If you have an outdoor kitchen in the works, you’re probably eager to dive in. Before you begin ordering materials and creating a building schedule for your new space, there’s one important question you must consider: are you using combustible materials in your island?

If there are combustible materials present within the clearance area of the grill, you should not build it into the island without the use of an insulated jacket. This is an essential safety measure that will help protect your investment.

Insulated grill jackets are essential because they shield appliances and structures around the grill from the excessive heat produced when cooking, keeping the outdoor area cool while preventing a fire or warping. As an added bonus, these appliances also protect the grill’s undercarriage from rust and corrosion. We’ll walk you through the importance of these jackets more thoroughly and when you absolutely must have them and when you don’t.

When an Insulated Grill Jacket is Required

Insulated jackets are a requirement whenever you construct your island using combustible materials. Combustible materials are anything that is flammable. When we’re talking about kitchen island construction, that will typically be wood and concrete board with paper backing. These are common building materials because they are inexpensive, easy to work with, and don’t require any specialty tools or craft. But the fact of the matter is that flammable construction and open flame cooking appliances don’t mix.

Blaze Insulated Jacket

Almost all outdoor cooking appliances have what is called “a clearance to combustible.” This is the minimum distance that your cooking appliance must be from combustible materials. These clearances are non-negotiable and must be met. If there are combustible materials present within the clearance area of the grill, you should not build your grill directly into your island. You must install an insulated jacket to hold the grill to meet the clearance requirements. Failure to do so could result in dangerous fires. Keep in mind that it is a common misconception that this is both a hypothetical occurrence and that it happens immediately. Over time, as you use your grill near these combustile materials, they will dry it out, and little by little, it will decrease the temperature required to set those materials on fire, so it becomes easier and easier until eventually it burns.

Every manufacturer conducts tests to determine clearances and those who make insulated grill jackets conduct tests on those to ensure proper safety measures. Jackets must be brand-specific and model-specific and should not be mixed and matched because they are built to hold your grill perfectly, like a glove. Each brand also safety tests their own grills in their own jackets.

If you are shopping for a grill that doesn’t make insulated jackets, then you must either look for a different brand or re-think the materials in your island. It does not mean that the grill does not require an insulated jacket. Most grills have clearance to combustibles regulations, and all grills must meet these requirements. Don’t worry though, because there are at least 20 excellent grill brands that do carry insulated jackets such as Blaze, Alfresco, DCS, Napoleon, Fire Magic, and more so you can feel confident knowing you have the best grill and an island that will be protected for as long as you own your grill.

When an Insulated Grill Jacket is Not Required

If you’re building with concrete, stone, cinder blocks, bricks, or metal stud framing, an insulated jacket is not required. These materials are not combustible and will meet the manufacturer's clearance requirements without additional protection.

Blaze grill and Primo Kamado without jacket in outdoor kitchen

There are also some grill brands that don’t require an insulated jacket even when installed in combustible materials. For help determining if your grill falls into this category, call one of our experts at 1-877-743-2269. TEC is an example of one brand that does not need an insulated jacket because they are built without clearance to combustibles.

Some less expensive grill brands such as Broil King, Saber, and Broil Master do not carry insulated jackets, so other building materials must be used when installing these grills.

Installing an insulated grill jacket may be the most important thing you do when building an outdoor kitchen. Failure to do so can put your home and family at serious risk. When it comes down to it, jackets are never a bad thing to have. Even if your island does not contain combustible materials, a jacket will not harm your island’s construction or aesthetic.