When you’re on the look for a new rig for your backyard you might be wondering “how long should a gas grill last?”
What do you get for your money if you pay top dollar? And does the price really make a difference in the end?
Gas grills come in many designs and sizes and cost anywhere from a few hundred bucks to thousands of dollars. Some are built heavy and durable while others feel cheap and flimsy.
The design and materials of a grill, as well as how you use and maintain it, all affect its longevity. This is why a gas grill can last anywhere from a few years to a lifetime.
So let’s take a proper look at why some gas grills last much longer than others. I will also share some tips on how to keep your grill in a good shape and prevent it from rusting.
Why Some Gas Grills Last Much Longer than Others?
The quality of the grills you see lined up at your local retailer or at online stores might look very similar, but their wide price ranges offer a clue to the more profound truth — the quality of different gas grills varies greatly.
Not only can it vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it can also vary depending on the product line and the precise model.
Do you get what you pay for?
With gas grills, you often do. The materials from which a gas grill is made make up most of the price increase.
For example, built-in outdoor kitchen grills are often made with heavy-duty stainless steel and are designed to last a lifetime.
This makes them expensive, but it also makes sense because it takes some effort to install one, so you don’t want to be replacing it anytime soon.
To make a less expensive grill, manufacturers use cheaper — and therefore less durable — materials. To make a premium grill, they can use the best materials available.
It is critical to understand that a higher-quality, more-durable material will not only be thicker and heavier, but it may also be completely different.
Stainless is the most prominent material used in gas grills. Its silver, shiny exterior is hard to miss.
But what makes stainless steel so good for a grill?
The answer is simple — durability.
Stainless is a steel alloy with less iron in it. Iron being the component in steel that rusts, stainless steel is more resistant to rust and corrosion.
So ideally, stainless steel should not have a problem with rusting. And since it doesn’t rely on a coating or paint to keep it intact, it is much more durable than other grill materials.
Of course, the truth isn’t that simple. Stainless steel will corrode and deteriorate if it isn’t taken care of.
Furthermore, there are different types of stainless, each of which has a different tolerance to heat and corrosive environments. For example, 304 and 314 stainless are the two most common types, with 314 being more resistant to corrosion.
Blaze grills are a good example of high-end gas grills that are built to last. They are made with heavy-gauge stainless steel and almost any part can be replaced if needed, so you don’t need to buy a completely new grill if something gives up.
One important factor is how much of the grill is actually made from stainless.
You’ll often find entry-level cookers with flimsy stainless hoods but cast iron grates and enameled steel fireboxes. Even if the grates and burners are stainless, they may be made very thin to cut costs.
Read also: Stainless Steel vs Cast Iron Grill Grates
Cast Iron or Porcelain-Coated Cast Iron
Cast iron is a popular cooking metal thanks to its ability to retain heat. Think of the ubiquitous cast iron skillet, which you probably have somewhere in your kitchen.
The problem with cast iron is that it rusts very easily without proper care. This is why grill grates are usually porcelain-coated, to keep the grates from rusting away.
Below you can see how my Weber Q3200 gas grill looks after 8 years. The thick, porcelain-coated grates are still in good condition and the grill works fine.
One thing that should be replaced soon is the burner tubes — they are starting to wear out causing uneven heat on the grill surface.
If the cast iron grates are not coated, they must be cared for by keeping them clean and rust-free. This usually means seasoning them regularly.
Cast iron grates are cheaper than stainless ones, but whether the stainless upgrade is worth it or not is a matter of debate. Unless your grill has very thick, heavy-duty stainless rod grates, cast iron will likely get hotter and make better sear marks.
One thing is for certain, however. Non-coated cast iron grates are a consumable product you’ll replace every few years. The best-quality, heavy-gauge stainless grates could last forever if they’re taken very good care of.
Painted or Enameled Steel
Steel rusts quickly if not protected from the elements. Its only advantage is that it is an inexpensive material that retains heat well.
Many entry-level models use steel for their fireboxes, lids, or cart components. To keep the steel from rusting, it must be painted or enameled.
