NEW FINISH! Cottage X By Tamara Day Available Now In Limited Quantities - Shop Now
Cart 0 $0.00

Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets: Your DIY Guide & 6 Best Materials

By Jayme Muller

July 1, 2022

You can already imagine your brand new outdoor kitchen…

You see the shiny new grill, a fridge, a bar… Maybe even a sink!

It has everything you’ve been wanting.

But wait. Where are your grilling utensils? Your spatula, thermometer, meat probe, grid grippers, and so on… You can’t cook without them.

Without storage, you’ll most likely keep your essentials back inside… or hang them off your grill in the elements.

One of the most popular types of kitchen storage are… You guessed it… Cabinets!

Outdoor kitchen cabinets offer a safe, sealed space for keeping your utensils, grilling fuel, and other items clean and organized… all while maximizing your storage.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what they’re made of… Let’s start with the basics: What exactly are outdoor kitchen cabinets?

Quick Links: 

What Are Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets?

It seems like a simple question… You know what a cabinet is! Chances are, you have them in your home.

But actually, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding them when they’re in a grill island.

We tend to call just about any piece of furniture that you can store things in a cabinet… So, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s define them.

A cabinet is a structure built specifically for storage.

In the case of an outdoor kitchen… A cabinet is a structure that can hold a countertop, house your grill, and be built around your appliances… And is also meant for storage.

How does this compare to a normal outdoor kitchen?

Well, instead of framed stucco or masonry built… You’ll find that the entire outdoor kitchen island base is built out of individual cabinets!

How do these compare to outdoor kitchen islands?

Have your own Outdoor Kitchen Idea?

Use our 3D design tool for free and bring your outdoor kitchen idea to life.

Are Cabinets the Same As Outdoor Kitchen Islands?

If you’re familiar with RTA outdoor BBQ islands, you might be thinking, “I’m not sure if their kitchens are cabinets… They aren’t really designed for storage.” And you’d be right… Our team does not offer outdoor kitchen cabinets.

While we’re talking about the difference, we want to take this opportunity to say… We are not going to take a stance on whether cabinets or our islands are better!

It is entirely up to you whether you prefer an island or a cabinet. We’re simply here to provide you with information on how to create the best outdoor kitchen for your backyard space!

Here’s what separates an outdoor kitchen island and an outdoor kitchen cabinet:

Outdoor kitchen islands aren’t built around the concept of maximizing storage… but rather balancing aesthetic with functionality (including storage).

So let’s get back to cabinets now. What are they made of?

What Are Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets Made From?

Researching the materials is a critical part of the planning process for your new outdoor project.

Remember, these will be exposed to the elements every day of the year, rain or shine! You want to make sure that you’re buying weatherproof outdoor kitchen cabinets!

If you want your outdoor kitchen space to last… The first step in preventative maintenance is to build it with the right outdoor kitchen materials.

This will help you create the best outdoor kitchen cabinets possible!

There really are so many choices… So we’ve put together a list of some of the choices from best to worst.

1. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

The first material on our list is HDPE.

This high density polyethylene (a tough, light, flexible synthetic resin) can be found in all kinds of things… From outdoor furniture to boat decks!

Pros

HDPE excels in two ways: durability and easy maintenance.

It’s known for its strength-to-density ratio… which makes it a great choice for outdoor kitchens.

HDPE is also resistant to most chemicals and solvents… which means it won’t absorb oils or grease from your cooking.

Maybe even best of all… It’s super easy to maintain. Because these are waterproof outdoor kitchen cabinets… Just grab a hose or power washer and hose it down! Simple as that.

Cons

Unfortunately, there are a few downsides.

First, the material is more susceptible to high heat and requires an insulated grill jacket.

The second downside is that the sun may make the color fade over the years… Although some are designed with UV inhibitors to prevent this.

 

Our next suggestion is a metal…

2. Powder Coated Stainless Steel

Another good option is powder-coated stainless steel.

These are stainless steel cabinets that have had a dry powder fused to the surface for extra protection.

Powder-coated stainless steel outdoor kitchen cabinets come in many different colors ranging from wood tones to metallic… And even in eye-catching colors like blue and green.

Pros

High quality-stainless steel is a great material to use outside! It is corrosion and rust-resistant.

On top of that… A powder coating will add an extra protective layer.

Because it is metal, it is non-combustible and does not require an insulated jacket.

The coating protects the stainless steel from the elements. It also makes these modern outdoor kitchen cabinets easier to maintain.

Cons

The pros primarily come from the protective powder coat… But so do the cons.

While it’s difficult to damage the coating… If the coating does chip, it can be vulnerable to peeling.

In some instances, we have seen powder coated cabinets compromised… Piece by piece, they peeled like an egg shell.

In addition, it is not easily repairable… And if it is made of stainless steel that is not as strong, this could lead to rusting where it has peeled away.

Lastly, although it is a durable material, they are often made very thin. This can make it prone to denting.

While we’re on the subject of powder coating…

3. Powder Coated Aluminum

Our third option is powder coated aluminum.

