How To Choose The Best Materials For Outdoor Kitchens

An outdoor kitchen installed by Grand Design Landscape

Are you considering enhancing your outdoor living space with an outdoor kitchen? Are you wondering what the best materials for outdoor kitchens are? When you want to create a beautiful and functional outdoor kitchen, it is crucial to choose the right materials to ensure that it lasts.

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the best materials for constructing an outdoor kitchen and why they are so important. By the time you finish reading this blog post, you will know what factors you should consider when selecting materials, so you can make the best choice for your outdoor kitchen situation.

Best Materials For Outdoor Kitchens

An outdoor kitchen is a perfect addition to any home. Not only do they provide an excellent space for entertaining guests, but they can also add value to your home. But when it comes to building an outdoor kitchen, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the right materials.

Keep reading to discover the factors you should consider when choosing materials for your outdoor kitchen.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Materials For Your Outdoor Kitchen

When constructing an outdoor kitchen, the choice of materials is crucial as it affects both the appearance of your outdoor space and its durability. Let’s take a closer look at all the factors to consider when choosing materials to build your outdoor kitchen.

Maintenance

Maintenance is always important—you want to choose materials that won’t require too much upkeep or cleaning. The last thing you want to be doing every weekend is spending hours maintaining your outdoor kitchen.

When choosing materials for your outdoor kitchen, opt for materials that are low-maintenance and easy to clean. For example, granite and quartz countertops are both good options because they require very little maintenance and can easily be wiped down with a damp cloth. 

Is It Rated For Outdoor Use?

When it comes to building an outdoor kitchen, it’s essential to make sure that all of the materials you choose are rated for outdoor use. Natural stone is an excellent choice because it is extremely durable and can withstand heavy wear and tear from the elements like rain, wind, heat, and cold temperatures.

Is It Heat-Resistant?

Any space that you plan on using for cooking or grilling should utilize materials that are heat-resistant. Some of the best choices include concrete countertops or stainless steel surfaces, as they can take high temperatures without sustaining any damage.

Is It Easy To Clean?

When choosing materials for your outdoor kitchen, it’s essential to make sure that they are easy to clean since cleaning up after meals or parties can be tedious enough as it is! For example, stainless steel is often used as countertops because it’s nonporous and resistant to bacteria growth which makes it incredibly hygienic and easy to clean with just soap and water.

Other material options, such as concrete or wood, may require more frequent deep cleaning due to their porous nature, which could attract mold or mildew growth over time if not properly maintained. 

Is Refinishing Required?

There may come a time when you need to refinish certain parts of your outdoor kitchen due to normal wear and tear from heavy usage or exposure to extreme weather conditions like heat or cold temperatures over time. Make sure you select materials that can easily be refinished without having major renovations required down the road, such as replacing cabinetry or countertops completely.

Now that we’ve gone over the key factors to consider when choosing your outdoor kitchen materials, let’s take a closer look at the various components that make up an outdoor kitchen.

Typically, an outdoor kitchen starts with a frame, which can be thought of as the “bones” of your outdoor kitchen. The frame is then covered with a structural surface material, which is itself covered with cladding material. The cladding material is the final aesthetic “skin” layer to your outdoor kitchen. Lastly, you’ll need to select cabinetry, countertop, and flooring materials.

Let’s start with taking a look at your outdoor kitchen frame options.

Outdoor Kitchen Frames

Outdoor summer kitchen with barbecue and sink

The frame of your outdoor kitchen needs to be solid and sturdy enough to support all of the components, such as grills and counters. The three most common materials used for outdoor kitchen frames are metal, wood, and concrete blocks.

Metal Frames: Metal frames are durable, strong, lightweight, and can last for years with proper maintenance. A metal frame can be either custom-made or purchased in pre-made sections that snap together like puzzle pieces. However, metal frames can be expensive, and they can be vulnerable to moisture damage if they aren’t made of corrosion-resistant metal.

Wood Frames: Wood is a popular choice because it is cost-effective and easy to work with (no welding required). However, wood frames require more maintenance than other materials as they need to be treated regularly to prevent them from rotting or warping due to moisture or insects. Wood is also combustible, so you need to take care to protect it with fireproof insulation if it is near a heat source.

