Free Expert Kitchen Advice – Q & A’s
Hi and welcome to our kitchen questions page. When looking for a kitchen you’ll, no doubt, be left confused by a number of conflicting recommendations. It’s the role of every marketing department to tell you that their brand is the best and rarely will you hear the experiences of installers who fit them day in and day out or the opinions of buyers who’ve used them on a daily basis.. I am happy to help you by offering my kitchen advice based on a long career in kitchens as an installer, to contractor, to Project Consultant and, more recently, as you can see, as a writer.
A number of products float my boat and I am often commissioned by companies to promote certain offerings. In the interest of transparency its important to let you know here that I only promote products I have a passion for and a belief in. That doesn’t prevent me from offering advice or opinion on a number of kitchen related issues you may be having.
I’m an independent kitchen consultant/promoter/writer and all views are my own so my advice representative of no-one but myself.
Below are a selection of real questions from our website visitors and the answers I’ve provided.
Ask your Kitchen Questions
So, feel free to post your question, Whether you’re installing your own kitchen, on a confusing journey to discover what products or services are the best for your project or for anything kitchen related. If I’m able to help you with an answer I will.
Providing free, expert kitchen advice is what the Kitchensfitted website has been doing since 1999 so please fire away!!
Hi I have just had a kitchen bought from & fitted by B&Q. I have free standing dishwasher and slimline dishwasher positioned each side of the sink.
The washing machine to the left, the dishwasher to the right. Both appliances protrude, and the dishwasher door collides with the cupboard door on the to the right.
No problem with fitting of either appliance was mentioned in the surveys carried out by the designer and also the fitter. The fitter told me I would just have to put up with both appliances protruding, so I sent for the Manager as there were also other inevitable snags with the installation.
The Manager can only suggest running a pipe along my outside wall to the soil pipe and wants to carry this out. I don’t know whether this is the correct option ( pipe freezing up in winter?) or if there is another solution. I am at my wit’s end with this!
Can you advise please or at least tell me who to consult as being a female pensioner I don’t know the right way forward.
Many thanks. Merle
There should be no reason whatsoever for your issues and without the luxury of being able to see your design, I can’t determine why the appliances protrude.
I can though, make an assumption and that would be that the waste and water feeds are sited behind them so preventing them sitting in correct alignment with your adjacent cabinets.
There should be no reason why the pipework was not adapted in order to allow the appliances to fit their apertures correctly.
With regards to the managers solution i.e. fit the pipes on an outside wall, then I suspect he is referring to the waste pipes and not the feed pipes so your concern over pipe freezing would only be valid if the feed pipes were sited on an exterior elevation. There are regulations that must be adhered to when fitting a wastepipe to a soil stack on the ground floor but I’m sure that B&Q will be fully aware of these when making any amendments.
I would suggest you allow them to rectify the issues but emphasise that you want the appliances fitted as they are designed to be.
I am really not sure what questions I should be asking when I’m looking for a kitchen. Can you give me some advice?
Well, there are a number of route’s you could follow and without having to reveal a number, it’s good to set yourself a budget first.
That old adage ‘You get what you pay for’ is just as applicable to kitchens as it is to other products but it’s perhaps a little more difficult to distinguish given that the frontages look very similar from one company’s range to another’s.
Buying a car can be a world away from buying a kitchen and with a car the product is there before your eyes with a detailed specifications listting all the components and materials used in it’s manufacture. With a kitchen you have only a display as your yardstick and very rarely will you learn specific details of what materials go into the making of the kitchen. A good sales person will know this so ask and don’t be afraid to keep asking.
Let’s begin with the cabinets first. They are often, mistakenly forgotten by buyers yet these are equivalent to the foundations that ensure your house won’t collapse. Pay a lot of attention to their quality as this is strongly linked to how long your kitchen will last.
