plans of urban kitchens,
test. So we know what its like to pay big money 24-inch wide ranges are available
for pro-style ranges. We dont rate them on style from a number of manufacturers,
thats your callbut we do test and score them on including Bertazzoni, Blomberg,
and now Smeg. We havent tried
how quickly they deliver cooktop heat, simmer-
the small sizes, but their big broth-
ing, baking, broiling, and self-cleaning, just as we
ers didnt fare well in our tests.
do with all ranges we test.

Steps to
Success
1 PICK A TYPE
Freestanding ranges are the most widely
used and easiest to install. The oven
control panel is usually on the back
panel, above the cooktop surface. Slide-
in ranges give a custom built-in look
and easily slide in between surrounding
cabinets. The oven controls are on the
range front, and theres no back panel,
which showcases your backsplash.

CONSIDER THE SIZE


2 Most electric and gas ranges are 30inch-
es wide, and what we buy and test.
Pro-style ranges usually span 36inches
or more. We test 30-inch and 36-inch
pro-style ranges. Theyre big on style but
arent the best performing ranges weve
tested. Even regular ranges now have
beefy knobs, rugged grates, style, and
stainless trim for a lot less money.

3 FACTOR IN CAPACITY
A roomy oven comes in handy when
baking or entertaining. We measure oven
space you can actually use, so check the
capacity scores in our range Ratings.
The smallest ovens in our tests are a little
MIELE more than 2cubic feet; the largest are
almost 4cubic feet.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 89


BUYING GUIDE | ranges

Details
That Count
ELECTRONIC TOUCHPADS
Be sure theyre well-placed and visible while you
cook. Front-mounted touchpads can be easy to
bump and reset by accident.

CONTROL LOCKOUT
It lets you disable the oven controls. We
recommend it if the electronic oven-control
panel is at the front of the range, rather than
on the back panel, especially if there are small
children in the house.

FLEXIBLE COOKING SURFACES


Continuous grates on gas ranges let you slide,
instead of lift, heavy cookware between burn-
ers. Most smoothtops have expandable (dual or
triple) elements that allow you to switch between
a large, high-power element and a small, low-
power element contained within it.

HOT-SURFACE
WARNING LIGHTS
This light warns when an element is still hot and
is particularly useful on electric radiant smooth- GE

JENN-AIR KITCHENAID

90 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


On the
tops. Some ranges have a warning light for
each burner; others just have one.

DOUBLE OVENS

Market
Two separate cavities let you roast a turkey in
one while baking pies in another and at different
temperatures. Certain ranges pair a smaller top
oven with a larger oven below; others have two
same-size ovens. Keep in mind that theres no There are three types of ranges
storage drawer and usually the convection fea- based on fuel: electric, gas, and
ture is in the bottom oven, although some have dual-fuel, which pairs a gas cooktop
convection in both ovens. with an electric oven. Both gas and
electric have their advantages.
SELF-CLEANING CYCLE
Most use high heat to burn off messes in the ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
oven. An automatic safety lock prevents the Ranges with electric radiant smoothtops
door from being opened until the oven has are the popular pick. All of the models in
cooled. Certain models have a digital countdown our tests have at least one high-power GE
display that shows the time left in the cycle. burner. Most have expandable dual or triple
elements that let you switch from a large,
DUAL-FUEL high-power element to a small, lower-power GAS
These ranges feature a gas cooktop paired If you prefer cooking with gas, we get it.
element within it. Certain ranges have a
with an electric oven. Manufacturers tout more The flame makes it easier to judge the heat,
warming element in the center to keep side
even oven heating compared with gas ovens, to get a feel for it, and to quickly move from
dishes warm. There is a lot of residual heat,
especially for baking. But our tests have found a high setting to a lower one.
so when reducing the temperature it can
no clear advantages. The capacity of a burner is measured in
take a few minutes to really settle at the
lower setting. British thermal units (Btu) per hour. Most
FIVE OR MORE ranges have four surface burners in three
OVEN-RACK POSITIONS ELECTRIC INDUCTION sizes: one or two medium-power burners
The more, the better. You can adjust for the size Electric ranges with an induction cooktop (about 9,000Btu), a small burner (about
of the food and its distance to the broiler, and use magnetic coils below the ceramic glass 5,000Btu), and one or two large ones
have more flexibility when using multiple racks. surface to quickly generate heat directly (about 12,000Btu or more). Some have
to the pan, offering precise simmering and a fifth burner instead of a center section.
CONVECTION control. Youll find these models in our Response time is particularly quick,
Many midpriced and higher priced ranges use
Ratings of electric ranges. especially when compared with a radiant
one or more fans to circulate hot air in the oven.
Magnetic cookware is needed for smoothtop. When you turn the knob from
Certain ovens, usually electric models, have an
induction to work. If a magnet strongly high to medium on a gas cooktop, the pot
additional convection heating element. Convec-
sticks to the bottom of a pot, it will work and the food in it experience that change
tion cooking usually reduces cooking time,
with an induction cooktop. Some stainless- almost immediately. And with most gas
especially for large roasts.
steel cookware is induction-capable, and burners you can strike a match to light
some isnt. them when your power is out.
VARIABLE BROIL
Most electric and gas ovens have it. Variable
broil provides adjustable settings for foods
that need slower or faster cooking.

WARMING DRAWER
This convenient feature keeps plates and food
warm and comes in handy when youre cooking
for a crowd, or in stages.

TIMED/DELAYED START
This lets you set a time for the electric or gas
oven to start and stop cooking. But this feature
is not essentialyou shouldnt leave the oven on
when its unattended, and most foods shouldnt
stay in a cold oven for long.
GE

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 91


BUYING GUIDE | ranges

d ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Recommended ranges
can do it all and, based
on our survey of
thousands of readers,
do not have brand
reliability problems. A1 LG LDE3037BD A2 SAMSUNG A3 SAMSUNG
The recommended Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE OVEN NE58F9710WS NE59J7850WS
(30-INCH) | $1,620 Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE OVEN Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE-OVEN
ranges will bring pasta (30-INCH) | $1,800 (30-INCH) | $1,400
water to a fast boil, hold The only electric smoothtop range
to ace all of our tests, its at the Though this model has one oven This freestanding model was
a big batch of spaghetti top of our Ratings of double-oven cavity and a single door, it comes superb at simmering. It has four
sauce or chili at a low ranges. It was superb at simmering, with a divider that splits the oven in cooktop elements, including one
delivering fast cooktop heat, bak- two. You can cook different foods high-power. Baking and self-
simmer, and deliver
ing, broiling, and self-cleaning. It simultaneously, but the foods must cleaning were impressive, and
dozens of cookies that has four cooking elements, includ- cook within a certain temperature broiling was excellent. The oven
are evenly baked and ing two high-power, and a warming range. Cooktop heat was fast. Sim- has a large capacity and a slide-in
element. The lower oven has con- mering, broiling, self-cleaning, and partition that converts the cavity
nicely browned. They baking were impressive. from a single oven to dual cavities.
vection, and steam-cleaning.
all do at least an okay lg.com samsung.com samsung.com
job broiling, and many
are excellentnice
if you enjoy a good
steak or burgers. The
oven is large, and
self-cleaning is good
or better. CR Best Buys
are recommended
ranges that
combine impressive
B1 KENMORE B2 LG LRE3083SW B3 FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY
performance and value. 95052 Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN FGEF3035RF
Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN (30-INCH) | $800 Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN
(30-INCH) | $1,300 (30-INCH) | $870
This electric smoothtop range was
This top-rated freestanding range superb at simmering and delivered This freestanding electric smooth-
has four cooktop elements, includ- fast heat. Baking and self-cleaning top range was superb overall,
ing two high-power. It excelled at were impressive; broiling was delivering fast cooktop heat and
simmering and was one of the few superb. The oven has convection superb simmering, broiling, and
smoothtop ranges to excel at bak- and a steam-clean feature for self-cleaning. The large oven was
ing. Even self-cleaning was superb. lightcleaning. impressive at baking.
kenmore.com lg.com frigidaire.com

92 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


ELECTRIC INDUCTION

FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
Induction cooking surfaces
perform really well in our tests
and have other advantages, such
A4 LG LDE4415ST as the surface not getting as hot
Type SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE-OVEN when you use it and fast response
(30-INCH) | $1,640
when you adjust the heat. The
Pairing a smaller top oven with a
Kenmore 95073, though still
larger oven below, this freestand-
ing smoothtop range has four a bit of a splurge, is one of the
burners, including two high power
least expensive ranges weve tested
which delivered fast heat. Sim-
mering was superb. Baking, broil- featuring an induction surface.
ing, and self-cleaning were very D1 KENMORE 95073
good. Total oven capacity is large Type INDUCTION, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH) | $1,530 TARA CASAREGOLA,
kenmore.com TEST PROGRAM LEADER
and extras include convection
and smart features that work with
Android smartphones with NFC.
lg.com

B4 GE CAF CS980STSS D2 KENMORE 95103 D3 SAMSUNG D4 BOSCH HIIP054U


Type SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE-OVEN Type INDUCTION, DOUBLE OVEN NE58H9970WS Type INDUCTION, SINGLE OVEN
(30-INCH) | $2,550 (30-INCH) | $1,400 Type INDUCTION, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH) | $3,200
(30-INCH) | $3,330
This model was excellent at sim- This induction range has four burn- This slide-in induction range was
mering, baking, and broiling, and ers, including two high-power, and This slide-in induction range was superb overall, delivering fast cook-
impressive at fast cooktop heating. a warming element. A slide-in parti- excellent overall and offers fast top heat and excellent simmering.
It has five cooking elements, includ- tion converts the cavity from a cooktop heat, but not as fast as But the oven was smaller than most
ing one high-powered, and a large single oven to dual cavities (that the other induction ranges tested. induction ranges we tested and
oven equipped with convection. share the one oven door.) It has four surface elements, and self-cleaning was so-so. It has four
geappliances.com kenmore.com three are high-power. cooktop elements.
samsung.com bosch-home.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 93


d RECOMMENDED MODELS

GAS

E1 LG LDG4315ST F1 SAMSUNG F3 GE PGS920SEFSS G1 KITCHENAID


Type GAS, DOUBLE OVEN NX58F5700WS Type GAS, SINGLE OVEN KDRS407VSS
(30-INCH) | $1,500 Type GAS, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH) | $2,550 Type DUAL-FUEL, PRO-STYLE
(30-INCH) | $1,500 (30-INCH) | $4,140
Top-rated, this freestanding gas It's a slide-in range so it costs a lot
double-oven range pairs a smaller Unlike most gas ranges tested, more than the other top picks.There This range outperformed all others
top oven with a larger oven below. this one offers fast cooktop heat are five burners and they were of its type. It pairs a gas cooktop
It has five burners, including two and superb baking. Even broiling superb at simmering and delivered with an electric oven, delivering im-
high-power. Simmering, baking, and was impressive. It has five burners, fast heat. The oven is large and pressive performance overall. But
self-cleaning were very good. including two high-power. The impressive at baking. The oven has the oven is not as large as those in
lg.com warming drawer is a nice touch. a convection option. most mainstream gas ranges and
samsung.com geappliances.com broiling was mediocre.
kitchenaid.com

FROM
OUR
EXPERTS
The GE PGB911ZEJSS
range has a lot to ofer at H1 KITCHENAID
a moderate price: high KDRU763VSS
performance, good Type DUAL-FUEL, PRO-STYLE
(36-INCH) | $7,300
brand repair history,
This dual-fuel, 36-inch model is
and a nifty built-in tops among the pros and pairs a
center griddle feature. gas cooktop with an electric oven.
Simmering was superb, and baking
TARA CASAREGOLA,
TEST PROGRAM LEADER and broiling were impressive. It also
F7 GE PGB911ZEJSS has plenty of oven space and a con-
Type GAS, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH) | $1,100 vection feature.
geappliances.com kitchenaid.com

94 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 102ranges tested, the highest scored 89; the lowest, 23. Below are ranges in order of performance in eight categories.
Recommended ranges offer top performance and dont have brand-reliability problems. CR Best Buys combine performance and value. Note that
dual-fuel ranges pair a gas cooktop with an electric oven.

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES
Recommended

Rank

Cooktop High

wwCooktop Low

Baking

Broiling

Oven Capacity

Self-Cleaning

High-Power Ele-
ments

Medium-Power
Elements

Low-Power Ele-
ments

Convection
Mode

Slide-In

Stainless Steel
Available
A. SMOOTHTOP, DOUBLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d 1 LG LDE3037BD $1,620 89 Z Z Z Z Z Z 2 0 2 N N
d 2 Samsung NE58F9710WS $1,800 85 X Z X Z X Z 1 2 1 N N N
d 3 Samsung NE59J7850WS $1,400 82 X Z X Z Z X 1 2 1 N N
d 4 LG LDE4415ST $1,640 81 Z Z X X Z X 2 0 2 N N
5 GE Profile PB960SJSS $1,530 74 Z Z C C Z Z 1 2 1 N N
6 Kenmore 97312 $1,700 71 Z Z C C Z Z 2 1 1 N N
7 Kenmore 97212 $1,600 68 Z Z C X Z Z 2 0 2 N N
8 Kenmore 97613 $1,400 60 X Z C C Z Z 2 0 2 N
B. SMOOTHTOP, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d 1 Kenmore 95052 $1,300 87 Z Z Z X X Z 2 0 2 N N
d 2 LG LRE3083SW $800 86 Z Z X Z Z X 2 0 2 N N
d 3 Frigidaire Gallery FGEF3035RF $870 86 Z Z X Z X Z 2 0 2 N N
d 4 GE Caf CS980STSS $2,550 86 X Z Z Z Z C 1 2 2 N N
d 5 GE Profile PB911SJSS $890 85 Z Z X X Z Z 2 0 2 N N
d 6 Samsung NE58F9500SS $1,400 83 Z Z X Z X X 2 0 2 N N N
d 7 GE PS920SFSS $1,800 83 Z Z X X Z Z 1 2 1 N N N
d 8 Whirlpool WFE905C0ES $900 81 Z Z X X X X 2 0 2 N N
9 Frigidaire FFEF3018LW $540 79 X Z X C Z Z 2 0 2 N
10 Bosch HEI8054U $1,800 79 Z Z X Z C C 2 0 2 N N N
11 Kenmore 94242 $1,000 78 Z Z C Z X Z 2 0 2 N N
12 Samsung NE59J7630SS $750 76 Z X X Z Z Z 2 0 2 N N
13 Kenmore 42549 $1,440 72 Z Z X C C X 2 0 2 N N N
14 GE JB650SFSS $800 70 Z Z C X Z Z 2 0 2 N
15 Kenmore 41313 $2,200 70 Z X X X C Z 2 0 2 N N
16 Maytag MER8800DS $900 68 Z Z Z X Z B 2 0 2 N N
17 Whirlpool WFE515S0ES $550 67 X X X V C Z 2 0 2 N
18 Frigidaire Gallery FGES3065PW $1,600 66 Z Z C V C C 2 0 2 N N N
19 Frigidaire FFES3025PW $1,300 66 Z X X V C Z 2 0 2 N N
20 KitchenAid KFEG500ESS $1,000 63 X X X C Z B 2 0 2 N N
21 Whirlpool WFE715H0ES $720 62 X X Z X Z B 2 0 2 N N
22 Samsung NE59J3420SS $630 59 X C C C Z X 2 0 2 N N
23 Frigidaire FFEF3013LS $500 48 X Z V C C NA 2 0 2 N
C. ELECTRIC COIL
c 1 Kenmore 94142 $560 81 X Z X C Z Z 2 0 2 N
2 GE JB250DFWW $470 69 X X C X Z Z 2 2 0
3 Whirlpool WEC530H0DS $1,200 51 C C C Z Z B 2 0 2 N
4 Whirlpool WFC340S0AW $700 44 X Z X B X X 2 0 2 N

How We Test: To test high cooktop heat, we time how long the highest-powered burner takes to bring a 6-liter pot of water to a near boil. For low cooktop
heat, we note how well the lowest-powered burner keeps a low temperature, as for melting chocolate, and how well the highest-power burner, set on low, holds
tomato sauce below a boil. To test how evenly the ovens bake, we bake cakes and cookies on two oven racks. We broil a pan of burgers to ind out how evenly
they brown and to check high-heat searing. To evaluate oven capacity, we measure usable space. And then it gets messy: We test the ovens ability to remove
a baked-on mix of cheese, eggs, pie illing, and other stuf on the self-cleaning setting. Price is approximate retail.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 95


