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Howdens fitted kitchens review
What makes Howdens one of the best kitchen suppliers in the UK? In our Howdens kitchens review, we look at the popular trade-only brand’s product offering, service and prices.
Howdens offers great variety, including 25 kitchen designs in a range of colours, all made in Cheshire and Yorkshire. (Image credit: Howdens)
Howdens only allows tradespeople to buy and install its fitted kitchens; you won’t be able to buy directly from Howdens as a consumer. The company values craftsmanship and only trusts tradespeople to install its kitchens, meaning you can take a backseat when it comes to installation and applying the finishing touches.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t deal directly with Howdens at all. You can use the company’s design services and ask them for help linking up with a trusted builder.
Howdens offers great variety, including 25 kitchen designs in a range of colours, all made in Cheshire and East Yorkshire. You can choose between three main styles: handleless, shaker and slab. To finish off your dream kitchen, you can select from several accent features, high-end finishes and modern tones.
The brand’s modern and traditional designs are very appealing. Howdens’ Elmbridge “Dove Grey” kitchen won the “Best Classic Kitchen” award in the 2022 Ideal Home Kitchen Awards, while its Chilcomb In-Frame kitchen in “Navy” and “Pebble” came in as highly recommended.
Howdens cabinets are truly versatile, designed to suit various kitchen sizes and storage needs to create an uncluttered look with optimum practicality. You can choose from a diverse range of stunning colours, and you can even paint some of the ranges yourself.
Design ranges include Allendale, Chelford, Chilcomb, Clerkenwell, Elmbridge, Fairford, Greenwich, Hockley and Witney. Some of these ranges come with different cabinet styles: standard, handleless or in-frame. Finishes include gloss, grained and matt.
You can also choose accessories like wine racks and corner protectors and select appliance packages to complete your kitchen.
Howdens kitchens are available to buy through trade partners as either flat-packed or pre-assembled units. All Howdens kitchens are built around base units, but you can select from a range of different doors, worktops and finishes in a variety of colours and styles to develop your ideal kitchen aesthetic.
Highlights: Howdens kitchens can supply everything you need, from finishes to appliances. You might find Howdens offers more flexible prices, as they supply directly to the trade with generous trade discounts. However, this all depends on your builder.
Warranty: Howdens kitchen cabinets come with a 25-year warranty, while kitchen doors are covered by a five-year warranty.
Cost: £5,000 to £15,000.
Payment options: Speak to your builder about their available payment options.
Key benefit: Howdens sells directly to the trade, so you can enjoy professional installation and high-quality products at potentially competitive prices.
Pros and cons
Deciding on a company to supply your new kitchen can be a difficult choice and one you will have to live with for many years. Each brand offers different products at different prices, and some are better than others in terms of customer experience. Consider the pros and cons of each kitchen supplier before making a decision.
The advantages of buying a Howdens kitchen include:
Variety: Howdens offers a range of attractive kitchen designs in many different colours and styles. You can also add appliances and finishes for a complete kitchen overhaul.
Trade discounts: Howdens does not sell to the public but offers traders very attractive discounts that can be passed on to customers. However, this isn’t guaranteed and you should make sure you are working with a fair and trustworthy builder.
Warranty: Howdens kitchens come with a 25-year warranty, giving you confidence in their longevity.
Expert advice: You can have your kitchen professionally designed by a Howdens designer. They can even help you find a trusted tradesperson to install your kitchen.
Buying your kitchen from Howdens could have some disadvantages, including:
Trade only: Howdens products can only be purchased by tradespeople who have an account with the company. You can’t buy directly from Howdens as a consumer.
Lack of price transparency: Howdens sells directly to the trade, not to consumers. As a result, the price of a Howdens kitchen isn’t always transparent. Some consumers have raised concerns about high markups on cheap appliances and different builders giving wildly different price quotes.
Howdens is unique in that it doesn’t sell directly to the public. You’ll need to find a tradesperson, like a builder or carpenter, to buy and install your kitchen for you.
Howdens recommends browsing their product range and speaking to a builder before working with an in-house Howdens designer to create plans for your ideal kitchen. You, your builder and your Howdens designer can work together to finalise the plans. Then, your builder will purchase the products directly from Howdens, ready for installation.
Don’t worry if you’re struggling to find a tradesperson to work with – Howdens can point you in the right direction and provide recommendations. Alternately, you can find a reliable, local builder with our Find a Builder tool.
The process of purchasing a Howdens kitchen differs from other kitchen brands. The company’s pricing is also less transparent. In general, working with Howdens is considered, according to feedback found in customer reviews, to be one of the pricier options for purchasing and installing a new kitchen.
A comparable brand would be British Standard, as you’d also need to work with a tradesperson to install your kitchen. The difference is that you can buy the range online as a consumer, so you can carry out the whole project yourself if you prefer.
British Standard cabinetry is high quality, handmade and Georgian-inspired. Cupboards arrive primed for customers to paint and customise, making it perfect for DIY enthusiasts and those looking for something a little more bespoke. Like Howdens, British Standard is quite expensive and offers a limited product range.
Look at Magnet kitchens if you’re interested in a premium kitchen brand without the blank-canvas approach. Magnet offers a variety of designs, colours and finishes plus full-service design and installation. Magnet kitchens aren’t cheap by any means, but there are lots of high-quality options and a simple process which we believe justifies the price tag.
