Imagine buying a brand new outdoor kitchen for your backyard with all the appliances and storage you could want. It’ll have gorgeous countertops and your favorite grill.
You’ll have a nice spot to cook great food… A good reason to get outside more often… And a beautiful place to spend quality time with your friends and family.
It’s really an all-around win.
But it’s also a big investment.
This isn’t something you want to have to replace every few years. Or probably ever.
So just how long will your new outdoor kitchen last?
It's A Complicated Answer
We’ll just come out and say it: There is no easy answer.
Really, it’s almost a trick question.
If you’re going to invest in your outdoor kitchen and build it the right way… Your kitchen should last a lifetime! It just might need a bit of TLC every now and then.
But unfortunately, that just isn’t always the case.
How long your kitchen actually lasts (and what that means for you) is based on several different factors… Like which outdoor kitchen materials you use and where you live.
The answer will also differ depending on what you mean by the question!
Are you wondering how long your kitchen will still look brand new?
Or how long before you have to start making a few replacements and repairs?
Or maybe you’re wondering how long it will be before you have to replace the whole thing.
As you can see, this question doesn’t have just one answer… And it even has a lot of different ways to interpret the question itself!
Throughout this blog, we’ll talk about how different materials might be susceptible to breaking… And a few ways to make sure your island is going to last for as long as possible.
We’ll start with how the frame of your outdoor kitchen plays into the longevity of your island.
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How Long Will Your Frame Last?
Starting from square one… Your outdoor kitchen’s frame is the skeleton of your island.
Because of this… It should be sturdy and durable.
At some point in time, other parts of your outdoor kitchen may fail… But they can all be replaced or repaired as long as you have a sturdy frame.
If your frame breaks, rots, or corrodes… You’re left with nothing!
The best way to keep your frame standing strong is to make sure that you’re buying the right materials the first time! This will prevent problems from popping up later.
We’ll go through the three most popular framing materials and how they can affect the longevity of your island… Starting with wood.
Lifespan of a Wood Frame
The first option we’ll address is wood.
This material can last a long time… But really only in the best of circumstances.
The first problem you may come across is termites. They’re all over the US, but are the worst in warmer climates.
If you live anywhere in the South… Run the other way! Your outdoor kitchen could be eaten from the inside out.
Second, wood can rot and warp if it gets wet. You may not want to have a wooden frame if you’re in a humid area, or the frigid, white north!
There really aren’t any good ways to prevent either of these catastrophes from happening… So you’ll be relying on good luck if you go this route.
But these aren’t the only issues that can arise… And the next one can affect you no matter what climate you live in!
The third problem is that wood is a combustible material… And you’re using a super hot grill. If you aren’t being safe… The wood can catch on fire. That would mean a very short lifespan for your kitchen.
When you use a wood frame, you need to purchase insulated jackets for your appliances.
But frankly, insulated jackets are so expensive that you might as well just use a metal frame… They’re sturdier anyways.
Lifespan of a Metal Frame
Metal frames are sturdier than wood. Yes, it’s true. They’re also fire-resistant, which is great.
But they aren’t without their own set of problems… Moisture can still ruin them.
If you live in a humid area, near the ocean, or in a freeze-thaw climate… This can cause their lifespan to significantly decrease.
Galvanized steel, a popular metal to use in frames, is protected from corrosion… But it can still rust.
On the other hand, aluminum is another popular material. It won’t rust… But it can corrode.
Even stainless steel can rust if it’s constantly exposed to moisture.
In the right conditions, building your outdoor kitchen with a metal frame can make it last for a long time… Especially if you live in an arid environment like Arizona or New Mexico.
Otherwise… It could break down prematurely.
A better option, if you want your island to last a long time, is cinder block.
Lifespan of a Cinder Block Frame
Cinder block is a sturdy, fire-resistant material that can last for about 100 years. Wow.
So if you build your frame out of cinder block… You can expect it to stick around for the long-haul.
It’s also weather resistant… So you can enjoy the benefits of its durability no matter where you live.