BUYING GUIDE | ranges

BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES


Recommended

Rank

Cooktop High

wwCooktop Low

Baking

Broiling

Oven Capacity

Self-Cleaning

High-Power Ele-
ments

Medium-Power
Elements

Low-Power Ele-
ments

Convection
Mode

Slide-In

Stainless Steel
Available
D. ELECTRIC INDUCTION
d 1 Kenmore 95073 $1,530 89 Z Z X X X Z 2 1 1 N N
d 2 Kenmore 95103 $1,400 88 Z Z X Z Z Z 2 1 1 N N
d 3 Samsung NE58H9970WS $3,330 86 X Z X Z X Z 3 1 0 N N N
d 4 Bosch HIIP054U $3,200 81 Z Z X Z C C 2 2 0 N N N
d 5 Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3061NF $1,540 81 Z Z X C X X 2 1 1 N N
6 Electrolux EI30IF40LS $1,800 79 Z Z X X X X 3 0 1 N N
7 Samsung NE595N0PBSR $1,700 77 Z Z X X Z X 2 0 2 N N
E. GAS AND DUAL-FUEL, DOUBLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d 1 LG LDG4315ST $1,500 73 X X X C X X 2 2 1 N N
2 GE Caf CGS990SETSS $3,000 57 X Z C V Z V 2 2 1 N N
3 Samsung NX58J7750SS $1,300 52 X C X V X V 2 2 1 N N
4 Kenmore 78043 $1,275 49 X X C V C X 2 2 1 N N
F. GAS AND DUAL-FUEL, SINGLE OVEN (30-INCH)
d 1 Samsung NX58F5700WS $1,500 79 X Z Z X X X 2 2 1 N N
d 2 Samsung NX58H9500WS $2,000 77 X Z X X X X 2 2 1 N N N
d 3 GE PGS920SEFSS $2,550 73 X Z Z C X C 1 3 1 N N N
d 4 Samsung NX58H5600SS $1,200 73 C Z X X Z C 2 2 1 N N
d 5 Kenmore 74132 $700 71 X X X C X Z 2 2 1 N
d 6 Samsung NX58F5500SS $800 71 C Z X C Z C 2 2 1 N
d 7 GE PGB911ZEJSS $1,100 69 X Z X C X C 2 3 0 N N
8 Kenmore 74332 $1,040 68 X X X C X X 2 2 1 N N
9 Kenmore 75232 $1,200 68 X Z X C X X 2 2 1 N N
10 LG LRG4113ST $1,200 67 X Z C C X C 2 2 1 N N
11 LG LRG3081ST $800 64 C X X C X C 2 2 1 N N
12 Bosch HDI8054U Dual-Fuel $2,300 63 C X X Z C C 2 1 2 N N N
13 GE Caf CGS985SETSS $2,250 61 X Z X V X V 2 2 1 N N
14 Whirlpool WFG530S0ES $650 60 C C X V X X 2 2 1 N N
15 GE JGB660SEJSS $700 59 X Z C C X X 2 2 1 N
16 Bosch HDIP054U Dual-Fuel $2,800 57 C C X Z C C 2 1 2 N N N
17 KitchenAid KSGG700ESS $1,700 57 C Z X C Z B 2 2 1 N N
18 Frigidaire FFGF3023LS $700 53 C Z Z B X Z 1 2 1 N
19 Maytag MGR8800DS $1,000 53 C C Z V Z B 2 2 1 N N
20 GE Caf C2S985SETSS Dual-Fuel $2,700 51 X Z V C X V 2 2 1 N N
21 Whirlpool WEG760H0DS $1,700 48 C C X C Z B 2 2 1 N N
22 Frigidaire FFGF3017LW $550 46 C X C V C NA 1 2 1
23 Whirlpool WFG715H0ES $800 45 C V Z V Z B 2 2 1 N N
24 Frigidaire FFGS3025PW $1,300 44 C C X V C C 1 2 1 N N
25 Frigidaire Gallery FGGS3065PW $1,500 43 X C C V C V 2 1 1 N N N
26 Frigidaire Professional FPGH3077RF $2,250 33 X B X V C C 3 1 1 N N
27 Kenmore 32363 $2,000 28 C B C C C C 2 2 1 N N
G. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (30-INCH)
d 1 KitchenAid KDRS407VSS Dual-Fuel $4,140 72 X Z X C C X 3 0 1 N N
2 Wolf DF304 Dual-Fuel $6,400 68 C X X X C V 3 1 0 N N
3 Dacor DR30G $3,100 66 C Z C C X NA 3 1 0 N N
4 GE Monogram ZGP304NRSS $4,700 65 C Z X C Z C 1 3 0 N N
5 Kenmore Pro 79523 Dual-Fuel $2,940 65 X X X X X X 1 2 1 N N
6 Jenn-Air JGRP430WP $4,000 62 C Z Z V C X 3 0 1 N N
7 NXR DRGB3001 $2,000 60 C Z C C C NA 4 0 0 N N
8 Miele HR1124 $5,000 55 X C C X X X 4 0 0 N N

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor

96 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES
Recommended

Rank

Cooktop High

wwCooktop Low

Baking

Broiling

Oven Capacity

Self-Cleaning

High-Power Ele-
ments

Medium-Power
Elements

Low-Power Ele-
ments

Convection
Mode

Slide-In

Stainless Steel
Available
G. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (30-INCH) continued
9 Thermador PRG304GH $4,500 52 X Z V V C NA 4 0 0 N N
10 Smeg C30GGXUI $3,000 45 X C C V V NA 1 4 0 N N
11 Wolf GR304 $4,900 45 C Z V V C NA 3 1 0 N N
G. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (30-INCH)
12 Bertazzoni PRO304GASX $3,100 43 C X C C V NA 1 1 2 N N
13 Viking RVGR33015BSS $4,600 40 X Z V C V V 3 2 0 N N
14 American Range ARR304 $3,600 32 X B C V X NA 3 1 0 N N
H. PRO-STYLE GAS AND DUAL-FUEL (36-INCH)
d 1 KitchenAid KDRU763VSS Dual-Fuel $7,300 74 X Z X X X X 3 0 1 N N
d 2 GE Monogram ZDP364NDPSS Dual-Fuel $7,500 72 C Z X C X X 4 0 0 N N
3 Thermador PRG366JG $7,500 68 X Z X C Z B 6 0 0 N N
4 Viking VGSC536-4G $7,200 68 X Z X X C V 4 0 0 N N
5 Wolf GR366 $6,000 59 C Z C V X NA 5 1 0 N N
6 NXR DRGB3602 $3,000 56 C Z C C C NA 6 0 0 N N
7 Jenn-Air JGRP436WP $5,200 43 C Z X B X X 5 0 1 N N
8 BlueStar RCS36SBSS $3,600 29 C B V C Z NA 5 0 1 N N
9 Verona VEFSGE365SS Dual-Fuel $2,500 25 X B V B C NA 3 0 2 N N
10 Smeg C36GGXU $3,200 23 C B V V V NA 1 1 4 N N

MOST & LEAST


RELIABLE BRANDS
In our survey of 6,880owners of electric ranges purchased new between
2010 and 2015, no brand stood out as the most or least reliable electric
range. However, GE/GE Monogram is meaningfully better than Samsung,
LG, and KitchenAid. In our survey of 6,114owners of gas ranges purchased
new between 2010 and 2015, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and Maytag were
among the more repair-prone gas ranges. Those brands are meaningfully
less reliable than LG, Frigidaire, Kenmore, and GE/GE Monogram.

PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO BREAK BY 3RD YEAR

ELECTRIC RANGES GAS RANGES


KitchenAid 12% Maytag 12%
LG 10% KitchenAid 12%
Samsung 10% Whirlpool 11%
Maytag 8% GE 7%
Kenmore 8% Kenmore 7%
Frigidaire 7% Frigidaire 6%
Whirlpool 7% LG 5%
GE 5%
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer Reports 2015 Summer Product Reliability Survey.
The graph shows the estimated failure rates for 3-year-old electric and gas ranges by brand that
were purchased new. Differences of fewer than 4 percentage points are not meaningful. Models
within a brand can vary, and design or manufacture changes might affect future reliability. Still,
GE choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/kitchen-ranges/buying-guide.htm 97


BUYING GUIDE | cooktops

Cooktops
FROM FAST BOILING TO GENTLE
SIMMERING, THE MODELS THAT TOP OUR
TESTS CAN DO IT ALL, IN STYLE

tyle and flexibility are the biggest attractions

S when replacing your range with a cooktop


and wall-oven combo. The look is modern,
and you have more choice about where you
install the appliances. For example, you could place
the wall oven at a height that eliminates the bending
a range requires.
Most cooktops are gas or conventional smooth-
top electric. But induction technology is growing in
popularity as prices fall. The downside of a cooktop
and wall-oven combo is price. You might pay as little
as $2,000 or so, but you can often find a great range
for about half that price. And weve found that with
cooktops, pricier doesnt always mean better. See our
Ratings to find a model that matches the best perfor-
mance and price.

WHATS
NEW

Invisible induction.
Vikings Incogneeto Induction Warmer can be mounted
underneath your stone or engineered stone countertop in
a drawer and will turn the countertop itself into a cooktop
with the help of a Magneeto 2 trivet (shown below) that
comes with the burner and an electrical connection. When
you place induction-compatible cookware on top of the
trivet and select a temperature, the Magneeto 2 acts as a
temperature sensor and wireless communicator. Sounds
handy, especially for entertaining, but $2,000 is a lot to
pay for an occasional convenience.

98 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Steps to
Success
Consider your space and your
familys cooking habits as
you choose your new cooktop

1
PICK A SIZE
Most cooktops are 30 or 36inches wide,
so thats what we test. But youll find
cooktops ranging from 21 to 48inches.
Some have five or six burners.

CHOOSE A FUEL
2 Whether you pick electric or gas may
depend on the type of fuel available where
you live, or on which type your appliances
already use. If switching fuel type is not
an option, dont worry that youll have to
sacrifice performance: Both are capable
TIP of delivering fine results. But you may find
it easier to judge heat by the appearance
If youd like to interact of the gas flame, and when you turn the
with family and friends knob from high to medium on a gas model,
as you cook, consider the pot and the food in it experience that
placing your cooktop change almost immediately.
in an island so that you Electric elements tend to heat faster
can face out. and maintain low heat better than gas
burners. Electric smoothtop cooktops
are relatively easy to clean but require a
special cooktop cleaner (available at most
grocery stores) and can be damaged by
dropped pots and spilled foods.
Electric induction cooktops use an
electromagnetic field to directly heat
pans, offering speedy response and
control. In our tests no other technology
was faster, but were talking 2 to 4minutes
faster to bring about 6quarts of water to
a near boil.

3 WEIGH THE FEATURES


If you often cook for a crowd, look for at
least one high-power cooktop element
or burner to heat large pots and pans
more quickly. Touch-sensitive controls on
smoothtops are sleek, but some are more
finicky and less intuitive than conven-
tional knobs. Manufacturers tout burners
high Btu/hr., but weve found that they
dont always deliver faster heating.

WOLF

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 99


BUYING GUIDE | cooktops

Details That Count


Look for these features to ensure that your new cooktop is safe and easy to use

HOT-SURFACE WARNING EXPANDABLE ELEMENTS, CONTROLS


INDICATOR LIGHTS BRIDGE, AND OVAL BURNER On cooktops the controls take up space on
Many smoothtops have at least one. Ideally, each Most smoothtops have an expandable burner the surface and can limit the area cookware can
element should have a separate warning light. that lets you choose the size burner that best cover. Electric models with touch-sensitive
Its an important safety feature; the cooking matches the pots diameter. Some cooktops controls provide a flat, easy-to-clean surface,
surface can remain hot long after an element has have an elongated bridge element that spans but they can be finicky.
been turned off, and without the indicator it can two burners to accommodate rectangular
be difficult to tell at a glance. or odd-shaped cookware such as a griddle.
(In some, one knob or touch control then
operates both.) On gas cooktops oval burners
accommodate griddles and elongated pans.

GAS

2 3

GE

100 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


INDUCTION

On the
Market
Choose from electric smoothtop,
electric induction smoothtop,
or gas. Each has its advantages.

ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
Electric radiant smoothtops are the popular
pick. All of the models we tested have at
least one high-power burner. Most have
expandable dual or triple elements that let
you switch from a large, high-power element
to a small, low-power element within it.
There is a lot of residual heat, so when
ELECTROLUX
reducing the heat it can take a few minutes to
really settle at the lower setting. Smoothtops
do make it easy to clean up spills but require
ELECTRIC
a special cleaner, and dropped pots and
sugary liquids can damage them.

ELECTRIC INDUCTION
Electric induction smoothtops use magnetic
coils below the ceramic glass surface to
quickly generate heat directly to the pan,
offering precise simmering and control.
FPO Youll see these models in our Ratings of
electric cooktops.
Magnetic cookware is needed for induction
to work. If a magnet strongly sticks to the
bottom of a pot, it will work with an induction
cooktop. Some stainless steel cookware is
induction-capable, and some isnt.

GAS
If you prefer cooking with gas, we get it.
The flame makes it easier to judge the heat
and to quickly move from a high setting to low.
Response time is particularly quick,
especially when compared with a conven-
tional smoothtop. When you turn the knob
from high to medium on a gas cooktop,
the pot and the food in it experience that
change almost immediately. And with most
VIKING gas burners you can strike a match to light
them when your power is out.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 101


BUYING GUIDE | cooktops

d ELECTRIC INDUCTION
RECOMMENDED FROM
MODELS OUR
Want a cooktop that
quickly brings a large
EXPERTS
pot of pasta water F4 KENMORE 43800
to a boil but can 30-inch INDUCTION | $1,440
kenmore.com
also gently simmer
tomato sauce? Youve
come to the right All the tested induction
place. Recommended cooktops are excellent
cooktops are top performers, so its
scoring and all come hard to pick one. This
from reliable brands, well-priced Kenmore
F1 GE CAF CHP9530 G1 THERMADOR CIT36XKB
based on our survey is tempting since it
Type 30-INCH INDUCTION | $1,800 Type 36-INCH INDUCTION | $5,000
of thousands of has three high-power
Top-rated, this cooktop scored There are no set elements on this
readers. CR Best Buys 99 out of 100, delivering precise cooktop: Place a pot anywhere on elements, and the
simmering and fast heat. There the surface and it adjusts auto- zigzag element pattern
are recommended are four burners, including three matically to the pots shape and
cooktops that high-power. The two left burners size, accommodating up to four could make it easier to
can be used as one large burner items. It delivers fast heat and tend pots in the back.
combine impressive when cooking with a griddle or superb simmering. The touch-
performance and other big pan. screen controls are fairly intuitive. TARA CASAREGOLA,
geappliances.com thermador.com TEST PROGRAM LEADER
value. We test major
brands, including
Bosch, GE, Jenn-Air, ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
Maytag, Thermador,
Viking, and Whirlpool.
The cooktops difer
greatly in price, from
$650 to $5,000, so use
our Ratings to find the
cooktop that meets D1 KITCHENAID D2 JENN-AIR JEC4430BS D3 GE PROFILE
KECC604BBL Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,400 PP9030SJSS
your needs and budget. Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $750 Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,260
This smoothtop delivers precise
Fast heating and precise simmer- simmering and fast heat. There Overall, this smoothtop cooktop
ing put this model ahead of the are four burners, including two excels at simmering and delivering
pack. It has four elements; two are high-power and one with the fast heat. There are five burners,
high-power, and one is expand- flexibility to function as smaller including two high-power. Two
able to accommodate larger pots elements to fit various-sized pots burners to the left can be used
and pans. High- and low-heat and pans. Touch controls and together to accommodate
performance are excellent. stainless trim are part of the deal. a large pan.
kitchenaid.com jennair.com geappliances.com

102 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


GAS

D4 KENMORE
TURBO-BOIL 45313
Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,200

This electric smoothtop cooktop A1 WHIRLPOOL B2 GE MONOGRAM B3 KENMORE 32713


is excellent overall, delivering WCG97US0DS ZGU385NSMSS
fast heat and superb simmering. Type 36-INCH GAS | $1,215
There are five elements, including Type 30-INCH GAS | $1,800 Type 36-INCH GAS | $1,500
This cooktop with continuous
two high-power, and one thats This top pick provides superb This model delivers superb grates provides excellent low-
expandable to accommodate simmering, but it isnt the fastest simmering, but heating isnt heat and very good high-heat
a larger pot. of this group. It has five burners, as fast as with the top-rated performance. There are five
kenmore.com one of which is high-power. Thermador (below). It has five burners, two are high-power, and
Center-mounted controls and burners (three are high-power), simmering is superb.
hinged grates make for easy continuous grates, and center- kenmore.com
cleaning. mounted knobs.
whirlpool.com geappliances.com

D5 BOSCH NETP066SUC
Type 30-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,200

Excellent overall, this model


is superb at simmering and
delivering brisk heat. It has five
elements, but only one is high-
power. Touch controls and stain-
less steel trim offer a sleek look.
It has an AutoChef feature that
uses a special pan and a sensor
to automate some tasks.
bosch-home.com

B1 THERMADOR SGSX365FS
Type 36-INCH GAS | $1,900
E1 KITCHENAID thermador.com
KECC664BSS
Type 36-INCH SMOOTHTOP | $1,080
Id pick the 36-inch Thermador SGSX365FS gas cooktop, $1,900.
At 36 inches wide, this electric
smoothtop cooktop delivers superb
FROM Fast heating and excellent simmering make it versatile, and I like
simmering and fast heat. There are
four elements, including two high- OUR that it has large burners in the front, rear, and center, so you can
keep pots up front for stirring and tending or tuck them away at
power, and a warming element.
Knobs are center-mounted. The
stainless trim adds style.
EXPERTS the back for long simmering.
kitchenaid.com TARA CASAREGOLA, TEST PROGRAM LEADER

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 103


BUYING GUIDE | cooktops

MOST & Ratings


Scores in context: Of the 55 cooktops we tested, the highest scored 99; the lowest, 47. Below are
LEAST high-scoring models in order of performance in each category. Recommended models offer top
performance and dont have brand-reliability concerns. CR Best Buys combine performance and value.
RELIABLE
BRANDS c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES
In our survey of 5,976 owners of

Rec.