Many popular brands like Challenger offer powder coated aluminum cabinets… and they are a lighter alternative to stainless steel.

Pros

Fortunately, the powder coating works the same way as it does on stainless steel! It protects the surface from corrosion with a durable, pretty layer.

This material is easy to clean and take care of.

Cons

Unfortunately, this material has the same downside as powder coated stainless steel.

If your coating chips… It is extremely difficult to repair. Your coating will chip and your aluminum outdoor kitchen cabinets will likely corrode beneath.

4. Polished Stainless Steel

The fourth option is stainless steel!

These metal outdoor kitchen cabinets will be much shinier and slicker than the powder-coated ones will be.

Pros

In terms of advantages…

Polished stainless steel gives a refined look that can match your built in grill and outdoor appliances.

304 stainless steel is your best option. This is a durable grade that will stand up to the elements.

Cons

Unfortunately, this material is better for your appliances than for cabinets… It gets hot and reflective in the sunlight. 

It will also need to be cleaned, polished, and maintained more regularly than the three previous choices.

If you can look past those few setbacks… This is a durable option that will last for many years.

5. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is the final option we’ll give.

It’s a plastic-type material. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to HDPE.

However, it is not as durable as HDPE. It can also expand and contract in seasonal climates.

Often, PVC is used as a decorative laminate over a light-weight resin foam backing.

Pros

Just like HDPE, PVC will not rust or corrode, and it is easy to keep clean! All you have to do is wash it off with a hose or power washer.

PVC can also come in some nice looking wood grain finishes.

Cons

While they’re both plastics… Unfortunately, PVC is a weaker material than HDPE. It’s a durable vinyl polymer… But it is more prone to fade and warp in the sunlight than HDPE.

It also needs insulated jacket for your grills, just like HDPE does.

PVC laminate cabinets also tend toward delamination issues.

Now you know the best choices for your cabinets… But what should you avoid?

6. Wood

The last option on our list is wood. While it’s a common material, there are some serious drawbacks to having outdoor kitchen wood cabinets.

Pros

Wood can have a very nice, natural aesthetic. It comes in all different colors, and it can be moderately inexpensive compared to other choices.

Unfortunately, the cons far outweigh the pros.

Cons

Let’s get into some of the problems you may find with a wood design.

Unfortunately, wood outdoor kitchen cabinets don’t last long outside… You’ll end up with cracking, warping, swelling, and even rotting.

It can also fade in the sun, and is susceptible to termite damage!

Although it’s possible to seal it… This takes time and effort. It may need to be resealed every few years… And this still won’t add much to the longevity of the outdoor wood kitchen cabinets.

On top of that… It’s a flammable material.

That’s never a good idea in an outdoor kitchen!

Now that you have an idea of what to use… Let’s get into how to install your own outdoor kitchen!

Have your own Outdoor Kitchen Idea?

Use our 3D design tool for free and bring your outdoor kitchen idea to life.

How to Install Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets

Wondering how to build outdoor kitchen cabinets?

Unlike outdoor kitchen islands… Many outdoor bbq kitchen cabinets are built in separate pieces that are put together. This is called a modular outdoor kitchen.

Modular outdoor cabinets allow you to mix and match pieces to suit your cooking needs… While still getting a cohesive finished product.

Please keep in mind that the cabinets you purchase may require additional steps as we go through these basic instructions!

There may be more work required than what we describe, depending on your cabinets. Please, first and foremost, adhere to your instruction manual.

1. Site Prep and Utilities

If you want your cabinets to be multi-functional… You should think about installing bbq island utilities!

You’ll need gas, water, and/or electricity lines depending on the appliances you select. If you don’t already have utility lines set up… You’ll need to hire someone to do it.

You’ll also want to think about what your cabinets are going to rest on.

Are you going to build your outdoor kitchen on a deck? Or a concrete slab? Or a patio?

When your outdoor space is set up, you can assemble your cabinets!

2. Building Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets

Different cabinets will require different levels of assembly.

Some cabinets come in one piece. All you’ll need to do is attach separate units together, if need be.

On the other hand, modular outdoor kitchen cabinets can come in smaller parts… They will need more “DIY” skills for assembly. You may need to construct them yourself.

If you need a little extra assistance… You can also hire a contractor to put them together.

What’s next after they’re built?

3. Leveling your Cabinets

Leveling is critical!

Use a long leveler or a laser leveler to make sure that everything is even.

Most cabinets have legs on the bottom that can be twisted to the desired height.

Others may come on swivel casters. While these allow for easier movement… these can be more unstable. They also will be harder to level since you can’t adjust their height.

4. Countertops

Many modular outdoor kitchen cabinets come with built-in countertops… Typically, these are usually either stainless steel or powder-coated aluminum.

Companies will sometimes offer countertops that are sold separately, so this is easy to install. Just drop them in place.

If your cabinets did not come with a countertop… You may need to source one elsewhere.

This may work in your favor, as there are many different outdoor kitchen countertop materials out there.

5. Installing Your Appliances

Finally, you can install your outdoor kitchen appliances!

