Creating an outdoor kitchen is an exciting project. Grill masters can relish in a domain fit for their charbroiled masterpieces and great for entertaining as well. While much attention goes into selecting cooking appliances for your outdoor kitchen space, other details such as cabinets can be overlooked. Our coastal area creates conditions that require special consideration when it comes to selecting cabinets for your outdoor kitchen. Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Unique Coastal Considerations
All outdoor kitchens require a certain durability for the cabinets, counters and cooking appliances simply from being exposed to the elements outside. Coastal areas like ours have unique considerations beyond what you’d find in say, Arizona or New Mexico. First, our weather conditions include significant storms such as tropical storms and hurricanes that feature high winds and very heavy rains. Second and perhaps most importantly, the salt content of our rain water can be much higher than non-coastal areas due to our proximity to the ocean. Salt is very corrosive over time and can cause a great deal of damage to outdoor equipment. This means any cabinetry included in your outdoor kitchen needs to be able to stand up to major hurricanes and corrosive salt water.
Choosing the Right Outdoor Cabinets
There are two main factors to consider when choosing outdoor cabinets that can handle life along the Carolina Coast: Water-tight construction and type of material.
Cabinets for your outdoor kitchen should be sealed water-tight units. Many outdoor cabinets are constructed similar to indoor cabinets where the top of the cabinet is provided by the counter surface placed on top of it. While this method works fine indoors, the high winds and heavy rains common outdoors in our area make this type of construction vulnerable to water damage, mold growth and leaking into the cabinets. For this area, choose outdoor cabinets that provide water-tight construction on all sides without requiring a counter or other surface to enclose it.
Outdoor cabinets are generally made with one of three materials: teak, stainless steel and marine-grade polymer. Teak might look stylish but it requires a lot of upkeep. Teak needs to be resealed with water-proof sealant on a regular basis and doesn’t hold up so well to the corrosiveness of the salt in our rain water. Stainless steel is a good durable choice. In other areas, stainless steel with a grade of 304 is a strong option. However, the weather conditions and salt make marine-grade stainless steel (316) a far better choice. Finally, marine-grade polymer is the easiest to maintain of the materials options. It’s UV-resistant and created specifically for marine or coastal conditions. Outdoor cabinets made from this material are molded into water-tight units and provide the best protection against the salt and outdoor conditions in our area.
When you add an outdoor kitchen to your home, you want to know it will stand strong for many years to come. This includes choosing outdoor kitchen cabinets that fit your vision but are also tough enough to handle the conditions of coastal living.