How to Choose Stainless Steel Appliances

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Stainless Steel appliances are all the rave for those building or remodeling their kitchen. This article tells you everything you need to know about choosing the best in appliances.

  • As you plan your ideal kitchen you soon realize there are thousands of choices, not only in cabinets and countertops, but in fixtures and appliances as well. We have more choices today than ever and making the right decisions can be daunting, even to a seasoned veteran. As a designer I have almost reduced adults to tears as we discussed the many options, colors, and products.

    As with anything else, the devil is always in the details and those last few pieces will either make or break the look in your new kitchen. What kind of appliances should I choose? I like the look of stainless steel, but what are the negatives? Should my faucet match my appliances, my sink, or be totally different? All of these decisions can prove to be mind numbing. Let's discuss some practical approaches to these issues.

  • Stainless steel appliances- the pros and cons
    Stainless steel appliances are currently all the rage. They tend to give your kitchen a sleek, clean look. Even something as simple as stainless produces a ton of different choices. Be sure to know your product. Appliances come in various grades, from high grade stainless to a painted on stainless look.

    As you probably know, the major issue with stainless is finger prints. I bought my first stainless refrigerator years ago when the French door first became popular. I lived alone and yet I battled finger prints every day. I was sure my neighbors were using my refrigerator while I was away at work! With some stainless you can clean the prints and as the humidity changes more will appear. The good news is that most manufacturers now have a finger print resistant steel that all but eliminates the problem.

  • Stainless appliances should match

    Another important issue with stainless appliances is matching your refrigerator, dishwasher, range, and microwave. Unfortunately, manufacturers rarely do an entire series in the same stainless. Look carefully before you buy to ensure the pattern is the same and that the handles on all appliances match.

    Stainless appliances usually cost up to a hundred dollars more per item. Remember, you pay for the look you want and doing a little research pays off, with best prices for quality products. The life cycle for appliances has shortened dramatically in recent years. Nothing lasts as long as in the past. Paying more for a quality product will ensure that you get more "bang for your bucks."

  • Where do I start in appliance selection?

    The best place to start in selecting your appliances is with your refrigerator. If you want stainless your choices change with the options you choose. The French-door look, with under mount freezer and a large two door refrigerator compartment is currently very popular. Want water and ice in the door? Your options shrink dramatically. If you need counter depth, again your options diminish.

    Realize that normally a refrigerator is 30" deep and your cabinets are 24" deep. A regular refrigerator will come out into the room much further than your cabinets and counter tops. This is especially problematic near a door way. Many opt for the counter depth models (24", 27", and 28" depths) to give a more built in look. Caution: In selecting counter depth refrigerators, be sure that ample clearance for doors opening and closing is allowed. Doors must open more than 90 degrees if slide out shelves and drawers are to work properly. If designing a new kitchen or remodel be sure the designer allows enough clearance.

    Find the refrigerator that you want with the stainless steel pattern and then match the other appliances to it. All appliances should have the same decorative trims. Example: the black trim and matching handles should complement each other. While they do not need to all be by the same manufacturer, it is a nice added touch.

    If you are replacing your cabinets, make sure your designer gives at least 36" (preferably 39") for the refrigerator. Do not design a space for your current 33" refrigerator. Limiting the space will limit future choices and in addition may seriously hurt the resale of your house.

    Choose an appliance color with long term appeal. We have all suffered through years with avocado green and harvest gold. These were fad choices that are sometimes hard to replace. Stainless, white, black, and bisque (to a lesser degree) are safe choices.

  • Matching faucets, sinks, and cabinet hardware

    The first rule of decorating is not to over do any one aspect. A blend or harmony of materials makes for a warmer, more inviting look.

    The sink does not necessarily need to match the appliances. Stainless sinks have distinct advantages and some disadvantages. First, never use a stainless sink that is higher than 20 gauge. The number represents the thickness the steel. 18 gauge, while more expensive, is preferable. The major advantage of a stainless sink is that it will not stain and is easily cleaned. The disadvantage is that after several years they tend to loose their sheen and look a bit dull.

    Other sink options include cast iron, enamel, and composite. Cast iron sinks are extremely heavy and the only advantage is that they tend to retain heat. In a day where few people hand wash dishes, the disadvantage of the weight and difficulty to install far outweigh the advantage.

    New granite composite sinks provide a nice look when under mounted with granite and quartz. They are easy to clean and do not stain as easily. Their matte finish provides a welcome contrast in a kitchen where everything is high gloss. They are available in several bowl configurations.

    If you have a problem deciding on how to coordinate all of these items, consult an interior designer or home store designer or appliance associate. They are well trained in the art of matching items to your specifications. Make your selections early in the process of remodeling. The pressure of last minute decisions may mean disappointing results.

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