10 Outdoor Kitchen Mistakes to Avoid

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1. Not Budgeting Enough to Fully Fund the Project

  • We’ll give a few moments to finish your string of “yikes” before proceeding. Ready? Good. As we noted above, outdoor kitchens are sprawling projects with costs that creep up in the most unexpected places. Materials, labor, permits — that stuff adds up pretty quickly, so it’s quite easy to go over budget even if you follow best-laid plans. We recommend taking a look at how much outdoor kitchens cost and gathering estimates as usual, then budgeting for an overrun proportional to your project’s price. And before doubts start trickling in, we assure you that outdoor kitchens are worthwhile investments.

  • Outdoor Kitchen Wide shot - outdoor entertaining behind pool

2. Not Including Enough Space

Many customers polled came away from their outdoor kitchen project happy, only to discover there wasn’t enough space once they started using it. That leaves a pair of undesirable choices: making do with cramped cooking quarters, or forking out more cash for Outdoor Kitchen Version 2.0 (now featuring Wi-Fi!). Familiarize yourself with outdoor kitchen options based on your space, then consider the kinds of events you plan on hosting, along with the max number of people who might attend. If you don’t have the square footage for a grand outdoor kitchen, make it as efficient and comfortable as possible.

3. Not Waiting for Products Before Making Cutouts

  • BBQ Island wide shot
  • You know that old saying about measuring twice and cutting once? Well, it’s hard to measure something you don’t have! We totally understand how this happens, by the way: being eager to finally finish the project after a long build, or rushing to complete the outdoor kitchen in time for a holiday or other hosting event. That being said, we promise you the headache of improperly sized BBQ island openings isn’t worth any amount of time saved trying to get ahead of the game. In fact, redoing cutouts will only cost you more time — and money. You’ll be glad you waited for your products to be delivered.

4. Not Including Enough Counter Space

This might be the most inconvenient oversight, but it’s not quite as costly as those we’ve covered so far. We all know counter space is the most precious resource in an indoor kitchen, and that doesn’t change one bit when out on the patio. All that chopping, marinating, and plating needs to happen somewhere, and cooking outdoors becomes much less enjoyable when you don’t have room to operate. To ensure you’re accounting for enough counter space, consider your typical prep work how your outdoor kitchen zones will be laid out. Adding more after the fact isn’t always easy, and your budget won’t be happy.

5. Not Including Electrical Outlets

Think of everything in your dream outdoor kitchen that could need an electrical supply: outdoor refrigeration units, rotisserie kits, household appliances like blenders, electric carving knives, string lights, etc. Oh, and how about everyone’s cell phones? Follow-up electrical costs — and the possible deconstruction to make way for installation — mount in a hurry, so strongly weigh where you’ll need outlets before breaking ground. Make sure at least a few of those stations have USB ports for charging devices, and that all outdoor outlets are GFCI outlets as required by the National Electrical Code.

6. No (or Not Enough) Guest Seating

  • If you plan to host friends and family in your outdoor kitchen, then you simply can’t overlook having patio furniture in or near the space. You wouldn’t ask guests to stand around your indoor kitchen, would you? Aside from avoiding clutter when you’re on the grill, there are hosting standards that must be upheld! (No, seriously, we signed a Geneva Convention-esque document detailing proper outdoor hosting. Guest seating was a top item.) Whether you think outdoor dining furniture or a deep seating set will work best, don’t consider your outdoor kitchen complete until your guests have a place to relax.

  • Outdoor seating area with TV and fireplace

7. Lack of Counter Seating

  • Outdoor kitchen with two men at the grill and friends seated at the bar counter
  • Though not quite as important as general lounge spaces, counter seating allows you to engage with guests while keeping the outdoor kitchen clear of foot traffic. People already tend to gravitate toward the kitchen during indoor events, so the alluring scent of a smoking grill practically picks them up by the nose, cartoon-style, and carries them there when cooking outdoors. A solid set of outdoor bar stools brings friends and family close to the action while you entertain, helping create a seamless space whether you’re showing off what’s on the grill or serving drinks from your outdoor bar center.

8. No Shade for Guests & Components

The joy of outdoor living is getting to do what you normally enjoy, only in the fresh air and warm sunlight. Mother Nature, however, doesn’t always play along. It’s your duty as host to give everyone a haven from heat, rain, and other elements that threaten to ruin the good times in your backyard. We’re talking about more than a set of patio umbrellas — shade structures like pergolas, awnings, and roofs get the job done for large crowds. Just as important, coverings protect your outdoor kitchen equipment from the adverse effects of weather and improve the efficiency of outdoor refrigeration units.

9. Neglecting Drainage Needs

Outdoor ice makers, refrigerators, and beverage coolers are incredible outdoor kitchen additions, but without drainage in place, you could find yourself with ruined refrigeration. Same goes for outdoor sinks, which are vital to keeping your operation flowing as smoothly as water from the tap. Once you’ve settled on the location of floor drains, try to group your appliances that need drainage in a single “wet zone,” then ponder how you’ll connect them to the plumbing. Refer to your owner’s manual for specifics regarding types of drainage, and remember to always leave plumbing to licensed professionals.

10. Unmatched Outdoor Kitchen Components

While aesthetics might not seem to matter much when trying to make sense of the dollars, many of the outdoor kitchen owners surveyed didn’t consider the impact of a cohesive aesthetic. It’s often as easy as purchasing items from the same brand or those made of the same material, usually stainless steel. High-end manufacturers like Blaze and Lynx make it a point to include matching accents across their BBQ island offerings. BBQGuys Signature outdoor kitchen storage is also made of stainless steel, with a style meant to match many designs. Of course, you’re free to mix brands and finishes if it suits you!

BBQGuys Is Here to Help! Stay on Track with Our Outdoor Kitchen Design Service & Checklist

  • Now that you’re on your guard against common outdoor kitchen oversights, you can continue confidently planning a dream space of your own. We’d love the chance to stick by your side on that journey, whether you’re using our outdoor kitchen checklist or going whole-hog (figuratively, for now) with our free 3D outdoor kitchen design service. By working with our team of experts, you can map out the perfect outdoor kitchen for your backyard at no extra cost while avoiding the popular pitfalls detailed here. Yes, we really did think of everything!

  • Woman seated at outdoor kitchen counter looking at their phone