This is an except from the May 2011 issue of Consumer Report’s Magazine:
Here’s our review of the top-performing products for your home’s exterior and interior, for yourkitchen, and for laundry and cleaning from more than a thousand tested over the last year. In the Best & Worst sections we’ve included many of our best-value everyday products, such as lightbulbs and laundry detergents, so you’ll know what to buy and what to avoid. And don’t miss our look back at some of the biggest busts from 75 years of product testing, which you’ll find in The Way We Were. (Click on each product category below to access the Ratings chart.)
Home exterior & interior
These products will help you get your home, both inside and out, in shape and even help you save time and money. Also check out our look back at a 2005 report on air purifiers. (All links below are available to subscribers.)
Dim bulbs aren’t a bargain, no matter how efficient they are. A 60-watt incandescent gives off roughly 850 lumens (the measure of brightness). Pick a replacement CFL that offers comparable output. Many of our picks match the soft-white light of traditional bulbs.
After a year outdoors, these decking products were holding up well, with little sign of sagging, flexing, and mildew. Color change was worst with wood, though treating the surface with one of our recommended deck stains helps. Color can vary by batch, so buy materials from one lot. Buy wood in 16-foot lengths to avoid extra joints that invite rot.
Pulling moisture from indoor air is simple enough. These dehumidifiers do that task using less energy than the others we tested. Large-capacity models (60 to 70 pints per day) remove moisture more quickly than models with a 25- to 40-pint capacity. The fans on the Danby models remain on until the water tank is filled, which some users might find annoying.
A long-lasting finish is a must for exterior paints and stains. But to make this list, products must also resist dirt and mildew. Valspar’s DuraMax Satin paint also saves time by eliminating the need to prime bare surfaces, and the aptly named California paint is good for surfaces that receive a lot of sun. The stains below are solid and always last longer than semi-transparent or clear formulas.
A sturdy grill that cooks evenly will deliver years of service, without any skillets to scrub come cleanup time. Our top picks allow you to go from high-powered searing to low-temperature grilling across all burners. Coated cast-iron or stainless-steel grates help keep heat levels constant, while electronic igniters are easy to fire up.
Got leaves? These systems can help keep your gutters flowing, eliminating the potential for expensive home repairs. Pro-installed systems usually include free service calls but cost much more and couldn’t fully contain severe downpours in our tests. Homeowner-installed screens save you thousands and were impressive at shedding debris and handling heavy rainfall.
These paints proved impressive in many ways, such as one-coat coverage, smoothness, and stain resistance. Just don’t be blinded by brand loyalty: Performance often varied among a brand’s lines and finishes. Love a hue from Brand X? Brand Y’s color-matching technology can often make it.