Criteria to look for is an 18mm MFC or, better still, MDF construction with ABS protective edgings to the vulnerable exposed, front edges. It’s important too that the back is full height and of solid construction – again my own criteria would be 18mm. If cabinets were available in an Eco-friendly waterproof material then I’d be recommending them to you but as yet, they’re surprisingly not.
You can make savings by purchasing appliances online but certain manufacturers, to keep in favour with their retailers, don’t make them available on t’internet. I have my own favourite’s and by all means, send me an e-mail and I’ll return my recommendations but same rule applies, you get what you pay for.
Lot’s of choices here and much depends on your budget. At the most affordable level, there’s laminate surfaces and some are far better than others. One critical factor for the longevity of a laminate worktop is the quality of it’s correct fitting and great attention should be given to your choice of kitchen fitter to undertake the work.
Solid wood worktops are again a popular choice yet require user maintenance throughout their lifespan to keep them in good shape. Personally, I’d never use them in anything other than a straight line configuration as they don’t joint particularly well given the need for movement under the influence of temperature and humidity changes a busy kitchen is subject to. Solid Wood surfaces require fitting differently to laminates and need to ‘breathe’ to take into account the expansion and contraction the material will be subject to.
At the top of the tree we have bespoke surfaces such as Granite, Solid Surfaces, Quartz and more recently, Ceramic, to mention but a few.
Expect to pay anything between £1,500 and £3,000 for an average sized kitchen and remember to let your chosen kitchen fitter know that he won’t be installing the worktops but needs to synchronise with the worktop fabricator on a schedule. This will help prevent any unnecessary delays. Bespoke surfaces are first templated before being fabricated and a return visit is then required for installation.
There really is no such thing as a scratch proof, stain proof, damage proof worktop that can withstand the heat of a hot pan, or the blade of a sharp knife without some form of protection, so be sure to invest in a steel trivet for hot pans, and a chopping board.
It’s also worth remembering that warranties for all kitchen products including worktops, apply only to manufacturing defects as determined by the manufacturer so I advise all my clients to tag high ticket purchases onto a household insurance policy to protect against any accidental damage.
All of the above can of course be undertaken by a retailer whether an independent or one of the multichannel stores such as those with the ‘You can do it’ or ‘Never knowingly undersold’ slogans.
All provide design consultants but to varying degrees of expertise however there’s no barometer to measure one’s skills against another’s – you will have to be the judge as to whether they tapped into your visions of how your kitchen would look.
Another route, which will require more input on your part is to source your components and services yourself. It’s a task made much easier with the benefit of the WWW at your fingertips and can prove much more rewarding and offering greater design scope than having to buy the limited size cabinets available from the large DIY stores.
There are many great small kitchen manufacturers offering cabinets and doors in tailor made sizes. I’ve used the same kitchen provider for my private projects for many years now. His offerings allow me to be safe in the knowledge that the cabinets are made to the criteria I described above, that I can source a wide range of doors from a variety of suppliers, that I can order any sized cabinet if matched with a made to measure door finish, that he can deliver nationwide so covers all areas and that I can schedule delivery to suit the progress of any preparatory work that a client is undertaking.
Independent designers too can be found offering their services remotely and will generally forward you a questionnaire of your preferences before putting your ideas down in a sketch allowing a couple of drafts before your approval and sign off. It’s then simply a case of presenting that plan to your chosen provider to cost up and give you a delivery schedule.
So, there you have it. Not so confusing as you might think eh?
We’ve decided to have a new kitchen as our existing one has been in since we moved in 20 years ago. Is it just a case of out with the old one and in with the new or do we need to consider any preparatory work before taking the plunge?
I guess the first piece of advice I’d offer anyone contemplating a kitchen remodel it would be to check out all existing services meet the regulations required of a modern kitchen.
Electric and Gas Services
This may mean that your electrical and/or gas services require upgrading. Tradesmen have to be competent and approved to undertake this work so to determine whether your existing services require any adaptations in readiness for your new kitchen be sure to call in an expert. A list of those approved and local to you can be found at the following websites. For gas – http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk and for electrics –http://www.niceic.com
Here’s a list of further recommendations and things to consider.
