How To Build An Outdoor Kitchen Like An Expert

Do you crave an area outside your home where you and your guests can eat and engage in entertainment? The best thing to do to fulfil your desire is to build an outdoor kitchen! Outdoor cooking has become a popular trend, and no one wonders why; it is a full-fledged outdoor entertainment experience!

outdoor kitchen

You can always hire a professional to build your outdoor kitchen, but you can definitely make it a DIY project. That’s where we come to give you essential information to plan your outdoor space and a step-by-step guide for the DIY outdoor kitchen of your dreams!

3 reasons you need an outdoor kitchen

1. It is energy saving

Whether you cook with gas or electricity, your house stove or oven uses a lot of energy. If your outdoor kitchen uses propane, the cost drops significantly. Using your house oven during summer will make you switch on the AC for you and your guests to handle the heat. You don’t have to worry about that when cooking in the open air! Not only that, but while being outdoors, you will have plenty of natural light, so you won’t have to worry about lighting. And when the sun comes down, you can rely on your solar lights.

2. It is easy to clean

Have you ever wished you could clean your indoor kitchen using just a hose? With the outdoor kitchen, your wish comes true! All you have to do is use a garden hose to clean up any messes left on the floor or the countertops. Give your mop some time to rest!

water from the hose outdoors

3. It offers more space for entertainment

When the weather is nice and sunny, your guests won’t want to stay indoors. Your outdoor kitchen is a lovely venue for a backyard party or a small dining gathering. Also, if you are hosting a party, the time leading up to your party will be less stressful since there is less preparation to be done. Add some music to keep your guests even more entertained!

The planning for your outdoor kitchen

If you want to combine a fun, open-air vibe with convenience and an elegant cooking experience, there are some things to consider while planning your outdoor kitchen.  

The location of your kitchen

Think about the best place for your outdoor kitchen. If you have a patio or deck, it is wise to locate it there so you can pop inside for utensils, seasonings and other essentials. Just keep in mind that any cooking surface should be at least 3 metres away from the house if a fire or smoke is going into your home. If you want to be more creative and flexible with the configuration, you can place it further away from the house. The downside, in this case, is that you have to connect to existing fuel lines or plumbing fixtures and consider shading from the elements. 

Outdoor kitchen on a brick exterior patio with wicker dining chairs under an umbrella and colorful summer flowers on the circular wall

Measure the space

After you’ve selected the outdoor kitchen location, measure the area to find out how much space you have to work with. Consider the amenities you want for your kitchen and seating. You could create a blueprint of your desired kitchen design to keep you on track. Plan carefully since the space dimensions will ultimately guide your design.

Choose your kitchen layout

Think about your outdoor kitchen layout, keeping in mind the space available, budget, and design preferences. Below are the most common design ideas to consider.

    • L-Shaped: A good option for small and medium spaces and when you intend to install your outdoor kitchen against a wall. It allows for open space and is popular because it provides enough separation for prepping, cooking, and washing up.
    • Island: This design is simple and popular. It is suitable for small spaces and makes all four sides of the kitchen easily accessible. The only restriction is that you won’t have much separation between the kitchen zones.
    • U-Shaped: Having three sides, forming a U shape, this design provides more room for big gatherings and backyard parties. It offers more counter space for food prep and other fixtures, working well for large outdoor kitchens.
    • Linear: This is a good option for small budgets and small spaces. This design runs along the side of the house or is freestanding and features counter space on either side of the grill.

outdoor kitchen

Consider the flooring

If you’re building your outdoor kitchen on an existing patio or deck flooring won’t be an issue. If not, there are many options for materials to use to create your outdoor flooring. Concrete is the best choice when it comes to safety. If you don’t prefer how this material looks, you can also choose between tile, natural stones, brick,  decking, pavers, plastic decks, and rubber deck tiles. Always have in mind that besides the looks, you want your outdoor flooring to be weather-resistant and low-maintenance.

Raise a roof

Having a roof is not necessary. But if you want to protect your appliances or cook during a rainy day, a roof is what you need. For small cooking areas, you can have a retractable awning or an adjustable umbrella. If you want to go big, you can build a wooden roof or a simple post-and-beam structure to complement the timbers inside your home. 

