Robert’s Outdoor Kitchen

Viewer Project - By Robert from Houston, TX
Added on June 1, 2009

First let me tell you that I love your website and videocasts as well as the Wood Talk Online project you are doing and the direction both the website and the show are going in.

Heard you mention a new grill and that someday an outdoor kitchen is in the works. So I wanted to show you what I had recently done. We have a weird shaped lot due to being on a cul-de-sac so to give you an idea of the layout. In some of the pictures you see a wrought iron gate (actually aluminum) that is the gate between garage and house and where most everyone comes in. The green door in picture one is the back door which leads to laundry room and into kitchen breakfast area (the window next to door is to breakfast area)

To the left of that you can see living room windows that overlook pool and then there is large grass area beyond that with kids fort, trampoline etc. So that’s the layout. We had an area outside the kitchen that wouldn’t grow grass so we laid pavers and I built the island where there was little grill that had come with the house. Plus we built the fountain using Mexican Pots. It has turned the area into a nice outdoor living space, far enough from the pool that no one gets splashed (you can see table, chairs and a firepit in the background. The grill is a Sam’s Club special. There is also a dual gas burner which you can see (it has a cover on it). Everything is plumbed into the natural gas but you could do with Propane. Just depends on what your grill takes. I just like not having to worry about running out.

Ok, now back to the island. Wish I had taken construction pictures. Oh well. Oh and let me add a couple of things. First it’s not quite finished yet (do it when I have free time .. LOL). What is missing is I need to level the grill with the top and put slate on the area directly under the grill plus I want to wire electrical into the pole that comes down from the overhead and put an outlet there for the Rotisserie and for a blender or whatever. Second, total cost if you don’t count the grill and dbl burner, about $750 or so for everything. Also I would like to add a small matching cabinet in that space between the door to the kitchen and the gate and put a small sink in it. On the other side of the wall is the washing machine so I can tie into the water and the drain without need for a plumber.

Construction was simple. The whole island sits on a concrete pad that was already there. I put cinder blocks there and filled them with concrete and gravel. Framing is 2×4’s put together with pocket screws. They just sit on the cinder blocks. Kinda like angle iron but made from 2x4s. Then the framing is covered by concrete backer board and then thinset and real slate floor tiles. The top is Plywood covered by backer board and then real black granite tiles. Its then trimmed off with Padauk set with glue and screws then plugged with Wenge plugs. Inside the cabinet is lined with cedar (6″ fence pickets that I planed to make smooth) gives it a nice finished look and helps keep bugs away. Then the doors and drawers are Padauk as well. The doors are thick with 1/2″ solid panels. Drawer boxes are poplar – dovetailed of course. Bar stool will be replaced eventually. These were $19 each and my wife wanted something fast so they will do.

The Paduak is covered with General Finishes Outdoor Oil. The top trim has 3 coasts but only one so far on the doors and drawers. I haven’t put a final sealer on the slate either. The little outcropping on the back of the island with the double burner is where the gas line comes in. I put a big door on the end of the one section because my wife wanted a big deep area to store my sons stuff rather than a door under the one drawer. That may have been a design mistake but its ok.

In hindsight there are some things I would have done different but overall Im very happy with it so far. We like the large area with the overhang so people can pull up a barstool and talk and snack and drink while I cook. I could have gone with one of those drop-in grills but we bought the grill long before doing the island and I decided not to take it off the base because it has such nice storage under it. The plus on that is that if the grill ever dies and I need to replace it, I have lots of flexibility in size. I can just redo the base it sits on and make longer or shorter and adjust the right island as needed. The islands are free standing except where screwed into the pole. Once complete the weight keeps them in place since they become very heavy.

The cost savings doing it myself was incredible. Thought since you had mentioned getting one someday, you might want to see a homemade outdoor kitchen. People ask why no fridge? Well there is one in the laundry room and I just couldn’t see putting another thing that eats electricity out there. But who knows in the long run. It was very easy to build. If you can lay floor tile you can do this. To make it even easier we used premixed thinset on this and we used a premixed epoxy grout. We’ve laid our share of floors but since I did a section at a time the premix was worth the small added expense. My wife is making a cover for it that will hand down about a foot in all directions to keep the top clean. It is under cover and gets minimal direct sun but it does get covered in dust and pollen etc. So it’s more just to make keeping it clean easier.

I’m an amateur, especially compared to you. These were my second ever set of doors and drawers. But I am happy with the results. Hope you enjoyed this. Oh and like all projects this one spawns another. My lovely wife wants me to rebuild the back door out of Mahogany. She bought some clear stained glass panel for it off ebay.