Ring in the Design Changes
You’ve had the time to discover if you’re existing layout worked well to suit your needs. If you’re
happy with it there’s no need for a redesign but if you can visualise improvements or additions that may make your kitchen more user friendly then pass your ideas on to a designer or, if you feel capable of undertaking it yourself, be certain to take precise measurements of your kitchen to your chosen supplier.
Back in the day, when I first embarked upon my career as a kitchen installer, one thing that really irritated me was installing a new kitchen on to poor plastering. Kitchen salesmen who’d undertaken the survey were just that, they weren’t knowledgeable project managers as many are today. In some cases, the brickwork, particularly in older properties, wasn’t up to scratch.
Ok, it might mean a delay in your schedule and it may mean filling the kettle from your bath tap for a few days but if your walls are in a bad state, remove the old kitchen and make necessary repairs.
Allow sufficient drying time for any plastering required before fitting of your new kitchen.
Flooring – Before or After?
The question of flooring often crops up when considering a new kitchen. Do I fit the new flooring before or after installation? Well personally I’m with the ‘After’ camp on this but either way it doesn’t matter. My reasoning being that there’s a greater possibility of damage to your new floor finish during installation and because of the savings you can make. After all, who’s going to take the time to remove your plinth to admire the lovely flooring under the cabinets?
Nobody likes to see other tradesmen standing on their brand new kitchen cabinets and worktops after it’s been fitted so if you’re having a new lighting scheme or if you’ve decided upon a new colour for your ceiling and walls, make sure this is undertaken before your kitchen is fitted and not afterwards.
Choosing An Installer
Ok, on to my final tip – determining the right person to fit my kitchen.
Well, many can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. There’s no better recommendation than that of an acquaintance, neighbour or family member who’s imparted their satisfactory experience of having their kitchen fitted by a quality professional. If you have the luxury of being able to see their work then that’s all the better. Failing that, there’s no regulatory body to govern those who undertake kitchen fitting, in short, my Aunty Betty could set up as one tomorrow if she so pleases. So, you will have to undertake your own mini investigation as to whether the person on the other end of the phone is going to leave you with a quality job.
Check out their payment terms, determine if they’re members of a respected trade body. Ask to speak with previous clients if this is possible. Do they have any images of projects they’ve completed? If you feel confident that you’ve found the right person, invite them around and ask them more questions relating to your requirements to determine their knowledge.
There’s no foolproof method of ensuring whether a person is the quality kitchen fitter they say they are but if they don’t answer your questions to your satisfaction then move on to the next one. Once you’ve chosen, agree on a schedule and update them on any changes.
Hope these tips prove useful and best of luck with your project.
My new kitchen is now fitted but I’m undecided what to do with the walls above the worktops. What alternatives are there?
There are many alternatives you’ll be pleased to hear. For the traditionalists, tiles remain very popular and are available in a variety of colours and sizes. Although tiles are perhaps the right choice for traditional and period style kitchens they wouldn’t be my choice for a contemporary design. Discolouring of the grout and the greater difficulty of cleaning an uneven surface are the two factors that mark them down below other choices in my opinion.
If your surfaces are laminate you might consider splashbacks of the same material. These are now widely available among the quality worktop providers and if fitted and sealed correctly they prove a more affordable choice that require little user maintenance other than a wipe over with a damp cloth from time to time.
More recently, glass splashbacks are becoming more popular and are available in a wide palette of RAL colours. Toughened glass is the preferred choice and for many cases will require a pre-visit to template.
Templating also applies to Quartz or Solid Surface splashbacks to mention another two choices at your disposal.
It’s important at this point to stress that splashbacks to be fitted behind a cooker or hob, must be non-combustible.
