After combing through a number of blogs, websites and books, I decided to save some money and tackle my outdoor kitchen project myself. Thank you to everyone who has posted on here and provided information for others to learn from. In order to pay it forward, I am sharing my experience in case someone out there can find any of this information useful.
My backyard originally started as a jungle of overgrowth and a small putting green that was past its prime. My wife and I hired a contractor to tear it all up, put in a pool and re-landscape the yard. I have always wanted an outdoor kitchen so as part of that project, I also subcontracted to have the outdoor structure installed along with a U-shaped concrete pad that had two drains, electricity and natural gas lines run to it while the yard was already torn up.
Following the completion of the backyard and pool, I received a few quotes from contractors for the outdoor kitchen but could not get over the cost, so after reading blogs on this forum and other information I decided to try it myself. Below is the process I underwent.
I started with Trex Boards (composite decking) from Lowes for the base in order to raise it off the ground so moisture could flow in and out. I placed a board on the inside and outside of the pad and one down the middle for stability. I left a 6” space every 3’ to allow water to flow in and out. I then laid HardieBacker cement board down and screwed it to the Trex (I used ½” on top and bottom and ¼” on sides) using hardiebacker screws . I put a few anchorbolts into the concrete on the corners to keep it from moving as I was constructing it. The cement board will be the bottom of the inside of the cabinets.
I went back and forth between using metal or wood studs and decided after reading several opinions to use metal. I had never used metal studs before but after doing some research it ended up being easy to use. I went with 2.5” 20 gauge metal studs and track. I went to a supply store that sells metal studs and they said that that size is what the majority of their customers use for outdoor kitchens. I also used ½” wafer tek screws to hold it all together. You will need aviation snips to cut the metal studs as well. Some people use a miter saw with a metal cut blade but I found the straight cut aviation snips worked fine. Once it is together it is very sturdy. I put a few diagonal braces in during construction to keep everything square but after a few runs are up it get sturdy quickly. I went a little overboard with the framing of the hearth, but wanted to make sure it was stable as people will stand and sit on it and I had extra studs.
My design was relatively intricate with the different appliances and cabinets, but after some getting used to, the metal stud framing went up relatively easy. Below is the design.
Left Side: Primo XL Kamado grill (dropped down 17” from the counter height) with a cabinet door underneath, a beer fridge, natural gas grill with 3 drawers and cabinet door underneath, a side burner dropped down 10” from the countertop with a cuttingboard that will go over the top for extra counter space when the side burner isn’t in use and a prep sink with a cabinet door underneath.
Back: hearth across the whole backside with a FireRock fireplace (42” Convetional) in the middle and firewood holders on either side of the fireplace. Fireplace has gas running to it for easy starting or if I get lazy in the future and want to use fake logs. A 60” TV and 6”x6” cypress mantle will sit above the fireplace.
Right Side: Food/soda refrigerator, ice maker, full sink with cabinets underneath, pull out trashcans and 3 drawers.
Bar Top: On the back of the right side will be a bar top with chairs on the outside of the structure facing in.
Appliances: All of my appliances and stainless drawers are Blaze. I looked at a number of brands and ultimately decided on Blaze for the quality and value. I have not used the grill or burner yet (professional series) but am happy with the construction and design. Cant wait to get it all finished and test it out.
Water: My dad and I ran the water and had the plumber check everything when he ran the gas. We used Pex which went together pretty easily (3/4” trunk lines and ½” spur lines). We have a water spicket on the back side of each corner for filling crawfish pots or watering plants, installed a Rheem RTE 13 Electric Tankless Water Heater (4 GPM) for the two sinks and ran the water (and a filter) to the ice maker. I also added a condensate pump for the ice maker drainage and a garbage disposal on the main sink.
Gas: I hired a plumber to run the gas and we used TracPipe for the lines and fitting (1” trunk lines and ½” spurs to fixtures). We have 2 Bevolo lanterns on the posts facing the pool, the gas grill and side burner, the fireplace, 2 crawfish boil quick connects on the back side and ran a line to add a heater on the beam above the bar if we decide to add that in the future.
Electrical: There is 100 amps running from the house to the panel box. We ran electrical for the uplights, plugs in the backsplash, plugs in the cabinets for appliances, LED strip lighting under the backsplashes and counter overhang, TV above the fireplace, DirecTV box, and speaker receiver and fan. I put speakers on the top of each post and ran wire back to the receiver. We also put outlets at the top of each post in case I want to add fans, wireless speakers or other devices in the future.
Finishing: I am hiring a mason to install stack stone (Horizon stone Pecan color) on the inside and bar side and stucco on the two back sides facing the fence. I also hired someone to install granite countertops.
I will upload more pictures as it progresses. I would love any comments or suggestions and would be happy to provide details or answer any questions if people want more information.