1. Don't forget an insulated jacket when using combustible materials.
So many outdoor kitchens have gone down in flames because an insulated grill jacket was not installed with the grill. While insulated jackets are not the most glamorous item to think about having in your outdoor kitchen, it is an absolute necessity when building your outdoor kitchen with any combustible materials (treated or not). Insulated grill jackets surround your grill, keeping your outdoor kitchen structure cool, preventing any burning or warping. Also, insulated grill jackets support and protect your grills undercarriage from weathering and corrosion, which will help it last longer.
Don't put your beautiful new outdoor kitchen (along with your home and property) at risk. Installing an insulated grill jacket will ensure your outdoor kitchen remains protected and will last for many years of cookouts. Not all brands offer insulated grill jackets for their grills. If you need an insulated grill jacket, make sure you purchase your grill from a brand that offers one.
2. Properly ventilate your outdoor kitchen with vent panels.
When you are using gas appliances, make sure you use a licensed contractor to ensure that your island is properly vented to prevent gas from building up inside your island if there is a leak. You may save a few bucks by not using a licensed contractor, however you could end up in an even worse situation of having to replace your outdoor kitchen or home, or someone getting seriously injured if the build-up were to ignite.
When it comes to properly ventilating your outdoor kitchen island, placement is everything. Make sure you install vent panels every four to six feet to prevent any gases from building up. Also, where you need to install each vent panel depends on which type of gas you are using. If using natural gas (NG), make sure to install each vent panel as high as possible on the island as natural gas rises. If using propane (LP), make sure to install the vents as low as possible as propane is a heavier gas that sinks.
3. Enclosed storage components may not work under a sink or grill.
While it's always convenient to have cabinets, doors and drawers installed throughout your outdoor kitchen, always consider the placement of your storage components when deciding whether or not to buy enclosed cabinets. Many outdoor kitchen owners have purchased enclosed cabinetry to place under their sink, only to later realize they did not account for the plumbing. This is also a common issue with grills, as the gas lines are not considered come installation time.
When planning your outdoor kitchen, decide on the placement of your doors and drawers, and whether or not you can install a cabinet, or if you will have to use access doors that open into the existing island structure.
4. Make sure the appliances you purchase are outdoor rated.
By purchasing appliances that are rated for outdoor use by the manufacturer, you are insuring safety and longevity in the life of your appliances. Appliances that are only rated for indoor use are not made to withstand an outdoor environment. Over time, the appliances may become discolored, fail, and you can bet that your warranty will be voided.
5. Never install your cooking and cooling appliances next to each other.
It is always a good idea to plan your zones when designing your outdoor kitchen to separate your cooking appliances from your cooling appliances. For example, you should never install a refrigerator directly underneath or next to your grill. Because both elements put off heat, cooling the internal parts of both appliances can easily become an issue and cause them to fail sooner. If space is an issue, install your cooling appliance at least one foot from your grill or side burner, and make sure a barrier is placed between the two appliances inside the island structure. This will ensure both appliances can properly ventilate and will last longer.
Safety is another concern when placing the two next to each other, as you never want a child digging through the refrigerator with a hot grill directly next to or above them.
6. Know exact dimensions of your appliances before making cut-outs.
Nothing is more frustrating than having your spaces cut out for your outdoor kitchen appliances, only to find out they do not fit when its time to install them. Before making your island cut outs, double and triple check the exact dimensions for built-in installations. If possible, it is always best to have the products in-hand to measure them yourself for accuracy. If this is not an option, you should contact a sales representative or the manufacturer before purchasing to ensure the item will fit properly.
7. Don't forget to leave usable counter space.
Of course you want to deck out your new outdoor kitchen with all sorts of appliances, allowing you a ton of versatility for cooking and entertaining. However, in all the excitement of designing a dream kitchen, many people forget the importance of leaving counter space. Depending on how you will be using your outdoor kitchen, it is important to leave enough counter space for things like preparing food, serving, eating and entertaining. When designing your outdoor kitchen, make sure you leave enough workable space for easy and convenient outdoor cooking.
8. Do your research and choose reliable appliances to keep you happy.
With so many outdoor appliances on the market, it can be hard to choose the perfect ones for you. While everyone wants great looking and functional appliances, it is most important to do your research before buying. An outdoor kitchen it something you want to last for many years, so it is crucial to select the perfect appliances when building.
As mentioned above, make sure the appliance is rated for outdoor use, and read over any available customer and expert reviews. Research how well the appliance performs and select products that are built solid and made of materials that will last. By doing your research before buying, you are ensuring a smart investment in your outdoor appliances to ensure they will last and you will be happy with your choice.