Most washing machines in the UK are front-loading models. This is the conventional shape of a washing machine that has a door on the front of the machine and can be installed underneath a work surface.
The alternative is to buy a top-loading machine. These are narrower but cannot be placed underneath as you add clothes via the top of the machine. They’re rare in the UK, so it’s unlikely you’ll have much choice between models.
If you buy a front-loading washing machine you now have to choose between freestanding and integrated.
Freestanding washing machines
Freestanding washing machines are the common type of washing machine that can be placed anywhere as long as they’re connected to a drain and a plug socket. They come in a range of sizes – from 5kg to 12kg capacities - and some models are available in different colours.
Integrated washing machines
Integrated washing machines are also known as built-in washing machines. These machines will be built into your kitchen and a furniture panel will be placed on the front of the machine, so it’ll look like a cupboard. There are fewer integrated models on the market compared to freestanding, so choice is limited and capacities tend to be restricted to the smaller numbers. However, the extra panel on the front of the machine should buffer noise slightly, making for a quieter wash.
Semi-integrated machines are like integrated models but the furniture panel does not cover the controls, so you don’t have to open the door to change the settings or read any displays.
Before buying an integrated washing machine, see if the retailer is able to install integrated modes and how much they charge. Having an integrated model installed is more costly than freestanding, so be sure to factor that price into your buying decision.