There are as many reason for building a custom outdoor kitchen as there are homeowners who want one. Additional counter space, comfortable bar seating, commercial appliances and architectural beauty are some of the most popular reasons for constructing a custom grill island but there are a lot more. How to build, where to build and what design to use based on the available backyard space necessitates some experience in backyard designs. There are several options for custom building an outdoor kitchen.
Pre-fabricated, ready-to-install grill island models are generally less expensive as basic grill islands. With lots of feature-rich built in stainless steel accessories like raising television screens, cd players, lights and hidden speakers installed it is far easier to manufacture this grill island in a clean and level warehouse than it is to build on-site in a backyard. Pre-fabricated outdoor kitchens are heavy enough that a strong wind or excessively nasty weather will not push them around or damage anything. Laws and codes that must be adhered to when installing electricity, plumbing and drain lines do not apply to a grill island built elsewhere and delivered.
Pre-fabricated outdoor kitchens have limitations based on the process of delivering and installing the outdoor kitchen. Obviously a pre-built countertop cannot wrap a column or meet a off-plum wall. Most backyard decks, pavers and other floors are created at a pitch to allow water and dirt to be directed away from the home, pool and off the floor. When a grill island is built on a level floor and delivered to a backyard the structure will tilt with the slope of the pitched deck. Depending on how severe the pitch this can cause BBQ grill burners to burn and wear unevenly over time if the gas is not laying level in the built in barbeque grill. The electric, plumbing, music and lights that are so much less expensive in a pre-fabricated grill island must find attachments, plugs and places to drain once installed. While the visible cost of the outdoor kitchen appears less the on-site attachments are usually more expensive when made to attach to a stand-alone appliance.
Many mass-merchant grill and outdoor products manufacturers have been developing customized modular outdoor kitchens. A modular outdoor summer kitchen design is a series of available counters that fit together. The amount of modular pieces usually allows the creation of thousands of permutations of different forms. Modules are generally unfinished to allow the homeowner to select a counter top and finished product for the walls that will match or compliment the home.
However, the modular outdoor kitchen is usually a lot more expensive than it appears. Modular outdoor kitchen pieces are purposefully unfinished to avoid a clear demarcation of the outdoor cabinetry fitting together. Finished stone, tile or stucco must be applied after the entire cabinetry is installed. The problems of working with a pitched deck apply to modular outdoor kitchens — but it’s worse. The counter top cannot have a pitched deck because every modular attachment point will have a ledge so the individual pieces must have spacers stuffed under the outdoor cabinetry to allow a granite, marble or tile counter around the built in BBQ grill.
On-site Building Benefits
A custom built outdoor kitchen will be more expensive than a modular or pre-fabricated grill island. However the additional cost is often due to the fact that a custom builder will not hide installation costs, plumbing or electric. Compensating for the pitch of the deck a custom built outdoor summer kitchen will finish with straight plum walls and perfectly level counter tops. The resultant structure will be stronger, more reliable and stay useful through the years of outdoor grilling. Electric, plumbing, drains, music, television and other features will be planned and installed based on the existing design of the home.
A fully functional outdoor kitchen located farther from the main house should contain a sink and water connection, refrigerator and sufficient electrical lighting. The grill island would have a built-in space for built in gas grill and must also be able to accommodate lots of counter space, drawers, access doors, and anything else needed that can be found in an indoor kitchen.
Materials and Workmanship
A custom-designed outdoor kitchen uses a range of materials including marble, granite, ceramic tile, stucco and glass. The best grill island accessories are made of 304 stainless steel. 304 stainless is the most versatile and widely used grade of stainless steel used outdoors. Properties that protect against rust and corrosion include nickel for hardening and chromium for protection when reacting to oxygen molecules. The chemical make-up of real 304 make the stainless more expensive and worth every penny in the backyard. They are tough and durable and add an elegant sheen to any design. Lower grade materials are also available but they easily deteriorate. When it comes to workmanship, American-made custom outdoor kitchens are known for their durability, elegant design, and superior craftsmanship. They also come with a valuable warranty.
The structure of an outdoor kitchen custom built on site can be manufactured of a few different materials. Although some clients and contractors have told me they risk it, an outdoor appliance should never be structured with wood – especially an outdoor kitchen with a gas and/or charcoal barbecue grill in it!
