We get asked this question quite frequently at our store, so we decided to write a short piece giving our thoughts on the topic. Hopefully this gives you a little more insight to make an informed decision next time this situation arises.
What we've found is that cast iron grills have great heat retention and distribution, which means they will get very hot and stay hot, which is great for searing meats and creating grill marks. Cast iron is also non-stick, which makes it easy to clean. However, cast iron can be prone to rusting, flaking and chipping if not seasoned constantly. We make sure to recommend seasoning cast iron grills with grape-seed or avocado oil while the grills are still warm after cooking. This way it allows the oil to seep in while the grills cool to create a protective layer, which ultimately will lead to greater longevity. The biggest problem we've found with cast iron grills is that people generally brush their grills too hard which take off the initial protective layer and that's what eventually leads to moisture seeping in and rusting to occur.
Stainless steel grills are durable and resistant to rust and corrosion, which makes them low maintenance and long-lasting. They heat up quickly and evenly, and people sometimes think they won't be able to get deep sears into their meats, but that's not true. It really depends on the thickness of the stainless grills you get, and if they're pure stainless because sometimes grills will be stainless coated with a different metal underneath. Stainless steel grills are more expensive than cast iron but because of their longevity and low maintenance it's an investment most of our customers like to make. We offer a stainless steel upgrade on most of our BBQ grills because people generally don't want to deal with the hassle and upkeep of cast iron.
Ultimately, the choice between cast iron and stainless steel for your BBQ grill comes down to personal preference and price point. Yes, it can sound like we're up-selling stainless steel grills but we truly believe they're the better way to go. Especially with how wet a climate we have it can be a nightmare maintaining those cast iron grills and protecting them from moisture exposure and eventual rusting.