How do I know I will get a quality kitchen?

Is the kitchen the high quality they claim it to be?

It looks good, but is the level of quality what the kitchen company claims it to be? How can you find out?

Throughout most cities in Australia there is an abundance of kitchen companies to choose from, complicating the decision making process. If you are after a high quality kitchen, how can you tell if a product is as good as the kitchen company claims?

Start by going to a kitchen showroom and asking someone (preferably the owner or a kitchen designer) a few simple questions:

1) “What are the details of your warranty?”

In the industry, kitchen manufacturers (in fact any qualified builder) must warrant their product and/or workmanship for a minimum of 7 years. If a manufacturer says less than 7 years’ then you know immediately something is wrong. You also need to be aware that warranties can sometimes not be worth the paper it is written on, if extremely long warranties are offered it can be designed to give you a false sense of security and to lure you to ‘sign up’.

Some hardware companies provide a lifetime warranty on their products, in such instances you’d expect that it will be for the life of the entire product. Be careful though, because when you read the fine print the warranty may only covers parts – it may not cover the installation of the part. You will in most cases find that you need a trade specialist to install the part and that will cost you much more than the cost of the part. A replacement hinge for instance may cost between five and ten dollars, the service technician will most likely cost you hundreds of dollars.

Warranties should not be treated as a ‘Dutch auction’ and ‘mine is bigger than yours’. You really need to look into the structure of your supplier and you will soon get a feeling for who you are dealing with. Well established companies with a long and successful track record will without a doubt welcome your service inquiry and deal with it in a professional and speedy manner.

2) “What are your kitchen doors made of?”

It is important to understand not all doors are the same even though at first glance they may look the same. The top of the line is a door with a craftwood (MRMDF or equivalent) substrate coated evenly on all sides in polyurethane. Timber veneer is also a high quality surface.

Polyurethane kitchen door

Best practice: Craftwood door painted on all sides in Polyurethane.

Polyurethane door without the back painted

Common shortcut: Polyurethane door with the white melamine backing left unpainted.

Veneer door sample

Timber veneer door. Slices of wood joined to a substrate of an environmentally friendly wood panel.  

Melamine doors, although cheap, do not have the same durability, cleanability and finish as polyurethane doors, making them a low quality choice for door fronts. Avoid doors coated in plastic film known as “vacuum form” or “vinyl wrap” – we’ve been asked many times to replace kitchen doors supplied by a competitor that have cracked or delaminated (usually to do with prolonged heat or light exposure).

vinyl wrap door sample

Cross-section of a vinyl wrap door showing de-lamination.

3) “Do you make your own kitchens?”

Many kitchen companies since the late 90’s have been closing their factories and filling their showrooms with kitchens made by only a few mega-factories. In doing so kitchen companies have lost the control over quality, putting it in the hands of a 3rd party who has no interest in your happiness. What is also lost is the ability to create something that is unique and tailor-made.

 4) “Do you install your own kitchens?”

Dan Kitchens own installation team

Look for a company who uses it’s own kitchen installation team.  

The difference between a good kitchen and a bad kitchen can often come down to how it was installed. Sub-contracted installers are paid per cabinet, and thus the longer they take to install your kitchen the less money they earn. A rushed job will mean more mistakes, shortcuts, and damaged property. A quality outcome requires an installer who is part of the company, whose goal it is to do the best job, not the quickest job.

 5) Are your designers commission paid?”

Designing a quality kitchen takes time, involving site visits, multiple consultations, presentations and revisions. Again, it is a process that should not be rushed. Not spending enough time designing a kitchen will invariably lead to errors in manufacturer and a kitchen that is impractical to use. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens when you work with a commission paid designer. They are paid a commission per kitchen they sell, and thus the more they sell the more they are paid. Choose a company that pays its designers a salary, this method emphasises quality outcomes.

These are but a few simple questions, but the responses you get will be very informative and will save you many tears from buying an inferior product.

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