What will eventually fail is the veneer on top and the appliances… But those can all be replaced as needed.
How Long Will Your Veneer and Countertops Last?
The good thing about your island’s veneer and countertops is that as long as the frame stays intact… They can always be repaired or replaced.
Maintaining the veneer and countertops on your island will keep the whole outdoor kitchen looking brand new!
You’ll be able to take off the old countertop and replace it with a new one… And you can scrape off your veneer and start over.
Replacing your veneer will be a long and messy job… And replacing your countertop can be expensive… So make sure you use materials that will work well in your climate when you first build your island. This will help it to last longer.
Here’s a brief overview of some of the more popular cladding materials and how they stand the test of time.
You can pick a good solution for your climate if you know what your materials are weak against. This will maximize how long your outdoor kitchen lasts.
Lifespan of Cladding Materials
Stucco is a good material that can last for a very long time in arid places… But it can have issues in freeze-thaw or high-moisture climates.
It can crack or flake off pretty quickly when it’s consistently humid out or rained on.
Tile is a popular material… But it is very fragile. If there are large temperature fluctuations or there is a lot of moisture… Outdoor kitchen tile can pop right off your island.
The grout also needs to be cleaned frequently, which will require extra upkeep from you if you want it to stay looking new.
Stone and brick veneer pieces are very strong individually… But as a unit, they suffer the same problem as tile… They can pop right off your island. Climates with high moisture or with temperature fluctuations make this all the worse. This means constant upkeep for you!
Powder-coated metals like stainless steel or aluminum are great choices for an outdoor kitchen. They won’t rust or corrode so long as the powder coating stays intact. If your kitchen is taken care of, powder-coating can last up to 20 or so years!
You just have to be careful with the powder-coating, because if it chips… It will be vulnerable to peeling. This isn’t repairable, and it can lead to rust or corrosion underneath depending on the metal.
It’s also worth mentioning that metal finishes can get uncomfortably hot in the sun… So this might be a better option if you plan on putting it under covering!
Now, onto the countertops!
Lifespan of Countertop Materials
Because there are so many possibilities… We’re just going to discuss the most popular outdoor kitchen countertop options.
Tile is a popular countertop and cladding material! However, it isn’t the strongest. In a countertop, it’s susceptible to cracking or popping off. In addition, the grout can be difficult to clean… This can be a big concern when you’re working with food over your countertop.
Out of all of your options, tile has the shortest lifespan and the most upkeep.
Concrete will provide a more natural countertop look… But it’s man-made, so it can be structurally reinforced. This will make it stronger against ground movement… But it still needs to be sealed to prevent staining and scratching.
If sealed properly, they can last a lifetime.
Natural stones are heavy materials that will last indefinitely. (As long as they don’t crack!)
If you want the natural look of a stone outdoor kitchen… Then a stone countertop will look great on top.
Being natural stone slabs, they aren’t structurally reinforced… So there’s a slight chance of them cracking if there’s ground movement. But really, they are quite sturdy and will last a long time if you seal them properly.
Next, we’ll get into how the appliances affect the longevity of your kitchen!
How Long Will Your Appliances Last?
The final part of an outdoor kitchen is the appliances that you choose! You want them to last for a long time so you don’t have to replace them anytime soon.
If you take good care of your outdoor kitchen appliances, they will last longer…
But either way, they will need to be replaced occasionally. No appliance will last forever, especially ones like fridges or ice-makers.
Lifespan of a Built-In Grill
To make sure your built-in grill lasts as long as possible… You should look for 304 stainless steel.
304 stainless steel is highly resistant to rust, corrosion, and other damages. It will last much longer than other grades of steel in the outdoors.
With proper upkeep… A quality built-in grill made of this material can last around 10 to 15 years.
Meanwhile, a cheap grill will require replacement burners and cooking grates much sooner. While some may last up to five years… Others may need to be replaced after only a year or so.
Unfortunately, the brand, the climate, how well you clean it, and how often you use it can also affect how long a grill will last.
