Outdoor Kitchen Frame Wood vs Metal [Specs & How to DIY]

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outdoor kitchen frame material comparion metal vs wood

The outdoor kitchen frame is one of the first things to decide on during the construction process. And even though the result of choice is not going to be visible later on, it can really make a difference in construction speed, budget, and longevity.

Metal and wood are two common materials used for outdoor kitchen frame. Metal studs are difficult to work with but increase longevity and are resistant to insect invasion. Wood is easy to work with, doesn’t require atypical tools, and is inexpensive.

There are plenty of factors that influence outdoor kitchen frame material choice, from processing difficulty, through resistance to moisture and insects, to budget. Let’s dive a bit deeper to find out more.

Outdoor kitchen frame: wood vs. metal

There are fans of each solution out there. Most DIY projects shown on the web are done with pressure-treated pine. On the other hand, professionals tend to use metal studs solely. Both groups argue online over which solution is better. The answer is: it depends.

The table below gathered data about the construction and features of metal and wood frames for outdoor kitchens.

Tools levelAdvancedBasic
Price of material$$$$
Fire hazardNoYes
Moisture resistance*****
Insects/ rodent resistance****
Other issuesRustRot/ Mold
A table showing differences between wood and metal framing for an outdoor kitchen

Wood is material for outdoor kitchen framing that does not require special tools or advanced skills. This is the main reason handy people choose it over metal. If you already have some tools, you’ll be able to use them.

On the other hand, metal requires advanced tools, which not everybody has in their workshop and advanced skills. Suppose you haven’t work with metal before; it is going to require learning. This is why the main people praising metal studs are outdoor kitchen professionals.

The price of both materials is a factor too. In fact, metal studs can be up to 10 times more expensive than wood per sq ft.

Fire hazard is one of the loudest objections against the wood. Wood can burn, so working with it requires extra insulation and insulation jackets. For this reason, it is also crucial to use range hoods, as in case of an emergency, they direct fire and prevent a fire from spreading.

Does it work similarly to moisture resistance? Both of the materials are not 100% resistant. If an outdoor kitchen is a well-made frame is not exposed to these factors. If water gets to the frame both of the materials can injure – wood can rot or get mold, metal can rust. As a matter of fact, for humid areas, experts advise using wood.

Another difference between wood and metal is load-bearing. Unusually, this factor doesn’t matter that much, as moderate outdoor kitchen materials will not be too heavy. It is worth keeping it in mind, though, and while picking wood, making sure heavy parts, like the grill, are well-supported.

The last factor mentioned in the table is an insect and rodent invasion. This is an important topic. Both of these animal groups can injure wood and can’t harm the metal. If you decide to go with wood, you must make the construction closed to animals, as they can invade it. Routine inspections are a must.

I believe now you have a feeling which framing is better for your construction. Now let’s take a closer look at the available options.

Outdoor kitchen frame: wood

outdoor kitchen frame: wood
Outdoor kitchen frame: wood

Pressure-treated wood is an excellent material to build an outdoor kitchen frame. It is:

  • accessible,
  • inexpensive,
  • doesn’t require atypical tools,
  • easy to work with.

The most recommended types of wood for framing are pressure-treated pine and glulam (glued laminated timber).

There are people on the web who show framing made out of wood pallets. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this solution. There are two reasons for that. First of all, the outdoor kitchen is a place you’re going to prepare food, so you have to be sure what you use to build it is healthy. Pallet wood is sprayed with substances that are a danger on such occasions. Second of all, this is not wood resistant to moisture and temperature.

Accessibility is a great advantage of wood. You can buy it where you live, so it is also more eco. Did you know pines produce more oxygen during their growth than their treatment produces?

Another important factor is the price. 1 sq ft of a pressure-treated pine can be bought for $5-$10, depending on your location. This is the least 8x less than metal! The price is important for DIY projects.

