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Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets

Tough Furnishings for the Outdoor Kitchen

If you have an outside kitchen but lack storage space, outdoor kitchen cabinets are your answer. Beyond just 'storage boxes' however, they can also define the style and look of your outdoor kitchen, just as indoor cabinets do for your indoor kitchen.

Outdoor kitchen cabinets come in a variety of materials and styles, so you're not limited as far choices go. They're also made to stand up to the elements so there's no need to be concerned about how they'll fare in the sun, rain or snow.

Convenience is a boon too. Being able to store everything you need right there in the outdoor kitchen is a lot easier than constantly having to run back to the "inside kitchen" for supplies.

So how do you go about choosing the right type and where can you get them? Read on to find out which style best suits your outdoor kitchen plans.

Outdoor Cabinet Materials And Their Pros/Cons

Outdoor kitchen cabinets are made from 4 types of materials:

Each has their own attributes and imparts its own look and style to an outdoor kitchen. The cost as well as the level of effort required to install the cabinets will also vary with material choice.


Polymer

Polymer is a synthetic material and it's best described as a plastic. The more technical term for it is "HDPE" or "high density polyethylene". The benefit of this material is that it's not susceptible to rot, rust or other forms of deterioration.

Further, the polymer material used in outdoor kitchen cabinets is typically called 'marine board' or 'marine grade' polymer. It's used in applications associated with boating and marine technology. It has the benefit of UV (ultra-violet) inhibitors to resist fading and deterioration from sunlight.

Pros Cons

Easy to clean - can be hosed down

No corrosion concerns provided attaching hardware is corrosion resistant

Impervious to water/moisture

Stain resistant

Limited range of color options

Doesn't have same rich look like wood

Not very eco-friendly since it's made from petrochemicals

Has a uniform appearance (e.g. not a lot of visual detail but this is more or less personal preference)





Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a good material for outdoor cabinets because the right grades are very resistant to corrosion and staining. The type or grade typically used in these applications is 304 stainless steel.

You may see this number referred to in some product literature but it also goes by the designations of "18-8" and "A2". The construction of stainless steel cabinets varies. Some designs wrap the steel around a core material inside the doors for example, whereas other products don't employ any core material and just use the steel itself to form the cabinet's structure.

Pros Cons

Offers the look of metal cabinets but in a non-corrosive material

Matches many stainless steel outdoor appliances and gas grills for a uniform look

Hard to keep clean from fingerprints, oils, bird droppings if not coated with a protective finish

Can get hot when exposed to direct sunlight





Wood

Wood works for outdoor kitchen cabinets provided it's the right kind of wood and it's treated or finished properly. Woods for outdoor cabinets include Teak, Cypress and Ipe, materials that are used in marine and outdoor applications. They possess natural attributes that make them resistant to the beating that nature can dish out. Some wood outdoor cabinet products are also finished with a an oil or a water-seal treatment for additional protection.

Pros Cons

Has a warm look similar to wood indoor cabinets

Wood grain provides visual detail not found in polymer and steel cabinets

Can fade depending on the type of wood and finish treatment (think of deck materials, outdoor furniture)

Wood ultimately can break down over time but this time span is governed by type of wood, surface treatments and how well it's cared for





Masonry

Masonry cabinets refer to outdoor cabinetry that's built from either cement blocks or a metal frame that's covered in a decorative stone, brick or stucco veneer (a cement board or equivalent base material is fastened to the frame upon which the veneer is applied).

These types of outdoor kitchen cabinets are less "ready-made" than those made from other materials. Despite that fact however there are companies that sell pre-made (or custom-made) frames along with the necessary cement board ready for you or your contractor to install and finish.

Pros Cons

Resistant to weather effects and the elements

Provides a substantial "built-in" look

Not as easily installed as other cabinet types

Exterior materials/veneers must be purchased in addition to the 'skeleton' structure of the cabinets/island and actual cabinet components (doors, drawers, etc.)

Less 'ready-made' than other types of outdoor kitchen cabinets like polymer for example - may require more labor and cost for assembly and installation




One characteristic among virtually all these types of outdoor cabinets is that they'll require some level of assembly once you receive them. The amount of work will vary depending on the material and manufacturer but be prepared to do some work to get them in a finished and usable layout.

Video Example Of Atlantis Outdoor Cabinetry

A picture's always worth more than a thousand words so to give you a feel for outdoor cabinetry, take a look at the video below. It's from Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens and features products in their outdoor cabinetry line.

Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens is one of the manufacturers in our list of outdoor kitchen cabinet sources.

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Key Points To Look For When Choosing Outdoor Cabinets

Material choice is one determinant to think about when choosing outdoor kitchen cabinets but there are others too. Keep the following points in mind because they're important regardless of the cabinet's base material.

  • Adjustable Legs
    Adjustable legs allows you to adjust their vertical position to accommodate ground variations in the area of your outdoor kitchen. Flagstone patios and similar surfaces aren't always perfectly flat and adjustable cabinet legs allow you to level the cabinets and avoid the "wobbles".
  • Optional Toe Kicks
    Cabinets that come with or give the option for toe kicks allows you to cover the legs under the cabinets. It's a personal preference but it may give a more finished appearance.
  • Exterior Trim Details
    Another personal-preference item, trim details offer more visual detail to dress up the cabinets a bit, particularly the polymer cabinets. Details include such things as fluted spacers and crown moldings.
  • Accessibility Features
    Outdoor kitchen cabinets with options like roll-out trash bins and trays make using them a lot more convenient. Determining just how you plan on using your cabinets will help you decide which features are important to you.
  • Quality Hardware
    Hardware such as door hinges, drawer slides, connection pins and/or screws, handles and similar items should be made from quality materials that are also not affected by the elements. Stainless steel hinges and drawer slides or other non-corrosive materials are important to have.
  • Durable Construction
    Look for durability in the design and materials of the cabinets. Polymer cabinets made with 3/4" thick boxes and shelves are a good choice. Thicker grades of stainless steel offer better rigidity and resistance to denting. Look at the manufacturer's product specifications or ask them for this information in order to compare among brands.

One other important point involves the countertops. Some makers of outdoor kitchen cabinets include or offer countertop choices. Others don't and for those you're left to buy the countertops separately.

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What Are Typical Costs?

As you might expect, prices for outdoor kitchen cabinets will vary depending on the cabinet's material, size and the manufacturer.

To give you some representative samples, polymer base cabinets with full-height doors from one manufacturer range from about $500 to $1000. Grill base cabinets (the base cabinet upon which a gas grill unit sits) cost $1200 for a 33" wide unit to $2400 for a 60" wide base.

The prices of another brand's base cabinets range from about $900 to $2300, varying based on size and the quantity of doors and drawers. Grill base cabinets cost anywhere from $800 to $1700.

When it comes to stainless steel cabinets, you can expect to pay at least $1000 to $1600 for a full-door base cabinet (again, varying based on width of the cabinet). Two-drawer base cabinets from one manufacturer are in the range of $1400 to $2200

Masonry cabinets and islands will vary in cost based on the types of materials used and the overall size of cabinets and/or island. There are dealers that offer packages that contain the framework and appliances for these types of cabinet/island arrangements but it's best to contact them directly for pricing information based on the variables involved.

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