Masonry construction of outdoor counters is the most popular manner of building outdoor kitchens. Often this is done poorly to save money. A masonry grill island must have a legally coded concrete slab with steel “re-bar” mounted to stack bricks. Concrete bricks are extremely heavy and are easy to topple over unless poured solid. Many inexpensive summer kitchen contractors move quickly and cheaply by stacking bricks without steel supports, concrete slabs and poured solid cells. The result is a beautiful outdoor kitchen that forces the backyard deck pavers to sink into the ground over the years or unpoured hollow bricks that fall over in heavy winds.
In the same manner that most homes are built, many outdoor kitchens can be constructed of galvanized steel framing and durable concrete board. Although lighter than concrete blocks this manner of construction is still heavy enough to withstand a category three hurricane and is rated higher when properly mounted on-site. With steel framing the galvanization process resists rust and corrosion. Outdoor concrete board is impervious to rain, salt water, heat, freezing temperatures and fireproof. It is also incredibly strong. Steel framing is more expensive because the labor to properly design and build an outdoor kitchen with solid structural integrity is highly specialized. Only the best carpenters are able to produce great structures that are resilient outdoor regardless of the weather and passing time. There are cheaper ways to custom design and build an outdoor kitchen but cheap will always become obvious eventually.
The charm of a custom outdoor kitchen lies in the quality of its features and accessories. And at the heart of the structure is the grill itself, which is available in different configurations. Grills can cook with gas, charcoal, or wood. Some built in barbeque grills can use multi-fuels, like natural gas convertible to propane. Just like its accessories, a grill can be cheap or expensive, but choosing the latter guarantees many years of reliable service. If the custom outdoor kitchen is built to last as long as the backyard exists then the built in gas grill better be built to stay in the grill island without rusting to pieces.
Solaire Infrared Grill
Solaire’s high infrared heat locks in food moisture and natural flavor for juicier, tastier steaks, grilled vegetables, fish and other grilled foods. The Solaire infrared gas grill burner is over one thousand degrees with a minute and is easily swappable with lower heat blue-flame convection burners for low-heat smoking and long term off set barbecuing.
Superb design and engineering with cooking versatility and performance, FireMagic builds in more fancy features than any high-end built in BBQ grill manufacturer. Its Cast Stainless Steel burners and one-click Electronic Push-to-Light Hot Surface Ignition will impress even the most discriminating chef.
Lynx Professional Grill
Lynx grills started in the commercial restaurant industry bringing innovation and superior craftsmanship to outdoor cooking and built in outdoor kitchen accessories. Features include a seamless construction, cast brass burners, heat stabilizer, infrared rotisserie and hot surface ignition system – just in case the grill is needed in the middle of a blizzard.
DCS Pro Grill
DCS practically invented high-quality grilling technology such as the Smart Beam Grill Light, Grease Management System, and ceramic radiant as a conduction source for restaurant quality searing before infrared burners were invented.
Modeled from the DCS barbecues OCI features include stainless steel grill burners, infra-red insta-sear grill burner, stainless radiant rods for heat cnduction and ceramic infra-red rotisserie burner.
Alfresco spends time and money on innovation in grill design and infrared intense, even heating. Alfresco infrared burners create instant caramelization which seals in food’s natural juices and flavor.
American Outdoor Grill
Manufactured with FireMagic the AOG is one of the least expensive built in gas grills that is still made in America with quality workmanship and high-grade stainless steel. The AOG built in BBQ’s are convertible to infrared sear burners, do not use messy ceramic conduction and are available with or without an infrared rotisserie kit.
Economically a grill on a cart is less expensive than a custom outdoor kitchen and the high quality expected with the high-end pricing is present. However, nothing dresses up a backyard like a custom outdoor kitchen that matches the house like it is made to be there. Extra counter space outdoors is just as useful and convenient as the indoor kitchen design it just feels better to be able to grill great flavor outdoors. The built in barbeque grill is custom built into the grill island and if an inexpensive replacement is chosen for the initial design it can be difficult to replace when it corrodes. Using a hogh quality built in gas grill in the custom summer kitchen ensures many years of reliable use and great flavor.