Rank

High Heat

Low Heat

High-Power
Burners
Medium-Power
Burners
Low-Power
Burners
Stainless
Steel
Glass
Ceramic

Grates
Porcelain
Enamel
Continuous
gas and electric cooktops, no
brand stood out as most or least
reliable. However, Kenmore elec-
tric cooktops are meaningfully
A. 30-INCH GAS COOKTOPS
more reliable than KitchenAid gas
or electric cooktops. d 1 Whirlpool WCG97US0DS $900 80 C Z 1 3 1 N N
2 GE PGP953SETSS $990 64 C X 1 3 1 N N
PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO 3 Kenmore 32683 $990 62 X C 2 2 1 N N
BREAK BY 3RD YEAR
B. 36-INCH GAS COOKTOPS
GAS COOKTOPS d 1 Thermador SGSX365FS $1,900 81 X Z 3 2 0 N N
GE Monogram
KitchenAid 8% d 2 ZGU385NSMSS $1,500 80 C Z 3 2 0 N N
Thermador 8% d 3 Kenmore 32713 $1,215 79 X Z 2 2 1 N N
Jenn-Air 7% d 4 GE Caf CGP650SETSS $1,440 77 C Z 1 3 1 N N
d 5 LG LSCG366ST $1,100 74 X X 2 2 1 N N
Wolf 7% 6 Wolf CG365P/S $2,000 2 3 0
64 X C N N
Whirlpool 6% 7 Miele KM3474GSS $1,750 62 X C 3 2 0 N N
Kenmore 5% 8
Frigidaire Professional
$1,350 60 C C 2 2 1 N N
FPGC3677RS
GE 5% 9 KitchenAid KCGS556ESS $1,100 1 2 2
54 X V N N
Bosch 4% 10 Jenn-Air JGD3536BS $2,000 38 X B 3 1 1 N N
C. 36-INCH GAS RANGETOP
1 Kenmore Pro Slide-in 34913 $1,920 44 X B 3 2 1 N N N

How We Test: To test high cooktop heat, we time how long the highest-powered burner takes to
bring a 6-liter pot of water to a near boil. For low cooktop heat, we note how well the lowest-powered
burner keeps a low temperature, as for melting chocolate, and how well the highest-power burner, set
on low, holds tomato sauce below a boil. Price is approximate retail.

Ins and Outs of Induction


Every induction range and What induction is
cooktop Consumer Reports has and what it isnt
tested delivers fast cooktop heat Theres a difference between
and superb simmering. Thats induction and conventional
because induction models have electric smoothtops. The surface
an electromagnetic coil below elements on an induction
the glass cooktop surface that model heat pots by using an
generates heat directly to the electromagnetic field rather than by
pan, offering precise simmering radiant heat, says Tara Casaregola,
and control. But induction models the engineer who conducts our tests
arent cheap, so heres what youll of cooking appliances.
want to know before you shop.
BOSCH

104 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


MOST &
LEAST
RELIABLE
BRANDS
BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES
PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO
Rec.

Rank

High Heat

Low Heat

High-Power
Elements
Medium-Power
Elements
Low-Power
Elements
Expandable
Elements

Touch Controls
BREAK BY 3RD YEAR

ELECTRIC COOKTOPS

D. 30-INCH SMOOTHTOPS KitchenAid 8%


d 1 KitchenAid KECC604BBL $900 94 Z Z 2 0 2 N Jenn-Air 7%
d 2 Jenn-Air JEC4430BS $1,400 94 Z Z 2 0 2 N N
Frigidaire 5%
d 3 GE Profile PP9030SJSS $1,260 92 Z Z 2 2 1 N N
d 4 Kenmore Turbo-boil 45313 $1,200 91 Z Z 2 0 3 N N Whirlpool 4%
d 5 Bosch NETP066SUC $1,200 88 X Z 1 1 3 N N GE 4%
c 6 Whirlpool G7CE3034XP $700 86 X Z 2 0 2 N Kenmore 3%
c 7 Frigidaire FFEC3024LB $500 85 X Z 2 0 2
8 Thermador CES304FS $1,500 75 C Z 1 2 1 N N Source: Our findings are based on
Consumer Reports 2015 Summer Product
E. 36-INCH SMOOTHTOPS Reliability Survey of 5,967 owners of
d 1 KitchenAid KECC664BSS $1,080 93 Z Z 2 1 1 N electric and gas cooktops. The statistical
model estimates failure rates for 3-year-old
d 2 Viking VEC5366BSB $2,150 88 X Z 1 3 2 N cooktops purchased new and not covered by
F. 30-INCH INDUCTION COOKTOPS a service contract. Note that models within
a brand may vary. Each rate represents the
d 1 GE Caf CHP9530 $1,800 99 Z Z 3 1 0 N percentage of electric or gas cooktops we
estimate will require repair or experience
d 2 Kenmore 43820 $1,440 99 Z Z 3 1 0 N serious unrepaired problems by the third
d 3 Bosch NIT5066UC $1,440 98 Z Z 2 2 0 N year of ownership. Differences of fewer
than 5 points arent meaningful.
d 4 Kenmore 43800 $1,200 97 Z Z 3 1 0 N
d 5 Frigidaire FGIC3067MB $1,260 95 Z Z 3 1 0 N
d 6 KitchenAid KICU500XB $1,395 95 Z Z 2 2 0 N
d 7 Whirlpool GCI3061XB $1,215 95 Z Z 2 0 2 N
G. 36-INCH INDUCTION COOKTOPS
d 1 Thermador CIT36XKB $5,000 92 Z Z 2 1 1 N N
2 Jenn-Air JIC4536XS $2,100 90 X Z 5 0 0 N N

Because the electromagnetic to bring 6quarts of water to a near Whats that noise?
field doesnt create a glow, you boil. Life changing? Probably not. A buzz or hum is common
wont know its on. Thats why
manufacturers are adding virtual
However, if you turn on an induction
element by mistake with no pot on it,
and often is louder at higher
settings, Casaregola says.
TIP
flames and other special lights as it wont get hot, and when you And we often hear clicking of Not all cookware
a warning. remove a pot from an element, the element electronics at lower works with induc-
heating stops. Plus an induction settings, and the sound of the tion cooktops. If
The induction advantage surface stays cooler than a radiant cooling fan for the electronics. youre not sure
Induction models use a standard smoothtop, which should make whether your pots
240-volt outlet, just like any other cleaning up spills easier. But your Dig out your dial thermometer and pans are induc-
electric cooktop or range, but pots will get very hot while cooking, The magnetic field of an induction tion-compatible,
induction elements usually heat and that heat will then transfer cooktop can interfere with a hold a magnet to
quickly. And no other technology to the surface below and around digital thermometer, so you may the base of the pan:
that weve tested is faster than the the pot. So if youre using several need an analog thermometer, If it strongly sticks,
fastest induction elements. But induction elements, the surface can an old-fashioned solution to a youre good to go.
were talking 2 to 4minutes faster get very hot, too. modern problem.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/cooktops-wall-ovens/buying-guide.htm 105


BUYING GUIDE | wall ovens

Wall Ovens
YOU DONT HAVE TO SPEND A FORTUNE TO GET AN IMPRESSIVE COMBINATION OF PERFORMANCE AND CAPACITY

nlike a range, a wall oven can fordable options, especially compared Once again, we found that a high

U go wherever you want it: at


waist or eye level so that you
wont have to bend to pull out
heavy pans, or even under a counter
or in an island or peninsula. And now
with pricey pro-style ranges.
Some manufacturers offer double
ovens; other options include electronic
touchpad controls, a self-cleaning
mode, a convection function, and
price doesnt necessarily guarantee
top performance. Some of the more ex-
pensive models we tested scored only
Good in our baking or broiling tests. So
shop carefully, using our Ratings and
lower prices have made wall-oven and 24-, 27-, or 30-inch widths. Gas models reliability data as a guide. And remem-
cooktop combinations more affordable. are available, but most wall ovens, in- ber that you dont necessarily have to
Although most combos will cost more cluding all of the models in our Ratings, choose the same brand for your wall
than a stand-alone range, there are af- are electric. oven and cooktop.

GE

Side-swing and French doors.


The first is a single door with hinges on one side. Boschs 30 Benchmark single wall oven, $2,899, is
WHATS one example. French-door models like the GE CT907OSHSS , $3,900, pictured here, have two doors
NEW
that separate in the middle and open outward. Both types prevent you from having to reach over the
door to retrieve that 30-pound turkey. And the narrow door clearance of French-door models can be
a space saver in smaller kitchens.

106 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Steps to Success
START WITH SIZE
1 Wall ovens come in a range of widths: 24, 27, 30, and 36 inches. Consumer
Reports tests 30-inch-wide wall ovens, the most popular size. Youll also find
single and double-oven styles. If youre replacing one, its crucial that you
measure the wall oven and the cabinet cutout.

DECIDE: GAS OR ELECTRIC?


2 A majority of wall ovens are electric; they usually have a larger capacity than
similar gas models and dont require a gas connection. But remember that
electric wall ovens need their own electrical circuit. No matter how your
new wall oven is fueled, be sure to have it professionally installed.

3
CONSIDER CAPACITY
There was a time when choosing a wall oven over a range meant you had to
settle for a small oven without a self-cleaning feature. No longer. Manufac-
turers are finding ways to increase capacity. Of the single wall ovens we
tested, usable-capacity scores (which differ from the figure supplied by the
manufacturer) ranged from Fair to Excellent. The smallest in our tests was
about 2cubic feet and the largest was more than 3cubic feet.

4 PICK THE FEATURES YOU NEED


A convection feature circulates heated air throughout the oven. That can
speed cooking, but youll usually pay about $250 more for the convenience
compared with a version without convection. Models that excelled at broiling
produced well-seared, evenly cooked burgers in our tests. If youre an avid
MAYTAG baker, look for high scores in our baking tests.

Details That Count On the Market


ELECTRONIC TOUCHPAD SELF-CLEANING CYCLE Most wall ovens sold are 30-inch-wide electric
CONTROLS A special cycle removes spills and spatters models, and thats what we test. They come
Setting and monitoring precise tempera- in electric and gas wall ovens. An automatic with single or double ovens. With a model in
tures are easier with a digital display. Touch- safety lock on high-temperature self- mind, check the manufacturers online manual
sensitive controls are available on some cleaning models prevents the oven door (or when shopping, read it at the store) to find
models. Youll often find a control lockout from being opened until the oven has out the exact cutout dimensions.
that lets you disable them, an important fea- cooled. Some models have a countdown Some online user reviews complain that
ture in households where the control panel display that shows the amount of time a wall ovens cooling fan can be noisy. Manu-
is within a curious childs reach. left in the self-cleaning cycle. facturers websites explain whats normal and
whats not. Check before you buy.
OVEN WINDOW TEMPERATURE PROBE
One without a decorative grid allows a When you insert this electronic thermom- SINGLE WALL OVEN
clearer view of whats inside, so that you can eter into your food, it displays the internal Make sure the controls are easy to see and
judge progress without opening the door. temperature on the ovens control panel, reach. Consider side-swing and French-door
an easy way to know when the food is done. styles for easy accessibility.
COVERED ELEMENT
A cover over the bottom baking element VARIABLE BROIL DOUBLE WALL OVEN
catches drips and spills. You wont have to Most electric ovens have this feature, Having two ovens lets you prepare different
reach around the element to wipe the bot- which offers adjustable settings for food foods at different temperatures simultaneously.
tom of the oven, making cleanup easier. that needs slower or faster cooking.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 107


BUYING GUIDE | wall ovens

d SINGLE WALL OVENS


RECOMMENDED
MODELS FROM
Our Ratings of dozens
OUR
of electric single and EXPERTS
double wall ovens
tell you how well The Whirlpool
they bake, broil, and WOS92ECOAH single
c CR wall oven, $1,500, is
self-clean. Youll also Best Buy
learn whether the right in the sweet spot
oven capacity is small of price and perfor-
or large, and what mance. Plus, since I
features, such as always seem to be in a
convection and remote rush when Im cook-
control, are included. ing, I love that the
Given that the prices control panel is so
vary significantly, use A1 WHIRLPOOL WOS92EC0AH clean, clear, and
our Ratings to find $1,500 uncluttered.
whirlpool.com
out as much as you TARA CASAREGOLA,
TEST PROGRAM LEADER
can before you buy.
Recommended wall
ovens are top-scoring
and from reliable
brands. CR Best Buys
are recommended c CR
Best Buy
models that
combine impressive
performance and price.
A2 GE CT9070SHSS B3 GE PT9050SFSS B4 WHIRLPOOL
$3,600 $2,430 WOS51EC0AS
$1,300
This stylish French-door model This model is very good overall,
delivers impressive baking and impressive at baking, broiling, Though it lacks convection, this
broiling, and superb self- and self-cleaning. And it offers model is almost as capable as
cleaning, and you can control remote control of the oven func- its more expensive brandmate
oven functions from your smart- tions via your smartphone. above. It browned cakes and
phone. It has a touchpad for set- geappliances.com cookies evenly, was excellent
ting cooking time and two dials at turning out nicely broiled
for setting temp and mode. It burgers, and aced our tough
also has a convection option. self-cleaning tests.
geappliances.com whirlpool.com

108 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Ratings MOST &
Scores in context: Of the 25 wall ovens rated, the highest scored 80; the lowest, 44. Below are models
in order of performance in each category. Recommended models offer top performance and dont LEAST
have brand-reliability issues. CR Best Buys combine performance and value. The performance of
double wall ovens is based on the tested oven in the single electric wall-oven category. RELIABLE
c CR Best Buy d Recommended
BRANDS
Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
In our survey of 4,703 owners
BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES of electric wall ovens, no brand
stood out as the most or least
Recommended

Rank

Baking

Broiling

Oven Capacity

Self-Cleaning

Width (In.)

Covered Element

Convection Mode

Temperature Probe
reliable. But Kenmore and GE/
GE Monogram are significantly
better than KitchenAid electric
wall ovens.

