These articles will discuss how to build an Outdoor Kitchen. You should still go to work and do your job, this is not a how-to-build message. When I need medical attention I call the doctor and if you need an outdoor kitchen you should engage a professional. Knowing the design and location of your kitchen will often help with the decision of which builder to use. Many clients come to me and want an outdoor kitchen but have no idea how to make the necessary decisions that allow their desire to become a reality. If you know the design, the ability to judge the abilities of a contractor is much clearer then if you have no idea what to build.
Many clients come to us for an outdoor kitchen, grill island, summer kitchen, built in BBQ grill, etc without a specific idea of exactly what they want. There may be a space that could be utilized but nothing specific decided. Get a good grill and plenty of counter, a bar to sit guests, hang a cheap TV (outdoor televisions are not worth the money yet) and you have a tropical resort built in to your backyard.
When asked what type of built in grill they want most homeowners’ just mumble something non-committal. The overall design and the social enjoyment overshadow the details that will make or break the long term enjoyment of the home. However, the built in bbq grill and appliances are an integral part of the design. The grill is the primary focal point of the party. Location of the grill will determine where the refrigerator, side burner, access doors and sink belong. Serving space will determine where to put seating and seating will determine where to place other accessories like a built in ice bin, sink and refrigerator. Not all outdoor kitchens and bars will have a lot of built in accessories but they get a grill at least ninety percent of the time.
Built in gas grills are expensive. If the built in grill is too expensive but the outdoor kitchen project must be built, build the outdoor kitchen without a grill at all. If a lesser quality grill is necessary, leave it on wheels and build counter space to use in conjunction with the barbeque. What accessories will you use when you cook, mix drinks, play with the kids. Make the island comfortable to serve and to sit and be served. Keep a cart-grill that is portable and replaceable to use with the island or in a different area.
If I were only able to give one piece of advice regarding the selection of a built in grill it would be: do not go cheap. Because the grill is a necessity that is not the primary focus of the homeowners desire to have an outdoor kitchen, the option to purchase an imported grill-head from inferior manufacturers often arises. If the grill needs to e replaced, the structure may not fit a different brand or a newer model? Many imported grill manufacturers do not make replacement grill parts available and I have had clients who spent more on OEM grill parts than the original barbeque price. If a built ib BBQ grill does not fit the raw opening in the grill island it is not uncommon to have to demolish the entire structure.
The first question I usually ask a customer is “what do you cook?”. Almost everybody replies “everything” because in their mind they cook everything they eat and do not want to spend a bunch of money on a product with built-in limitations.. Grills have different abilities and even barbecues made to do "everything" will be better at one style of cooking than others. Does the homeowner cook? Do you cook fast and hot or slow with low temperatures? When I cook a Thanksgiving Turkey I’ll smoke the bird for nine hours at 185 degrees but day to day cooking and social functions I tend to grill mostly hamburgers, steaks and fish on the highest heat setting and fast. We cook at the same temperature and the same items more often than not.
Once the type of heat used is learned, the size of the built in grill can be determined. For instance an infrared grill that heats to 1400 degrees will cook a lot faster than a barbeque that must close the hood and wait for the temperature to rise to 400 degrees. The time necessary to reach a cooking temperature in a typical BBQ is enough time for an infrared grill to be done cooking! Grills with built in smokers, sear zones, rotisseries and blue flame burners combine many possible styles. There are built in charcoal barbecues and smokers and individual sear zones that can be built in to accentuate grilling when combined with a standard built in barbeque. Build it right and build it to last so it becomes a source of pleasure not a problem with constant replacements and repairs.
Finally look at the options and features available with the built in grills you consider. A variety of accessories are available with most built in grills that make them more versatile. Consider a grill with a lifetime warranty and then choose the most versatile product within the price range you have set. This should be the last BBQ grill you buy so make sure it will grow with your needs.
After choosing the right grill we have a starting point to design the rest of the outdoor kitchen by deciding what type of accessories to build in. Built in accessories include pull-out tank drawers, pull-out cutting board drawers, cubby holes, pantries, ice bins, refrigerators, ice machines, keg-erators and literally hundreds of additional choices. Years of experience designing and building have taught me to use high quality products. Outside the industry a door looks like any other access door but locating replacements is actually very difficult. Even if the sizes fit, the design will not look right without locating the same item being replaced.
Draw it on paper fast and rough with the actual dimensions of your space. Design the space around the grill and the built accessories you will use?
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