Quartz is the top-performing material in our countertop tests, and it's also where we're seeing some of the most innovative designs. That was apparent at the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in New Orleans, where Silestone Suede, a quartz countertop with a soft, leathery finish was among the more head-turning products. The only catch? The surface may require extra care and attention, which negates the very attribute that makes quartz our top countertop.
With farmer's markets and produce stands about to burst, now is the time to pick up a new blender. Besides mixing up a season's worth of smoothies, you can experiment with whole-food juicing, whereby all or most of the fruits and vegetables are blended to a refreshing, vitamin-packed drink. Too healthy sounding? The following picks from our latest blender tests will also make a killer margarita.
Saving money on major appliances and kitchen countertops can take some sleuthing but who doesn't like discovering a deal? Good timing helps. Watch for major retailers to discount refrigerators, laundry appliances, and more around Memorial Day. Our own digital digging turned up six ways to save.
Our washing test for dishwashers is grueling, with 10 place settings slathered with egg yolks, peanut butter, raspberry jam, and other goo left to harden overnight before we run a cycle. We expect a range of results from utterly spotless dishes to those with bits of food still stuck to them. What we didn't expect was a load of items that stayed dirty because the soap dispenser didn't open.
As refrigerators have gotten bigger and better—often boasting more than 30 cubic feet of claimed capacity and neat features like LCD displays and seltzer water dispensers—prices have also increased. Nearly half of the 60-plus models on our list of recommended refrigerators cost $2,000 or more, and you can easily spend many times that on a pricey built-in. But there are also plenty of less-expensive, yet still high-performing models to choose from. Here are five to consider if money is a concern.
Maybe you've downsized from a big house in the burbs to a smaller city condo. Or you're a DINK—that's "double income, no kids" household—who has made the switch from renting to owning. Whatever the case, if you live in an apartment you need a refrigerator sized to fit a modest kitchen. Fortunately, manufacturers have been rolling out more models aimed at this market that don't skimp on features. Here are five to consider from Consumer Reports' latest refrigerator tests.
With more and more delay-start options to choose from on today's dishwashers, you might assume that a cycle called "overnight" would be quiet enough not to disturb your slumber. But when Consumer Reports tested the overnight cycle on the Whirlpool WDF735PABB, not only did it take as long as a decent night's sleep, almost seven hours, but it was noisy too.
New cabinets can make a huge impact on your kitchen—and an equally huge dent in your budget. Consumer Reports' surveys have shown that readers who hired contractors paid an average of roughly $9,000 for new cabinets, with about a quarter of them spending more than $15,000. It's usually the biggest single investment you'll make in your project. The good news: Many once-premium features, such as dovetail joints, have moved down to lower-priced stock cabinets, available as near as your local big-box store.
Noisy dishwashers aren't a bother if your kitchen is separated from the rest of your living area. But that isn't the case with most homes today where open plans are the preferred configuration. That's why dishwasher manufacturers put a premium on quietness, a feature they tout loudly in their ads. At Consumer Reports we put two newly tested dishwashers side-by-side and recorded the noise. One washed with a whisper but the other was like that boring dinner guest who drones on and on never letting anyone else get a word in.
The first refrigerator to dispense hot water has just nabbed a spot on Consumer Reports' recommended list of French-door bottom-freezers. The new GE Café CFE29TSDSS French-door fridge rode excellent temperature control and energy efficiency into our winner's circle. But it's the 36-inch-wide refrigerator's innovative dispenser that truly sets it apart from the pack.
High-end cabinets offer a wide variety of storage accessories, including roll-out shelves, vertical sliding spice racks, and small appliance lifts. But you don't have to rip out your existing storage to get those clutter-busting extras: You can buy and install them yourself and save thousands over a kitchenful of new cabinets.
Appliance manufacturers regularly update their top-of-the-line products with new technology and fresh design elements—and pass the expense of each "improvement" along to the consumer, of course. Some of these upgrades do in fact deliver the added convenience they promise, but others may not be good enough to pay more for. Here's a rundown of features to consider and those to skip:
No matter how carefully you treat your nonstick frying pan, the day will come when it loses its slickness and your once beautiful omelets turn into a mess. After the pan becomes scratched and damaged, replacing it is the best option. If you're doing that every two or three years, you probably don't want to pay top dollar for a new skillet. In Consumer Reports new tests of 10-inch frying pans we found three nonstick top picks including a Calphalon for $40 that's a Best Buy. We also tested four uncoated frying pans but none rose to the level of recommended.
Need more room in the refrigerator? A couple of newcomers to Consumer Reports' tests of French-door refrigerators should deliver. With claimed 33-cubic-foot capacities, the Kenmore Elite 72093, $3,400, and the LG LFX33975ST, $3,000, are the largest refrigerators on the market. For all that storage, you might expect some trade-offs in the same way supersized automobiles tend to be less fuel efficient than compact models. But in fact, the Kenmore and LG are top performers, with nearly the highest scores in our Ratings of 260 refrigerators.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: