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How To Build The Best Outdoor Kitchen On Deck
By Mike Holmes
Wednesday, March 9th, 2022 @ 9:55am
Can I Build An Outdoor Kitchen On Deck?
I love cooking and dining on my deck. I recently redid my deck and put it in an outdoor kitchen and a bar area. The outdoor kitchen can be the focal point of your living space. However, designing an outdoor kitchen can be complicated. Generally, you would apply the same principles you would to an indoor kitchen. This includes thinking about layout, appliances, and material choices.
Your outdoor kitchen is a little different though. It needs to deal with Mother Nature. The design must work well with your patio, deck, pool, and even the style of your home. Building this type of kitchen is all about space for cooking, living, and entertaining.
The most common placement for an outdoor kitchen is on an existing deck or patio. This has many benefits. You will likely be closer to the indoor cooking area and to electricity, water, and gas services from the house.
Does an Outdoor Kitchen Increase A Home’s Value?
A well-planned outdoor kitchen can be a big investment. If you cook outdoors frequently, you will enjoy the convenience of the amenities you’ve built into your space. Outdoor spaces can add great value to your home because:
- You’ll be able to keep your indoor kitchen much cleaner
- An outdoor kitchen is attractive to prospective buyers
- Your home will feel bigger (more enjoyable space)
How Much Weight Can My Deck Handle?
The math used for determining loads on decks and other structures is pretty simple. You can determine how much weight your deck can hold by calculating the total area in square footage. The load that is placed on your deck is calculated in pounds per square foot (PSF).
The total load is made up of the dead load and the live load. Multiply the square footage by 50 psf. For example, a 100 sqft deck would be designed to support 5000 lbs.
Dead load is the weight of the deck itself. Live load is all the extra stuff you are adding. This includes the kitchen, appliances, furniture, planters, and accessories. If your dead load is 10 psf, and your live load is 40 psf, your total load (also called design load) is 50 psf.
I always say to check with a professional contractor or qualified representative to make sure your deck can handle what you are adding to it. Don’t rush into the project.
Which Utilities Will I Need?
I want you to think about your outdoor kitchen carefully. Imagine the way you will cook in there and prepare your food. As you are working in your indoor kitchen, you make hundreds of movements between your cabinets and appliances, work surfaces, and the sink.
Now think about the same things for your outdoor kitchen. It should be carefully laid out.
You can even work with a professional designer to help integrate it into the architecture of your house as well as your landscaping.
Water for Outdoor Kitchen
Your fabulous new grill means nothing if you haven’t thought about other utilities. If you would like a sink in your outdoor kitchen, you will have to provide it with water. This means running a line from the house if the kitchen is connected.
If the outdoor kitchen is a distance away, it gets a little more complicated. In cold weather, your water line needs to be buried beneath frost level and insulated.
Your outdoor kitchen is an extension of your home so it’s important to make sure that your water is clean and safe for you to use and consume. That means making sure your water is tested and that you take the right steps to improve your water quality as needed.
If you rely on well water in your home, you may want to test it for radon as well. This is one of the most dangerous gases, being one of the leading causes of lung cancer in non-smokers. A simple Airwell System will be a good investment to help mitigate the radon levels in your water.
Gas for Outdoor Kitchen
Gas grills run on propane or natural gas. Either option must be piped from your main tank or line. Some grills will have separate, self-contained propane canisters. For a natural gas grill, you will need a line hook up by a professional gas fitter
Electricity Need for Outdoor Kitchen
You will need electricity for lighting and appliances (like your fridge or a blender), a bar fridge will require a dedicated outlet. Electric grills will also require a convenient outlet near your outdoor kitchen. Be safe when it comes to your electrical work. Circuits should be grounded and GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) must be installed. It’s a good idea to hire a licensed electrical contracting (LEC business for this, to make sure things are done safely to avoid the risk of electrical fires or deadly electric shocks.
Tip: If you live in Ontario head to ESAsafe.com to find a Licensed Electrical Contracting (LEC) Business in your area.
Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet Materials
Choose materials that will hold up to the cold and the sun as well as moisture. Your options are not as broad as they would be indoors.
How to Build the Best Outdoor Kitchen on Deck
Before designing your outdoor kitchen, think about your lifestyle. If you see yourself spending a few months every year eating and drinking outdoors, you want to look into a built-in-grill, fridge, cabinetry, and a prep sink. If you are planning on doing just basic grilling, you may be happy with a basic setup that includes a grill and perhaps a sink.