Concrete Block Frames: Concrete block is one of the most popular materials used for outdoor kitchen frames because it provides a solid foundation that will last for years without needing much maintenance or upkeep. They can withstand extreme temperatures and won’t warp or rot over time as wood frames do.

The downside is that concrete blocks are difficult to work with because of their weight and size, which means that installation can be challenging unless you have experience in masonry work. Furthermore, if not sealed properly, concrete blocks may trap moisture which could lead to mold growth if not addressed quickly enough. 

Outdoor Kitchen Surface Materials

The next material you will need to choose for your outdoor kitchen is the surface material that your cladding will attach to. If you are using a frame made of concrete blocks, you don’t need to select a surface material since the cladding can be attached directly to the concrete block.

The industry standard is cement board, also known as backer board. A cement board is a cement-based, rigid substrate used in walls, floors, and countertop projects. It’s specifically designed to resist moisture and mold, so it’s an ideal material for outdoor use.

Outdoor Kitchen Cladding Materials

An outdoor kitchen with a grill mounted in a stone counter.

One of the most important design elements for an outdoor kitchen is deciding on cladding materials. Every material has its own unique look and feel. Here are four materials you can consider when thinking about cladding for your outdoor kitchen. 

Tile: Tile is a classic choice when it comes to cladding materials for an outdoor kitchen. The glossy finish of the tile adds a modern touch to any backyard space.

Tile is also fairly easy to install, so it’s perfect for DIYers. There are many different colors and shapes of tiles available, so you can get creative with your design. 

Maintenance-wise, tile is easy to wipe clean after you’ve finished grilling up your favorite dishes.

One downside to tile is that the grout is susceptible to staining. Another issue is that some tiles can be damaged by extreme temperature changes or inclement weather.

Stucco: Stucco is another popular option for outdoor kitchens. Stucco offers almost limitless design options; you can customize the color, texture, and even shape of the material depending on what type of look you want for your space.

The biggest downside to stucco is its durability. Although it works well in warmer climates like Nevada or California, stucco is vulnerable to damage in rainy climates or conditions where it is constantly exposed to freezing temperatures.

Brick: Brick is another popular choice when it comes to cladding materials for an outdoor kitchen space because it offers classic good looks with plenty of durability and strength. Brick also doesn’t require much maintenance and can last for many years without needing any repairs or replacements.

It’s also easy to clean and provides plenty of insulation from extreme temperatures. The biggest downside to brick cladding is the cost since it is one of the more expensive cladding materials.

Stone: Stone is another great option if you want a timeless look that will never go out of style in your outdoor kitchen space. Stone provides plenty of protection against water damage, so you don’t have to worry about any potential problems down the line with this timeless material.

Similar to brick, the biggest downside of stone is the upfront cost. Stone veneer is less expensive but tends to behave more like tile than actual stone. Like tile, stone veneer is vulnerable to extreme temperatures or excessive inclement weather, which can cause it to detach from the surface of your outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet Materials

When it comes to outdoor kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to choose a material that is durable, weather-resistant, and easy to maintain and clean. Let’s take a closer look at four of the most popular kitchen cabinet material options.

Stainless steel: Stainless steel is an excellent option for outdoor kitchen cabinets if you want an industrial look with a bit of flair. This material is exceptionally durable and easy to keep clean, making it ideal for an outdoor kitchen that will see heavy use.

It also has natural anti-corrosive properties and won’t rust or fade in direct sunlight, which makes it ideal for humid climates or areas with saltwater exposure. However, stainless steel is one of the more expensive materials on this list, so be sure to factor this into your budget before making a purchase decision. 

Wood: For those who prefer more traditional looks, outdoor kitchen cabinets made of wood are always a reliable option. Wood is naturally strong and durable and, when properly sealed, can resist water damage and other forms of deterioration over time.

The biggest downside is that wooden outdoor kitchen cabinets will require regular maintenance, such as sanding and staining every few years, in order to retain their original luster. You can purchase wood cabinets made from more weather-resistant woods, such as teak or mahogany, but those types of woods can add significantly to your final cost.