Of course, the more you use your grill… The quicker the parts will burn out!
A firebox should be made of 304 stainless. Some will go for 430 or another lower-grade material that won’t last as long… This can cause issues, as when the firebox goes out, you usually have to replace the entire grill!
So now you know how the materials you choose for your outdoor kitchen can affect how long it lasts and what to look out for… But there’s still so much more!
Let’s review some considerations when planning out your outdoor kitchen.
Build a kitchen that is made to last
Initial Considerations for Building A Long-Lasting Kitchen
Frankly, there are so many different things that can affect the lifespan of a kitchen.
What kinds of things should you be thinking about before you build your kitchen? How should those things affect how and where you build it?
We’re going to start with weather.
How Does Weather Affect the Lifespan of an Outdoor Kitchen?
You’ve already seen a bit on how the weather can affect an outdoor kitchen just from our discussion of materials…
You know which materials to avoid if you live in a more humid climate… Which won’t do as well if you experience a lot of ground movement… And even which will suffer in a freeze-thaw climate.
But no matter where you live… You can’t avoid weather conditions. Here are a few ways that weather can impact the longevity of your grill island.
Effects of Precipitation on an Outdoor Kitchen
Outdoor kitchens will last their longest in dry places like New Mexico or Arizona. This makes choosing an island much easier in these climates.
Areas with frequent rain and snow may have more problems with rust and corrosion!
Your kitchen island can also experience cracking if it absorbs water and then freezes.
This will ruin your island! Not only will it mess up your veneer when the water gets inside… But it can also break down your frame. If the frame is damaged… Then your kitchen is done for!
You’ll want to be very careful of which materials you use and how well you take care of your island if you live in a humid, coastal, or snowy climate.
Our next issue doesn’t seem like it would be as harmful as rain or snow, but can still pack a punch…
Effects of Sunlight on an Outdoor Kitchen
When you think about grilling… You’re probably imagining a warm, sunshiny day.
Well, the sunlight can actually make your island and appliances fade!
While this won’t compromise the structure… If you island becomes an eyesore, you may be inclined to replace it sooner than you wanted to.
Now, how do you protect your island from the precipitation and sunlight? With some good coverage.
Increasing the Lifespan of An Outdoor Kitchen with Overhead Coverage
One major way to extend the life of your summer kitchen is to get some overhead coverage.
There are all kinds of ways to do this…
If you have a covered patio, you can build your outdoor kitchen there. Some people purchase drop curtains to surround their patio and further protect it from the rain, snow, or sunlight.
Doing this will help immensely.
If your kitchen will be built out in your backyard… You can put a pavilion or pergola over it to help keep the weather out.
Even in a climate that is not as conducive to owning an outdoor kitchen (such as freeze-thaw or coastal climates)… A cover can greatly extend its life!
As we can see, weather can cause issues… So what will you do when your island needs to be replaced someday?
A Good Warranty Protects Your Outdoor Kitchen
Of course, when all else fails… Your warranty can come to the rescue!
You’re going to want a warranty that will last as long as you want your island and grill to… A lifetime!
This means that for as long as you have the island… You can get it replaced if it breaks.
This won’t cover natural fading and weathering… But if something happens to your island or appliances, they will be covered.
Having a good warranty can help increase the lifespan of your island by replacing the veneer, countertops, or appliances when they fail… Or even the entire kitchen itself if need-be!
Hopefully you’ll never have to use your warranty… So one way to make your outdoor kitchen last longer on its own is by properly vetting the contractor or the company who will build your outdoor kitchen for you.
Vetting Your Contractor or Builder Ensures a Better-Quality Outdoor Kitchen
A big part of how long your kitchen will last is how well it’s built!
You want to make sure that you choose a good company or contractor to build your outdoor kitchen.
If they aren’t an expert in their field… There could be structural issues with your island… Along with a bunch of other possibilities like neglected safety requirements or poor-quality materials.
You’ll want to ask them questions about how long they’ve been building kitchens… How many have they built… And what materials they’ll be using.
