Outdoor Kitchen Experts See New Trends in Materials and Design

According to South Florida outdoor kitchen design experts, homeowners seek more than ever to bring the indoors outside. Lanai living now features everything from large stonework grills, cabinetry (cabinetry is already plural, so it’s either cabinetry or cabinets), sinks, bars fireplaces and pizza ovens made from HDPE to replace wood. Outdoor kitchens can provide the ideal gathering place for entertainment, according to Dave Baccari, President of SouthernStone Cabinets.

“By using HDPE materials, our design options are endless and the material is low maintenance and easy to clean, standing up to the wear and tear of outdoor environments,” he said. “As these outdoor living areas become larger and more elaborate, HDPE cabinetry has become a standout material in providing long-term durability with beautifully crafted looks.”

Baccari said it’s imperative to use materials throughout his entire line of outdoor cabinetry that are designed to withstand the elements. To demonstrate SouthernStone’s commitment to durability, the company has chosen to craft their outdoor cabinetry using Vycom’s Seaboard® HDPE combined with stainless steel screws and hinges to make them impervious to the weather. Seaboard® HDPE earned its reputation in the boating and marine industry. “Seaboard® provides a weather-resistant surface that will not rust, rot, corrode, delaminate or splinter over time,” he said. “The overall result is low-maintenance which contributes to an easy outdoor lifestyle.”

Beyond easy care, homeowner demand for style and great looks prompted SouthernStone to feature nine different door styles ranging from a contemporary, slab design to a grooved panel, shaker style door, as well as complete customization of cabinet size and depth. With colors of Polar White, Craft Gray, Mercury Gray, Black, Sandshade, and Seafoam, there’s no need for painting. “All of our Seaboard® doors are produced internally using CNC routing equipment for a long-lasting, well-designed look,” said Baccari.

Doug Haynes, CEO of KitchenArt, a dealer of SouthernStone’s and a full service remodeling firm, agrees that the trend toward outdoor kitchens is growing. And he says any attempts at using wood products, even cedar and cypress, is a losing battle. “They can only survive in this climate for a few years,” said Haynes. Serving South Florida since 1989, Haynes says KitchenArt’s installers have replaced rotted wood over and over again.

As the desire for outdoor kitchens heats up, architects are designing these areas into new homes and builders are making them part of the models in new developments. Haynes says the replacement materials such as Seaboard® and Designboard® are being featured as options in these models.

With the intensity of Florida’s heat, sunlight and summer rains, SouthernStone’s dealers stress they want a product that will withstand all that Mother Nature can throw at it. But what do these alternative materials run in cost? Baccari sums it up: “We need to educate the homeowner public that although HDPE may cost a bit more upfront, you will actually see a return on investment very quickly, because of the way wood deteriorates and becomes an expensive maintenance nightmare with labor, repair and replacement costs.”