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Stainless Steel vs Wood vs Polymer: What’s the Best Material for an Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet?

Now that the weather is finally warmer, we all look forward to spending more time outside in the fresh air. And if you’re lucky enough to have a spacious garden or balcony, you can create a versatile outdoor kitchen and get the ability to cook up your meals while enjoying the lovely weather.

When setting up an outdoor kitchen, there’s a lot more to think about than getting a barbecue and a bar fridge. Many people want their outdoor kitchen to offer the same conveniences their indoor one does – if not more. With that being said, most modern outdoor kitchens are elaborate and tend to include things like cabinets, sinks, ovens, microwaves and other state-of-the-art appliances. But all these things can be easily damaged when inside our homes, so how can they possibly survive the harsh conditions outside?

Well, it all depends on the material the elements in an outdoor kitchen are made of. Regardless of the items you choose to include in your setup, there’s one rule that applies to all of them – they need to be made of materials that can withstand the climate you live in. In order to hold up to the weather, outdoor grills, appliances and sinks tend to be stainless steel, and most countertops tend to be stone. But when it comes to choosing an outdoor kitchen cabinet – there’s a wider range of materials to consider. Namely, stainless steel, marine-grade polymer and wood. Let’s see how these different materials compare.

Stainless Steel


Without a doubt, the most popular material for an outdoor kitchen cabinet is stainless steel. Stainless steel has many properties that make it exceptionally resistant to all kinds of weather conditions – from winter snowstorms to summer heat and salty ocean air. For one, a stainless steel outdoor kitchen cabinet is going to be resistant to corrosion and staining from UV rays. This material is also non-porous, which makes it immune to mould and mildew. It also has a sleek, shiny look and is super easy to clean and maintain.

When it comes to looks – don’t think that stainless steel means boring! Today, stainless steel cabinets come in a broad array of finishes from powder-coated colour to grains, textures and other customizable details that can suit any taste and surrounding. The wide range of finishes to choose from allows you to create a cohesive look by coordinating your outdoor cabinet with the rest of the elements.

However, besides these amazing benefits, stainless-steel also has its cons. Due to their unmatched durability and modern looks, stainless steel kitchen cabinets can be pricier compared to other materials. In addition, they can also get covered in fingertips if you’re not religious about cleaning them regularly. What’s more, if the cabinet is placed under direct sunlight, it can become hot to the touch unless it’s treated with a powder-coated finish.

Marine-Grade Polymer


Another popular material for outdoor kitchen cabinets is marine-grade polymer. Polymer is a synthetic material similar to plastic. Marine-grade polymer is treated to be resistant to UV rays, water and salty ocean air. It’s also non-porous and very easy to maintain and can be hosed down for cleaning without the risk of damage. And unlike stainless-steel, marine-grade polymer will remain cool to the touch even if exposed to direct sunlight.

What’s more, marine-grade polymer is also aesthetically versatile. Outdoor cabinets made of this material come in a variety of hues and shapes with interesting curves. This makes marine-grade polymer a great choice if you want to make a statement with your cabinet.

Unfortunately, since marine-grade polymer is a synthetic material it can contain petrochemicals which may be harmful. So, if you’re considering purchasing a polymer cabinet, make sure that it’s specified to be “eco-friendly” by the manufacturer. Additionally, this material tends to warp and lose its shape over time, which can cause issues with the doors.



If you’re a fan of the traditional kitchen look, then you may prefer a hardwood outdoor kitchen cabinet. Most wooden outdoor kitchen cabinets are made of teak which is unmatched for its resistance to outside conditions. Unlike other types of wood, teak has a high content of natural rubber and oils which act as a natural sealant. And combined with a good finish, this protects the material from damage from water, sun, rot and even insects. The result is a cabinet that you can leave sitting out in the harsh sun or being rained on without worrying that it will get irreparably damaged.

Besides being weather-resistant, teak also has a unique beauty. When new, teak has a stunning buttery gold colour that gives warmth to the space. And since most outdoor furniture is made of teak or wicker, a teak cabinet can blend in beautifully with your outdoor setting. Depending on the grain and finish, a teak cabinet can be prone to fading over time, making it a more high-maintenance material.