Tools to work with wood are usually already in the household and basic as a regular hammer or drill. As the owner usually uses these tools, they are familiar with them, so the work is safer. On the other hand, working with metal is way more challenging and dangerous, especially for inexperienced ones.

The greatest advantage of wood is the ease of working with wood because, as a material, wood is very forgiving, malleable, and flexible. Mistakes can be fixed.

What to pay attention to when building a wood frame for an outdoor kitchen? Fire hazard, moisture exposure, and animal invasion. The first step of care for all of these problems is picking the right type of wood.

Outdoor kitchen framing: types of wood
Outdoor kitchen framing: types of wood

The truth about wood is its features can vary a lot. A regular log will be less resistant to fire than glulam or pressure-treated pine. And the same with the moisture resistance. Have you noticed there are bridges made out of engineered wood? Or houses that are 100+ years old? There is a reason for that.

An engineered wood making process is going to explain a lot. The first step is cutting and drying the wood (either under the sun or in chambers). For glulam, all the imperfections are removed, so planks don’t have any knots. As these wood types are dried (to under 20%), and their imperfections are removed, they’re way less likely to rot or get mold. It is crucial to remember that rot, mold, and insects appear in weak spots.

If you build a structure out of a proper type of wood it is very unlikely to get any of these issues.

Wood can catch fire, though. There are three things to take care of when making an outdoor kitchen framing from wood:

  1. Put insulation on the frame.
  2. Use the insulation jacket for the grill.
  3. Whenever grill instruction says it’s a must, install a range hood.

49% of home fires are caused by cooking. If a fire is a big concern for you, several things can be done:

  1. Keep the grill, burner, and pizza oven clean and in good repair.
  2. Do not leave the grill unattended while on.
  3. Keep towels and pot holders away from grill, burner, and oven.
  4. Purchase a fire blanket and/or Class K Fire Extinguisher.

These rules apply to any type of outdoor kitchen.

An additional piece of advice is to inspect an outdoor kitchen regularly. It is crucial not only for framing but also, gas, plumbing, and electricity. This is a way to a safe backyard cooking area.

So is framing an outdoor kitchen with wood a good idea or not? If the wood is of good quality and proper type: yes!

Metal outdoor kitchen frame

metal outdoor kitchen frame
Metal outdoor kitchen frame

Professionals most commonly use metal outdoor kitchen frame. It requires advanced construction skills and tools but is resistant to fire and animal invasion. It can load a lot of weight, so it is a perfect choice for a grand, long-living outdoor kitchen.

Plenty of outdoor kitchens are made entirely out of metal. The right metal, which is a stainless steel 304, copes well with the elements. This is not the only type of steel out there, so it is crucial to double-check this parameter. If the grill is made of a different type, it isn’t very likely to last long.

Metal studs are most commonly used by professionals. The reasons are:

  • less accessibility (most often have to be ordered),
  • require special tools and skill,
  • expensive.

Metal studs cost about $80 – $90 per 1 sq ft. As tools to work with metal are expensive too, you’ll have to ass a couple of hundred $ to this bill if you do not have them yet. If your outdoor kitchen is directly under the sky, paying this much may be a good idea (I would cover an outdoor kitchen while unused anyway).

If an outdoor kitchen is made with metal framing installing a grill doesn’t require buying an insulation jacket, so you can cross $500+ from your list. Savings grow even more if you want to install a burner too ( additional $300).

Metal as the material has plenty of advantages; for example, it can bear a lot of weight. Basically, any finishing material can be used on such a frame. This is the reason most luxurious stone outdoor kitchens are done with metal studs.

Metal doesn’t catch fire, so constructions made with metal framing are safer. Even though the general rules of cooking outside should be kept.

Animals cannot ruin metal construction. It’s worth inspecting the outdoor kitchen with metal frames as well, as they usually have wires and tubes inside that can be ruined, but construction is safe.

What can happen to metal outdoor kitchen construction is rust, so humid areas going with metal framing may not be the best idea.

I hope this article helped you with your choice. What material are you going to choose? Please live an answer in the comment section.


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