Kitchen buying guide
In many homes, the kitchen is a central place of communication: this is where the family meets to eat. The children do their homework while their mother cooks and guests always end up in the kitchen by midnight at the latest. Or it is simply a room for storing and quickly preparing a small dish. It is important to consider the function of a kitchen before buying it.
General quality criteria for fitted kitchens:
- All edges must be neatly finished and must not have any gaps at the edges. Rounded edges are optimal.
- The shelves are coated on all six surfaces, not only on the visible surfaces.
- Ask the salesperson whether the shelves can withstand a weight of 50 kg/m2.
- Does the kitchen have many combination possibilities (system kitchen) and is it expandable?
- Are there enough interior fittings and functions (e.g. full-extension pull-outs, towel rails, waste separation systems)?
- Look for tests and verifiable results! The RAL quality mark for furniture is a good guide to tested quality.
- Also look out for the furniture store's own brands, as no reputable furniture store can afford to offer a poor-quality kitchen as its own brand in the long run.
Workflow and ergonomics:
- The so-called "work triangle" makes sense for a smooth workflow in the kitchen. Clockwise from left to right, three basic functional areas follow one another: storage (cupboards and fridge/freezer), food preparation (sink and worktops), cooking and baking (cooker, oven and shelves).
- Left-handed people get along better when they work from right to left.
For easy kitchen work that is easy on the back, the individual
- the individual work stations should be arranged sensibly one behind the other,
- the distances should be kept as short as possible,
- the height of the work surface should be adapted to the height of the user,
- heavy objects should be placed at a maximum height of the shoulder joint,
- frequently used objects are available at a convenient height,
- there is sufficient freedom of movement when cupboards are open,
- there should be seating in the kitchen, and
- good lighting should be provided everywhere.
To determine the right height for the worktop, you should bend your forearm horizontally forward with your upper arm resting on it and then leave 15 cm of space between your arm and the worktop!
- Ideally, the hob should be about 5 - 10 cm lower than this initial value.
- The top edge of the sink is best 5 cm above the worktop.
- The worktop for preparing should be about 9 cm above the initial value.
What materials are available for the kitchen?
- Solid wood kitchens are rarely offered because the kitchen furniture is exposed to great stresses such as temperature changes, wetness, chemicals, impacts, etc. For this reason, these kitchens and veneered fronts (furniture carcasses whose surface is covered with a thin layer of wood) must be protected with a particularly resistant lacquer.
- In so-called organic furniture, the surface is not lacquered but oiled or waxed. This makes the surface less resistant to water vapour.
- Carcases made of chipboard and MDF (medium density fibreboard) are often used for kitchen furniture. Chipboard has the advantage that it is easily washable and relatively insensitive due to an additional laminate coating.
- Multilayer boards are also often used. These can usually be recognised by the clearly lacquered edges, where the differently coloured wood layers can be seen. In terms of price, multilayer boards lie between chipboard and MDF boards.
The surface of the fronts essentially consists of three materials:
- Plastic foils are very easy to clean as they can simply be cleaned with water and household cleaners. However, foils scratch more easily than melamine-based laminate surfaces (so-called duroplastics).
- Laminates (CPL, HPL) are more resistant than foils but also not completely scratch-free. Phenolic resin paper, decorative paper and an overlay (a natural transparent paper) are glued to a carrier board.
- The melamine resin coating consists of paper layers impregnated with synthetic resins and pressed onto carrier boards (e.g. chipboard) under heat.
In addition to the surfaces described, other materials can be considered for kitchen worktops:
- Plastic-bonded mineral worktops are very hard-wearing and easy to clean. The resin material enables seamless surfaces and seamless transitions to tabletops and sinks. Should the top ever get scratched, you can sand the surface. The price for this advantage: about 450 € per running metre of worktop.
- Unlike the soft stones marble and travertine, granite worktops are heat-resistant and cut-resistant. However, if, for example, an oily pot base is left on the worktop overnight, polished granite can also discolour. A surface sealed with lacquer is sensitive to scratches!
