Building an Outdoor Kitchen

Add entertaining convenience to your property by building an outdoor kitchen.

Intro

Like any landscaping project, the scope of an outdoor cooking area is best determined by answering the questions: How do you want to use it? For full-scale outdoor dining? For intimate gatherings with family or a few guests? Or merely for occasional weekend get-togethers?

At a minimum an outdoor kitchen requires a structure to house a grill. The unit illustrated here does just that, with little cost and effort. You can add a prep sink, undercounter fridge, rotisserie, and any number of storage areas. This design accommodates those features with the installation of additional bays.

Checklist

Time
24 to 30 hours

Tools
Tape measure, shovel, hammer, rake, power tamper, cordless drill, hacksaw, concrete finishing tools, chalk line, mason's trowel, wire cutters, notched trowel, circular saw with masonry blade

Skills
Installing a concrete slab, laying out and building with concrete block, setting tile

Prep
Design layout, excavate, and pour concrete slab

Materials
2x stock for forms, deck screws, ready-mix concrete, mortar, concrete block, backerboard, metal lath, line blocks, 3/4-inch exterior-grade plywood, thinset mortar, tile, grout, brick veneer

Step 1

Lay out and pour the slab and footings to meet local codes. Snap chalk lines to mark the location of the block walls. Using your dimensional plan, build the walls. Make sure the grill bay meets the manufacturer's specifications.

Step 2

Cut 3/4-inch exterior-grade plywood, metal lath, and backerboard to fit each section of the countertop. Fasten the plywood to the block webs with concrete screws (not anchors). Mortar the plywood, set the first piece of backerboard in the mortar, then install metal lath and the second backerboard.

Step 3

Starting at the bottom, spread and comb thinset on a section of the block wall. Set each piece of brick veneer in the mortar with a slight twist. Level the veneer and keep it straight with a straightedge.

Step 4

When the thinset has cured, fill a mortar bag with the mortar recommended by the manufacturer and squeeze the mortar into the joints. Let the mortar set up slightly, then tool it with a jointing tool.

Step 5

Dry-lay the countertop tile to make sure everything fits. Then spread and comb a level coat of thinset on the backerboard and set the countertop field tile. Make sure all the joints line up, then set the edge tile. When the mortar cures, grout and clean the tile and install the grill.


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