Think about plumbing & lighting

Although this is a step that goes to the building stage, you have to plan what services you need and where you need them before building anything. If you have your outdoor kitchen near the house, you can use an extension cord for electricity. Consider what sort of outdoor lighting you want to use and for how many appliances you need electricity. Also, think if you will need plumbing for an outdoor sink area and where is the closest water source. Thinking ahead will save you a lot of effort and time down the track!

Consider different work areas

If you want your outdoor kitchen to be efficient, create a natural flow between each area by arranging various sections. Here are some zones you can have to make your kitchen run more smoothly:

  • Food preparation zone
  • Cooking space
  • Serving and dining area
  • Entertainment zone

areas of outdoor kitchen

Think of the accessories and appliances you may need

You can buy or DIY all you want to make the perfect environment that brings together dining and entertaining. Enhance the beauty of your outdoor kitchen and make it more efficient using some of these features:

  • A bbq or gas grill
  • A wood-fired pizza oven
  • A fire pit as the focal point
  • Alfresco outdoor dining space
  • Patio furniture
  • Work surfaces, as countertops and cabinets
  • Refrigerator
  • Oven
  • An outdoor bar
  • A pergola, retractable roof or canopy to weatherproof your space

Remember that materials matter

You want all the materials you will have around to be fireproof and low maintenance

  • The flooring near your grill should be fireproof.
  • Use stainless steel appliances that will withstand rain and snow.
  • If you have any fabrics, they should be waterproof. You can also treat them with a sun-blocking agent to stand up to harsh UV rays.
  • If you’re building your own bases, the easiest method is to use treated plywood or recycled wood pallets to construct a frame, then cover it with a stone or brick veneer.

Step-by-step guide to building your own outdoor kitchen

Tools you’ll need

  • Measuring tape
  • Screws
  • Plywood boards
  • Circular saw
  • Insulated jacket for the grill
  • Plywood panels
  • Woodworking glue
  • Builder’s felt
  • Staple gun
  • Wire lath
  • Protective gloves
  • Nails
  • Mortal
  • Notched trowel
  • Brick or stone veneer
  • Drop-in grill
  • Sink
  • Wood varnish
  • Steel cabinet door
  • Bricks or stones

builder with the belt of tools on background to outdoor

Step 1: Build the base frames

  • The first thing to figure out is the length and width of what you want your cabinet or working surface to be. Measure the overall dimensions and consider the storage, features and angles you’ll need. 
  • Cut your plywood boards to suitable sizes with a circular saw. Your base’s total height should be around 97cm. To find the right height for your corner posts, subtract your countertop height from the 97cm.
  • Create a corner post by attaching 2 boards to each other with 5.7 cm screws.
  • Make 4 corner posts per base module using the same process.
  • Create a box frame screwing boards horizontally into the tops and bottoms of the corner posts.
  • Screw boards across the bottom of the box where you want to include the cabinets.

Step 2: Leave room for an insulated jacket for your built-in grill

  • If you wish to add a built-in or drop-in grill, get an insulated jacket that fits the grill to contain the heat produced by it.
  • Measure the grill jacket’s dimension and then build a smaller plywood box frame for it.
  • Fit the grill into the jacket on this module.
  • Place your full-height modules on either side.

Step 3: Cover the box frame with plywood panels

  • Cut plywood panels to match the box’s dimensions.
  • With a jigsaw cut out spaces in the panels for cabinets.
  • Glue the plywood posts on one face of the box with a bead of woodworking glue.
  • Press one plywood panel onto the face.
  • Secure the panel with screws.
  • Do the same with the other 3 faces of the box and leave the top and bottom open.

plywood panels

Step 4: Cover the plywood panels with builder’s felt

  • Use a staple gun to cover each side with the builder’s felt.
  • Use staples every 15cm.
  • Include cutouts for cabinets in the felt to match those of the plywood panels.

Step 5: Nail wire lath over the felt

  • Wear gloves to work with the wire lath.
  • Face out the side of the lath and make a textured honeycomb pattern.
  • Lay sheets of lath over all sides’ felt.
  • Hammer nails every 15 cm to secure the lath
  • Trim the top of the lath.
  • Include cutouts for the cabinets in the lath.