A. SINGLE ELECTRIC WALL OVENS PERCENTAGE LIKELY TO


BREAK BY 3RD YEAR
Whirlpool
c 1 WOS92EC0AH $1,500 80 X Z Z Z 30 N N
WALL OVENS
d 2 GE CT9070SHSS $3,600 76 X X X Z 30 N N N
KitchenAid 14%
d 3 GE PT9050SFSS $2,430 73 X X X X 30 N N N
Electrolux 12%
Whirlpool
c 4 WOS51EC0AS $1,300 72 X Z Z Z 30 N Bosch 11%
5 GE JT5000SFSS $1,800 70 X X Z X 30 N N Frigidaire 11%
6
Frigidaire Gallery
FGEW3065PW $1,400 70 Z C C X 30 N N N Whirlpool 11%
7 Kenmore 49513 $1,000 68 X C C Z 30 N N
GE 8%
Electrolux
Kenmore 7%
8 $2,100 66 X X C Z 30 N N N
EW30EW55PS
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer
9 Viking VESO5302SS $4,099 66 X X C X 30 N N N Reports 2015 Summer Product Reliability
Survey. The statistical model estimates fail-
10 Thermador ME301JS $2,700 63 X X C X 30 N N N ure rates for 3-year-old wall ovens by brand
that were purchased new and not covered
by a service contract. Differences of fewer
11 GE JT3000SFSS $1,400 58 C X Z X 30 N than 6 percentage points are not meaningful.
Wolf E-Series Models within a brand may vary, and design
12 $4,000 55 C Z C V 30 N N N or manufacture changes may affect future
SO30-2F/S
reliability. Still, choosing a brand with a good
13 Bosch HBLP451RUC $2,900 55 C X X Z 30 N N N repair history can improve your odds of get-
ting a reliable model.
14 Kenmore 48363 $2,430 52 C X X X 30 N N N
15 Bosch HBL5351UC $1,500 51 C X X Z 30 N JENN-AIR

B. DOUBLE ELECTRIC WALL OVENS


Whirlpool
d 1 WOD93EC0AS $2,350 80 X Z Z Z 30 N N
d 2 GE PT9550SFSS $3,350 73 X X X X 30 N N N
d 3 Whirlpool WOD51EC0A $1,850 72 X Z Z Z 30 N
4 GE JT5500SFSS $2,550 70 X X Z X 30 N N
5 LG LWD3010ST $2,500 65 C Z X C 30 N N
6 Thermador ME302JS $4,000 63 X X C X 30 N N N
7 GE JT3500SFSS $1,900 58 C X Z X 30 N

How We Test: To test how evenly the ovens bake, we bake cakes and cookies on two oven racks. We broil
a pan of burgers to ind out how evenly they brown and to check high-heat searing. To evaluate oven
capacity, we measure usable space. And then it gets messy: We test the ovens ability to remove a baked-
on mix of cheese, eggs, pie illing, and other stuf on the self-cleaning setting. Price is approximate retail.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/cooktops-wall-ovens/buying-guide.htm 109


BUYING GUIDE | range hoods

Steps to
Success
DECIDE: VENTED
1 OR DUCT-FREE
We do not recommend a
ductless hood because it will
take the smoke and odors and
disperse them throughout the
kitchen and the rest of the
house. Venting the hood to
the outside is better but more
complicated to install.

DONT DOWNSIZE
2 This is one time when bigger
often is better. Any hood you
consider should be at least as
wide as the cooking surface
it will be installed above. And
avoid downdraft hoods, which
have been unimpressive in our
past tests. Keep in mind that
THERMADOR cubic feet per minute (CFM)
isnt everything. Manufacturer
airflow claims tout CFM of air
exhausted. More airflow does
mean faster venting, but it

Range Hoods doesnt guarantee better smoke


capture and removal.

INSTALL IT
THE RIGHT VENTILATION WILL KEEP THE AIR IN YOUR KITCHEN CLEAR
3 PROPERLY
Whether you opt for a hood or
an OTR microwave oven, be
ure, its tempting to save space or choose from the lighter look of glass sure its installed according to

S and cut costs by relying on the


built-in ventilation of an over-
the-counter (OTR) microwave.
But if you care about venting smoke and
fumes, youre better off with a separate
or an integrated look with a canopy
matched to your cabinetry. Some
manufacturers offer hoods in finishes
that match their ranges.
The best hoods we tested in the
the manufacturers directions
usually 18to 30inches above
the burners or elements. That
gives you working room while
helping to prevent steam from
escaping to the sides. Vent
range hood, especially if you cook on a past excelled at exhausting smoke and outdoors, if possible, using the
higher-powered stove or cooktop. fumes. Some were quieter than the largest-sized solid, smooth-
We no longer test range hoods, but others and better at delivering high and walled metal ducting that fits.
none of the over-the-range microwave low levels of lighting. Try those features Keep duct runs short, and
PHOTO, LEFT: ALEX HAYDEN

ovens we tested in the past could match in the showroom if you can. Our recent minimize bends to maximize air-
the smoke-capturing or fume-clearing tests of microwaves focused on cooking flow. A wall or roof cap outside
abilities of a good range hood. evenness, automatic defrosting ability, prevents back drafts. Wash or
replace the filters every one to
Range hoods have become as stylish speed of heating, noise, ease of use,
three monthsmore often if
as they are practical. Most now offer and venting. For the results of those
you cook frequently.
the commercial look of stainless steel, tests, see our Ratings on page 116.

110 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


WHATS
ZEPHYR NEW

Low-profile designs.
Cooktops and ranges are popular
options in kitchen islands. The only
concern is that the overhead vent
hoods, necessary for sucking up smoke
and odors, can block sight lines. Zephyr
claims to solve the problem with its

Details That Count


Lux Island, a $2,100 hood that mounts
discreetly into the ceiling above the
island. It works with a wireless remote
control, and the tri-level LED lights
help illuminate the work surface.
Select a model at least as wide as the cooking variable speed switch that the user can easily
surface underneath. These are some range set to any speed desired.
hood features to keep in mind as you shop:
THERMOSTAT CONTROL
AIRFLOW A built-in temperature sensor automatically
Manufacturers tout the cubic feet per minute turns on the fan if the temperature below the
(CFM) of exhausted air. More airflow means hood gets too high. That feature is available
faster ventilation, but it doesnt guarantee better mainly on over-the-range microwaves and is
smoke capture and removal in your kitchen. intended to protect the microwave electronics
from being damaged by high heat. But we do
NUMBER OF FAN SPEEDS not recommend that feature because if you are
We recommend a minimum of two speeds: a cooking with oil and your pan catches fire, the
high-speed setting to use when cooking and exhaust fan will come on, adding air to the fire,
a very low and very quiet setting to use after fanning it, and perhaps making matters worse.
cooking to continue to ventilate the space while
eating. Any more than three set speeds are too EXHAUST TIMER
many. If the manufacturer wants to provide more This convenient feature turns off the fan after ZEPHYR
than three speeds, we believe it should just use a a period of timeso you can set it and forget it.

On the Market
UNDER-CABINET might be the only choice for those help funnel fumes, so they should
These mount under the bottom who cannot achieve the recom- be wider than the cooking surface.
of a wall cabinet. Ductwork inside mended stove-to-hood clearance
an adjoining wall, chase, soffit, or with a standard design. DOWNDRAFT
ceiling can exhaust smoke and These try to reverse the direction
fumes to the outside. In a few WALL-CHIMNEY of rising smoke and fumes, and ex-
models, a shallow hood slides These work where there are no haust them through ducts running
out of the upper kitchen cabinet cabinets over the range and mount beneath the floor. Our past tests
when you need it. Typical kitchen with exposed vent stacks on the found that they were among the
cabinets extend only about halfway wall to vent to the outside. least effective at removing smoke
across the stove, so that extension and steam. Though they can be
routes steam and smoke away from
ISLAND used anywhere in the kitchen, their
Mounted to and vented through main application is in islands where
cabinet faces and back toward the
ductwork in the ceiling, they lack a it might not be possible to route
WOLF suction end of the range hood. The
wall or cabinets alongside them to ductwork through the ceiling.
design steals cabinet space but

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 111


BUYING GUIDE | microwave ovens

Microwave Ovens
THEYRE NOT JUST FOR REHEATING. THE BEST NEW MODELS ARE FAST, VERSATILE, AND EASY TO USE.

WHATS
NEW

Steam.
File this under interest-
ing microwave alterna-
tives. For several years
weve been testing built-
in and countertop ovens
that combine steam
cooking with regular
convection and have yet
to find one that wows
us. But the technology
continues to evolve, and
were intrigued by a new
version from Sharp for
$2,500. Its SuperSteam
feature supposedly
reaches 485 F, allowing
you to grill, roast, or
saut a variety of foods.
Sharp promises a fall off
the bone tenderness to
meat dishes because the
oven doesnt rely on dry
convection heat to reach
roasting temperatures.
Were looking forward
to testing it.

AMANA

peed and smarts now go hand capability without having to add a wall brands push features aimed at busy

S in hand as more microwaves


have enough features to let them
serve as second ovens. Many
have sensors that automate cooking
for more than just popcorn. More also
oven or replace a range with a double-
oven model.
Youll find more automation as
microwaves take on a growing list
of tasks. Browning and speed-cook
families. But as our tests have shown,
you can pay a premium for those perks
without getting the even heating and
defrosting that are a microwaves two
top tasks. Our microwave Ratings also
include convection and even slow-cook- modes, along with interactive recipe show that some brands overstate usable
ing options for people who want added databases, are also on the menu as space by as much as 50 to 60 percent.

112 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Steps to Success
1 PICK A TYPE
AND SIZE
Countertop models cost the least and
are best for kitchens with lots of counter
space. Compact models can cost very
little but usually offer the least cook-
ing room. Midsized and large models
add capacity and features. But because
manufacturers often include unusable
space in their capacity claims, be sure
to bring a large platter to the store to
see whether it fits inside models on your KITCHENAID
shopping list. Two other caveats: Some
countertop microwaves can hang below
a cabinet, but youll wind up with little
working space below the oven. And over-
the-range models save counter space
and add convenience, but they dont vent
as well as a dedicated range hood and
Details That Count
Manufacturers are adding more programmed keys and other perks. When
usually require an electrician to install.
considering features, think twice about investing in shortcuts you may not use.

2 BE REALISTIC
ABOUT EXTRAS
Decide whether youll really use grilling
POWER RATING
Midsized and large ovens
NUMERIC
KEYPAD
consistently provided
the results youd get from
a regular oven or a grill.
and browning features, convection, or are usually rated at 850 to Use it to set cooking
other added functions before paying 1,200 watts; compact ovens, times and power levels.
extra for them. Our tests have shown that about 600 to 800watts. Its easier to use than a dial. MULTIPLE RACKS
you shouldnt expect those features to More watts typically mean They let you cook several
replace your range broiler or grill. But a more cooking power. But TURNTABLE foods at once. But even
sensor is a convenient feature that helps a coffee mug is too tall for
differences of 100 watts or VS. TRAY
prevent overcooking and undercooking so dont matter much. some models unless you
A microwave oven must
food, so its a worthwhile function. remove a rack.
keep food moving for uni-
SENSOR form heating. Most
QUESTION SHORTCUT KEYS
3
It measures emitted steam microwaves have a rotating
CAPACITY CLAIMS to determine when food is Many models now have auto
turntable. Some replace the
Certain models effectively deliver as little done. That helps prevent settings for foods like grits,
turntable with
as half of the claimed interior space if overcooking or undercook- oatmeal, pasta, and stews
a rectangular tray that
you use the included turntable or moving ing food and is an essential as well as for reheating or
slides from side to side.
platter. So check the Ratings for our feature. defrosting. That eliminates
An elongated platter thats
measurements, and take your largest the need to worry about
too large to rotate might
casserole dish to the store to make sure A 1-MINUTE OR fit better on a sliding tray.
time and power settings;
it fits comfortably inside. Also consider 30-SECOND KEY just press the appropriate
button. Avoid paying extra
models with a sliding tray that moves It extends the preset CONVECTION,
from side to side and fits large plates, or for keys you probably
cooking time, maintaining GRILLING, wont use.
those that allow you to turn the turntable whatever power level was AND BROWNING
off when youre using a large platter or selected. It also allows quick Those features, along with
dish. (You may want to pause to turn the adjustments to your previ- broiling, steaming, and
dish once or twice during cooking to help ous settings. Pushing the speed cooking, are for
the oven heat your food evenly when you button more than once mul- people who want a second
cant use the turntable.) tiplies the time extension. oven without having to
remodel. But none of the
microwaves we tested

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 113


BUYING GUIDE | microwave ovens

KITCHENAID

LG

SHARP

On the Market
Youll find three major types. Most micro- is needed; simply plug it into an ordinary outlet. BUILT-IN MICROWAVES
wave ovens still sit on a countertop, but more Cons Midsized and large models we tested take Often bought as a replacement or when a
consumers are mounting them over a range, about 3 square feet of counter space, a concern kitchen is remodeled, built-in microwaves are in-
especially in kitchens where counter space in some kitchens. stalled within custom cabinets or over counters
is at a premium. Others models are mounted but flush with the bottom of flanking cabinets.
within custom cabinetry, either over counters OVER-THE-RANGE Built-in models usually dont have finished sides
or in an island or wall unit. MICROWAVES or vents, though some (over-the-counter types)
Often labeled as OTRs, these models are do have finished sides and work lights mounted
COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES typically bought as a replacement or when a on the underside.
These models are best for kitchens with lots of kitchen is remodeled. They can be vented to the Pros Built-ins keep counters clear and allow
counter space and for cooks who use their range outside, but dont expect them to vent as well as you to have a range hood, which works better
often and thus require the optimal venting of a dedicated range hood that extends over the at clearing smoke and fumes than the vent
a range hood. You can hang some countertop front burners. provided with over-the-range microwaves.
models below a cabinet, though that often leaves Pros Over-the-range microwaves leave the coun- Cons Theyre relatively expensive, and instal-
little working space below. Some countertop ter workspace clear. And they often have more lation may require an electrician, adding to the
models can be adapted as a built-in and installed features than a countertop model. overall cost.
within custom cabinetry. Cons They cost more, and installation might
Pros Countertop microwaves often cost less require an electrician. And even the best dont
than over-the-range models. And no installation vent as well as a capable range hood.

114 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


d LARGE COUNTERTOP
RECOMMENDED
MODELS
Most of them did a
respectable job of basic
microwaving tasks
like defrosting meat,
reheating leftovers,
and making popcorn.
Youll probably pay B1 PANASONIC INVERTER NN-H965BF
more for an oven with B2 LG LCRT2010[ST]
Type LARGE COUNTERTOP | $180
Type LARGE COUNTERTOP | $200
a larger capacity, a panasonic.com
This 2.0-cu.-ft. 1,200-watt model
stainless-steel finish, is very good at defrosting and
lots of presets, and heating evenness, and fast at
additional functions like FROM The Panasonic Inverter NN-H965BF
is roomy and was especially efective
heating. Its easy to use and rela-
tively quiet on the high setting.
convection and speed
cooking. The Ratings
OUR in defrost mode. But it was a bit noisy,
The sensor lets you know when
food is ready.
lg.com
rank models by overall EXPERTS so it might not be the best pick if your
kitchen is open to other areas.
performance.
GINNY LUI, SENIOR TEST PROJECT LEADER

OVER-THE-RANGE

c CR
Best Buy

D1 GE PROFILE D2 GE JVM3160RFSS D3 GE JVM7195SFSS


PVM9215SFSS Type OVER-THE-RANGE | $250 Type OVER-THE-RANGE | $400
Type OVER-THE-RANGE | $550
This 1.6-cu.-ft. 1,000-watt model This 1.9-cu.-ft. 1,100-watt model
This 2.1-cu.-ft. 1,000-watt model offers very good heating even- is impressive overall and was the
provides very good heating ness and excellent defrosting, fastest at heating of the three
evenness and excellent defrost- ease of use, and quietness. It has top-scoring GE models, but it
ing, ease of use, and quietness. detailed prompts and a popcorn isnt as quiet as they are. It has
It has detailed prompts, a pop- program, and is available in stain- the same usable capacity as the
corn program, and a wire rack for less steel or a stainless-look other two GE models and has a
bi-level cooking. finish option. sensor and a child lock.
geappliances.com geappliances.com geappliances.com

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 115


BUYING GUIDE | microwave ovens

Ratings
Scores in context for countertops: Of the 73 models tested, the highest scored 76; the lowest, 38. For over-the-range models: Of the 91 tested, the
highest scored 81; the lowest, 36. Below are high-scoring models in order of performance in each category. Recommended models offer top perfor-
mance and dont have brand-reliability concerns. CR Best Buys combine performance and value.

