Buyer's Guide \ What is a Built-In Dishwasher?

What is a Built-In Dishwasher?

Those shopping for a new dishwasher should understand what a built-in dishwasher is, the benefits of this kitchen appliance, and whether it is the right choice for them.

Built-in dishwashers are permanently installed into a kitchen’s existing structure1. They are a popular choice because they can enhance the style of your kitchen and come with features designed to make cleaning up after a meal less stressful.

This article may help you determine if a built-in dishwasher is right for your household by comparing free-standing vs. built-in dishwashers and exploring the key points of each, such as the different types, the pros and cons, and more.

How Do the Various Types of Built-in Dishwashers Differ?

You will most often find built-in dishwashers in kitchens across Canada.

They tend to be somewhat shallower and can be installed flush to the cabinets in a standard cut-out. Certain models are panel-ready so you can match your dishwasher to your cabinets and solidify your kitchen’s aesthetic. Don’t forget that non-flush will protrude approximately 1/2″ (1 cm).

Countertop or portable dishwashers are designed for smaller spaces, whether it’s a tight kitchen or a trailer.

Portable dishwashers can be easily moved in and out of the kitchen.

The good news is that most kitchens can accommodate either a built-in or a free-standing dishwasher. The decision comes down to your preference and the layout of your kitchen.

Free-standing dishwashers have finished sides and a finished top so you can place them anywhere in your kitchen.

The Pros of a Built-in Dishwasher

A few of the pros of a built-in dishwasher include:

  • Tall Tub configuration can accommodate certain taller items.
  • Built-in dishwashers are designed so that they can fit under counters and between cabinets, creating a uniform look.
  • There are built-in models available that are panel-ready to match existing kitchen cabinets.

The Cons of a Built-in Dishwasher

Built-in dishwashers need permanent plumbing installation, which means owners may be saddled with upfront costs, including but not limited to hiring a plumber.

Another con is that you could lose some cabinet space. This is especially important to consider if you have a small kitchen where every inch counts.

Are All Built-in Dishwashers the Same Size?

Built-in residential dishwashers are not all the same size. They are either 18″ (about 46 cm) or 24″ (about 60 cm).

To determine which size is right for your kitchen, consider the following:

  • A width of 18” is best for smaller kitchens or for households that run the dishwasher less frequently. 
  • A width of 24” is typically a good option for large households, especially ones that use their dishwasher more frequently.

Fully-Integrated vs. Semi-Integrated Built-in Dishwashers

With semi-integrated dishwashers, the controls are visible, always accessible and flush with the door. The cycle process is displayed via exterior status lights.

With fully-integrated dishwashers, the controls are hidden from view. Immediate feedback is communicated via status lights that feature an exterior cycle indicator.

Frequently Asked Questions About Built-in Dishwashers

Review these frequently asked questions about built-in dishwashers:

Are built-in dishwashers hard-wired?

Yes, built-in dishwashers are hard-wired. This means that prior to shopping, you need to confirm that your home’s electrical output has all the installation requirements (a grounded electrical outlet and a dedicated 15-amp circuit, to name just two). You should never use an extension cord or adapter. Lastly, always follow your appliance and product use and care and installation instructions before beginning any task.

Is a cabinet required for a built-in dishwasher?

Built-in dishwashers are usually put underneath counters and between cabinets for a seamless look. The other option is a panel-ready model, designed to let you match your dishwasher to your cabinets.

For additional information on dishwashers, check out our buying guide here.

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