TIP #1-Planning & Design
- Sketch out your design or plans. Make sure you include items already in the area like trees and plants, if you do not plan on removing them.
- Measure the space so you have an idea of how much room you have to work with. It is important you are as precise as possible, so you don't buy components that will not work.
- Do you want to add seating, and if so do you want it off to the side or around the kitchen? This determines what type of seating your space allows.
- Do you want a fully functional kitchen, or just an area for occasional grilling? From there you can decide what amenities are essential within your budget.
- Will your outdoor kitchen be used for entertaining? This is important to think about because you may want to add lighting, heating, or cooling.
- Research other outdoor kitchens and layouts for inspiration. It is ok to incorporate different styles and colors.
TIP #2-Assess the Site
- Will you be connecting to the home utilities? Keep in mind where your gas, water, and electricity lines are when planning where to put your outdoor kitchen. You may have to add lines to the existing ones if you plan to use home utilities.
- How close will it be to the indoor kitchen? Location is key when deciding where to build. You don't want wind blowing smoke into your home.
- Will it be sheltered from sun, wind, and rain? Protecting your outdoor kitchen from bad weather is vital. Consider a tall roof or pergola to help protect your components.
TIP #3-Popular Outdoor Kitchen Shapes
- Straight Island - One linear island with everything laid out along the counter-top. If you don't have a large area to build in this will typically be the best shape. Counter-top space will definitely be at a premium here.
- L-shaped - This is a shape with two straight islands joined in the middle. You'll typically build this with a 90° return in the middle but, if your space allows, you could design it with a gentler 45° return or anything else you like. The benefit is that you're able to separate your space and give you more room to work.
- U-shaped - This design definitely requires a lot of space but gives you more room to work and lots of space for your guests to mingle. Here you're able to separate your hot and cold zones, while retaining space in the "middle" of the U for plating and prep space. This shape gives you the versatility and space of an indoor kitchen.
TIP #4-Lay Out Your Functional Zones
- Hot zones are where your grills, smokers, cooktops, or pizza ovens are installed. Make sure if being installed close to your home you add the proper ventilation.
- Cold zones are where your outdoor refrigerators, freezers, and outdoor wine and beverage centers are installed. This is a must have for grillers that love to entertain.
- Wet zones are where your sinks, ice makers, or beverage tubs go. Wet zones bring the functionality of an indoor kitchen outdoors.
- Prep zones aren't only where you prepare food, it is usually where your cabinets, storage, and doors and drawers are installed.
TIP #5-Choosing The Right Materials
- Most modern islands are constructed with steel or aluminum framing and a non-combustible outer cover, available in many finishes.
- Contractors tend to use concrete blocks or other such materials covered with a masonry or stone veneer.
- Brick, stucco, or a nice stone are a great choice for your outdoor kitchen.
- For countertops, good choices include: granite, tile, slate, and poured concrete is becoming very popular, as well.
- It's important to know if you'll be using combustible materials so that we can pair the correct safety measures with your design.
- Though non-combustible materials are ideal for an outdoor kitchen island, many people decide to use combustibles like wood in their construction plans. If you also choose combustible materials for your BBQ island, keep in mind that an insulated jacket may be required for your built-in grill. Check out our Insulated Grill Jacket Buying Guide or call our experts at 1-877-743-2269 to find out if an insulated grill jacket is necessary for your project.
TIP #6-Choosing Your Equipment
- When picking your outdoor kitchen components make sure you have the precise measurements when ordering.
- Pick components that compliment your style, and are functional enough to accommodate the purpose of your outdoor space.
- Once you choose your products, our design experts can prepare a 3D sketch of your outdoor area, with the pieces you're looking at.
- Depending on your climate, make sure the pieces you choose can withstand being outside. Stainless steel appliances work great outdoors.
TIP #7-Natural Gas or Propane
- Natural gas will usually be piped into your home by your utility company.
- Propane will usually be contained in a tank (either the small 5 gallon tanks that you buy from a store or a large bulk tank that's periodically refilled by your propane company).
TIP #8-Seating Requirements
- If your outdoor kitchen is more of a U-Shape and you want to put bar stools around it, make sure and measure exactly how much room you have, before you try to cram in one to many.
- After you measure you need to take into account the width of each seat, the knee space below the counter, and the space behind the seats for people walking behind them.
- If you don't have a shape that can accommodate bar stools, an outdoor patio table and chairs, or a few chaise loungers can accommodate your outdoor space beautifully.
TIP #9-Cooling & Heating
- Decorative outdoor ceiling fans are very popular and some choices come with lights. Wall mounted and freestanding fans with and without misting options are other choices to choose from.
- Portable air conditioners are also a great option for partially enclosed kitchens. They allow you to move them to different areas, and help keep your area very cool.
- Patio heaters come in different styles, mounting options, fuel types, and heating source. Wall and ceiling mount units are be mounted discreetly above the line of site and can provide coverage over large areas. Freestanding patio heaters are portable and easily moved from one area to another. Fuel options include electric, natural gas and propane.
- Make sure that the area is slip resistant to prevent slips and falls. Tile and marble are slicker than other materials.
- Keep a fire extinguisher easily accessible.
- Consider installing a gas shut-off valve to shut off the grill in case of emergency.
- Consider installing lighting in your outdoor kitchen for nighttime entertaining.
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