- Wooden worktops are also somewhat sensitive. However, damage and stains can be removed to a certain extent by sanding and emery.
- With glazed ceramic tiles, it should be noted that they can splinter when hit by heavy, hard objects. It is also often not possible to ensure adequate hygiene because the joints are difficult to clean.
Safety for children:
- To prevent children from pulling down pots with hot contents, there should be a protective grille or railing on the hob. You can also have this installed later.
- You can prevent your children from switching on the hob or oven uncontrollably by moving the switch panel to the worktop or to the wall unit.
- Cooking zones that light up red on a glass ceramic hob signal "Attention - hot!
- On modern hobs, a pot detection system ensures that a cooking zone is switched off if there is no pot on it.
- Oven doors can get up to 85° C - this is not only too hot for children's hands! However, there are also oven doors where the viewing window remains much cooler during operation so that there is no risk of burns.
- An oven built into a tall cabinet offers additional safety as it is out of reach of small children.
Checklist for kitchen planning:
Is there any preparatory work to be planned?
- New floor
- New wall tiles
- New installations
- Structural changes, e.g. an opening to the living room
- Number of people in the household
- How tall is the person who works most in the kitchen?
- Are there pantries or storage rooms outside the kitchen?
- Do you want to do other work in the kitchen e.g. washing machine, dryer?
- Do you need to plan for a broom/vacuum cleaner cupboard?
- Would you like to be able to eat in the kitchen? How many seats do you need all the time?
- Can cabinets be built up to the ceiling?
Refrigeration and freezing:
- Refrigerator (x litres volume) with integrated freezer compartment (x litres volume)
- Free-standing or built-in appliance
- Separate freezer (x litres volume)
- Fridge / freezer combination
Cooking / baking / microwave:
- Oven and hob in one appliance under worktop
- Oven and hob separate
- Oven (with switch panel) installed high up
- Cooking hob lowered / pulled forward / as island
- Cooking hob in stainless steel / glass ceramic / enamel / ceramic
- Individual cooking elements
- Decorative / hidden extractor hood
- Exhaust air (with outlet to the open air) / recirculating air / supply air
- Microwave in tall unit / integrated in wall unit
- Microwave as single appliance / in combination with oven
- Oven with grill
- Dishwasher 45 / 60 cm wide, in base or tall unit (installation height)
- Single bowl sink with residual basin and draining board
- Two-bowl sink with residual basin and draining board
- Sink with waste chute
- Single-lever mixer tap / double-lever mixer tap
- Fitting with pull-out shower hose
Sink base cabinet:
- Hot water heater as instantaneous water heater / storage unit
- Waste collector in the sink base unit
- Waste separation (number of separation containers)
- Cleaning agent pull-out in the sink base unit
- Sink base cabinet lockable
Small appliances / work equipment:
- Coffee and espresso machine
- Electric kettle
- Mixer / Blender / Food processor
- Bread slicer
- Egg boiler
- Juicer, citrus juicer
- Grain mill
- Electric can opener
- Kitchen clock
- Chopping block / chopping board freestanding
- Chopping board on worktop
- Knife holder
- Paper roll holder
Dining area in the kitchen:
- Number of persons for daily meals / with visitors
- Dining table with corner bench / with normal chairs
- Dining counter / bar stools / extendable table (also as a seated workstation)
- Line lights under the wall units
- Single spotlights on the ceiling
- Is there a re-purchase option in case of moving or damage? How long is the repurchase guarantee valid?
- Are child-proofing measures necessary?
Tips for the safety of your children in the kitchen:
- Store small electrical appliances such as toasters, coffee makers etc. in a locked cupboard or only use electrical appliances where you have to press a button or open a lock before the appliance works.
- If you do not use an under-sink appliance for hot water preparation, you can connect a thermostatic tap to the sink. This allows you to set the highest water temperature in advance and thus protect the child from scalding.
- It is best to provide your child with a drawer of safe children's cookware near the floor. Then the adults' dangerous things are not so tempting.
The guidebook of the Federal Environment Agency - download now as an e-book for free!