Can You Build an Outdoor Kitchen Out of Wood? [3 Proven Facts]

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can you build an outdoor kitchen out of wood?

Can you build an outdoor kitchen out of wood? Voices on the internet state that it is a fire hazard, the perfect material for mold invasion, and a way to lower outdoor kitchen longevity. The truth is there are plenty of wooden outdoor kitchen pros too.

An outdoor kitchen can be built entirely out of wood. There are multiple wood types that are going to work excellent for framing, veneer, cabinet doors, countertops, and even covering! Wood is ecologic, long-lasting, and antibacterial material, that ages outdoors with grace.

If it is so where those negative opinions came from? How to figure what type of wood to choose for each job to be sure it is going to work well? Is there anything that has to be done to the wood to keep its features? How to make wood a safe material?

Can you build an outdoor kitchen out of wood? 3 Facts.

Yes, you can! It’s going to be cheaper, and require less labor. It is also easier to work with wood than, for example, steel, and wood-working tools are more accessible (and available in plenty of households). Below you’ll find three facts about wood, that are well known and confirmed by scientific research.

Fact 1: Wood is a long-lasting material, so it makes durable outdoor kitchens

wood is a long lasting material for an outdoor kitchen

Yes, you’ve read it right. In fact, it is such a long-lasting material, that there are plenty of wooden houses (so built entirely outdoors) in a good shape, that were built 100+ years ago. Rain, snow, moisture, and other factors affected them both from outside and inside and yet they’re still there.

In fact, wood is still a very popular construction material, used to build houses. A big advantage of using wood is the speed of construction. If wood for a house is preprepared in a factory, construction on the lot may take 1-2 weeks. This is really an impossible goal for other traditional technologies.

To be honest building an outdoor kitchen out of wood can also be faster than from other materials. Devices to work with wood are way more popular than those to work with a stone for example. And stone as a material is way more laborious.

As in any case for an outdoor kitchen too, wood needs to be picked carefully. The time it was seasoned, it’s wetness, and type of wood are going to be very important.

glulam is an amazing material for outdoor kitchen construction

For outdoors my favorite type of wood is glulam (glued wood). Even though wood, in general, has good features, this material features are simply outstanding! This super-wood has super-strength, super-resistance to mold and insects, high thermal isolation (so it is not going to get so hot in the sun), and, to me, wood looks better without knots.

If you do not have access to this high-tech material (better double-check, as it is awesome) there are other types of wood to choose from. A lot of people work with fence-wood. As it was already created for outdoors it can do the job on your outdoor kitchen veneer and cabinets as well.

Even though wood is indeed a long-lasting material it needs care. Fortunately, we live in times where plenty of remedies are accessible. Most times another layer of impregnate needs to be added when outdoor kitchen color fades, so it is easy to figure when is the time for extra work.

It seems so easy now, so where those negative opinions came from? First of all, I think people are not aware of what sort of wood should they use outside. Or rather what sort of wood should not ever be used outside. Second of all wood needs care. It should be impregnated and covered, so rain and snow are not going to demolish it. And even if you love wood, as I do, it’s worth thinking of parts that maybe shouldn’t be made out of wood.

I love wooden countertops and so I have one. I still love the look, but I did not expect the amount of maintenance. Even well-prepared wood may not be the best choice for the main countertop. Unless you’re ok with oiling it quite often (color fades so it is really easy to say when). I wouldn’t also recommend a wood countertop next to the grill and on the splashback, for safety reasons.

Actually, it is always important to think about safety during construction. First of all stainless steel grill jacket is a good idea each time you use combustible materials. The second thing is a range hood – if your grill instruction says you should have it, install it. It not only helps with the smoke but also directs fire in case of an emergency.

Side countertop, like an island/ butcher block, I think is an excellent choice though. It doesn’t have much in common with water or very hot accessories, so it is going to do just fine and be a joy to the eye.

Fact 2: Wood is anti-bacterial, so it work perfect for an outdoor kitchen

This actually is a pretty important feature in an outdoor kitchen, and other materials are not even in the competition with wood.

“When the amounts of bacterial growth on different surfaces were cultured and compared in a laboratory, both e. coli and listeria bacteria gradually died on the wood surface, but survived on the glass plate serving as a control.” – says Tiina Vainio-Kaila

One of the reasons is wood dries faster than other materials, and bacterias prepare a rather wet environment. Also wood itself is anti-bacterial. There are cosmetics and medicines made for this reason out of pine wood.

There is something more important than cosmetics and medicines in an outdoor kitchen: cutting boards and countertops. Below you’ll find result of research made in Germany by Wilms on e.coli bacterium development on different surfaces. This is a common bacteria one might be infected with.

Four different surfaces were infected with 1 x 106 CFU (total number of bacteria live per sq. cm): wood, stainless steel, glass, and plastic. Wood is an unquestionable winner in here. It took wood only 2 hours to eliminate all bacteria! Second in competition was glass, Third with about 7 days (sic!) stainless steel. Plastic got an even worse result – 9 days! So what wood could do in 2 hours, other materials needed for from 7 to 9 days!

wood is an antibacterial material great for kitchen area
Source: Wilms

I bet now even if you do not feel like wooden countertops you’re about to buy wooden cutting boards, aren’t you?

As an outdoor kitchen is a pretty messy place having this sort of characteristic on all surfaces is valuable. It doesn’t really matter if it’s veneer, cabinet doors or frame, as hygiene is a key to not poison yourself or your guests.

Fact 3: Wood is a sustainable construction material for an outdoor kitchen

Wood is an only renewable construction material. During growth, that usually takes decades, it captures carbon dioxide. Often trees capture more CO2 than is generated during wood treatment. Now let’s dive a bit into diagram below.

wood is a sustainable material for an outdoor kitchen
Source: SCA

As you can see wood is the most sustainable material of all! With results close to nothing. And this diagram does not even include carbon dioxide captured in wood during growth!

As a matter of fact, using wood for your outdoor kitchen can a big gesture for our planet. As you can see concrete, that you really have to use a lot of to create an outdoor kitchen, generates plenty of carbon emission in its life cycle. With stainless steel, it’s even worse! Actually, let’s be honest, it’s terrible.

When you try to care for Earth it is crucial to reduce the number of fossil fuels used not only by yourself but also to produce the products you buy. As you can see on the SCA diagram there is no construction material like wood.

If you still wonder what type of wood should be chosen for your outdoor kitchen in terms of sustainability the answer is: the one that is going to be most durable. The longer things are going to be used by you, the more you care you show for the planet.

It’s worth remembering, that building with wood is positive for the climate. So even if you’re not going to have each surface made out of wood it’s worth considering building as much of it as possible. As you can see above stainless steel and concrete generate massive amounts of carbon emission. From a sustainable point of view does materials should be omitted, or used wisely.

I hope this article helped you in making an informed choice for your backyard. If you looked for a piece of information I did not include in this article please write about it in the comments section. I’ll be glad to cover it in the future.

Magdalena Dutkiewicz

I like looking for solutions that lead to specific plans. Of course, looking for inspiration for outdoor kitchens is something I really enjoy too. But translating it into an action plan is something that pushes me to act.

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