You’re getting ready to finally build that dreamy outdoor kitchen you’ve been thinking about for years as the trend has risen. But you’ve got some decisions to make.
One of the big ones is what materials to use as you build. How do you make it affordable, safe, and all that you’ve been dreaming of?
One of the biggest ways folks save on the build is using wood to frame in the outdoor kitchen. But is it a good idea?
Let’s take a look.
Can you frame an outdoor kitchen with wood?
Depending on who you ask, framing your outdoor kitchen is wood either a great idea, or the worst one yet. Wood is the least expensive way to frame in your outdoor kitchen, however, it is the least fire and weather resistant of the options, which turns some contractors and DIY-ers off the idea of using wood.
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What is an Outdoor Kitchen Frame Anyway?
I’m sure you can figure out the basic concept of what a frame for your outdoor kitchen is, but a few details you might not thought of could include:
- The frame supports cladding, stucco finish, or stone veneer
- It’s the structural support for your countertop and other appliances
- It houses your accessories and other appliances, drawers, cabinets, etc.
Basically, the frame is the essential structure of your outdoor kitchen. Without it, you’ve just got a pile of stone and appliances.
Pros of Wood Frames for Outdoor Kitchens
As with pretty much everything, wood frames for outdoor kitchens have both pros and cons. Let’s look first at the pros. They may just be what helps you decide to use wood.
Wood is the Most Affordable Framing Option
If you’re on a budget like so many of us, wood is going to be your best friend.
The initial cost of framing your outdoor kitchen with wood is significantly cheaper than using other materials like metal.
Pressure-treated pine is one of the most common woods used for this purpose because it is the cheapest option in most locations.
Typically, pressure-treated pine will run you between $3 and $10 per square foot.
Wood is Easiest to Work With
Unless you’re a welder, wood is going to be your easiest material for doing your outdoor kitchen as a DIY project.
If you have no experience at all with construction, you’re far more likely to be able to frame in your kitchen yourself if you use wood.
You Can Easily Add Backing to a Wood Frame
Wood allows you to easily add backing, accents, and finishes like granite, tile, glass, and other attractive materials that are more affordable if you’re not building the whole thing out of metal or concrete.
Wood Frames Require No Specialty Tools
Unlike many of the other framing options, wooden frames don’t require any specialized tools. Just standard woodworking tools like saws, sanders, and drills.
Cons of Wood Frames for Outdoor Kitchens
However, using wood to frame your kitchen may cause some issues as well.
Some professionals recommend avoiding wood altogether in your outdoor kitchen for the following reasons.
Wood is Flammable
In case you needed to be reminded, wood is far more flammable than materials like concrete and metal.
And since you’re building a space that will definitely be exposed to fire, many contractors hesitate to use wood as the frame.
Wood is Vulnerable to Termites
Unlike concrete or metal, wood is vulnerable to insect damage as well.
And because it’s the frame, you may not catch the visual signs of termite damage as quickly as you need to for saving the frame.
Wood May Warp or Rot
Additionally, wood is the most prone of all materials to warp or rot.
This means your kitchen frame could lose its shape, which means your kitchen loses its full support. This can, of course, cause structural damage for the kitchen.
What Kind of Wood Should I Use for an Outdoor Kitchen?
If you opt to use wood to frame in your outdoor kitchen, there are a few key woods to consider as you build.
The most popular option – and most readily available – is pressure-treated pine wood.
Pressure-treated pine is more durable under extreme heat and less likely to rot than other wood choices.
Ipe wood decking is another highly durable wood option for outdoor use. It’s more durable than teak (another popular option) and more cost-effective.
Ipe wood is naturally resistant to many of the issues of outdoor wood use, including:
- Wood-boring insects
- Easy splintering
- Spread of flames
Cumaru, or Brazilian Teak, is one of the other most durable woods out there for outdoor kitchen framing.
Brazilian Teak looks pretty much exactly like Ipe wood, as well, though there are some color variations.
Brazilian Teak is also cheaper than many other wood options while still having the high fire spreading resistance.
Probably the third most popular wood for outdoor use is tigerwood, a hardwood.
It’s not as dense as Brazilian Teak or Ipe, but it’s still quite durable and dense enough for use in building effectively.
What Woods Should I Avoid for Framing My Outdoor Kitchen?
There are several types of wood we’d recommend avoid using in your outdoor kitchen construction.
Any Wood That is Untreated
First off, any wood that isn’t treated will cause you issues, as they won’t be as resistant to water damage, fire, etc.
Cedar and Other Soft Woods
Cedar, though popular for construction indoors for closets and chests for storage of clothing, it’s a terrible choice for outdoor use.
Other softwoods will have the same issues, including:
These softwoods are susceptible to rot, termite damage, fire spreading, and mold mildew.
Untreated pine is also problematic, also being a softwood.
How to Fireproof Wood for an Outdoor Kitchen?
To protect your outdoor kitchen from fire (as much as you can!), you’ll want to take some precautionary actions.
- Insulate the frame
- Add cement backer board on both the inside and outside of the frame
- Use an insulation jacket for your grill
- Install a range hood
- Keep the grill, pizza oven, standard oven, burner, or other heat sources in good repair
- Never leave your grill unattended while it’s lit
- Keep all fabrics and flammable products (fire starter!) away from the grill, oven, or burners
- Keep a fire blanket and fire extinguisher nearby
- Build your firepit away from the wood frame structures
- Check any chimneys or vents regularly, to ensure they are clear
Are Wood Frames a Popular Option for Outdoor Kitchens?
For DIY-ers and folks on a tight budget, wood frames for their outdoor kitchens are fairly popular.
However, many recommend that if you can afford to use another kind of frame, you’d be better off in the long run.