Outdoor Kitchen Planning & Design Tips

Outdoor Kitchen Tips

Maximize your backyard with an outdoor kitchen that expands your space for year-round cooking, eating, entertaining, and relaxing. Here are some helpful outdoor kitchen tips to consider before you begin your building your dream outdoor space.

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TIP # 1- Planning & Design

    • Measure your space so you have an idea of how much room you have to work with. It’s important that you’re as precise as possible so you don't buy components that won’t fit into the design. Make sure to take into account space taken up by items already in the area like trees and plants if you don’t plan on removing them.

    • 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 and cooling appliances, or an outdoor TV.

    • Research other outdoor kitchens and layouts for inspiration, starting with our outdoor kitchen design photos. Once you have a solid vision in mind, visit our free 3D outdoor kitchen design service to receive a sketch of the area.

  • Fire Magic BBQ Island with Pacific Teak Cabinets

TIP # 2- Assess the Site

  • Will you be connecting to home utilities? Keep in mind where your gas, water, and electrical lines are when planning a location for your outdoor kitchen. You may have to have electrical and gas lines extended into the outdoor space.

  • How close will the outdoor space be to your home's doors or windows? Location is key when deciding where to build because you don't want wind blowing smoke into your home. If the area you choose is close to your home or not very well ventilated, you will need a vent hood to remove excess smoke.

  • Will it be sheltered from the sun, wind, and rain? Protecting your outdoor kitchen from bad weather is vital, so consider a tall roof or pergola to help protect your components.

TIP # 3- Popular Outdoor Kitchen Shapes

  • Straight Island - With this design, you’ll have 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. Countertop space will definitely be at a premium with this design.

  • L-shaped - This shape is formed by two straight islands that meet to form an angle. L-shaped islands typically form a 90-degree angle, but if your space allows, you can design it with a gentler 45-degree angle or anything else you like. This layout allows you to separate your space and give you more room to work.

  • U-shaped - This design requires a spacious area but gives you more room to work and lots of space for your guests to mingle. You'll be able to separate your hot and cold zones while retaining space in the "middle" of the U for plating and prep space. Simply put, this shape gives you the versatility and space of an indoor kitchen.

TIP # 4- Lay Out Your Functional Zones

  • Entertain zones are where outdoor refrigerators, bartending centers, ice machines, and outdoor wine and beverage centers are installed. This is a must-have for grillers that love to entertain.

  • Prep zones are usually where your sinks, trash bins, cutting boards, and storage components like cabinets and enclosed pantries should go.

  • Cooking zones are where your grills, smokers, cooktops, or pizza ovens are installed. Make sure you add the proper ventilation depending on the fuel type of the appliances you choose, as well as access doors, which provide access to your island's plumbing.

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.

    • BBQ Island frame kits are an inexpensive and simple way to create the framework for your outdoor kitchen island.

    • Contractors tend to use concrete blocks or other such materials covered with a masonry or stone veneer.

    • Brick, stucco, or a nice stone are also great choices for covering the framework of your outdoor kitchen.

    • For countertops, popular materials include: granite, tile, slate, and poured concrete.

    • Non-combustible materials are ideal for an outdoor kitchen island. Even so, many people decide to use combustibles like wood in their construction plans. At BBQGuys, we strongly recommend that you never build a BBQ island or outdoor kitchen out of combustible material, as this is very likely to result in an eventual fire. If you choose combustible materials for your BBQ Island, keep in mind that you will need an insulated jacket for all cooking appliances. Insulated grill jackets lessen the risk of fire that can result from operating gas grills in an island made of combustible material, and they're required by law in many states and regions. Check out our Insulated Grill Jacket Buying Guide or call our experts at 1-877-743-2269 to get more information on insulated jackets.

  • Common Finishes for BBQ Island Frame Kits

TIP # 6- Choosing Your Equipment

  • When picking and ordering your outdoor kitchen components, make sure you have the precise measurements for each.

  • Pick components that compliment your style and are functional enough to accommodate the purpose of your outdoor space.

  • Depending on your climate, make sure the pieces you choose can withstand being outside. Stainless steel appliances work great in just about every outdoor setting.

TIP # 7- Natural Gas or Propane

  • Natural gas will usually be piped into your home by your utility company, so this will probably be the better option for your project if you already have gas lines.

  • Propane is contained and sold in tanks (either the small, 5-gallon tanks available at most grocery stores, or a large bulk tank that's periodically refilled by your propane company).

TIP # 8- Seating Requirements

    • If you plan to entertain, we highly recommend adding seating to your outdoor kitchen. The biggest question is whether you want it separate from the kitchen area or closer to the grill. This determines what type of seating your space allows.

    • If your outdoor kitchen is laid out in a U-shape and you want to put bar stools around it, make sure to measure exactly how much room you have before you try to cram in one too 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 an island shape that accommodates bar stools, an outdoor patio table and chairs or a few chaise lounges might be the better option for your outdoor space.

  • Laguna 9 Piece Aluminum Patio Dining Set

TIP # 9- Heating & Cooling

TIP # 10- Safety First

  • Make sure the area is slip resistant to prevent guests from falling. Tile and marble are slicker than other materials, so you may want to avoid using them in your outdoor space.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and easily accessible

  • Consider installing a gas timer shut-off valve to turn off the grill in case of emergency, or to shut off the gas when it has been left on or the burners have been extinguished by accident.


Ready To Visualize Your New Outdoor Kitchen?

Our talented Outdoor Kitchen Design Consultants are in the art of helping you express your own personal style and maximize the space you have. Whether you'd like to visualize all the options, choose the ideal outdoor kitchen package for your patio and lifestyle, your one-on-one consultation is just a phone call away!

View more about our FREE Design Services or call 1-877-743-2269 today to make your outdoor living dream a reality.

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