If you’ve been considering adding a stainless steel outdoor kitchen to your home, you have probably heard the terms 304 stainless steel and 316L or marine grade stainless steel. These numbers refer to two grades of stainless steel, which are determined by their alloy composition.

Outdoor Kitchen with Stainless steel cabinetry

Whether your outdoor kitchen needs marine grade (316) stainless steel depends on where you live.

304 vs. 316 Stainless Steel

For a material to be considered stainless steel, at least 10.5% of the make-up must be chromium. Additional alloys typically include nickel, titanium, aluminum, copper, nitrogen, phosphorous, selenium and molybdenum. The key difference between the 304 and the 316L is the addition of molybdenum in the 316L. It is the molybdenum that enhances corrosion resistance in environments rich in salt air and chloride – giving 316L the moniker of “marine grade” stainless steel.

Marine grade stainless steel is the recommended outdoor cabinetry material for all coastal areas. However, in other environments, such as the desert, the mountains, a city rooftop or simply – your home, 304 works just fine. The fact of the matter is that the majority of appliance and grill manufacturers use 304 stainless steel – even in coastal areas, requiring that you clean and maintain your appliances on regular basis (or keep them covered).

It is also important to note that stainless steel is not stain proof; it is stain less. As such, regardless of whether you use 304 or 316L exposed stainless steel requires maintenance. The addition of molybdenum (in marine grade stainless steel) only retards corrosion, it does not stop it.

Why Add Powder Coating to Stainless Steel?

In order to truly fight corrosion, Danver recommends powder coating your outdoor kitchen cabinets, regardless of the grade of stainless you choose. Powder coating adds a number of benefits including creating a protective seal on the stainless surface, further protecting your investment from the environment.

Luxury Outdoor Kicthen with Powder Coat FInish

This beautiful outdoor kitchen in California features powder coat finished stainless steel cabinets for design and less maintenance.

The powder coat finish makes your outdoor kitchen almost maintenance free from a cleaning perspective, as well. Where traditional stainless steel highlights fingerprints, streaking, smudges, dust and dirt requiring seemingly endless polishing and cleaning, a power coated kitchen can be sprayed down with a hose or maybe a little detergent and a sponge to look brand new! In addition, powder coat finishes are available in a variety of colors and realistic wood grains, bringing style and design to your outdoor kitchen – and saving you from blinding reflections and summer sun hot surfaces.

Over 85% of the kitchens manufactured in our Connecticut factory are powder coated. In the 10 years we have been delivering these kitchens, we have virtually no instances of rust or degradation on powder coated surfaces.

Stainless steel outdoor kitchens are a great long-term investment and we’re here to help you understand the intricacies involved. If you have additional questions or would like advice on your project, reach out to our in-house design team at 203-269-2300 or contact us and we’ll be in touch!