Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel Essentials: The Ultimate Guide

by Chris Commins

Stainless steel in outdoor kitchens

Stainless steel is one of the top materials used in outdoor kitchen products. Grill bodies, drawers, countertops, pantry storage, prep stations, vent hoods - all of it is made of stainless steel in the majority of outdoor kitchens.

If you’re wondering whether stainless steel is the best material for all these elements - this post is for you. Let’s go over all of the reasons stainless steel is used so widely and take a look at the top alternatives.

Stainless Steel - the Material Overview

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron that is resistant to rust. It’s made of iron with additions of chromium, carbon, and other elements such as nickel, titanium, manganese, or molybdenum in different proportions.

The composition and proportion of elements in stainless steel affect its grade. The most commonly used grades are 304 (e.g. in these doors), 316 (the most durable grade) and the cheaper grades 443, 430, and 201 (these are cheaper but they are more susceptible to corrosion).

We’re constantly monitoring the market and working with the top-of-the-line manufacturers to make sure the products we offer are made of the highest-grade stainless steel alloys.

There are several stainless steel finish options - polished, brushed, and powder-coated are used in Texas outdoor kitchens the most often. Most of the difference is aesthetic - and in how easily they get stained. Polished stainless steel is the easiest one to stain with grease, but it’s also the easiest one to wipe down.

Go for the look you feel matches your landscape and the rest of your kitchen island.

Pros of Stainless Steel in Your Outdoor Kitchen

Durable

Stainless steel panels will not crack, bend, or twist from heat and moisture. You can express yourself freely and cook at any pace without worrying about dropping utensils and occasionally slamming a door or two.

Lightweight

Most of the stainless steel elements of outdoor kitchens we install are relatively light - which is great for your decking and outdoor kitchen foundations.

Easy to Manufacture

Even though our product line is diverse and versatile, stainless steel elements are easy to customize, since the material can be bent and molded into various shapes. This gives manufacturers a lot of freedom and you can leverage that in your kitchen design.

Easy to Maintain and Clean

Polished stainless steel is extremely easy to wipe down with light non-abrasive cleaning products. This is a great advantage because you can sanitize your surfaces easily - no raw meat-soaked countertops!

Clean stainless steel surfaces are extremely pleasant to be around - and the fun of cooking is not eclipsed by lengthy clean-ups.

Modern and Strict

Stainless steel gives you that sleek modern right-to-business look that reminds you of restaurant kitchens and cooking shows. Clean stainless steel countertops also instill a sense of safety because of their sterile look.

Downsides of Stainless Steel

The Heat

Stainless steel gets hot relatively easily, both from the sun and from the grill and burners’ heat. 

However, most of the high-end grills and burners we sell are designed in such a way that anything you or your family can touch is far enough from the heat source to pose any risk.

Reflections

Not necessarily an issue that needs to be addressed or solved, just keep in mind that in sunny weather stainless steel can work as a giant mirror, producing sunlight spots at certain angles. 

Keep that in mind while designing your outdoor kitchen and the roof over it.

Obviously, powder-coated finishes are not reflective, so if you prefer matte surfaces take a look at our powder-coated grills and accessories.

Will Not Fit Every Design …At First


If the general theme of your outdoor kitchen and landscape design is closer to a rustic look, stainless steel panels may be too industrial for it. 

Still, there are ways to make stainless steel work in many interiors, so consult a designer - or give us a call.

Will Still Rust in Coastal Regions


Stainless steel does rust in coastal climates under the influence of salt and moisture in the air. 

Obviously, our Austin and San Antonio customers don’t have to worry about this issue, but if you purchase our products to install closer to the seaside - you can use protective coating products to minimize the chances of corrosion.

Getting Stained with Grease Easily


Since stainless steel surfaces are mirror-like, every stain is visible. 

However, nothing is absorbed into stainless steel and it’s extremely easy to wipe down. 

You could say that being easily stained is an advantage since it ensures everything gets cleaned often.

Can Get Dents


Steel sheets won’t crack or break, but they will potentially get dents when they are hit with heavier objects. To minimize that make sure you’re getting equipment from the best brands that use thicker stainless steel sheets.

With that said, there are hardly any viable alternatives for stainless steel for a convenient, durable, and aesthetic outdoor kitchen. Let’s go over the main alternatives to stainless steel:

Brick vs Stainless Steel


Some outdoor kitchens are made with brick elements like walls, ovens, and columns.

While brick is inexpensive, durable, and looks great outside, planning too much masonry work would turn your outdoor kitchen into a more long-lasting and consuming project than it has to be.

Most of the grills and appliances we sell can be easily arranged in modules for a kitchen of any layout imaginable. Give us a call or drive by if you want to see how versatile modern equipment gets!

Wood vs Stainless Steel


Wooden cabinets, doors, and drawers can make sense in kitchens, but not so much in outdoor ones.

Although wood may give your outdoor kitchen that old money look, wooden surfaces go bad really fast outdoors. 

Wood is damaged by both sunlight and moisture, and wooden cabinets lose their shape and get twisted way too fast.

Natural Stone vs Stainless Steel


Natural stone countertops are classy, cool in the heat, and very hard - but they also require delicate handling and a bespoke cleaning routine.

Most of our clients skip natural stone in their outdoor kitchen design when they learn how costly and risky maintenance is. Stone is more expensive than stainless steel, virtually impossible to repair if it cracks or breaks. 

Finding What’s Right for Your Kitchen


If you are ready to start with your outdoor kitchen project - you’re in for an exciting time! 

Planning, designing, and equipping your future outdoor kitchen is a thrilling process that helps you learn more not just about modern tech and trends or high-end grill designs, but about yourself and your own needs.

We’ve got all you need in stock, and our expertise is unmatched. Let’s talk!