How you secure your appliances will depend on the type of grill and cabinets you get.

Some cabinets will have room for a built in grill.

Others won’t, and you can slide a grill cart in between your units.

And you’re done with your outdoor kitchen! Piece of cake.

If you need assistance or have questions on any of these steps… You can contact your manufacturer’s customer support!

Once your appliances are installed… You’re done!

Your new cabinets will look great once you put them together… But how much will they cost?

Costs

Outdoor kitchens can be expensive… But the cost can vary depending on a number of factors!

There are so many cabinets available online… So let’s look at the prices for a few of them to give you a good idea of what you might be spending.

Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn offers furniture products for both the indoor and outside space… And several different outdoor cabinet sets!

Their Indio Metal cabinets are each between $1,439.00 and $3,799.00 per cabinet section.

They don’t fit the true definition of outdoor kitchen cabinets since they don’t have a place for a built-in grill… But there are options to build in a fridge, and you can place a grill in between two units.

You would most likely purchase several different items and combine them. The stainless steel countertops are included… So you won’t have to source them yourself.

New Age

NewAge sells all kinds of cabinets and more.

Just like Pottery Barn’s selection, New Age’s 304 stainless steel Classic Line is composed of modular units.

You can purchase several different models and put them together to form your kitchen… Or buy a bundle that will include several popular choices. Some of these products include cut-outs for grills, which are sold separately.

The countertops are not included in these… So you’d have to source them yourself.

These Classic New Age models range from about $719.00 to $1539.00 each before the grill and countertops.

New Age also has a Signature Line which includes pre-configured sets.

Although these don’t exactly meet our definition of outdoor kitchen cabinets… There’s one model that is quite similar to our definition that costs $5,499.99.

This model includes a grill, stainless steel countertop, and several cabinets and drawers.

The other options in the Signature line more closely align with a grill island instead.

Urban Bonfire

Lastly, Urban Bonfire allows you to create your own outdoor kitchen cabinet ideas from a range of designs.

They are made of a powder-coated marine-grade aluminum and come in a variety of colors.

This company also gives you the option of choosing one of their countertops or sourcing your own.

Without a countertop, the smallest Urban Bonfire option costs $8,495.00. This includes a cutout for a grill and five cabinet doors. The grills are sold separately.

With a countertop, the same cabinets will be $10,160.00.

As you can see, prices vary depending on the materials and brand… And whether you’re purchasing just one product or an assortment of smaller units!

Many businesses will not provide the costs for their products up front… So be ready to contact their customer support for help determining the price of their products.

Now, it’s clear that cabinets have a lot of benefits. There’s a wide variety of types, sizes, materials, and costs.

They offer a lot of storage… You can somewhat pick and choose your configuration, although your options will be limited… And they sometimes come with cut outs for your appliances.

But what if we told you that there’s another option with all of these things and more?

An Alternative Approach to Cabinets

Whether you’re just not into the aesthetic… Or if you want more room for customization… Or even if you just aren’t sure about using plastic or metal for your outdoor kitchen…

Don’t worry, there’s another outdoor kitchen option that may fit your needs better!

Try RTA!

We’re a one-stop shop that can design an outdoor kitchen island customized just for your backyard space… Your grill, countertop, (and storage) all included.

RTA’s islands are made from structural panels that are composed of a high-performance concrete. These are built to last for decades… And have a lifetime warranty to boot!

Most cabinets aren’t built to last that long… And they definitely aren’t made specifically for you. Instead, you have to select from their pre-designed units.

With RTA, can select your layout, finish, appliances, size, and accessories…

And just like with cabinets, there are plenty of storage options at your disposal! You can get a pull-out spice rack, dry pantry, access doors, and so much more.

To make this customization process simple… We even have an easy design tool for you!

It’s online, free, and simple to use. The result? You’ll see your 3D outdoor kitchen design digitally rendered in front of you!

Whether you’re looking for a traditional look or more of a modern outdoor kitchen… We have a whole team of Design Experts ready to work one-on-one with you. They’ll be able to answer questions… And help you create a beautiful outdoor kitchen that’s perfect for you.

So what are you waiting for?

Our team of Design Experts would be happy to help you bring your dream kitchen to life!

Have any questions? Were here to help.

Book a call with one of our outdoor kitchen design experts and get started today!

Q&A

There are many different outdoor kitchen cabinet materials that one can use. The options are HDPE, powder-coated stainless steel, powder-coated aluminum, and polished stainless steel.

Yes, there are cabinets specifically made to be put outside! We would recommend making sure that you are using materials that are suitable for the outdoors, as your outdoor kitchen space will be facing the elements.

You can make outdoor kitchen cabinets out of a variety of materials. Your best bet would be HDPE (High-density polyethylene) for its durability and aesthetic.

Although some buy outdoor kitchen wood cabinets… It’s actually not the best idea! Wood can rot, warp, or crack outside. It would be best to use a more durable material such as HDPE, powder-coated stainless steel, or powder-coated aluminum in an outdoor kitchen space.

My cart
Your cart is empty.

Looks like you haven't made a choice yet.