Finishing an outdoor kitchen is the end part of building one. So if you’re at this place congrats: soon you’ll be able to run the best parties in your area. Now it’s time to decide on the looks and durability of your addition.
What are the best finishes for an outdoor kitchen? There are five materials that make a stylish and long-lasting outdoor kitchen: brick, concrete, stone, wood and stainless steel. Each of those finishes has specific features that work best on particular surfaces.
So what material is best for cabinets, countertop and flooring? What is going to work best for your outdoor kitchen? How location should affect your choice?
What are the best finishes for an outdoor kitchen?
In my opinion, there are four factors worth taking into consideration while picking surfaces for an outdoor kitchen: looks, type of surface, budget and location.
How to decide on an outdoor kitchen look?
I think the best advice I’ve heard regarding this subject is to look around your house for inspiration. If you’re looking for an outdoor-indoor experience, the design should reflect it. At least some of the elements from inside should be represented outside as well. What finishes are used inside? Do you have any stone/ wood/ stucco/ bricks inside? Are you after an industrial look or rather a romantic one?
The best thing to do is to prepare a list of finishes you used already and those you wish to use outside. Do they look alike? And do they look good with your outdoors, plaster and roofing of the house? Mixing styles might be ok, but there has to be some sort of coherence in used materials at least.
There are plenty of styles that can be used in an outdoor kitchen, like:
- english/ traditional,
- old world.
How to pick the best material for each surface?
So you have your research done and know what you ideally want for your outdoor kitchen. It’s time to check which material is going to work best with each surface. Let’s start from the ground.
Outdoor kitchen flooring
If you put your kitchen on a deck you’re done. Flooring is already there and you do not have to care. If not, and you’re placing your outdoor kitchen on the ground some kind of flooring has to be picked. You already know what was used before on your lot, so the best choice for your outdoor kitchen is going to be the exact same thing.
If your lot is an open book that you can write from the very beginning I would recommend concrete, bricks and stone.
The most budget-friendly option of those is concrete, and it comes in two trending options: stamped and rock-salt. It can be colored and stamped to mimic real stone. It works with most of the styles, as can change with coloring and texture (it also comes in tiles).
Bricks work best with Traditional English and Old World styles. This is a kind of flooring that looks attractive and is low maintenance. It is going to age well too. So if you’re after this style it may work great. Unfortunately, it comes with a price.
Stone is an amazing option for outdoors. It comes with a price but is long-lasting and looks marvelous. It gives a lot of freedom in design, as it comes with a variety of styles and colors.
Each style of an outdoor kitchen can be complemented by multiple flooring options. So for a Tuscan tumbled pavers are going to work amazing, but so is going unhoned travertine and textured stamp concrete.
Best material for outdoor kitchen cabinets
There are two things to cover while talking about finishing cabinets: covering façade and picking proper outdoor kitchen cabinet doors.
Best outdoor kitchen façade
To pick the best outdoor kitchen finish it is very important to go back to planning. So look at your card. You probably wrote what your preferred style is and what sort of materials were already used on your property.
In my opinion, concrete can work great with most of the styles and budgets, as it’s sort of invisible and makes a great background for other materials to shine. Stone and bricks are going to make your outdoor kitchen a focal point, and are going to work especially great if they were used elsewhere on your lot. They look lovely on backsplashes too.
Best outdoor kitchen cabinet doors
Cabinet doors should not only be looking good but also be long-lasting. There are plenty of options to use, but I’m going to mention 3 I find most attractive: stainless steel, wood and polymer.
Stainless steel is an excellent choice for an outdoor kitchen, as cabinet doors are looking appliances alike. Stainless steel is durable and easy to take care of, so it’s going to work well in harsh climates (snowy winters, oceanfront). It comes in a variety of textures and colors, so it can imitate a lot of materials, including wood. While powder coated is very easy to clean. It works with most of the styles, as comes in such a variety of textures and colors.
For more traditional styles wood is a natural choice. Using wood outside though should be done carefully. Affordable types of wood can do well outside, but they are going to need care. Exotic wood works great, but it comes at a price. Even though it’s the most pro-eco choice, it’s not weather-resistant. Those features of wood can be somewhat changed.
How do you waterproof wood cabinets? There are two ways to waterproofing wooden outdoor kitchen cabinets:
- Sealing cabinets with polyurethane, varnish, or lacquer.
- Waterproofing with a stain-sealant combo.
While picking the first option it’s important to work with marine varnish, as it contains UV absorbent. A full description of the process can be found here.
Budget savvy option is polymer. It comes in variety of colors and textures. It’s easy to take care of. It may do fine, but it doesn’t feel as luxurious as stainless steel or wood. It’s low maintenance and weather-resistant.
Best finish for outdoor kitchen countertops
Picking a countertop for your outdoor kitchen may give you a headache. There are so many options that picking one is really difficult. But you looked for finishings at your home, right? Have you seen anything that you’d like to incorporate in your backyard? Even if it’s an indoors material you can find a similar one for outdoors.
I personally think that an outdoor kitchen works best with stone. Either you chose granite, or quartzite you’ll be fine for years to come. Other options are dekton, stainless steel, concrete, and wood.
A stone countertop can add a lot of beauty to the outdoor kitchen area. Stone comes in a variety of colors and textures, so it is able to blend in each style. There are plenty of types of stone to choose from. I wrote a post about the best stones for an outdoor kitchen. If you have difficulty with choosing a stone for your backyard area take a look.
Is granite good for outside? Granite is an excellent material for outdoor kitchen countertops. Advantages: looks and durability. Disadvantages: price, needs to be sealed to prevent weathering. Hint: It’s worth choosing granite that is quite pale, so it will not get hot from sunbeams.
Dekton countertop looks stone alike, just has different features, and is budget-friendly. Such countertop consists of glass, quartz, and porcelain, that have been intensely heated and compacted. It doesn’t need sealing (stone does), and has 25 years of warranty. It looks really nice – you can check here.
Consumerreports.org did a test to check Dekton’s features and it has some solid pros. It resists abrasion, staining, heat, and cuts. It is also UV and water-resistant. On the cons side, it chipped off the edges and cracked into two pieces.
Stainless steel countertop gives a very industrial style to a kitchen. It can be a stem, it can be a loft, but it is very defined. The advantage of such countertops is durability, especially when it’s structured. There are disadvantages too:
- all cutting should take place on a board,
- hot pans cannot be placed directly on the countertop,
- gets hot from the sun.
Concrete is another budget-friendly option for a countertop (maybe even most budget-friendly). Wood, in my opinion, is not the best choice for a countertop, as it requires a lot of attention.
How can I protect my kitchen from a harsh climate?
If your property is situated at an oceanfront, or you live in states with winter storms, your outdoor kitchen needs extra care.
Oceanfront means air is filled with salty drops that are going to land on your outdoor kitchen. This location means your kitchen:
- needs to be cleaned completely more often (even twice a month),
- more resistant materials have to be chosen for cabinetry.
Unfortunately, there are not many options for you. Covered stainless steel and exotic wood will do well in this location. Your choice is limited, but hey! You have an ocean view!
For those who have winter storms, as I do, there is also one unpleasant information. Concrete maybe not the best option for you, as it tends to break in winter. Also: it’s a must to buy a tarp to cover your outdoor kitchen in off-season for protection.