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES & SPECS

SS-Look Option
Recommended

Rank

Heating

Defrosting

Speed of
Heating

Microwaving
Evenness

Evenness

Noise

Ease of Use

Venting
(Airflow)

Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Watts

Detailed Prompts

Convection Mode

Sensor

Stainless/
A. MIDSIZED COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES
1 Avanti MO1250TW $130 70 X X X X Z NA 0.8 1.2 1000
2 LG LCS1112ST $140 68 X Z X X Z NA 0.6 1.1 1000 N
3 Kenmore 72123 $150 68 X X C Z Z NA 0.7 1.2 1100 N N
4 Kenmore 66227 [Item # 1345111] (Kmart) $105 68 C Z C X X NA 0.6 1.1 1100
5 Frigidaire FFCM1134L[S] $120 68 X Z C X X NA 0.5 1.1 1100 N
6 Panasonic Genius Prestige NN-SD681S $180 68 X Z X C Z NA 0.7 1.2 1200 N
7 West Bend AG028PLV $110 67 X X C Z C NA 0.5 1.1 1000 N
8 General GEW1000E $350 66 X NA C Z X NA 0.8 1 1000 N
9 Summit SCM1000SS $250 66 X NA X X X NA 0.8 1 1000 N
10 Danby DMW111KBLDB $90 65 X X C X Z NA 0.6 1.1 1000
11 Samsung MC11H6033CT $300 63 X X C X X NA 0.8 1.1 1000 N N
12 Oster OGB8903 $70 62 X X C X X NA 0.6 0.9 900
13 Haier HMC935SESS $90 61 X X C X X NA 0.6 0.9 900 N
14 Panasonic Prestige NN-SD372S $140 60 C Z C X X NA 0.5 0.9 950
15 Sharp R331ZS $125 60 C X C X X NA 0.7 1.1 1000 N
16 Cuisinart CMW-200 $250 57 X C C X X NA 0.7 1.2 1000 N N
17 LG LCSP1110[ST] $230 57 C Z C X C NA 0.6 1.1 1000 N
18 GE Profile PEM31SFSS $320 53 V Z V Z Z NA 0.6 1.1 800 N N
19 Samsung MG11H2020CT $160 53 X C C X X NA 0.7 1.1 1000 N N
20 Frigidaire FFCT1278L[S] $300 52 C X C C X NA 0.8 1.2 1100 N N N
21 Sharp Steamwave AX-1100S $500 51 X C C X C NA 0.6 1 1150 N N
22 Magic Chef MCM1110ST $80 51 C C C Z Z NA 0.6 1.1 1000 N
23 Kenmore 73093 $90 50 C C C Z Z NA 0.5 0.9 900 N
24 Breville Quick Touch BMO734XL $300 48 X V X X Z NA 0.7 1.2 1100 N N N
25 Half Time AAC34-S $200 48 V Z V C X NA 0.7 1.2 1000 N N
26 Sharp R248BS $95 48 C C C Z Z NA 0.5 0.9 900 N
27 Cuisinart CMW-100 $180 43 X V C X X NA 0.7 1 1000 N
28 RCA RMW1138 $80 42 C V V X X NA 0.7 1.1 1000 N
29 GE Profile Spacemaker II PEM31DM[BB] $250 38 X B C X Z NA 0.5 1 800 N N
B. LARGE COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES
d 1 Panasonic Inverter NN-H965BF $180 76 X Z X C Z NA 1.4 2.2 1250 N N
d 2 LG LCRT2010[ST] $200 75 X X X X Z NA 1.2 2 1200 N N N
d 3 GE Profile JES2251SJ[SS] $280 75 Z X X X Z NA 1.5 2.2 1200 N N N
4 Panasonic NN-SD975S $250 74 C X X X Z NA 1.5 2.2 1250 N N N
5 Panasonic NN-SE785S $290 73 X X Z X Z NA 0.9 1.6 1250 N N N
6 GE JES2051SN[SS] $250 72 X X X X Z NA 1.2 2 1200 N N N
7 Maytag UMC5200BA[B] $270 72 X Z X X X NA 1.1 2 1100 N N
8 Oster OGG61403 $120 71 X Z X X Z NA 0.8 1.4 1200 N
9 Kenmore Elite 74229 $180 70 X X X X Z NA 1.3 2.2 1200 N N

How We Test: Score is based mainly on evenness of heating, ease of use, and auto-defrosting ability. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points. Heating
evenness relects how evenly a model reheated a dish of cold mashed potatoes. Defrosting evenness is based on how well the auto-defrost program defrosted
a pound of frozen ground beef. Speed of heating is based on the temperature rise of water heated. Microwaving noise relects how quiet the oven is while
microwaving on high. Ease of use includes how easy it is to set the microwave without referring to the instructions. Venting (airlow) is based on the volume of
air drawn in by the OTRs internal fan on the highest setting. Usable capacity is the usable space based on our measurements and excludes the corner spaces for
models with rotating turntables. Note that most over-the-range models allow you to turn of the rotation to it large dishes. (A few countertop models also ofer that
feature.) With the rotation of, measured capacity approximates claimed. But food might require extra tending and stirring. Price is approximate retail.

116 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES & SPECS

SS-Look Option
Recommended

Rank

Heating

Defrosting

Speed of
Heating

Microwaving

Ease of Use

Usable
Evenness

Evenness

Noise

Venting
(Airflow)

Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Watts

Detailed Prompts

Convection Mode

Sensor

Stainless/
B. LARGE COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES continued
10 Frigidaire Gallery FGMO205K[F] $320 69 X X X X X NA 1.2 2 1200 N N N
11 Panasonic NN-SN973S $190 69 X C X X X NA 1.3 2.2 1250 N N
12 KitchenAid KCMS2255BSS $540 69 X C X X Z NA 1.3 2.2 1200 N N
13 Whirlpool WMC50522AWS $270 69 X C X X Z NA 1.3 2.2 1200 N N
14 GE Profile PEB7226SFSS $330 67 X X C X Z NA 1.3 2.2 1100 N N N
15 Panasonic Inverter NN-CD989[S] $650 67 C Z C X X NA 1.2 1.5 1100 N N N N
16 Kenmore 73163 $170 67 X X C X Z NA 0.9 1.6 1100 N N
17 Panasonic Prestige NN-SD997[S] $280 67 X C X X Z NA 1.5 2.2 1250 N N N
18 LG LCRT1510SV $190 67 C X X X X NA 0.9 1.5 1200 N N N
19 Panasonic NN-SN773S $205 66 C C X X X NA 0.9 1.6 1250 N N
20 Sharp R551ZS $160 66 C X C X Z NA 1.1 1.8 1100 N N
21 Magic Chef MCD1611ST $140 66 X Z X C X NA 1.1 1.6 1100 N
22 Sharp R651ZS $180 65 C X C X X NA 1.3 2.2 1100 N N
23 Frigidaire FFCE2278L[S] $190 65 X Z X C C NA 1.3 2.2 1200 N N N
24 Electrolux EI24MO45IB $470 64 X C C C X NA 1.2 2 1100 N N
25 Magic Chef MCD1811ST $140 64 C X X Z X NA 1.1 1.8 1100 N
26 LG LCRT1513ST $150 63 C Z X X X NA 0.9 1.5 1100 N N
27 Frigidaire FFCE1439LB $150 63 X X C X X NA 0.7 1.4 1100 N
28 Panasonic Inverter NN-SD797[S] $200 63 X X X C Z NA 0.9 1.6 1250 N N N
29 Sharp R930CS $530 63 C X C Z C NA 1.1 1.5 900 N N N N
30 Panasonic Genius Prestige NN-SE982S $300 63 X X X C X NA 1.4 2.2 1250 N N
31 Danby DMW14SA1BDB $150 61 C C C Z Z NA 0.7 1.4 1100 N
32 Magic Chef MCD1311ST $130 61 X C C Z X NA 0.9 1.3 1100 N
33 LG LCS1410[SW] $170 60 X C X C X NA 0.9 1.4 1200 N N
34 LG LCS1413SB $170 60 C X C X Z NA 0.9 1.4 1100 N
35 Emerson MW1337SB $110 59 C Z C X Z NA 0.7 1.3 1000 N
36 Sharp R409YV $130 57 C X C Z C NA 0.9 1.3 1000 N
37 Frigidaire FFCE1638L[S] $150 57 X C C X X NA 0.9 1.6 1100 N N N
38 Whirlpool WMC30516A[S] $210 56 C C X X X NA 0.9 1.6 1200 N N
39 Toastmaster TM-141EM $120 53 C X C X Z NA 0.7 1.4 1100 N
40 Samsung MG14H3020CN $230 52 X C C X X NA 0.9 1.4 950 N N
41 Haier MWM13110G[SS] $105 50 C C C X X NA 0.6 1.3 1000 N
C. BUILT-IN COUNTERTOP MICROWAVES
1 Sharp SuperSteam Oven AX-1200[K] $900 57 X X V C X NA 1 1.1 700 N N N
2 Sharp SM-D3070AS $1,100 52 V C C X X NA 1.1 1.2 1000 N N N
3 Sharp Carousel R-1214 $380 46 X V X X Z NA 0.9 1.5 1100 N N N
D. OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVES
d 1 GE Profile PVM9215SFSS $550 81 X Z C Z Z X 0.9 2.1 1000 N N N
c 2 GE JVM3160RFSS $250 79 X Z C Z Z X 0.9 1.6 1000 N N
d 3 GE JVM7195SFSS $400 76 X Z X X Z X 0.9 1.9 1100 N N N
d 4 LG LMH2235ST $450 74 X Z C Z Z C 0.9 2.2 1000 N N N
d 5 Amana AMV6502RES $300 71 X X X Z Z C 0.9 2 1000 N N N
6 Whirlpool WMH53520CS $350 70 X Z C Z Z C 0.9 2 1000 N N N
7 LG LMV2031ST $300 70 C Z C X Z X 0.9 2 1000 N N N
8 Samsung ME21F707MJT $500 68 X Z C C Z X 0.9 2.1 1000 N N N

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 117


BUYING GUIDE | microwave ovens

BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES & SPECS
Recommended

Rank

Heating

Defrosting

Speed of
Heating

Microwaving

Ease of Use

SS-Look Option
Evenness

Evenness

Noise

Venting
(Airflow)

Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Watts

Detailed Prompts

Convection Mode

Sensor

Stainless/
D. OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVES continued
9 Electrolux IQ-Touch EI30BM60MS $630 67 X Z C Z Z C 0.9 1.8 1050 N N N N
10 Kenmore Elite 80373 $700 67 X Z X Z Z V 0.9 1.8 1050 N N N N
11 GE AVM4160DFBS $250 67 X Z X Z Z C 0.8 1.6 1000 N N
12 Samsung SMH2117[S] $500 67 X X C X Z X 0.8 2.1 1000 N N N
13 KitchenAid KMHS120ESS $540 67 Z Z C Z Z C 1 2 1000 N N N
14 Maytag MMV4205DS $350 67 X Z C Z Z C 1 2 1000 N N N
15 Frigidaire Gallery FGMV174K[M] $350 65 X X C X Z X 0.8 1.7 1000 N N
16 LG LMV1813[SW] $300 65 X Z X Z X C 0.8 1.8 1100 N N N
17 Whirlpool Gold WMH76719CS $550 65 X X C Z Z C 0.9 1.9 1100 N N N N
18 LG LMHM2017[SW] $450 65 Z Z X Z Z V 0.9 2 1100 N N N
19 Maytag MMV5219DS $400 64 C C C Z Z C 1.2 2.1 1000 N N N
20 Electrolux Icon E30MH65QPS $900 64 C Z X Z Z C 0.9 1.8 1050 N N N N
21 Whirlpool WMH73521CS $450 63 C Z C Z Z C 0.9 2.1 1100 N N N
22 GE PVM9005SJSS $500 62 X C X Z Z X 1 2.1 1050 N N N
23 Samsung ME20H705MSS $400 62 X Z C X Z C 1 2 1000 N N N
24 Bosch 300 Series HMV3052U $400 62 X Z X Z Z C 0.8 1.6 1000 N
25 Samsung ME21H706MQS $450 62 X Z C X Z C 1 2.1 1000 N N N
26 LG LMH2016[ST] $300 62 X Z X Z Z V 0.8 2 1100 N N N
27 Kenmore 80339 $300 61 X Z C Z Z V 0.8 1.7 1000 N N N
28 Kenmore 80353 $570 61 X X X Z Z V 0.9 2.1 1100 N N N
29 Samsung ME179KFET[SR] $600 61 X X C X Z C 0.8 1.7 950 N
30 Maytag MMV4203W[B] $280 61 X Z C C Z C 0.9 2 1000 N
31 GE JVM1740SP[SS] $280 61 X X C Z Z C 0.7 1.7 1000 N N
32 Electrolux EI30BM55H[S] $700 60 C Z C X Z C 1 2 1000 N N N
33 Ikea Framtid 501.423.37 $250 60 X Z C X Z C 0.8 1.6 950 N N
34 Amana AMV1150VA[B] $190 60 X X C Z Z C 0.8 1.5 1000 N
35 Dacor Discovery PCOR30S $1,270 60 X Z C X X V 0.7 1.1 850 N N N N
36 Fisher & Paykel CMOH30SS $750 60 X Z C X X V 0.7 1.1 850 N N N N
37 Samsung SMH1622[S] $170 60 C X C X X X 0.8 1.6 850 N
38 Kenmore 80323 $260 59 X Z C Z Z V 0.8 1.6 1000 N N
39 KitchenAid KMHP519ESS $1,000 59 X C X Z Z C 0.9 1.9 1200 N N N N
40 Maytag MMV6190DS $550 59 C X C Z Z C 0.9 1.9 1000 N N N N
41 Samsung Chef Collection ME21H9900AS $600 59 C Z C C Z V 1 2.1 1000 N N N
42 KitchenAid KHHC2090S[SS] $1,100 59 Z C X X X C 1.1 2 1200 N N N N
43 Frigidaire Gallery FGMV175QF $360 58 C Z C Z Z C 0.8 1.7 1000 N N N
44 Haier HMV1640AHW $230 58 C C X Z Z X 0.8 1.6 1000
45 Kenmore 80349 $350 58 X X C Z Z V 0.8 1.7 1000 N N N
46 GE Profile PVM1790SR[SS] $600 57 X X X X X C 0.8 1.7 1000 N N N N
47 Electrolux IQ-Touch EI30SM55JS $650 57 X Z C X Z V 1 2 1000 N N
48 LG LMV1831ST $300 56 X Z C X Z V 0.8 1.8 1000 N N
49 GE Profile Advantium PSA1201R[SS] $950 56 X X C Z Z C 0.8 1.7 925 N N N N
50 Samsung ME18H704SFS $250 55 C Z X X Z C 0.9 1.8 1000 N N
51 Bosch 800 Series HMV8052U $700 55 C Z X Z Z V 0.8 1.8 1000 N N N
52 Maytag MMV6186W[S] $680 55 X X C X Z C 0.8 1.8 1000 N N N
53 Jenn-Air JMV9196CS $1,000 55 X X C Z Z V 0.9 1.9 1000 N N N N
54 Samsung MC17F808KDT $540 55 X X C X Z V 0.8 1.7 950 N N N N
55 Bosch 500 Series HMV5052U $500 54 C Z X X Z V 1 2.1 1100 N N
56 Whirlpool WMH32517AS $320 54 C Z C C Z V 0.8 1.7 1000 N N N
57 Hotpoint RVM5160RHSS $230 54 X C C Z Z X 0.8 1.6 1000 N N
58 LG LMV1683[ST] $270 54 C Z C C Z C 0.7 1.6 1000 N N

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor

118 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES & SPECS
Recommended

Rank

Heating

Defrosting

Speed of
Heating

Microwaving

Ease of Use

SS-Look Option
Evenness

Evenness

Noise

Venting
(Airflow)

Usable
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Claimed
Capacity (Cu. Ft.)