Step 6: Create cabinet boxes

  • Cut plywood panels to create cabinet boxes. Make sure they fit into the cutouts made in the base.
  • Create a 3 sided, topless box by cutting the bottom and 3 sides, applying woodworking glue and screwing them together.
  • Create a projection for the door by cutting strips of plywood 2.5 cm wide and 3.2 cm deep. Then, glue the strips to the front of the cabinet box.
  • The number of the cabinet boxes you’ll create is the same as the cutouts you’ve made in your modules.

Work in a furniture workshop

Step 7: Apply a coat of mortar

Now you have enough modules for your design, place them where you want your outdoor kitchen to be.

  • Arrange the modules, so they’re in their approximate final positions.
  • Mix mortar.
  • Cover the lath with a 2.5 cm coat.
  • Let it dry for about an hour.
  • Catch any excess mortar by laying a border of scrap boards around the base.

Step 8: Score the mortar

  • After the hour has passed us a notched trowel to score the surface of each mortared face.
  • Create lines over each side by running the mortal horizontally. 

Step 9: slide the cabinet boxes into the cutouts

  • After you’ve placed the cabinet boxes into the cutouts, secure them to the base with screws.
  • While you install your boxes, make sure that the lip on the front face projects 3.2 cm to be able to accommodate doors later.

Kitchen installation, worker tightens bolts to assemble box from chipboard.

Step 10: Lay the veneer

  • You can use both brick or stone veneer.
  • Start from the bottom corner of your base and lay mortal. Continue with the rest of the surface and butter mortal.
  • Lay bricks or stones in either direction to finish the first row and lay the veneer until you cover the entire base.
  • Double-check the fit of your veneer pieces by dry mounting them before mortaring them.
  • Don’t cover the flanges so you can screw your door hinges onto them.
  • Let the veneer sit for 24 hours.

Step 11: Hang your cabinet doors

  • For durability, find steel doors that fit your design.
  • You can also trim old wooden cabinet doors or cut wood panels to fit your project.
  • Screw the hinges to the flange.
  • Screw the hinges onto the door.
  • Seal your wooden doors with wood varnish.

Step 12: Install the sink

  • You should plumb the site in advance.
  • Have a professional connect the water supply line and drain.
  • Install the sink in the sinkhole.

Image of a rustic outdoor kitchen area.

Step 13: Install the countertop

  • If you have a sink, make sure to order a countertop with a sinkhole in the correct dimensions.
  • Cut plywood panels to fit the tops of your base cabinets.
  • Secure the modules’ panels with screws. 
  • To test the stone sections fit, put them over your modules.
  • Glue them down with a silicone adhesive.

Step 14: Position your oven, grill and other appliances

  • Make sure your cabinetry and countertops are all in place.
  • Insert your drop-in grill into the insulated jacket.
  • If you own a standing grill, slide it into place between your base modules.
  • If you have a mini-fridge, plug it in and slide it into its designated space.
  • For your electric appliances, an electrician should come in and install the GFCI outlets.
  • A plumbing contractor should make any gas, water supply, and water drainage connections.

Step 15: Create your outdoor dining area

Purchase outdoor furniture to create a comfortable and fun area for you and your guests. You can also add patio heaters to keep the place warm and extend your outdoor season.

outdoor kitchen and dining

Taking care of your outdoor kitchen

It took a lot of time to build your outdoor kitchen, and you probably have a beautiful place for your guests to gather. You want to protect that outdoor living space from weather elements. Here are some protection ideas:

  • Use a pergola or gazebo to protect your outdoor kitchen and furniture from rain and snow. Feeling handy enough? Build your own gazebo!
  • Use an umbrella to cover a seating area.
  • Use a solarium, also known as a sunroom. Prefer one with a retractable roof to minimise smoke and allow ventilation.

How much will it cost?

As with all home improvement and landscaping projects, the price of an outdoor kitchen will vary depending on the size and the materials and appliances you’ll use. For a kitchen area with storage, worktop space and maybe a couple of devices, you will look to spend a minimum of £3,000. A more premium range could cost between £14,000 and £21,000. Some people look for a fully bespoke outdoor kitchen island and will spend up to £50,000, or you can build your own kitchen island all by yourself, at much less cost.

outdoor kitchen and dining table with plates on

Having an outdoor kitchen means a lot of benefits for homeowners. It adds value to your house and offers a place to enjoy social gatherings with a lot of mouth-watering cooking during grilling season! So without further ado, start sketching your dream outdoor kitchen!

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