Outdoor kitchens and grills have become an essential component of outdoor gatherings by providing tremendous style and increased practicality. Here are some tips for constructing a functional outdoor kitchen and grill with durability, value, and style.
1. Pick a Countertop
When choosing the type of stone you would like to use for your outdoor kitchen countertop, many people choose granite for its appearance and durability, but they fail to realize that local stone can achieve the same durability and save up to 50 percent on the cost of the countertop. Bluestone countertops are certainly durable enough to handle the outdoors, especially considering a bluestone countertop may match your dining patio. In style, bluestone countertops bring a formality to the look of the outdoor kitchen. Other countertop options include concrete, slate, tile, marble, and soapstone. In the end, local stone such as bluestone seem to hold the best balance between cost, durability, and beauty. (Also, 2-inch bluestone should be used instead of typical 1and a quarter-inch. This will provide the countertop with necessary strength and durability for transportation.)
2. Choose a Finish
Next you must choose the type of finish for your stone countertop. First of all, never use polished stone for an outdoor kitchen countertop. The surface will blind you with reflected sunlight and always look dirty. Allow the natural stone to look natural and it will enhance the style of the outdoor kitchen. Some possible finishes for a natural stone countertop include honed, flamed, and brushed. A honed natural stone finish features a smooth surface without the horrible reflection of a polished finish. Honed finishes, being completely flat, do not collect spills because the surface can just be wiped clean, as opposed to the rough, grittier finishes. Honed countertops also benefit greatly if they are sealed. Flamed countertops feature this rough, gritty surface as it is heated to extremely high temperatures and cooled rapidly. The flamed countertop achieves a rugged, natural look. The rough surface can be somewhat random as a result of the unpredictability of extreme heat, making this finish the most natural. Brushed stone moderately rough, brushed surface with a certain ruggedness to it. The natural stone countertop will have a wispy texture that will not become slippery when wet. A brushed stone countertop balances the formal honed finish and the natural flamed finish. The brushed finish has a natural texture but presents this texture in a consistent, formal way.
3. Light up the Grill with Low Voltage Lighting
Use low voltage lighting on the backsplash and under the countertop of your outdoor kitchen. Don’t assume that you will only use your outdoor kitchen and grill during the day. Including low voltage lighting in an outdoor kitchen will safely create a usable cooking space after the sun goes down and highlight the bold features of the structure, therefore increasing the overall value of your outdoor kitchen and grill. After all, not even the greatest chefs can cook in the dark. For added style to the well-lit backsplash, glass tile can be used for color and design. Glass tile also meets the backsplash criteria of being non-porous and heat-resistant, both necessary qualities for a backsplash that will have to withstand extreme heat and splashing in the kitchen.
4. Always Put Vent in Outdoor BBQ Structures
For safety purposes, always put a vent in the back of your outdoor BBQ structures. Every gas line eventually leaks. Including a vent will allow the gas to escape. If not, the gas will sit in the grill until someone comes to turn it on, and everyone knows what happens when uncontrolled gas and fire meet. A subtle vent in the back of the grill will allow excess gas, in case of a leak, to escape into the yard rather than sit in the confined space of the grill waiting for you to blow it up by simply lighting up the grill. Be safe and make sure you have some sort of vent in your outdoor BBQ structure. In other words, don’t blow up your house.
5. Use Slab-On-Grade Foundations for Natural Stone BBQ’s and Outdoor Kitchens
This technique, unfamiliar to the average homeowner, incorporates a on grade foundation that will cut your structural costs in half. Your outdoor kitchen and grill can be set on a slab-on-grade foundation, as opposed to a typical footing. Slab-on-grade means the shape is dug into the ground, gravel is set at the bottom, and concrete is poured level with the hole and reinforced by steel. This technique works in conjunction with metal framed structures, metal framed structures weigh significantly less than masonry structures and are designed to handle the countertop weight. This simple system removes the need for a deeply dug footing and concrete block, cutting back structural costs by 50 percent.
6. Use 2-inch Natural Thin-Stone Veneer for Outdoor Kitchens and Grills
Another great cost-saver for natural stone outdoor kitchens and grills is the use of 2-inch Thin-Stone Veneer. Thin-Stone veneer covers the outer perimeters of a structure with a thin layer of natural stone, giving the outdoor kitchen or grill the appearance of being made entirely of natural stone. For those looking to save money, thin-stone veneer creates the perfect appearance of a full 4″ natural stone veneer but cost half as much because it requires significantly less labor. You, your friends, and your family will not know the difference between full depth stone and thin-stone veneer. Why not use this material and save money for essential costs of an outdoor living space? Or, given the low cost, thin-stone veneer can be used on your outdoor kitchen and grill, as well as your cabana or home for a uniformed style.
7. Always Include Electrical Outlets In the Structure and On the Backsplash
Not everything can be included within the outdoor kitchen itself. Just like an indoor kitchen, you will definitely need your typical household appliances. Electrical outlets conveniently located on the kitchen backsplash allow hotplates, blenders, and rotisserie cookers to be plugged in right at your outdoor cooking station. Electrical outlets can also be placed inside the structure for refrigerators, warming draws, and even for low voltage transformers. Electrical outlets in your outdoor kitchen can be a perfect place to set-up your dream outdoor living environment with every cooking and entertainment appliance you could imagine. You could even bring a T.V. outside to watch the game while you cook on the grill.
8. Use Glass Tile On the Backsplash For Added Style and Easy Cleaning
Glass tile kitchen backsplashes not only give outdoor kitchens an extra kick of style and design, but they are also easy to clean. The smooth surface can be wiped down shortly after cooking to preserve the beauty of the masonry structure. Stone or other types of backsplashes can stain easily and be a pain to clean. Make your life easier after cooking a delicious meal. Use glass tile on the backsplash for a quick and easy cleanup.
9. Include an Umbrella Sleeve In Your Cooking Structure
Remember standing in front of the grill this summer? The heat was sometimes unbearable. The inclusion of an umbrella sleeve on your outdoor kitchen and grill provides a simple solution to the hot sun. Relax in the shade as you cook a nice meal on a summer afternoon. If that’s not enough, plug a portable fan into the electrical outlets suggested in Number 8. Either way, you will be able to comfortably cook on your outdoor kitchen and grill all through the summer, regardless of the heat.
10. Install the New Toe-Kick Heater
Sooner or later, summer comes to an end. I don’t know about you, but I love to grill in the winter too! Try a toe kick heater. A toe kick heater is built into the bottom of the grill structure to keep your feet warm in the winter. Just as an umbrella sleeve will keep you comfortable in the summer, a toe kick heater will let you cook outside all winter long. The subtle, innovative design will allow you to stand by the grill until the food is well done. (Remember, heat rises. Toe kick heaters will not only keep your feet warm but also make sure you don’t freeze anything else off either.)
In summary, pick a countertop. Choose a finish, as long as it’s not polished. Use low voltage lighting and electrical outlets to make the outdoor kitchen as functional as the one inside. Stay cool with an umbrella sleeve. Stay warn with a toe-kick heater. Use 2-inch thin-stone veneer and a slab-on-grade foundation to cut costs. Include a glass tile backsplash for a stylish, easy-to-clean surface. Finally, always include a vent in the back of your grill so it doesn’t blow up. Otherwise, you may need these tips all over again.