Watts

Detailed Prompts

Convection Mode

Sensor

Stainless/
D. OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVES continued
59 GE JVM1750DP[BB] $280 54 X X X C X C 0.8 1.7 1000 N N N
60 Kenmore Elite 80363 $630 54 X X C Z Z V 0.7 1.5 900 N N N N
61 Samsung SMH1926[S] (Lowes) $360 53 X X X X Z V 0.8 1.9 1000 N N N
62 Haier HMV1652AHS $280 53 C C C X Z X 0.8 1.6 1000 N N
63 Sharp R-1875T $500 53 X Z C X Z V 0.7 1.1 850 N N
64 Frigidaire MWV150K[W] $190 52 X C C X Z C 0.8 1.5 900
65 KitchenAid KMHC319ESS $770 52 X C C Z Z C 1 1.9 1000 N N N N
66 Hotpoint RVM1535DM[WW] $190 51 C X X X X V 0.8 1.5 950 N
67 KitchenAid KHMS2040BSS $520 51 C X C X Z C 0.9 2 1000 N N
68 Frigidaire FFMV162L[S] $250 50 X X C X X V 0.8 1.6 1000 N
69 Viking D3 Series RDMOR200SS $650 50 X X C Z Z V 0.9 1.5 950 N N N
70 Amana AMV2175VAS $290 50 C Z C X Z V 0.9 1.7 1000 N N N
71 Viking VMOR205[SS] $1,300 50 X X C X X V 0.7 1.1 850 N N N N
72 Maytag MMV5208W[W] $320 50 C C C X X V 1.2 2 1000 N N
73 Samsung ME17H703SHS $300 49 X X X X Z V 0.7 1.7 1000 N N
74 Electrolux IQ-Touch EI30SM35QS $600 49 C X C Z Z V 0.7 1.5 900 N N N N
75 Jenn-Air JMV8208WS $750 49 C X C C X C 1.4 2 1000 N N N
76 Whirlpool WMH31017A[S] $250 49 C X C C X V 0.9 1.7 1000
77 Maytag MMV1164[W] $210 49 C X C C Z V 0.9 1.6 1000 N
78 KitchenAid KHMC1857W[SS] $650 49 C X C X Z V 0.9 1.8 1000 N N N N
79 Sharp R-1405 $220 48 X X C Z X V 0.8 1.4 950 N
80 LG LMVH1711[ST] $550 47 C X C C X V 0.8 1.7 950 N N N
81 Jenn-Air JMV9186W[S] $900 47 X C C X Z V 0.8 1.8 1000 N N N N
82 Frigidaire FFMV154CL[S] $450 47 C C C Z X V 0.7 1.5 900 N N
83 Magic Chef MCO165UB $170 46 C X C C X V 0.8 1.6 1000 N N
84 Frigidaire FFMV152CLB $400 46 C C V Z Z V 0.7 1.5 900 N
85 Sharp R-1871 $600 45 X C C X Z V 0.6 1.1 850 N N N
86 Samsung ME16H702SES $250 44 C C X C Z V 0.8 1.6 1000 N
87 Frigidaire Professional FPBM189K[F] $480 44 C X C C X V 1 2 1000 N N N
88 Frigidaire Gallery FGMV154CL[F] $480 43 C C C Z X V 0.7 1.5 900 N N N N
89 Magic Chef MCO160UBF $250 42 X V C C X C 0.7 1.6 1000 N
90 Bertazzoni Professional Series KO30PROX $700 38 C V C Z X V 0.8 1 950 N N N
91 Sharp R-1514 $330 36 C V C Z Z V 0.9 1.5 1000 N N N

MOST & LEAST


RELIABLE BRANDS
PERCENTAGE REPAIRED OR
Source: Our findings are based on Consumer
HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS Reports 2014 Product Reliability Survey of
37,042 owners of over-the-range microwaves.
Samsung is the most repair-prone brand
OTR MICROWAVES of OTR microwaves. Whirlpool and Maytag
have the lowest repair rates, but they dont
Samsung 16% differ meaningfully from the repair rates of
Frigidaire, Kenmore, KitchenAid, or GE. Note
LG 9% that models within a brand may vary. Each
figure represents the percentage of over-the-
GE 8% range microwaves that were repaired or had
a serious problem. Differences of fewer than
KitchenAid 8% 5 points arent meaningful.

Kenmore 7%
Frigidaire 7%

AMANA Maytag 6%
Whirlpool 6%

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/microwave-ovens/buying-guide.htm 119


BUYING GUIDE | dishwashers

Dishwashers
THE LATEST MODELS GET YOUR DISHES CLEANER, USING LESS WATER AND ENERGY

reakfast cereal, egg yolk, rasp- aforementioned stubborn foods. We can use and still get the governments

B berry jam: What do these differ-


ent foods have in common? Their
dried-on, baked-on, caked-on
residue is a challenging adversary for
just about any dishwasher.
let them sit overnight, then run them
through a normal cycle using the high-
temperature option (if its available).
Our listening panel evaluates how noisy
each model is.
Energy Star seal. Dishwashers that
qualify for the Energy Star designation
are, on average, 5 percent more energy
efficient and 15 percent more water
efficient than standard models, poten-
In our tests, we ask more of a dish- We also check energy efficiency. tially saving you hundreds of dollars
washer than you probably ever willwe Tougher rules have slashed the amount over the life of the appliance. Here,
load 10 place settings slathered with the of energy and water dishwashers get a load of some of your options.

TIP
If your dishwasher
will be across from
an island or a run of
cabinets, measure
to be sure there
will be adequate
clearance when the
door is open.

AMANA

120 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


WHATS
NEW

Steps to
Success
Remember these tips when
you shop for a new dishwasher

CHECK THE DIMENSIONS.


1 Conventional dishwashers are intended
for a cavity measuring 24x24inches. Fitting
in your new dishwasher could be a challenge
if youve tiled the floor or re-done your
counters, changing the height of the cavity.
So measure your space and ask the seller
for the full height range (and allow extra for
the leveling feet).

MATCH YOUR DCOR.


2 All about good looks? Then opt for a cabinet-
front dishwasher; they accommodate panels
that blend in with your cabinets.

LOOK FOR CONVENIENCE.


3 Dishwashers that score well in our
Ratings for ease of use usually have
adjustable racks and lots of flatware slots.
Some midpriced dishwashers have third
racks that let you lay down large utensils
or short cups. Many also have fold-down
A view of the action.
tines, which allow for fitting in large or
You can watch your bread bake and tests. One complaint: This KitchenAid
odd-shaped dishes and other dinnerware.
your popcorn pop through the windows dishwasher was only mediocre at drying
in your kitchen appliances but are plastic items, among the hardest to dry.
RECONSIDER YOUR HABITS.
4 All of our top picks clean well enough for you
to skip the prerinse before loading.
you ready to watch your dishes wash?
Thats what KitchenAid is envisioning
with its introduction of the KitchenAid
So you might be towel-drying during the
closing credits.
But theres more to like: A motorized
Prerinsing can even make your dishes come
KDTM804ESS, a sleek dishwasher with spray arm, plus an adjustable upper
out dirtier, not cleaner. The reason is that
a big window in the door. rack, a third rack for large utensils and
most dishwashers costing $500 or more
The $1,800 KitchenAid KDT- other short items, adjustable tines, a
sold in the past five years or so have a
M804ESS is the first dishwasher weve stainless interior, a self-cleaning filter,
sensor that determines how thorough a wash
seen that puts on a show as your dishes, and plenty of flatware slots. Both
is needed. At the initial rinse of the cycle,
glasses, and utensils get sprayed and KitchenAid dishwashers also have
the sensor checks how dirty the water is to
dried. (A lower-end model, the Kitch- interior lighting that comes on at the
determine the proper amount of time and
enAid KDTM384ESS, also comes with end of the cycle.
water to get everything clean.
a window.) For washing and energy Even if you prefer to watch tradi-
use, the KitchenAid KDTM704ESS was tional TV or online movies rather than
CHECK THE CONTROLS.
5 Some dishwashers have interactive touch
controls, but the usual touchpads are fine
top-notch. In addition to easy operation,
this model takes only 110 minutes to
complete a normal cycle. That might
your dishes get dousedand to be
fair, you know the endingtheres
another benefit to having a window
if theyre clearly marked. If controls are
seem long, roughly comparable to the in your dishwasher. With the better
invisible when the dishwasher door is closed,
running time of many movies, but its dishwashers becoming quieter and
look for cycle-time and other visible displays.
about 25 minutes shorter than the quieter, youll always know when your
average of the other dishwashers in our dishwasher is running.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 121


BUYING GUIDE | dishwashers

Details That Count DCS

Convenience features will make your dishwasher easier


to load and to use. Here are the best of the bunch.

ADJUSTABLE (OR EXTRA) in as little as 20 minutes. Some offer single-


RACKS AND LOADING AIDS rack, pot-scrubber, soak/scrub, steam clean,
Racks that move up and down, tines you can china/crystal, or sanitizing cycles as well. The
adjust, and silverware and stemware holders let three basic cycles should be enough for most
you reconfigure the interior of the dishwasher choreseven for baked-on food. A sanitizing
and organize the contents. Those devices are option that raises water temperature above the
handy when you cook for a crowd, and can help typical 140 degrees F doesn't necessarily deliver
fit large and oddly shaped items. Certain models better cleaning for dishes; if it lasts long enough,
go an extra step with, for example, upper racks
you can adjust single-handedly. Pay a premium
its meant to disinfect the dishwasher interior.
TIP
for your dishwasher, and you're likely to get a STAINLESS-STEEL TUB Dishwasher drawers
third rack for large utensils and small cups (think Typically available in mid-priced and higher-end can add flexibility,
espresso). A few models let you raise or lower models, stainless steel tends to resist staining especially for small
portions of the rack to fit slightly taller items. better than light-colored plastic. Gray-speckled households. But the
plastic tubs help camouflage stains and trim the ones weve tested
SOIL SENSORS overall cost. Any plastic tub should last longer havent impressed.
This adjusts the cycle's time and water use to than most people keep a dishwasher. Some
the load's soil level, improving efficiency. newer models have hybrid stainless/plastic tubs.

RINSE/HOLD CYCLE HEATED DRY


It lets you rinse dirty dishes when you're not Budget-priced dishwashers typically dry in the
quite ready to start a full cycle (rather than few hours after a cycle using drainage and the
letting stubborn food mess get even more residual heat in the tub. Pay more, and some
recalcitrant). This perk can reduce odors and will either heat the water further during the final
prevent soil from setting while you stack up rinse (to warm up the stainless tub) or use a
enough dirty dishes for a full load. heating elementperhaps coupled with a fan
to circulate the air. These options increase
WASH ZONES convenience, but also your electric bill.
Some newer models designate a certain part of
the dishwasher for heavily soiled items needing HIDDEN TOUCHPAD CONTROLS
a special cycle. These zones don't always run Controls mounted along the top edge of the door
the for the whole cycle. In our labs, they seem to (that are hidden when the door is closed) are
work as promised. strictly about style. The downside: You typically
can't see cycle progress at a glance. Partially
FILTERS hidden controls are a good compromise. Youll
These keep wash water free of food that could know when the machine is running and, often,
be re-deposited on clean dishes. There are two the remaining cycle time. Some have only an
types: self-cleaning and manual. With self- indicator light that tells you the dishwasher is on.
cleaning filters, a grinder pulverizes the debris
and flushes it down the drain. That's convenient QUIET PERFORMANCE
but can be noisy. Some models instead have a Some dishwashers sound like an airplane land-
filter without a grinder. It's quieter, but you need ing, which can be annoying when wash cycles
to clean it periodically to avoid iffy smells, a job range from 90 minutes to about three hours
that takes a few minutes. (by the way, we found no correlation between
time and performance). The KitchenAid
SPECIAL WASH CYCLES KDTE254ESS (shown) got an excellent score
Most dishwashers come with at least three for noise in our tests. Caveat: Manufacturers
cycles: light, normal, and heavy (pots and pans), may display a decibel rating, but they average
with many newer models also including "quick" the sound level of an entire cycle (including
or "express" cycles that clean lightly soiled loads thesilentdry cycle), which can be misleading. WHIRLPOOL

122 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


On the
Market
Aside from how they perform
in our tests, dishwashers
difer in type, features, and,
of course, cost. On the lower
end, dishwashers cost from
about $250 to $600. Prices
for high-end models can soar
to around $2,200.
KITCHENAID

BUDGET DISHWASHERS
In general, if you opt for a model at
a modest price point, youll get more
performance than glitz, and fewer
convenience features. They typically
cost up to $600. Some clean nearly
as well as premium-priced dishwash-
ers, and you may still get adjustable
racks and a soil sensor. On the flip side,
budget dishwashers tend to be noisier
than upscale versions and have fewer
flexible-loading options to accommo-
date oversize items.

HIGH-END DISHWASHERS
At roughly $700-plus , premium
models tend to be quieter and have
ample flatware slots, folding tines, and
other flexible-loading features. Hidden
controls and a cycle-time display add
style and convenience. Many high-end
dishwashers have a stainless-steel tub,
which resists stains better than plastic.

DISHWASHER DRAWERS
For new construction or a complete
kitchen renovation, you might consider
dishwasher drawers. They typically
include two small, stacked drawers
that you can use simultaneously or
separately. Compared to dishwashers
with doors, the drawers are easier to
load. But they can be expensive, and
the models weve tested havent per-
formed as well overall as budget-priced
conventional dishwashers. Capacity is
relatively small, limiting how much you
can wash at once.

Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 123


BUYING GUIDE | dishwashers

d DISHWASHERS
RECOMMENDED FROM
MODELS c CR OUR
EXPERTS
Best Buy
Almost all of the
models we tested
clean well and are The Bosch Ascenta
easy to load, and they SHX3AR7[5]UC is excellent
come in stainless steel. for its wash performance
They also use far less and energy eiciency.
water and energy At $700, this model is
than washing dishes half the price of many
by hand. Youll save other recommended
money on your new dishwashers. With its
dishwasher by passing 95-minute Normal cycle,
on the hidden controls its quicker than most
and stainless-steel tub. others, and Bosch is
Targeted spray jets, among the more reliable
adjustable racks, and brands of dishwashers.
6 BOSCH ASCENTA SHX3AR7[5]UC
features designed to Cycle time/water usage 95 MIN./4 GAL. | $700 LARRY CIUFO,
improve loading and bosch-home.com TEST PROJECT LEADER

washing performance
will also add to the
price, but some high-
scoring models in this
report have those perks
and cost less.
The dishwashers 2 KENMORE ELITE 12793 3 KITCHENAID 4 KENMORE ELITE 14833
included here are very Cycle time/water usage KDTM704ESS Cycle time/water usage
good or excellent 145 MIN./5 GAL. | $1,200 Cycle time/water usage 115 MIN./4 GAL. | $1,500
110 MIN./4 GAL. | $1,620
overall performers, In addition to top-notch per- This dishwasher has lots of
formance, this model offers This model aced our wash test, features and fine performance
and most have a timed- a motorized spray arm that and we judged it very good for all aroundwith the exception
start feature, heavy- reverses direction if a utensil noise. It is also especially ener- of mediocre drying. One attrac-
falls through the racks, blocking gy- and water-efficient. Pluses tion is a motorized spray arm
duty or pots-and-pans the arms rotation. The models include a soil sensor, motorized that reverses direction should
cycle, and self-cleaning other pluses include a stainless wash arm, bottle-wash option, a utensil fall through the racks,
steel interior and an adjustable third rack, and a lighted interior. blocking the arms rotation.
filters. The Ratings upper rack and tines. (Unlike It also has delayed start, ample Other pluses include fairly quiet
rank models by overall other models weve seen, the flatware slots, an adjustable running, a stainless-steel, lighted
rack can be adjusted using only upper rack, and adjustable tines. interior, self-cleaning, and time-
performance. one hand.) kitchenaid.com remaining display.
kenmore.com kenmore.com

124 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Ratings
Scores in context: Of the 181dishwashers we tested, the highest scored 85; the lowest, 34.

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES
Recommended

Rank

Washing

Energy Use

Ease of Use

latware Slots
Drying

Noise

Cycle Time (min.)

