Outdoor Kitchen Advice

Here's a laundry list of issues to address if you build an outdoor kitchen. October 13, 2012

I have a project coming up that involves an outdoor kitchen. Normally this is not an issue, but the clients want a cerused finish. What wood would you suggest for an outdoor project that will be fully covered? We are a full WB shop so I would rather not use teak and have to figure out the vaguerize of teak oil and my waterbased finishes. Can I just use white oak like I normally would, and plan on coating all sides with an outdoor grade of poly?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
The last outdoor we did was built out of cypress.

From contributor B:
I would worry about the changes in humidity. Inside is pretty safe from extremes. We tend not to be comfortable at humidity levels either under 25-30% or over 75-80%. (Bathrooms can briefly be 95 plus.) Outside has much larger temperature swings. With that delta T comes a large daily change in humidity. Depending on the climate, it may be very humid for months on end (west coast winter, Florida summer.)

Steps I'd consider:

1. Interior and exterior surfaces get the same treatment. This should reduce the inequalities in water uptake. So: No single veneer pieces. Everything has to be double surface. Everything gets six coats of whatever. (You can skimp on the sanding on some surfaces.)

2. Water is going to be present. Hoses, sprinklers - if it is outside it will get wet. This is part of the definition of outside. (Also of dogs and children.) No wooden legs can touch the floor/ground. Put it up on some kind of water impermeable support that is at least 1/4" thick, but is smaller than the leg. No water can collect on top of the impermeable support, which in turn keeps everything out of the puddles. Stains have to accommodate sun level UV. Normal window glass blocks a large fraction of UV (80%). If there is any possibility of driving rain (or sprinklers) reaching the cabinetry, you need to design seals and overlaps into the door shapes. Also drains at the bottom of the door edges, and a slope on the bottom edge.

Drip grooves in all overhangs. I'd be tempted to put it together with mechanical connectors instead of glue. This allows edges to be sealed. If you are using panel, rail and stile construction you need to figure out how to keep the water from getting into the stiles at the bottom edge of the panel. Allow two-three times the amount of expansion and contraction room. All electrical is on a GFI.

You need to cheat on the drains, and collect them into a single trap. Put that trap over a pit, and replace the plug with a valve, so that the trap can be easily drained. All water lines need to have drain lines. Best practice would be to have a single self-draining hydrant valve, and make sure everything runs uphill from it. This way the system can be winterized in two minutes. However, insulate all water lines so that if someone forgets and it freezes that night, the damage is minimal. All water lines and drain lines are placed so they are accessible.