Many of us are hanging out at home more than ever, and all that extra time in your backyard may set you daydreaming about having your very own outdoor kitchen.
If so, you aren’t alone. According to a recent survey by Fixr, 41% of construction industry experts expect clients to invest in outdoor kitchens this year. And the good news is that you don't need a sprawling estate to accommodate one. You just have to think creatively about your space—and know your priorities.
But just as with any other kind of home improvement project, things can easily go wrong. So if you’re thinking about investing in an al fresco cooking space, do your homework to avoid the following headaches—and ensure delicious results.
#1 Planning for the Weather
If you're a homeowner in a cooler climate, you won't be able to use your outdoor kitchen all year long. If you live in an area with frigid, snowy winters, you need to plan the space carefully. Make sure the electrical components of your outdoor kitchen are thoroughly planned out depending on your weather conditions.
#2 Positioning Your Kitchen in Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight is a no-go for outdoor kitchens. On a practical level, direct sunlight can also be annoying. Nobody wants to squint into the sun while trying to enjoy an outdoor happy hour. If you don’t have natural shade, you can create a pergola or roof structure to help protect your outdoor kitchen from the sun.
#3 Building with Flammable Material
Are you thinking of building a wooden island for your outdoor kitchen? Think again. Instead, opt for a material like metal, brick, or stone. If you absolutely must use wood for your BBQ island, be sure to install an insulated jacket around the wood to prevent fires—and don’t put your kitchen right up against vinyl siding, another serious fire hazard.
#4 Cramming Too Much into a Small Space
The idea of creating an outdoor kitchen is so you can bring the comforts of home outside. Having a cramped space will limit the feelings for coziness you are striving for. Remember, you don’t need to live on a sprawling estate to create the outdoor dining space of your dreams. If you’re short on space (or money), consider what you really need in your outdoor kitchen, then tailor the space to your priorities and your budget.
#5 Planning your Outdoor Kitchen like an Indoor Kitchen
Outdoor kitchens have certain quirks that distinguish them from indoor kitchens. For starters, you probably won’t want to use the kind of cabinetry you have inside the house. Most outdoor cabinets are deeper than indoor cabinets. Also vent hoods for outdoor kitchens need to be more powerful than indoor ones.
#6 Choosing a Grill that is the Wrong Size
If you’re putting the energy and investment into an outdoor kitchen, don’t skimp on your most important appliance: the grill. Here are three questions you should ask yourself when trying to figure out the right size for your grill. 1. How many people will you normally grill for? 2. What’s the maximum number of people you will be grilling for? 3. How often do you expect to grill for the maximum number of people
#7 Forgetting to Set Up the Space for Entertaining
Chances are, you want an outdoor kitchen for relaxing—not just for cooking. Don’t forget to think about how the space will function for entertaining. It is important to think about where you want your dining table and if you would want your outdoor kitchen to include an island where bar stools could be lined up. You may also want to incorporate TVs, sound systems, heating and cooling appliances, and decor, depending on your priorities and budget.
#8 Dropping the Ball on Maintenance
A new outdoor kitchen comes with a new list of things to keep spotless. It's important to understand what chores you’re getting into. If you have stainless-steel appliances, for example, coat them with a protectant to prevent rust. If you aren’t up to the task of regular maintenance, consider hiring a cleaning service.