Fitting nicely into the category of splashbacks suitable for use anywhere, is Stainless Steel. Personally on private projects, I have them fabricated around an 18mm MDF Substrate. I have seen the Stainless Steel directly applied to the elevations above the worktop but they look awful so avoid.
Mirror splashbacks are a recent concept that are becoming more popular but I have to say the last thing I want to see is myself cooking up one of my regular disasters for the unfortunate guests who will be eating it.
So, plenty of options to choose from here and best of luck in reaching a decision.
My kitchen was installed 8 years ago and we’re still very happy with it but there are a few scratches and marks on the panels and doors. Is there any ‘kitchen overhaul’ service out there that can bring my kitchen back to it’s former glory ?
You’d be surprised to learn that a large number of new build sites where the apartments or properties have had new kitchens installed are subject to the same issue. You see, once a kitchen installer has finished his work, an army of other trades descend on the kitchens to complete the work. Generally, this means that painters, plasterers, plumbers, electricians and other trades are let loose on a beautiful new kitchen. The result of this onslaught – damage, scratches, stains etc. The answer – well probably the busiest person on a site nowadays is The Magic Man. It’s truly amazing what these guys can do to repair damage to kitchens, worktops and just about every component you could think of.
So, the answer is yes. You can bring it back to it’s former glory but even the Magic Man has his limitations and can’t perform miracles.
I am having a cream gloss kitchen fitted with cream tiles. Can you please advise what colour of granite or quartz will best match. I don’t have alot of light coming into my kitchen. Also can you recommend where to get glass splashbacks as we are thinking of glass splashbacks. I was thinking dark granite/quartz but read it is a nightmare to maintain. Please advise.thank you
Is it Cream Tiles or Glass splashbacks? As for matching the worktop colour, sure there are a number of cream options from the various quartz manufacturers and there are a number of cream granite colours but personally I’d opt for a contrasting worktop colour despite the lack of natural light, LED lighting has come on in leaps and bounds recently and can be located in a variety of positions in modern kitchen design.
Consider also a relatively recent newcomer to the worktops sector, Ceramic work surfaces, are now also available in the UK. Although Ceramic surfaces are available up to a maximum 12mm thickness and can be built upon a subframe to achieve the required thickness. The properties of a ceramic surface include excellent resistance to scratches, heat, and they are non-porous.
Ultimately, there are no hard fast rules in design and what may fit for you may not for another but that matters little as its your kitchen. Glass splashbacks would be my preferred choice but only for the easier task of maintenance. As for recommending a Glass Splashbacks provider, I’m sorry but I can’t recommend any provider unless I’m familiar with the quality of their work or products. There is growing competition out there so there’ll certainly be no shortage of providers to choose from. Good luck with your project and hope my ideas assisted you.
Finding it difficult to choose the flooring for my new kitchen. A friend has installed laminate flooring and it looks really nice and what helps more is that it’s far more affordable than tiles or solid wood. Any thoughts?
Yes I do and they may not prove popular with some suppliers but we’re here to offer advice based on a long experience working in kitchens so our priorities lie in passing that on to our visitors.
Let’s examine first, the kitchen environment, spillages, leaks, mops, more spillages and more leaks. All adds up to the fact that whatever you choose for your flooring, it’s better to be impervious to water and other liquids. So, for me, laminates and woods are out. Needless to say so is carpet, yes I said carpet, don’t look so surprised, I’ve seen it – honest.
For me the ideal choice is a quality vinyl floor such as Amtico or Karndean offer. They are tough, I’ve witnessed an Amtico floor layout totally undamaged looking in new condition after 10 years of fitting, they are water resistant – given their properties, vinyl is impervious to water so no amount of spillages or leaks can penetrate it. Stone, granite and quartz tiles too are a good option but my choice here has to be the vinyl finish.
Send Your Questions for Tim
Have a Kitchen related question?
Please send it to Tim via the form below and he will post the answers for you.