Outdoor Cabinets - what materials?


Corporate Member
I'm planning to build some cabinets that will be outside on a covered dock at the lake. The cabinets will be exposed to heat/cold/humidity but they will not really be exposed to direct sunlight nor rain as they will be in an outside covered bar area.

Does anyone have experience with different types of products that could be used for cabinets in this type of environment? I've looked up some of the different materials used in outdoor kitchens but it seems that HDPE may be required when truly outdoors but could be overkill when the cabinets are covered? I'd like to hear any good or bad experiences (and sources in the Raleigh, NC area) with the following products I've heard about online:
  • Marine plywood
  • MDO
  • Extira
  • Sentra
  • Starboard
  • Denetec
  • Lastly, just using Cypress for boxes and frames/doors/drawers
Anyone have experience with the products above in a covered, outdoor environment? If required, I'm OK with painting the 'wood' for protection and not opposed to knowing it will need additional coats applies in future but looking for something that will be a good balance based on cost, durability and maintenance.



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Corporate Member
FWIW- I've seen plenty of instances where folks used their old kitchen cabinets in a situation like you describe. Based on that I would say a reasonably well built, painted wood cabinet should suffice without exotic materials. Marine ply would be that much better if you want them to outlive you. Now, if they are going to be above a cooker and exposed to heat and steam then I'd put more thought into it. Good luck.


Senior User
Starboard is extremely expensive like Jack said, and would have to be joined by screws. I don't know any glue that would be effective. I agree that painted wood kept out of the rain would be there a long, long time.
I know this is a woodworking group but I keep my boat stuff in polyethylene cabinets I bought I think at Lowes. In my garage I have one polyethylene cabinet that I keep all my car washing stuff in. I can put things in there that may still be a little wet with no worry. Maybe those are blasphemy but all my other cabinets are wood!


Senior User
Starboard is the best bet. Pricey, but pay now or pay later. Machines easily, stainless steel screws. You can route the doors to look like a raised panel if you like. It comes in numerous colors and thickness.


New User
Is that a picture of your current dock at lake Gaston where you want to replace/build the cabinets? I wouldn't call it an extreme marine environment by any means.

Cypress or marine grade ply will be fine and you should probably prime and paint it for better protection. That will likely satisfy your requirements...... "that will be a good balance based on cost, durability and maintenance."

I also looked at StarBoard ( $400-450/sheet, 54" x 96") but it seems like a big overkill for your needs.

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Senior User
I used to sub contract for a company that built Ambulance,emergency vehicles, police car equipment for emergencies, everything was starboard type material. Completely weather proof, almost indestructible
Drills,taps just like metal or wood. Great to work with. one note HEAVY


Corporate Member

We used HD kitchen cabinets inside our Lake Gaston boathouse. They went in in 2002 and were still there in 2019 when the place was sold.

Spiders had more of an effect on them than the elements.


Senior User
I had friends that used Extira for yard signs in Houston TX. Sun (lots and lots) and rain never seemed to change it.

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