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How To Build An Outdoor Kitchen

Stephanie BurtSeptember 10, 2018

Outdoor kitchens are an amazing way to transform your backyard into an entertaining hot spot. Grilling for parties is great, but having a dream outdoor kitchen set up takes the whole experience to the next level.

 

An outdoor kitchen might sound like a luxury for the rich and famous. It’s true that they can be very pricey to have professionally installed. However, they are very doable as DIY projects on more of a budget.

 

Want to get started? Here are some tips and ideas to help you get that perfect outdoor kitchen of your dreams. 

Start With What You Have

First, make note of the space and arrangement in your yard. Working with what you already have will help to save you a ton of money.

 

Take a look at any existing patio, concrete slab, or deck. Could this be used as a part of your outdoor kitchen? Measure the space as it exists and determine if it’s big enough or needs to be expanded. 

The Grill

An important part of any outdoor kitchen is the grill. This is where you’ll cook a lot of the food, and it’s often the centerpiece of the outdoor kitchen.

 

Whether you already have a grill or need to buy one, be sure it’s the right size for your needs. If you have a lot of huge parties, you’ll need a larger grill than if you plan to mostly cook for your family or small gatherings. If you’re going to do a built-in grill, you’ll need a different kind than the freestanding ones that roll onto your porch.

Other Outdoor Appliances

Think about how you plan to cook in your outdoor kitchen and thoughtfully add any other appliances. Stovetops and small refrigerators are popular appliances to add to an outdoor kitchen. Be sure that anything that you select is properly made for being stored and used outside.

 

Another popular addition to outdoor kitchens is a sink. Sure, you can tote your dirty dishes inside, but it’s nice to be able to rinse them off outdoors. You’ll need to run water to your sink to make it work, so this could be an expensive add-on!

Outdoor Cabinets And Countertops

Many outdoor kitchens wrap the grill in cabinets and then extend those cabinets to have some cooking prep space with a countertop nearby. The addition of cabinets and countertops is what really takes a grill to the outdoor kitchen level.

 

When selecting cabinets, look for something with lots of hidden storage underneath. Be sure that they’re made of a material that is water- and humidity-resistant so they don’t get warped. Look for countertops that are very durable and can hold up to the elements. Concrete is a popular outdoor kitchen countertop option.

Seating Or Eating Area

An outdoor kitchen is great, but you really want a spot for your friends and family to sit and enjoy the food that you cook. There are a few good options for outdoor eating areas.

 

The easiest option is to have a freestanding dining table with chairs around it. This is a simple and inexpensive way to seat a crowd.

 

A more custom option is to build an outdoor bar with stools at the counter. This is a great way to add additional seating and to have a more casual hang-out spot, especially for parties.

Add A Roof Or Pergola

If you’re going to be standing outside in the sun doing a lot of cooking, you’re going to get hot. Consider adding a roof or pergola over your outdoor kitchen to give yourself a little shade.

 

Different shade options will have different looks, and the scope of this project depends on if your outdoor kitchen is freestanding or right next to your house. You might want the roof to cover your outdoor dining area too, so that you can enjoy meals no matter the weather conditions. 

Don’t Forget The Permits

If you’re constructing a new deck or even building around a grill, you might need a permit from your city or county. It’s always better to call and check. It’s much cheaper to pay for a permit and an inspection than to be forced to remove your outdoor kitchen down the line. 

How Much Does It Cost To Build An Outdoor Kitchen?

The cost to build an outdoor kitchen will vary greatly depending on the materials that you choose to use as well as the size of your kitchen. If you’re only finishing around a grill, it could be under $1,000. But, building a more elaborate set-up will cost much more.

 

A basic outdoor kitchen usually runs from $2,000 – $10,000. Luxury outdoor kitchens can cost $50,000 – $100,000! Really, the sky's the limit, so set a budget that you’re comfortable with and determine what you can do within that budget.

Are Outdoor Kitchens Worth The Money?

It’s very important to build an outdoor kitchen because you want to use and enjoy it – not for resale value. While a well-built, high-quality outdoor kitchen will most likely add some value to your home at resale time, nothing is guaranteed. Additions like this usually don’t add value equal to their costs, especially if you hire a contractor or use high-end finishes.

 

Instead, measure the value of your outdoor kitchen in the enjoyment that you and your family will get out of it while living in the home. After all, that’s why you want an outdoor kitchen – to make memories. 

 

Outdoor kitchens are a great option for people who love to entertain and who live in climates where they can be outdoors for a large portion of the year. Make a plan and you can DIY an outdoor kitchen for a fraction of the cost of hiring a contractor.

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    Stephanie Burt

    Stephanie Burt is a cooking expert who loves to entertain. She writes for The Home Depot and is the host of The Southern Fork podcast.