Area Planning For An Outdoor Kitchen
Think about your outdoor cooking style. As I mentioned, if you are really into grilling, you will want a well-equipped grilling area.
A well-designed outdoor kitchen should be efficient and attractive and VERSATILE. Easy access to the indoor kitchen is a must. I also recommend adding a dining area to increase functionality.
When designing, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I incorporate shelter from the elements?
- What will I cook outdoors? Full meals, including side dishes?
- Will I also eat outdoors? Will I entertain outdoors?
- What look do I want? Rustic, modern, contemporary?
- Are there specialty items, like pizza or seafood, that I will prepare outdoors?
Also, think about the other activities that go around your outdoor kitchen. Do you want a bar space? If your outdoor kitchen is near a pool (like mine), think about combining it with a pool house. Here is something important to consider.
If it is so close to a pool, you may want to add a fence or barrier so kids don’t get too close to the water’s edge.
Choose Materials And Appliances
The appliances you choose depend on the foods you plan on cooking there. Think about this carefully. Do you see yourself heating up a delicate sauce or simmering something? Do you like to stir-fry vegetables? What exactly will you be cooking in your kitchen?
Furthermore, consider HOW you like to cook. Do you want to cook everything outside, or do the side dishes in your indoor kitchen? Or will the prep work like cleaning and cutting meat and veggies take place in your outdoor kitchen? How you answer these questions will determine the materials and appliances you need.
Leave Space for Outdoor Kitchen Items
Setup and cleanup are important to consider when designing your outdoor space. Do you want to carry dishes and flatware from the indoor kitchen? Perhaps it makes sense to incorporate cabinetry into your planning.
What About Fire Safety?
Here are some simple things to keep in mind:
- Do not store combustible materials under your deck
- Keep your deck clear of leaves, debris, and rubbish.
- Sweep the deck before you grill. If a spark flies, striking any leaves or debris, you run the risk of combustion.
- Your grills should be several feet from your house. Besides, keep it away from deck railings and out from under overhanging branches.
Keeping a clean grill is important. A failure to clean the grill was the leading factor contributing to the fire in one–fifth of all grill structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Agency.
How To Choose A Grill For Outdoor Kitchens
The grill will likely be the centrepiece of your outdoor kitchen. First, you need to decide whether you want a gas grill or a charcoal-burning grill (or perhaps both). Gas grills are fueled by a portable tank of liquid propane or piped-in natural or propane gas. They are convenient and easy to operate. Newer models have smoker trays in which you can place hardwood chips for that smoky flavor we all love.
When picking a gas grill, consider these factors:
- Look at the material it’s made from. Stainless steel is the best. Make sure the frame of the grill is also stainless steel.
- Consider the BTU rating. A higher BTU does not necessarily mean a hotter grill. Factor in the size of the grill and how well it maintains and distributes the heat.
- Look at the size of the grill and the features available.
Charcoal grills burn hotter in comparison. They are a little messier and more complicated to operate, but they add an awesome, bold flavor to your food.
How To Choose A Sink For Outdoor Kitchens
You should have a cleanup zone in your outdoor kitchen. A sink adds a HUGE amount of convenience. You will be able to wash dishes, fill pots and clean up after meals.
Choosing the right sink and faucet is not hard. However, if space is limited, even a bar sink is big enough to wash some vegetables and plates.
If your outdoor kitchen is big enough, look into larger sinks that are deep enough to wash roasting pans.
Stainless steel is your best option for your sink. You want something super resilient. Look into building codes and plumbing costs before installing a sink in an open-air kitchen.
Outdoor Kitchen Covers
Your outdoor kitchen is exposed to natural elements. Make sure appliances and surfaces are covered and maintained because they are outdoors.
If you live in an area that gets lots of rain, you should have your grill or kitchen under a cover or partial patio roof.
Other Outdoor Entertainment Ideas For Your Backyard
Recently many people have been rethinking how they design and use their backyard. Here are some outdoor entertainment ideas to transform your backyard into an outdoor oasis:
- Install a Water Feature to create a relaxed and calming vibe
- Install a smart pergola to shield you from the changing weather allowing you to use your backyard for a longer time
- Add an outdoor swimming pool or hot tub —this serves as great entertainment for both kids and adults
- Add different types of lighting to highlight different areas of your backyard