You should make sure they plan on properly venting your island. This can be a huge safety concern that will drastically impact the lifespan of your island!
When you find a contractor or company you like… How should you continue to take care of your outdoor kitchen after it is built?
Continued Maintenance for A Long-Lasting Outdoor Kitchen
So you have your island built… But what happens after that?
How can you continue to protect it?
First up is regular cleaning.
Cleaning Your Outdoor Kitchen Helps Keep It In Good Shape
One of the most important parts of maintenance is keeping your island and appliances clean.
If your appliances begin to rust or are ruined from negligence… Your warranty could be voided! You’ll definitely have issues keeping them working well.
It’s always a good idea to clean your appliances after you’re done using them… Plus a deep clean every six months to a year.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re sliding out your drip tray and cleaning it regularly with de-greaser.
Spray the outside of your stainless steel grill with a stainless steel protective spray every time you use it. You can wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, going with the grain of the steel.
If you’re starting to see rust, you can use a soft cleaner.
Another way to help keep it clean, and to protect it from the elements, is to buy an island cover.
Covering Your Appliances Protects Them
Even if you clean your appliances… They will deteriorate over time from weather and use.
One way to keep them safe and extend their life by a few years is to cover them!
We spoke to Tom Sullivan, the owner of Cover Pros, who has been working with outdoor covers for the past 20 years.
His company provides custom covers for outdoor kitchens! They keep appliances and islands safe from the elements.
He recommends not using just any kind of cover:
“Sometimes people think that a really heavy cover is better for durability. The problem is that heavy covers don’t let moisture escape, and it can lead to mold or mildew!”
This can mean that instead of protecting your kitchen… You’re actually making the problem worse by trapping water in with it! This is especially harmful with materials that are susceptible to moisture.
Sullivan recommends using a different type of material for your cover to combat this.
You’re actually exacerbating the problem. Especially with materials that are susceptible to moisture.
“A breathable cover allows the water that’s in there to evaporate. That way, it doesn’t leave it on the product that you’re covering,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan recommends covering your outdoor kitchen anytime you aren’t using it for two weeks or more at a time.
“The more care you give to your outdoor kitchen, and the more often you cover it… The longer it will last,” Sullivan said.
After all, you want your outdoor kitchen to stick around for decades!
…So how can you make that happen?
In short… A combination of taking good care of it… And a high-quality outdoor kitchen!
At this point, you probably have a good idea of what materials you’re looking for…
But allow us to share one more option with you.
The Longest Lasting Outdoor Kitchen
If you want an outdoor kitchen that performs well anywhere… Doesn’t require much maintenance… And is built of out of materials that will last… We have a solution for you.
An outdoor kitchen that will last a lifetime.
The materials we use are engineered for the outdoors.
To make our islands… We use concrete that has been rated for 100 years. This is made into reinforced, engineered concrete composite panels.
You don’t want to replace your veneer… So we’ve simplified the entire outdoor kitchen building process.
How a Simplified Building Process Has Transformed the Outdoor Kitchen
Instead of having multiple layers… Our frameless islands have one, single layer. You’ll never have to reapply the veneer… Or worry about the frame rotting inside… Because it’s all in one layer!
These panels are designed to stand up to even the most brutal freeze-thaw climates.
Similar to the panels… Our countertops are composed of a high-performance concrete and structurally reinforced with composite rebar and microfibers. This gives our countertops flexural strength to handle temperature changes and ground shift.
In case you’re wondering… The appliances we use are built to last, too!
We’ve partnered up with Coyote Grills to give you some awesome premium grills. They’re made of 304 stainless steel… Which is a high-quality grade of steel that will handle the elements well.
In addition, both us at RTA and Coyote offer lifetime warranties on our products.
That means that you can have some peace of mind…
Because even though the question “How long will your outdoor kitchen last?” can be difficult to answer… You’ll know we’ve built your outdoor kitchen to last a lifetime.
If you want to learn more about our outdoor kitchens and what we do… You can visit our Learning Hub!
We’d love to hear from you.