Marine-grade aluminum: A lesser-known outdoor kitchen cabinet option is marine-grade aluminum, a special type of corrosion-resistant aluminum that is often used on boats. Cabinets made from aluminum have a similar aesthetic as stainless steel but are a bit lighter. While less costly than stainless steel, aluminum does not offer quite as many customization options as other cabinet materials do.

PVC: PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a synthetic material that is commonly used for flooring. PVC offers excellent durability against weathering while still being lightweight enough for easy installation. The biggest downside to PVC outdoor kitchen cabinets is that they can fade from prolonged exposure to sunlight. PVC is also vulnerable to warping in extreme temperatures.

Outdoor Kitchen Countertop Materials

A gas fireplace on a travertine bar top, overlooking a desert landscaped backyard in Arizona.

Tile: Tile is an affordable and versatile outdoor countertops material that comes in many different colors and patterns. However, tile grout is susceptible to staining, which makes it challenging to keep it hygienic.

Concrete: Concrete countertops have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their durability and ability to withstand extreme temperatures. They can also be custom-made to fit any size or shape of the countertop. The downside of concrete is that it needs regular sealing in order to prevent staining and to crack over time, but if properly maintained, it can last for years without needing repairs or replacements. 

Granite: Granite is a classic choice when it comes to outdoor kitchen countertops due to its durability and attractive look. It’s also resistant to heat damage, making it an ideal choice for busy households where there’s always something cooking on the stovetop. However, granite countertops do require regular maintenance with sealers in order to keep their shine and protect against staining or discoloration over time.

Quartz: Quartz is another popular option when it comes to outdoor kitchen countertops due to its resistance to scratches and heat damage, as well as its beautiful shine and color palette options available. Unlike granite, quartz does not require regular sealing; however, it does need periodic cleaning with soap or a mild detergent in order to ensure its longevity over time. 

Soapstone: Soapstone is known for its soft matte finish, which adds warmth and character to any space—especially an outdoor kitchen! This natural stone has been used as a building material since ancient times because of its ability to resist heat damage, stains, scratches, and bacteria growth—all qualities that make soapstone an ideal choice for an outdoor kitchen countertop material. The primary downside to soapstone is that it is a relatively soft material, so it is vulnerable to scratching or chipping.

Stainless steel: This metal material resists heat damage, rusting, staining, and corrosion—all while maintaining its sleek appeal over time with minimal effort required on the homeowner’s part. The biggest downside to using stainless steel as a countertop material is that it can get quite hot sitting in the sun!

Outdoor Kitchen Flooring Materials

The most important qualities to consider when choosing your outdoor kitchen flooring materials are durability and easy maintenance. Given the likelihood of high foot traffic, food spills, grease, and overall dirt and dust exposure, it’s crucial that the outdoor flooring is built to withstand such wear and tear.

This is why natural stone or concrete pavers tend to be the most popular flooring materials for outdoor kitchens. If you want to know how much it typically costs to install a paver patio, be sure to check out our guide to everything you need to know about the cost of building a paver patio.

If your outdoor kitchen is situated on a wooden deck, the most important thing to do is to protect your deck by regularly sealing it.

What Are The Best Outdoor Kitchen Materials?

So what are the best outdoor kitchen materials? As with most things, it all comes down to your specific preferences, as well as the climate you live in. If you live in a sunny climate, such as we enjoy in Reno, Nevada, you can build with any of the materials listed above. If you live in a rainy climate, you’ll probably want to avoid metal frames or stucco cladding.

In other words, you’ll need to assess your needs and personal preferences in order to determine the best materials for your own kitchen. Durability, weather resistance, maintenance requirements, and cost are factors you should consider when selecting the best materials for a kitchen in an outdoor environment. If you’re wondering what an outdoor kitchen typically costs, check out our blog post on how much it costs to build an outdoor kitchen.

Build The Outdoor Living Space You’ve Always Wanted With The Experts At Grand Design Landscape

When considering material choices, it’s essential to weigh factors like maintenance, weather resistance, and ease of cleaning. By using materials that are appropriate for outdoor use, you can create an outdoor kitchen that will be in your outdoor living space for years to come.

If you have been looking for professionals to help kick-start your dream project, fill out our contact form today! We look forward to helping you design the perfect backyard experience. Thanks for reading!

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