Steel can last for quite a long time, but eventually, it will begin to rust. Once rust starts forming on the metal, the paint will flake off, and the metal will deteriorate.
The process can be held at bay by keeping it clean and mending any paint chips as soon as they are spotted.
Finally, aluminum is another material you’ll find on grills.
Like stainless steel, aluminum doesn’t rust, but it can corrode. The problem with aluminum, however, is that it is very lightweight and doesn’t retain heat as well.
Aluminum is often used for the doors on carts, fireboxes, and sometimes in cast burners.
While it can last a long time, aluminum will react with other metals in the grill. For example, if aluminum panels are fastened with stainless steel bolts, the stainless bolts will cause corrosion on the aluminum.
What are the Most Critical Parts of a Gas Grill?
With all of that in mind, what parts of the grill are most important? Which ones should be made of which metals?
Every grill maker decides what each component should be made from on a case-by-case basis. Doing so allows them to provide a grill at the price point you want to pay.
The exterior hood, cart, and shelves are the grill parts most exposed to the elements. But these are large parts that don’t directly affect the cooking performance, so in cheaper models, they are usually made with painted steel.
For optimal cooking performance, the best materials should go into the parts that make and retain heat.
- Flame tamers
- Grill grates
These should all be made of heavy-gauge material that holds heat and doesn’t deform or warp as it cycles from cold to hot.
How Long Should a Gas Grill Last?
Budget grills made with thin, painted steel might last only a few years. On the other hand, premium heavy-gauge stainless steel grills can last decades.
Numerous factors will determine how long your grill will actually last.
The initial quality is a primary factor — high-end grills, made from high-quality components and materials — will last the longest. Many times these grills will come with a lifetime warranty.
But another important factor is how you use your grill and where you keep it. Living by the seaside is beautiful, but the salty air can wreak havoc on your beloved grill!
For example, if you compare Char Broil vs Weber grills, the latter are more durable and come with longer warranties.
Grill Maintenance and Storage Matters
No matter where you live, there are things you can do to ensure your grill lasts as long as possible.
First, if there’s an off-season where you live — like frosty winters up north — then store your grill inside and under a cover for those months. If you aren’t using it, there’s no reason for it to be outside exposed to the elements.
Even during the summer, a grill cover can go a long way to keeping moisture and dirt off your grill. Keeping it clean is half the battle.
And on that note, cleanliness is vital to a grill’s longevity. A dirty grill retains moisture and encourages corrosion. This goes for both the inside and the outside of the grill.
So give your gas grill a deep clean every month or so when stored outside and used regularly. Also, clean up any cooking spills and empty the grease catcher every time you use it.
Wondering how to do a proper deep clean?
I recommend that you check out this guide where I clean my Weber gas grill.
Tips to Make Your Grill Last Longer
Here are a few more tips to get the most life out of your grill:
1. Rust and Corrosion
You should address any sign of rust immediately.
In the world of grills, think of rust as cancer. If you don’t cut it out, it will spread and worsen.
Fix it quickly by scraping off any paint around the affected area, sand away all the rust until you see clean metal, and then paint it again to protect it.
Corrosion on stainless or aluminum is less risky, but it can still spread and ruin your grill. Keeping the grill clean and polished will prevent and treat most issues.
2. Grill Covers
The importance of a cover cannot be under-emphasized. They keep rain and dirt off the grill and reduce the time you need to spend cleaning.
3. Replacement Parts
When buying your next gas grill, consider a more expensive model that is designed to last for a long time. These types of grills are designed so that the burners and flame tamers can be easily replaced if needed and spare parts are widely available.
A high-quality gas grill can last a lifetime, making the investment worthwhile if you’re looking for a durable grill that will operate worry-free for decades.
You may have to replace a part occasionally, but it won’t fall apart and have to be scrapped.
If you settle for a cheaper option, don’t expect it to last much more than 5 years.
The main thing is that you’re happy with the grill in your backyard and enjoy cooking with it!