Ample F

Adjustable
Upper Rack

Sensor

Self-Cleaning
filter

Hidden
Controls

Interior
Material

SS-Look Option
Stainless/
CONVENTIONAL DISHWASHERS
d 1 KitchenAid KDTM354DSS $1,080 85 Z Z Z X X 125 N N N N Some Stainless Steel N
d 2 Kenmore Elite 12793 $1,200 85 Z C Z Z X 145 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
d 3 KitchenAid KDTM704ESS $1,620 83 Z C Z X X 110 N N N N Some Stainless Steel N
d 4 Kenmore Elite 14833 $1,500 82 Z C Z X X 115 N N N N Some Stainless Steel N
d 5 Kenmore Elite 14763 $1,000 82 Z C Z X X 115 N N N N Some Stainless Steel N
c 6 Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC $700 81 Z X Z X X 95 N N N All Stainless/Plastic N
d 7 KitchenAid KDFE454CSS $1,500 81 Z C Z Z C 140 N N N Stainless Steel N
8 Thermador Topaz Series DWHD640JFM $1,500 80 Z Z X Z X 125 N N N All Stainless Steel N
9 Bosch 800 Plus Series SHX7PT55UC $1,300 80 Z Z Z X X 125 N N N All Stainless Steel N
10 Kenmore Elite 14793 $900 80 Z C Z X X 145 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
11 Bosch 500 Series SHP65T55UC $900 80 Z Z Z X X 125 N N N All Stainless Steel N
12 Bosch 300 Series DLX SHX53TL5UC $850 80 Z Z Z C X 125 N N N All Stainless Steel N
13 KitchenAid KDTM404ESS $1,200 80 Z C Z X X 110 N N N N Some Stainless Steel N
14 KitchenAid KDTE254ESS $1,100 80 Z C Z Z X 145 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
15 Kenmore Elite 14753 $1,100 80 Z C Z X X 145 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
16 Bosch 800 Series SHE68T55UC $950 79 Z Z Z X X 125 N N N Stainless Steel N
17 GE Profile PDT750SSFSS $1,100 79 Z C Z X X 140 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
18 Blomberg DWT55300SS $850 79 Z Z Z C X 130 N N N All Stainless Steel N
19 Viking 100 Series FDW101 $800 79 Z Z Z C X 130 N N N All Stainless Steel N
20 GE Profile PDT760SSFSS $1,500 78 Z C Z X X 140 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
21 Blomberg DWT54100SS $750 78 Z C Z C X 85 N N N All Stainless Steel N
22 Maytag MDB8979SEZ $850 78 Z X X X Z 155 N N N N Some Stainless Steel N
23 Miele Futura Classic Plus G4925US $1,000 78 Z X Z X X 150 N N N Stainless Steel N
24 Thermador Emerald Series DWHD440MFM $1,300 78 X Z Z X X 130 N N N All Stainless Steel N
25 KitchenAid Architect Series II KDTE554CSS $1,600 78 Z X Z X C 145 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
26 Miele Futura Crystal G6165SCVISF $1,400 78 Z Z Z X X 150 N N N All Stainless Steel N
27 Kenmore 13693 $600 78 Z Z Z C X 160 N N Some Stainless Steel N
28 Kenmore 13223 $500 77 Z Z Z C X 160 N N Stainless Steel N
29 Blomberg DWT55500SS $900 77 Z C Z C X 115 N N N All Stainless Steel N
30 Viking 300 Series FDW300 $1,100 77 Z C Z C X 115 N N N All Stainless Steel N
31 GE Caf CDT725SSFSS $1,000 77 X X Z C X 145 N N N All Stainless Steel N
32 GE GDT580SSFSS $600 76 Z Z Z X X 155 N N N All Stainless Steel N
33 Thermador DWHD651JFP $2,200 76 X Z X X X 120 N N N All Stainless Steel N
34 Bosch 800 Series SHXN8U55UC $1,200 75 Z C Z Z X 130 N N N All Stainless Steel N
35 KitchenAid KDTE104ESS $600 75 X C Z X X 135 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
36 Kenmore 13209 $450 75 Z Z Z C X 155 N N N Plastic
37 Bosch 300 Series SHP53U55UC $720 75 Z C Z X X 160 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
38 Bosch 800 Plus Series SHE9PT55UC $1,950 75 X Z Z Z X 130 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
39 Whirlpool WDT720PADM $380 75 Z Z Z X X 155 N N N All Plastic N

How We Test: In our washing tests, we slather 10place settings with a variety of foods and let the dishes sit in the machine overnight. Then we run a
normal cycle, using the high-temperature option if available. The machine is loaded according to instructions in the owners manual. Noise is judged
by a listening panel during ill, wash, and drain. We measure energy use, most of which goes to heating the water, as well as how much water is used
per cycle. And we manipulate the adjustable tines and racks to see how easy they are to use.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 125


BUYING GUIDE | dishwashers

BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES


Recommended

Rank

latware Slots
Washing

Energy Use
Drying

Noise

Ease of Use

Cycle Time (min.)

Ample F

Adjustable
Upper Rack

Sensor

Self-Cleaning
filter

Hidden

SS-Look Option
Controls

Interior
Material

Stainless/
CONVENTIONAL DISHWASHERS continued
40 LG LDS5040ST $500 75 X Z X X X 110 N N N N Stainless Steel N
41 Samsung DW80F800UWS $800 75 Z Z X X Z 140 N N N N All Stainless Steel N
42 Bosch 500 Series SHE65U55UC $850 74 Z X Z X X 160 N N N None Stainless Steel N
43 GE Monogram ZDT870SPFSS $1,800 74 X C Z Z X 150 N N N All Stainless Steel N
44 GE GDT590SSJSS $700 74 Z C Z C X 155 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
45 Samsung Chef Collection DW80H9970US $1,450 74 Z C Z X X 155 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
46 Bosch 800 Series SHX78U55UC $900 74 Z Z Z X X 160 N N N All Stainless Steel N
47 Miele Futura Lumen G6595SCViK2O $1,800 73 Z Z X X X 155 N N N All Stainless Steel N
48 Kenmore 13473 $500 73 Z Z Z C C 160 N N Some Plastic N
49 GE GDT680SSHSS $700 73 Z C Z C X 155 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
50 GE GDT545PSJSS $400 73 Z C Z C X 150 N N N Some Plastic N
51 Amana ADB1700ADS $500 72 Z C Z C C 145 N Stainless Steel N
52 GE GDT635HSJSS $700 72 X C Z C X 155 N N N Some Stainless/Plastic N
53 LG LDS5540ST $580 71 X C X X Z 145 N N N N Stainless Steel N
54 Dacor Renaissance RDW24S $1,700 71 Z C X C X 150 N All Stainless Steel N
55 Bosch 300 Series DLX SHS63VL5UC $720 71 Z V Z X X 125 N N N All Stainless Steel N
56 Whirlpool WDT920SADM $720 70 X C Z X X 160 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
57 Jenn-Air TriFecta JDB9000CWS $1,200 70 Z V Z X X 140 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
58 Maytag MDB8969SDM $720 70 Z Z X C Z 170 N N N N Some Stainless Steel N
59 GE Monogram ZDT800SSFSS $1,500 69 Z C Z X X 165 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
60 Maytag MDB4949SDM $450 69 Z Z X C X 170 N N N N Stainless Steel N
61 Jenn-Air TriFecta JDB9200CWS $1,400 69 Z V Z X X 140 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
62 Bosch Ascenta SHX5AV55UC $630 68 Z V Z X X 120 N N N All Plastic N
63 LG LDF8874ST $800 67 X C X X X 150 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
64 Whirlpool WDT780SAEM $500 67 Z V Z C X 155 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
65 Samsung DW80J3020US $400 67 Z V X X C 145 N N N Stainless Steel N
66 Whirlpool WDF540PADM $550 66 Z Z Z C C 115 N N Plastic N
67 Haier HDBL655AFS $725 66 X V Z C X 115 N N N Stainless Steel N
68 Jenn-Air TriFecta JDB9800CWS $1,600 66 X V Z X C 155 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
69 Haier HDBL865ATS $850 66 X V Z C X 120 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
70 Frigidaire Professional FPID2497RF $700 66 Z V X X X 135 N N All Stainless Steel N
71 Scholtes LFDS3XL60HZ $1,400 66 X C Z X X 105 N N N All Stainless Steel N
72 Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2445N[F] $550 65 X X X C X 120 N N N Plastic N
73 Samsung DW80J7550US $700 65 Z V X Z X 195 N N N All Stainless Steel N
74 Amana ADB1500ADS $450 64 Z V Z C C 140 N Some Plastic N
75 Asko XL Series D5436XLS $1,100 62 X V Z C C 115 N N N Stainless Steel N
76 Smeg ST8646XU $1,100 62 Z B Z C X 100 N N All Stainless Steel N
77 Asko XXL Series D5636XXLSHI $1,300 62 X V Z C C 115 N N Some Stainless Steel N
78 Frigidaire FFBD2406NW $270 60 X C X C C 125 N Plastic
79 Frigidaire FFBD2411NS $280 60 X C X C C 130 N Plastic N
80 Frigidaire FFID2423RS $380 60 X V X C C 120 N N All Plastic N
81 Electrolux Wave-Touch EW24ID80QS $980 60 Z X X X X 200 N N N Stainless Steel N
82 Electrolux Wave-Touch EWDW6505G[S] $1,200 59 X V X X Z 135 N N N N All Stainless Steel N

c CR Best Buy d Recommended Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor

126 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


BRAND & MODEL PRICE SCORE TEST RESULTS FEATURES
Recommended

Rank

Washing

Energy Use

Ease of Use

latware Slots
Drying

Noise

Cycle Time (min.)

Ample F

Adjustable
Upper Rack

Sensor

Self-Cleaning
filter

Hidden

SS-Look Option
Controls

Interior
Material

Stainless/
CONVENTIONAL DISHWASHERS continued
83 Jenn-Air JDB3200AW[W] $1,100 59 X V Z X C 125 N N All Stainless Steel N
84 Frigidaire Gallery FGID2474QF $600 58 Z B X X X 120 N N N All Stainless Steel N
85 Frigidaire Gallery FGCD2456QF $750 58 Z B X X X 120 N N N Stainless Steel N
86 Summit DW2433SSX $625 58 Z B Z C C 145 N N N Stainless Steel N
87 Electrolux IQ-Touch EI24ID30QS $800 58 Z B X C X 120 N N N All Stainless Steel N
88 Electrolux IQ-Touch EI24ID50QS $900 57 Z B X C X 120 N N N All Stainless Steel N
89 Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2438PF $450 57 X C X C V 130 Plastic N
90 LG LDF7774ST $700 57 X C X X X 140 N N N Some Stainless Steel N
91 Samsung DW80J9945US $900 56 X B X Z X 195 N N N All Stainless Steel N
92 Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2434PF $400 55 X C X C V 125 Plastic N
93 Amana ADB1100AWW $250 54 X C X V V 160 Plastic
94 Electrolux Icon EDW7505HP[S] $1,500 54 C V X X Z 125 N N N N All Stainless Steel N
95 GE GDF510PSJSS $480 52 X X X C V 205 N Plastic N
96 Whirlpool WDF110PABW $380 51 X C X V V 160 Plastic
97 GE GSD3301JWW $360 49 X V Z V V 110 N Plastic
98 Haier DWL3225SD[SS] $500 45 C V X C C 120 N N N N Stainless Steel N
99 Haier DWL7075MC[SS] $750 44 C V C C C 120 N N N N All Stainless Steel N
100 Fagor LFA75IT $700 43 C C Z V C 135 N N N All Stainless Steel N
101 Frigidaire FBD2400KS $280 34 C B Z V V 90 Plastic N

Dishwasher Dos and Donts MOST & LEAST


RELIABLE BRANDS
DO Run the hot water (if they fit without hit- serving bowls. Place In our survey of more than 70,000 readers who bought a
faucet on the kitchen ting the roof). If youre items with baked-on dishwasher between 2010 we found Bosch and Whirlpool to
sink until the water washing sauce pans or food face down and be among the more reliable brands of dishwashers. Samsung
gets hot before start- mixing bowls put them toward the spray arm. is the most repair-prone brand of dishwasher and KitchenAid
ing the dishwasher. face down. DONT put brass, and LG are among the more repair-prone brands.
That prevents the DO Rest glasses on bronze, cast-iron, wood,
wash cycle from start- the prongs to prevent or china with gold leaf PERCENTAGE REPAIRED
ing with cold water. breakage and to keep in the machine. And to OR HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS
DONT Pre-rinse. water from pooling keep china from chip- DISHWASHERS
Todays dishwashers in the stems of wine ping, dont allow it to
can handle the food glasses. touch other items. Samsung 24% Kenmore 14%
detritus. Scraping off DO Load forks and DO Consider hand- LG 18% Miele 13%
leftover food is usually spoons with the washing your fine
enough. handles facing down, china and porcelain by KitchenAid 18% GE 13%
DO Check the location but place knives with lining the sink with a Frigidaire 16% Whirlpool 10%
of your water jets then their handles up, to towel and using a mild
load large items in a way avoid cutting yourself dish detergent.
Maytag 15% Bosch 9%
that doesnt block them. as you remove them. DO Use a top-rated Source: Our findings are based on Consumer Reports 2014 Annual Product Reliability
Survey of more than 70,000 readers who had purchased a dishwasher between 2010
DO Use the top rack DO Use the bottom dishwasher detergent and 2014. Differences of less than 3 points arent meaningful, and weve adjusted the
for dishwasher-safe rack for plates and from Consumer Re- data to eliminate differences linked solely to the dishwashers age and coverage by an
extended warranty or service contract. Models within a brand may vary, and changes
plastics and delicate saucers and such large ports tests. See page in design or manufacturer may affect future reliability. Still, choosing a brand with a
items like wine glasses items as platters and 11 for our top picks. good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/dishwashers/buying-guide.htm 127


BUYING GUIDE | sinks

AMERICAN STANDARD

Sinks
THE BEST MODELS WILL STAND UP TO YEARS OF DISH DUTYAND LOOK GREAT DOING IT

ood news: Our tests found our Ratings by material. Heres what else those with matte or brushed finishes.

G impressive sinks at all prices.


For months we stained,
scoured, dropped objects, and
put hot pots in 18 double-bowl sinks.
We compared thick stainless steel with
our tough tests revealed:
Finish matters more than thickness.
We tested 18- to 23-gauge stainless steel
sinks. (The lower the gauge, the thicker
the steel.) We found that expensive,
You can add color to your kitchen
with a solid surface, an enameled steel,
an enameled cast iron, an acrylic, or a
fireclay sink. But almost all were dam-
aged in our tests. Fireclay cracked after
thinner versions, and heavy cast iron thicker-gauge stainless didnt hold up our toughest drop tests. The acrylic
with lightweight acrylic and fireclay. any better than thinner versions. And sinks didnt chip, but they melted when
We found that the manufacturer mat- sinks with polished or glossy surfaces we left a hot pot in them. Solid-surface
tered less than material, so we arranged showed scratches and stains more than sinks fared better.

128 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Steps to
Success
1 FOCUS ON THE MATERIAL
Our tests showed that the material is more
important than the manufacturer. Similar materials
performed similarly across brands, so we based
our evaluations of sinks entirely on materials.

2
COUNT THE HOLES
Most kitchen sinks come with mounting holes
drilled for faucets. If youre buying a new faucet for
an existing sink or vice versa, youll need to match
the hardware to the number and spacing of the holes
in the sink. You can install a base plate to cover an
extra hole in the sink or countertop, but dont try to
drill new holes in an existing countertop.

3
THINK AHEAD
Replacing a faucet and sink together is easier
EXTRA HELP because the faucet can be mounted in the sink
Some sinks now
or counter before the sink is put in place. Most
ofer convenient
optional accessories kitchen faucets come with a lifetime warranty
like racks and that covers leaks and stains. But if you have
cutting boards. BLANCO a problem, the manufacturer will give you just the
replacement part. It will be up to you to install it.

CLEAN LINES
Undermount sinks eliminate a
grime-catching raised lip, making
AMERICAN STANDARD for simpler maintenance.

ConsumerReports.org Z KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE 129


BUYING GUIDE | sinks

On the Market
Match the style of sink to your
space, needs, and budget

FARMHOUSE
Also known as apron-front, farmhouse sinks
usually have a deep single bowl with the faucet
installed in the countertop or wall. This stylish
choice can provide a traditional or country kitch-
en look, and stainless steel versions can work
well with modern designs. But theyre expensive
and require a special cabinet, and water can drip
on and damage the cabinet. BLANCO

TOPMOUNT
Also called drop-in and self-rimming, the sink is dropped
in above the counter with the lip overlapping the
countertop. Topmount sinks work with any countertop
material and are relatively simple to install, so theyre
a good choice for a tight budget. But a topmount sink
can detract from the look of a beautiful countertop and
grime can build up around the lip of the sink.

DOUBLE BOWL
Double-bowl sinks have a partition that separates them
into two sections. A rectangular shape is most common,
but D-shaped sinks with a curved back are available.
Double-bowl sinks are handy because they let you per-
form two taskssoaking and rinsingat the same time.
Note that the narrower sections of a double-bowl sink
FRANKE may not fit large pots, cookie sheets, or roasting pans.

UNDERMOUNT
Rather than being lowered onto the counter, KOHLER
undermounted sinks are raised into place from
below. Undermount sinks provide a sleek look
and easier cleanup because they sit slightly below
the surface of the counter, so you can wipe spills
and crumbs from the countertop directly into the
sink, and theres no lip or crevice to catch dirt. But
undermounted sinks are more expensive to buy
and install, and should be used with a waterproof
countertop, never with wood counters.

TROUGH
These are best for use as prep or bar sinks.
Theyre narrow and long, from 8 to 14inches
wide and up to 50inches long. But trough sinks
are expensive and more fun than functional.