How much do Howdens kitchens cost?
Howdens only offers trade pricing, which makes it hard to determine exactly what they charge.
Ultimately, the price you pay for a Howdens kitchen depends on the tradesperson you work with. Builders can offer their customers competitive prices, depending on the discount they get from Howdens. They may or may not pass this on to you – some might even add a markup to their prices. We recommend getting a few different quotes to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
We’ve examined online customer reviews to get an idea of the cost of a Howdens kitchen. It seems a standard kitchen can cost anywhere between £5,000 to £15,000, depending on the builder used and products installed.
Here’s how Howdens pricing compares to other UK kitchen brands:
Cost of unit (excluding installation)
£5,000 to £15,000
£1,879 to £6,918
Howdens Chelford kitchen design with stove top. (Image credit: Howdens)
How to maintain your Howdens kitchen
Howdens’ solid wood kitchen worktops require a good deal of care to keep them in tip-top condition. You need to regularly treat your worktops with oil to keep them free from rings, burns and water damage. (Worktops should also be oiled before and after installation.) You’ve reached optimal oil saturation when water bubbles to the top.
Your wooden countertops could stain quite easily if you don’t carry out this type of maintenance. If you don’t feel up to the challenge, opt for granite, marble or laminate instead, especially if you plan on renting your house in the future. Your contractor should be able to provide advice about compatible worktops.
What the professionals say
“Howdens Joinery, Britain’s biggest manufacturer and supplier of fitted kitchens, has been accused of helping builders exploit unsuspecting consumers by producing estimates that bear no relation to the true price of a kitchen. The supplier recently produced three wildly different itemised estimates for one Hertfordshire family that varied from £9,916 to £44,895. Yet all three estimates relate to exactly the same set of modest kitchen units and appliances. So on the £44,895 estimate, for example, a Howdens 1600RPM integrated washing machine is listed as costing £1,291.99, yet on the £9,916 estimate, the price of the same machine has plummeted to £380. And it’s a similar story to the other listed items. So how can the price of white goods and kitchen cupboards vary so dramatically?”
“Howdens says it believes in good craftsmanship above all things and sells only to tradespeople as they have the expertise to install its kitchens well. You can get design and planning advice from Howdens but will need to find an installer to buy and fit your kitchen. There are more than 75 kitchen designs to choose from, including handleless and shaker styles in a range of colours.”
“Howdens quality is no better than B&Q in that quite often the carcasses are not square; they are edge-banded with 0.8mm wafer-thin melamine. This means the front edges of the carcases are easily damaged when you put away saucepans, glass dishes etc. DIY Kitchens use 2.5mm ABS plastic edge bandings which are far more hard-wearing.
Howdens Laminate worktops may well still be supplied by Axiom, which is pants in terms of quality. DIY and others use Duropal, which have a thicker melamine surface and are far more hard-wearing.”
“Great store, very friendly staff. Hannah was amazing at designing our kitchen and listening to exactly what we needed. The staff have been great, making sure everything goes smoothly. I would highly recommend it.”
“From start to finish, it was a pleasure to meet you all at Great Yarmouth. Sam was excellent; they did all the sketches and gave us a great deal. I know it’s a trade only, but if you haven’t used them before, it is worth a look. What have you got to lose?”
“Howdens in Folkestone are a company to avoid. They delivered our kitchen provided from their plans. They sent the wrong size corners for our corner cupboard doors; they forgot the two large backboards we needed. When this was pointed out to them, they ordered the wrong items, and we had to wait even longer. The kitchen fitter was tearing his hair out. They completely forgot to order the corner pieces needed. We have high ceilings, so I wanted taller wall cupboards. Howdens cheat in that their taller floor cupboards have a tiny little box on the top which is completely useless for storage. Can’t say we were impressed with the quality of the units either for the price we paid. IN all, DO NOT USE THEM. It was a real headache.”
Howdens offers an interesting range of kitchens with attractive designs and numerous colour options. The brand’s paintable cupboard doors are unique (with the exception of British Standard) and give you even more freedom to customise your kitchen.
The fact that Howdens only sells to the trade is a significant drawback for some people. It means the buying process can be a little more complicated, plus pricing is opaque and inconsistent. Having said that, many homeowners opt to use trusted installers anyway, so it might not make much difference to you.
If you want to have your dream kitchen installed professionally, Howdens’ quality products and beautiful ranges are a great choice.
We’re passionate about reviewing brands and products accurately. This review was compiled by reading thousands of customer reviews, as well as technical documentation, media articles and professional forum discussions.
We then compiled and rated Howdens using a scoring system totalling 100 points. The scoring system evaluated the following:
The quality of the units (loading shelves, drawers, runners, hinges and worktops for three points each), for a total of 15 points;
The availability of an in-house designer, for a total of five points;
The availability of an in-house installer, for a total of five points;
The number of ranges, colours and designs, for a maximum of five points each and a total of 15 points;
The availability and length of warranty, for a total of 15 points;
The cost, for a total of 10 points;
Customer reviews and star ratings (Trustpilot, Google and Reviews.io), for a total of 15 points;
Payment options, for a total of 10 points; and
The number of local showrooms, shops and installers, for a total of 10 points.