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Welcome to the Kitchen Compare Buying Guide, the section where we have collated all of our 'insider knowledge' of the kitchen market, to help you save both time and more importantly money in the search for your dream kitchen. One of the most important things to remember is that spending more on a kitchen does not guarantee a better quality kitchen. In a recent survey by Which? the more expensive kitchen brands did not have the most satisfied customers. On the contrary, the best scoring kitchen retailer was one of the far less expensive national brands.

Never be rushed into a decision

Twenty years ago, almost all kitchens sold in the UK were sold at certain times of the year, like a January Sale, by retailers offering large, sale discounts. Although we do still see this kind of activity today, even as you're reading this, there will be some retailers offering 50% or more off their kitchens. However, an increasing number of the well known national retailers are moving to a transparent 'Every day low price' model, including B&Q, Homebase and IKEA. This means that the price of your kitchen will be the same today as it was three months ago, as it will be in six months time. This is really important, as you're not being forced to rush into a decision because a sale will be ending soon. Rushing into committing to spend thousands of pounds on a kitchen is never the right thing to do.

Smoke and Mirrors

At Kitchen Compare, we use the term smoke and mirrors to describe the tactics of some of the kitchen retailers. This can include a kitchen sale which promises huge discounts, a long as you sign on the dotted line before a certain date. Be aware that retailers that offer high discounts, will always offer high discounts. You may have to wait four weeks, but you can be certain that another promotion, at least as good and sometimes even better, is not too far away. Another tactic employed by some of the kitchen retailers is to avoid giving out price lists. You can get a full kitchen quotation if you're prepared to sit down for one to two hours, but you can't have a printed price list to either take home or download from their website. They do this for two reasons. Firstly, to avoid you comparing their component prices against other retailers and secondly, if you've invested a few hours of your time in getting a full kitchen quotation, you are far more likely to end up buying from that retailer.

Flat Pack v Rigid Construction

This remains one of the leading areas of debate within the kitchen industry. General perception of a flat-pack kitchen cabinet is poorer quality than a rigid one, which has been glued together at the factory. Some retailers play on this, by advertising that their kitchens are rigid and therefore better quality. The truth is really quite different. A flat pack kitchen which has been put together properly will be as strong as a rigid cabinet, can always be glued and just think about the different transportation and storage requirements. A rigid cabinet is simply a wooden box full of air, which is the least efficient and most costly way to transport anything and if you need to store your kitchen cabinets for a while before installation, just think about the amount of space they're going to take up! On the other hand, a flat pack cabinet can be stored and transported flat on a pallet and will be much more efficient and cheaper to transport and store. Many kitchen installers will tell you they prefer flat pack kitchens, as they're easier to work with, can be adjusted if required and a good fitter can assemble a flat-pack in the time it takes to remove the packing from a rigid cabinet!

Hints and Tips when negotiating with a kitchen consultant

Would you believe that buying a new kitchen can be similar to buying a second-hand car? You're probably spending a similar amount of money, you don't really know what discount the retailer may be keeping up their sleeve and the kitchen consultant may have monthly sales targets to achieve. As a result, we always recommend that you negotiate and we mean negotiate on EVERYTHING, not just the cost of your kitchen including the cabinets and worktops, but the cost of installation and even the lighting, flooring and paint, if you're buying everything from the same retailer. With companies such as Magnet and Wren, there's a far greater margin for achieving additional discounts, as opposed to the every day low price retailers such as B&Q, Homebase and IKEA, who have already removed the majority, if not all of the 'fat' from their prices. Even with these retailers, there could be what is referred to in the industry as 'under the table discount', maybe 5% that is waiting there, all you need to do is ask for it.