130 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


MATERIALS MATTER STAINLESS
More people buy stainless steel kitchen sinks
You may not cook every day, but is there ever a day when than any other type. We tested 18- to 23-gauge
you dont use your sink? We subjected more than 20 sinks; the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel.
double-bowl sinks from major manufacturers to a barrage We also listened to the noise made by running
of hot pots, scouring pads, dropped weights, and stains. water and dropped weights. We found that the
The results of our sinks tests: gauge had little to do with performance, and
sinks with sound-absorbing pads on the exterior
bottom and sides were quieter than those with a
spray coating. Those with matte finishes showed
fewer scratches than their polished counterparts.

SOLID SURFACE
Made of polyester or acrylic resins combined with
mineral fillers, solid-surface sinks can be paired
with counters made of the same material for a
seamless look. In our tests, high heat and dropping
a sharp, light objectsimilar to a knifedamaged
solid-surface sinks.

ENAMEL
These sinks, sold in two versions (enameled
cast iron or lighter, less expensive enameled
steel), are available in many colors and are easy
to clean. Our hot pot test didnt damage them,
but when we dropped a 5-pound weightsimilar
to dropping a heavy potenameled steel sinks
chipped or cracked. Enameled cast iron chipped
when we dropped a sharp, light objectsimilar
to a knifeon them. Damaged enamel can cause
the metal underneath to rust. Acrylic sinks might
look like enamel, but they scratch more easily
and heat can be damaging.

KOHLER

Ratings
Scores in context: Of the six sink materials we tested, the highest scored 83; the lowest, 66. How We Test: Score summarizes performance in
Scores among brands were similar, which is why we list only material Ratings. all tests. Stains shows resistance to 15 common
foods and cleaning products. Abrasion relects
resistance to damage from nylon and metal
Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
scouring pads. Impact shows resistance to damage
MATERIAL PRICE SCORE RESISTS from sharp and blunt objects dropped from up to
20inches. Heat gauges resistance to damage from
Stains

Abrasion

Sharp
Impact

Blunt
Impact

Heat

Noise

a pot illed with oil and heated to 400F. Noise is


based on sound transmission from a stream of water
and the impact of a sharp metal object. Our tests for
sink and countertop materials are diferent, which
Stainless Steel $100-$600 83 Z Z Z C Z C
is why the scores of materials may vary. Price is
Solid Surfacing $200-$500 80 Z Z C Z V Z approximate retail.

Enameled Steel $100-$350 77 X Z Z V Z X


Enameled Cast Iron $150-$450 74 C Z V Z Z X
Acrylic $75-$200 71 Z X Z Z B C
Fireclay $550-$800 66 Z Z V B Z C

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/sinks/buying-guide.htm 131


BUYING GUIDE | faucets

Faucets
PICK A FAUCET WITH A DURABLE FINISH AND FEATURES THAT MAKE CLEANUP EASY. HERES HOW.

eaky faucets could be a thing of why our advice is based on finish and less, brass, and bronze. The exterior

L the past, with top-notch valves


and tough finishes now common
on all but the cheapest models.
Most faucets also come with lifetime
warranties (for the original buyer) that
why the faucets arent rated. We tested
single-handle pullout faucets, a popular
style. They combine spray head and
spout for added convenience and flex-
ibility, but our findings apply to other
of some faucets are bombarded with
charged metal atoms that chemically
bond to the surface of the base metal
in a process called physical vapor
deposition, or PVD. Those finishes
cover defects and even finishes. faucet styles, too. resisted our best attempts at scratch-
Our tests found few performance Youll find a range of finish options ing them, but corrosives such as drain
differences between brands, and thats on the market, including chrome, stain- cleaner can stain them slightly.

WHATS
NEW

Hands-free technology.
When your hands are
covered in a sticky
or greasy mess, its
convenient to be able to
turn on the tap without
smearing it in the process.
Hands-free technology
has been available in the
kitchen for several years,
but manufacturers have
improved their sensors,
making them easier to
activate. Look for Moens
MotionSense, Delta
Faucets Touch2O, and
Kohlers Response lines,
or check out American
Standards new Beale
Faucet, pictured here,
which caught our eye
when it was introduced
earlier this year.

132 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


Steps to Details That Count SPRAY/

Success
STREAM
Consider these features, which SELECTOR
can affect durability and function.

FINISH
1 COUNT THE HOLES
Most sinks come with mounting holes
drilled for faucets. If youre keeping
Tough finishes are common on all
but the cheapest kitchen faucets.
Physical vapor deposition (PVD) is
PULLOUT
SPOUT
your sink, youll need to match what the toughest. The process involves SPOUT
you have or get a base plate to cover bombarding the faucet with charged SHAPE
any extra holes. The base plate may metal atoms that bond to the surface,
come with the faucet and can also be producing a variety of metallic
used to cover holes in your counter- finishes. PVD finishes resisted our
FINISH
best attempts at scratching them, but
top if thats where your faucet will be
corrosives such as drain cleaner can
installed. Do not try to drill additional
stain them slightly. Chromeanother
holes in an existing sink or countertop. popular finishis quite durable, but a
heavy-duty scouring pad can scratch
ONE HANDLE OR TWO?
2 Single-handle faucets are easier to
use and install. A sprayer can be
it. Without the PVD finish, bronze
was the least resistant to abrasion.

part of the faucet spout or part of SPOUT SHAPE


the faucet deck. Two-handle faucets Though faucets with a straight
have handles for hot and cold water, spout are often inexpensive, theyre
the handles are part of the base plate compact, so you might need to
or are separately mounted, and the swivel the faucet to one side to fit
a big pot under it. Gooseneck faucets provide and spout retract neatly. A pullout spout comes
sprayer is usually separate.
more clearance but can cause splashing in a in handy when rinsing vegetables and rinsing
shallow sink. Whatever you choose, make sure the sink. Note that the hose should be long

3
PICK A SPOUT STYLE the faucet head swivels far enough to reach into enough to reach all corners of the sink.
Straight-spout faucets are compact all corners of the sink, especially if you have a
and often inexpensive, but you might wide or double-bowl sink. SPRAY/STREAM SELECTOR
need to move the faucet to fit a big Finger-friendly buttons on the side of the spray
pot under it. Gooseneck models have PULLOUT SPOUT head let you switch between spray and stream
higher clearances but can cause The spout pulls out of the single-handle faucet functions. The buttons should stay in the mode
splashing if your sink is shallow. head on a hose; a counterweight helps the hose you set even after you turn the water of and on.

On the Market
There are two main types of faucets. If you are replacing an older faucet, your choice may be
limited to the configuration of your current sink and/or counter. But if youre buying a new
sink and faucet, consider the pros and cons of each type.

SINGLE HANDLE TWO HANDLES


Move the handle to one side or the other for hot This traditional setup has separate hot and cold
or cold, or midway to mix. Some cooks prefer a handles to the left and right of the faucet.
faucet with a spout on a hose that can be pulled Pros Two handles may allow slightly more
out from the faucet head so that you can spray precise temperature adjustments than a single-
the sink or fill a pot on the counter. handle faucet.
Pros Single-handle faucets are easier to use and Cons Two handles are harder to use than one,
install, and take up less space on the countertop and twisting the handle usually requires free
than two-handle faucets. handsyou can't just use your wrist or forearm
Cons They may not allow quite as precise to maneuver the handle.
KOHLER
temperature selection.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/faucets/buying-guide.htm 133


BUYING GUIDE | appliance stores

Best Appliance SELECTION AND SERVICE VARY


A fair number of major-appliance
shoppers went to a retailer because it
stocked a particular brand or model.

Stores Far fewer chose a store specifically for


its selection. Only a small percentage
of those shoppers complained about
seeing few brands or models when they
CONSUMER REPORTS SURVEY TELLS WHICH RETAILERS OFFER
went to a walk-in retailer.
THE BEST COMBINATION OF SELECTION, PRICE, AND SERVICE
TIP: About one in three shoppers
who bought a major appliance online
ome Depot, Lowes, and Sears department stores. Here's what else we checked it out at a walk-in store first

H may sell the most large ap-


pliances in the U.S., but they
arent necessarily customer
favorites. In our most recent survey,
Consumer Reports subscribers told us
learned from our survey:

PRICE GETS YOU IN THE DOOR


Low prices and sales were the top
reasons people bought from a spe-
and then saved $68, on average. But
dont rule out walk-in stores when it
comes to buying. Some retailers offer
meet or beat price policies. Stores
may also sweeten the deal in other
about their overall satisfaction based cific retailer. Many of our respondents ways, including offering such perks as
on their experiences buying more than searched price-comparison websites free shipping and installation.
32,000 large and small appliances. before shopping.
A Chicago-area store, some regional TIP: Shoppers who successfully hag-
chains, and independent retailers TIP: Most shoppers who checked prices gled usually saved $100 on major ap-
got good marks from our readers, before buying online said it helped pliances and $40 on small ones. Heres
who shopped at a variety of places, them find a better deal overall. Online a winning tactic from a Facebook fol-
including warehouse, big-box, and coupons and email offers also helped. lower: See whether you can buy a floor

SUITE DEAL?
Picking the best-value
appliances from different
manufacturers can cost
less than a package deal.
134
model or one thats slightly blemished BEST PLACES TO BUY LARGE
for less. And try to get fees for shipping,
installation, and haul-away waived.
AND SMALL APPLIANCES
Abt Electronics & Appliances tops Consumer Reports most
SKIP EXTENDED WARRANTIES
Getting hit with a sales pitch to get you
recent Ratings of major-appliance retailers, as does Amazon
to buy an extended warranty at check- among small-appliance retailers.
out has been a top annoyance in past
surveys. And a majority of subscribers Ratings
who bought a major appliance said the Scores in context: We surveyed more than 21,000 readers about their experiences
retailer at least suggested they buy one. purchasing almost 32,500 major and small appliances from January 2013 through
June 2014. Heres how the retailers measured up.
About a quarter of major-appliance buy-
ers did. But we dont generally recom- 5 4 3 2 1
Better Worse
mend buying extended warranties.
RETAILER SCORE SURVEY RESULTS
Order

Price

Selection

Product
Quality
In-Store
Service

Checkout Ease

Web Support

Shipping/
Delivery

Installation

Haul-Away
TIP: Eighty-five percent of our large-
appliance shoppers were encouraged to
buy an extended warranty; P.C. Richard
& Son, a chain in the New York area, MAJOR APPLIANCES
proved to be the pushiest, followed by 1 Abt Electronics & Appliances 94 X Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z
Sears and HHGregg. But our research 2 Independent local stores 90 C X X Z Z C Z Z Z
shows that repairs during the extended-
3 Costco 90 Z B X Z X
warranty period often cost about the
4 Nebraska Furniture Mart 89 X Z Z X
same as the warranty. Instead, check 5 Lowes 88 X C X C X C X X Z
our brand-reliability data in the Buying 6 Pacific Sales 87 C X X X X C X C X
Guide section starting on page 46. 7 Home Depot 86 X C X C X C X X Z
8 Best Buy 86 X C X C X C X X Z
9 P.C. Richard & Son 86 X X X X X C X X Z
10 HHGregg 84 C X X X X C X X Z
11 Sears 83 C C X C C C X C X
SMALL APPLIANCES
1 Amazon.com 94 X Z Z Z Z Z
2 Williams-Sonoma 93 C C Z X Z X
3 Ace Hardware 93 C C Z Z Z
4 Costco 92 Z B X B X C
5 QVC 92 X C X Z Z Z
6 Independent local stores 90 C C Z Z Z C Z
7 Kohls 89 X C X V X C X
8 Bed Bath & Beyond 89 C C X C X C
9 Macys 88 X C X V C C
10 Sams Club 86 X B X B C B
11 Lowes 86 C V X V C C X
12 Home Depot 85 C V X V C C X
13 Target 85 C V C B C V
14 Best Buy 84 C V C V C C
15 Kmart 84 X B C B V
16 Sears 83 C V C V C C X
17 Walmart 79 C V C B V B X

How We Test: Score represents overall satisfaction with the retail experience. If all
respondents were completely satisied with a particular retailer, the score would be 100; a
score of 80 indicates very satisied, on average. Diferences of fewer than 4 points arent
LG meaningful. A dash () indicates there was an insuicient sample size for analysis.

For more information and Ratings, go to: ConsumerReports.org/cro/appliance-stores/buying-guide.htm 135


Resources
8 SMART KITCHEN UPGRADES 57: Madeline Stuart, madelinestuart.
12-13, 14-15, 16, 17: Brooks & com and Tichenor & Thorp Architects,
Falotico Associates Inc, tichenorandthorp.com
brooksandfalotico.com and Lynn
Morgan Design, lynnmorgandesign.com FLOORING
60-61: Cecily Mendell of Cecy J
COZY IN COLOR Interiors, cecyj.com
22: Styled by Sunday Hendrickson and 63: Home Depot, Montagna Wood
Room Design by Elizabeth Low Weathered Gray 6 in. x 24 in. Porcelain
23: Dillon Kyle Architects, dkarc.com Floor and Wall Tile, homedepot.com
25: Studio Tim Campbell,
UPDATE studiotimcampbell.com INTERIOR PAINT
7: bottom left, 66-67: Benjamin Moore,
Aiden Design, DOUBLE THE PLEASURE benjaminmoore.com
aidandesign.com 26-29: Project by Modify Design/Build, 69: Clark + Kensington,
modifyatl.com and Architectural Design thepaintstudio.com
by Kristen Ware
SINKS & FAUCETS
INSTANT MAKEOVER American Standard,
30: Mitchell Gold-Bob Williams, americanstandard-us.com
mgbwhome.com and Cindy Lynn Blanco, blanco-germany.com
Dunaway, cldinteriors.com Franke, franke.com
32: Renewal Design Build, Kohler, kohler.com
renewaldesignbuild.com and styled by
Jeanee Ladoux, finelycrafted.net MAJOR APPLIANCES
34: The New Old House Company, Amana, amana.com
thenewoldhouseco.com Bertazzoni, bertazzoni.com
Blomberg, blombergappliances.com
BlueStar, bluestarcooking.com
BUYING GUIDE, OPENER
Bosch, bosch-home.com
46-47: Viking, vikingrange.com
Dacor, dacor.com
DCS, dcsappliances.com
CABINETS Electrolux, electroluxappliances.com
48: Burke Cheney for Deane Inc, Fisher & Paykel, fisherpaykel.com
deaneinc.com Frigidaire, frigidaire.com
49: Morgan Harrison Home, GE, geappliances.com
BOLD IN BLACK & WHITE morganharrisonhome.com Haier, haier.com
18-21: Cabinets: Omega Cabinetry, omegacabinetry.com; Countertops: 50: Ikea, ikea.com Jenn-Air, jennair.com
Cambria Natural Stone Surfaces, cambriausa.com. Lighting: Capri Drum 51: top left and middle, Merillat, Kenmore, kenmore.com
Pendant and London Pendant from the Vern Yip Collection for Stonegate merillat.com; top right, Lynda KitchenAid, kitchenaid.com
Designs, stonegatedesigns.com Fisher, The Countertop Shoppe, LG, lg.com
mycountertopshoppe.com; bottom Maytag, maytag.com
left, Liselotte Kragh of Abita Studio, Miele, mieleusa.com
abitastudio.com; bottom middle, Panasonic, panasonic.com
Masterbrand, masterbrand.com; Samsung, samsung.com
bottom right, Cheryl Kees Clendenon, Sub-Zero, subzero-wolf.com
indetailinteriors.com Thermador, thermador.com
53: left, Tad Hellmann Design, Viking, vikingrange.com
tadhellmann.com; right, KraftMaid, Whirlpool, whirlpool.com
kraftmaid.com Wolf, subzero-wolf.com
Zephyr, zephyronline.com
COUNTERTOPS
54: Cambria Bellingham Countertop COVER
from Waterstone Collection, Photographer: Eric Roth
cambriausa.com Photographer: David A. Land,
Vern Yip inset
56: Meriwether Inc. Architecture & Designer Builders: Main Street at
Design, meriwetherinc.com Botellos, Mashpee, Massachusetts,
mainstreetbotellos.com
OPEN FOR ENTERTAINING
36-37; 38: Farrow Arcaro Design, farrowarcarodesign.ca and Blake Farrow
Project, blakefarrowproject.ca
39: top, Gonterman Construction, gontermanconstruction.com
39: bottom left and right, Dillon Kyle Architects, dkarc.com
41: right, Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com

136 KITCHEN PLANNING & BUYING GUIDE Z ConsumerReports.org


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