Outdoor cabinets in outdoor kitchens have differing requirements from indoor kitchen cabinets. They must provide storage space for items inside yet be strong enough to withstand day-to-day outdoor elements like sunlight, wind, and rain. Some days bring harsh weather, ranging from hail, humidity, and thunderstorms to tornadoes, hurricanes, and snowstorms.
The best material for outdoor kitchen cabinets can conquer weather events along with damage from debris, rot from pests, and dirt and leaves entering through open cracks. Luckily, there are four different materials suitable for outdoor use. Each material has one, two, or three types, and most come in a variety of colors and different shapes to suit your outdoor living space.
For the material of your outdoor kitchen cabinets, you have your pick of metal, wood, plastic, and stone. It is of the utmost importance to pick a durable and long-lasting material that is easy to maintain and blends in with the outer home decor.
Table of Contents
Stainless Steel Cabinets
This type of cabinet material is a popular option for outdoor kitchen appliances made from stainless steel. The durable material contains weatherproof and fire-resistant advantages yet matches beautifully alongside outdoor decor. While it has an industrial vibe, a company like Trex® Outdoor Kitchens offers different colors and pattern customizations to add personality and texture or mimic real wood while maintaining that high-end look.
The best stainless steel grades are high-quality materials like 304 or 316L. They add corrosion resistance, stain resistance, and fade resistance to their benefits. A powder coat finish on stainless steel doors adds additional rust resistance plus protection against UV exposure.
For a thick steel door that won’t dent when hail or rocks hit it, a 16 to 20-gauge will give cabinets structural integrity. Cabinet doors with welded corners and steel drawer pulls keep the metal cabinet from tearing apart from continued use too quickly. Stainless steel cabinetry does not expand, contract, warp, or bend to extreme weather conditions.
Marine Grade Aluminum
Don’t confuse everyday aluminum with marine grade. This type of material is ideal for outdoor cabinetry. Marine-grade aluminum is thick like stainless steel but softer and more lightweight than its counterpart.
The benefits of aluminum are resistance to corrosion and weather, durability, and a heat conductor. It has structural stability equal to stainless steel. When you add a powder coating on top, it will last a long time with little maintenance.
Type of Wood Cabinets
If you want cabinets in your outdoor kitchen space to match indoor cabinets seamlessly, teak cabinetry can make that happen. By choosing teak, you get wood’s warm and inviting appeal with the rot and decay resistance, durability, and stability needed to survive the harsh elements. Teak is also high-density and less likely to warp or crack in low or high temperatures than in other woods.
Hardwood is the best option for weather-resistant wood outdoors, but it pales compared to metal, stone, and plastic. Furthermore, teak does not differ from indoor kitchens with regular maintenance. The only downside is adding a waterproof seal coating on a regular basis to prevent fading.
Overall, teak is beautiful and classy next to outdoor countertops and appliances because of its detailed wood grain.
The medium-density softwood is suitable for outdoor kitchen cabinetry. Cypress is one of the toughest softwoods to handle outdoor weather, as it has adequate stability, durability, and warp/crack resistance. It also has the same beauty as other woods because wood grains give it personality alongside outdoor appliances and countertops.
However, it has the exact downside of constant waterproof sealing. Therefore, an alternative to hardwoods and softwoods is Trex Outdoor Kitchens’ steel cabinets with a wood grain finish. You get the best of wood and stainless steel without the downsides.
Type of Plastic Cabinets
The best outdoor kitchen cabinets made of plastic are marine grade polymer. It is a leak-proof synthetic material that is stain-resistant, fade-resistant, UV-resistant, and corrosion-resistant. The ease of maintenance comprises using a water hose to spray water on it.
The polymer is flexible in home decor, offering various colors and styles. Wood lovers should consider marine grade polymers to get the look of wood without sealing maintenance. It’s a great choice today and after years of use.
Growing in rank with the marine grade version is high density polyethylene or HDPE. Polyethylene is a super tough plastic material with UV resistance, impact absorption, fade resistant, and stain-resistant benefits. The plastic polymer is naturally corrosion-resistant but will increase if you add corrosion-resistant hardware.
High-density polyethylene is water resistant on rainy, icy, and humid days, making it a good material for humid and chilly climates. Cleaning the polymer is similar to marine grade. Companies use HDPE on cutting boards and outdoor kitchen countertops because it is easy to sanitize after use.
While cabinet boxes swell, warp, and contract when in contact with environmental changes, it is still a great option for cabinetry outdoors.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Resin
The alternative outdoor kitchen materials are two man-made polymers that hold up well against the elements. PVC and resin are rust-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and waterproof, but choose a high-quality name brand if you want to add fade resistance to the list. The cheaper storage options will fade and warp with direct sunlight.
The outdoor kitchen cabinet materials are high-density, durable, lightweight, and easy to clean. Cleanup requires spraying water on it with a water hose similar to other polymers. It requires continuous maintenance to maintain appearance and performance; an example is UV protection paint.
Resin is foam injected into a die and compressed into a workable product such as plastic. PVC is the most popular type of resin. Both are excellent and safe for your outdoor space.
Type of Stone
That is the best solution for exterior living spaces for stone lovers. The built-in look mimics natural stone with durability, sturdiness, weatherproof, and resistance to high heat. Additionally, its beauty matches the siding, appliances, countertops, outdoor furniture, and scenery.
One downside is hiring an expert to construct the masonry cabinets from scratch. Experts will charge for building materials, labor, and add-ons like hardware; the design process and installation will not take a day to finish. A second downside is cleaning up food spills after cooking and food prep.
All masonry has a decorative stone, stucco veneer, or brick exterior. The masonry system material underneath is a metal frame or cement block. While stucco is sleek and beautiful and stone adds detail and texture, brick is naturally colorful on top of a concrete block.
Being involved in the design process is a great way and the best way to control the size of your outdoor kitchen cabinets. It’s important because the masonry can become too big or bulky for your backyard. You also choose the outside decoration and the material underneath.
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Tonya Dobson, Senior Writer
Eleven years of writing experience and counting, Tonya is a master of the home, especially in the home improvement and interior design area. She continues to earn our respect and gets positive reviews from our readers for her writing style on all things for the home. Before her writing career, she interned at Reflect and Refresh. When she is not writing about the home space, you will find her exercising, working on Sudoku puzzles, and enjoying the outdoors.
— She does request privacy. A partial image is provided.
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