stainless vs. wood panel refrigerator

poolwebberAugust 1, 2013

We are doing a traditional style remodel with raised panel cabinets. (We just don't like modern even though it is the #1 trend right now). We're trying to decide between stainless and wood panel for the refrigerator. (Subzero 736TCI or Liebberr HCB2062). We're paneling the dishwasher but not sure about the refrigerator. If anyone has thoughts to share, we would greatly appreciate your input!

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We recently faced the same decision and elected to go with the panel ready Thermador (top CR rated built-in along with Jennifer Air for what it's worth).

For us it came down to dents, streaks and finger prints. We currently have a ss fridge and are constantly cleaning kid messes up. The opposing argument was that ss would break up the monotony of cabinet color as does our ss range and we could match the pro style handle.

One thing we found surprising was the price if appliance pulls. We finally found one that matched our favorite RH pulls (RH doesn't make appliance pulls). The panel ready fridge was cheaper but when you add in the cost of the panel and pull it was a bit more expensive overall. Luckily I have a relative that works at Siemens so we get an employee discount. Thermador has a pretty good promotion going on right now if you have any interest in their ranges/cooktops etc

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 10:54AM
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We had a wood paneled Sub-zero in our old place and it was fine. We will probably do a wood paneled Liebherr in this house.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 11:37AM
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I opted to go with a stainless fridge because my fridge is not on a prominent wall as you enter the kitchen and the custom wood panels for my side by side fridge were pricey. Also, I Plan to have my kitchen cabinetry longer than the useful life of any fridge and the panels are not inter changeable.

I did get a dishwasher panel.

Tough decision, good luck.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 11:44AM
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I prefer the look of appliances being appliances. The fridges you're considering are beautiful on their own. I may be in the minority, but I don't like scanning a kitchen and going, where's the fridge?

It's just me in my kitchen, but opening and closing the fridge doors by the handle really minimizes fingerprints and smears on stainless.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 11:59AM
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I think it depends on the surroundings, placement, style, and size of the kitchen. We have a small 10'x10' kitchen and the refrigerator is pretty much dead center, and visible from two other rooms, so an exposed one would be like an elephant in the room. We had a wood paneled Amana semi-built in that served us well for almost 29 years, and just recently replaced it with a Liebherr fully integrated which we love. However, stainless can look very good in large, more contemporary kitchens.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 12:45PM
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I on the bandwagon of it depends on its surroundings. My fridge is on a wall with my ovens and microwave, so going SS there just fits with the rest of the wall. If it was with just cabinetry I may have gone the direction of the panel.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 1:42PM
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We have had a SS Liebherr fridge for 5 years and I hated all the fingerprints and smudges for all those years. We will still use it in the breakfast room but I paneled the new Sub-Zero for this remodel.

I feel it was one of the best decisions, especially having a small child around. If you decide to panel, you can always get an extra piece of the wood (that you are using for the panels), large enough to fit the cabinet opening width-wise but taller than current fridge. (I have noticed that fridges tend to get a little taller. When our old fridge broke, there wasn't any other fridge on the market to fit the opening, they were all at least 1.5" taller.)

This way, you'll have the material for new panels if you have to replace the fridge before the next remodel. I know it is an extra expense but may be well worth it.

Also, there is a *rumor* of SS becoming "outdated". I know that many KDs said time and again that is is not going to happen as nobody has been able to come up with a good alternative. But, having been in love with SS for 10 years, I am now really tired of it and don't want to see any large chunks of it in the room.

Just my 2 cents...

Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 2:02PM
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I'm already tired of SS and I don't even have any!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 2:30PM
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I think SS LOOKS pretty (I love bright, shiny things, lol) but a SS fridge is an absolute PITA to keep clean, especially with children. My 2, and their army of hungry friends, completely scum it up every time they troop into the kitchen. I mean, honestly, are they LICKING the doors??? :) Anyway, I want to replace my SS fridge with a paneled one, but since our house is

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Pledge in the yellow and brown can is the savior on fingerprints on stainless. Try that before you commit to a wood paneled fridge. That wood paneling adds about 1-2K on average to the job. In addition to the cost of the fridge. Plus, I'm in the camp that doesn't see anything shameful about a fridge that it needs to be hidden. Even though I fully appreciate the artistry of something like a Mick DeGuilio "armoire" fridge, I prefer guests to be able to find the fridge without asking. ;)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 3:32PM
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Wow thank you so much everyone for all your help! Thank you for pointing out all the pros and cons...this is the best forum!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 6:00PM
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You can have a paneled fridge without integrating one.

I have an ice dispenser on my paneled Gaggenau. It is quite obvious where it is.

I did not panel it because I was ashamed or felt it needed to be hidden just did not want so much SS at eye level.

With the money saved from forgoing SS panels I spent on the wood ones. Most people buying panel ready built-in refrigeration are buying very expensive cabinets. I bought the least expensive USA made that had white maple panels. If painting vs staining the maple can have some color imperfections and still look good. Therefore much cheaper.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 9:03PM
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I personally prefer a paneled fridge because it makes the kitchen look more streamlined and is more practical than trying to keep the SS smudge free.
My only problem is that paneled fridges are so expensive in the US.
Any advice on a less expensive model?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 9:56AM
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I am having Stainless Sub Zero freezer drawers, ss dishwasher, and a wood panel all Refrigerator by Sub Zero. It is a mix of finishes. I felt the frig was too big to look at all that stainless in the final design. If I had been able to have my original idea, I would have used ss frig and ss freezer.

I think the cost evens out between ss and wood in this particular brand. My only concern is the weight of the full length door. I wanted the mechanics on top, otherwise I really liked a door and drawers on the same appliance.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 8:52PM
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