Framing is usually the first step of outdoor kitchen structure construction. It’s also the element that makes it either long-lasting or… not.
Can you frame outdoor kitchen with wood? Wood is one of the materials that can be used for outdoor kitchen construction. Its advantages are:
- easy treatment,
- tools availability,
The type of wood should be carefully selected, as it may experience moisture and heat. Recommended types are glulam and pressure-treated pine.
Not only the type of wood matters but also it’s properties. How to choose the best scantlings and planks? What wood is going to be easy to work with?
Can You Frame an Outdoor Kitchen with Wood?
There are plenty of materials that can be used for an outdoor kitchen frame. The most common are steel, brick, concrete, and wood. All of them have advantages and disadvantages. As you can read on the internet and hear from contractors, wood is not the most recommended choice for framing. And even though it is popular among DIYselfers. Why?
First of all, it is so easy to work with wood. It is easy to cut and drill in the wood and as a material wood is very forgiving, malleable, and flexible. You do not have to be super experienced to work with it.
Second of all tools to work with wood are, usually, already in the household. They might not be super safe, but let’s be honest, cutting steel is way more dangerous. As woodworking tools are more common people are also more likely to know how to use them.
The third is the price. An important factor, especially if an outdoor kitchen is a DIY project.
There are also some disadvantages of using wood for an outdoor kitchen framing mentioned by contractors and some bloggers, like:
- fire hazard,
- moisture exposure,
- rot, and mold,
- cannot bear a lot,
- insect invasion.
As you can see those defects look pretty serious. Below I’ll discuss them, as most of those points are opinions, not facts really.
So is framing an outdoor kitchen with wood a good idea or not? The true answer is: it depends. If somebody is going to use a random wood to create a structure for an outdoor kitchen then yes – he or she is likely to be unhappy with it. An outdoor kitchen is a spot where moisture might appear, and heat is going to be a factor. Unprepared wood may rot and mold, and so be not able to bear a lot.
If you build a structure out of a proper type of wood it is very unlikely to get any of those issues. And is some states, like Florida, wood is actually a better choice than steel, as it is not going to get rust from humidity.
What are the two types of wood worth considering for framing an outdoor kitchen?
There are basically two types of wood I’d recommend for an outdoor kitchen construction: glulam and pressure-treated pine.
Glulam as a construction material for an outdoor kitchen
What makes glulam an amazing material for an outdoor kitchen? In a way, it is a super-wood, that can do, what other types only dream about. Glulam is an engineered material made out of premium wood. During the production process it’s cut and dried (either under the sun or in chambers). All the imperfections are removed, so it doesn’t have any knots. Planks are paired, so they look similar, and glued in giant presses.
I described the production process to be able to address the previously mentioned general wood disadvantages. As glulam does not have any kind of imperfections and has low wetness, it has different features than a random stick. It’s an extremely strong construction material that bridges are built of! Rot, mold, and insects appear in weak spots, so glulam is resistant to all of them. This material is used for houses too, so moisture doesn’t affect it.
How is it with heat and glulam? Let’s dive a bit into wood features. As a material wood has a low thermal permeability. This means it can be used to isolate houses. So wood is on the opposite side of this feature to metal. In other words, it works fine with a range of temperatures.
Pressure-treated pine as framing for an outdoor kitchen
Pressure-treated pine is a traditional solution for outdoor constructions. While glulam might be difficult to get, pressure-treated pine is widely available in a variety of lengths and profiles. What makes a pressure-treated pine such a great solution for outdoors?
This is a material that is dried until it reaches 20% or less wetness. Later impregnator is introduced into the wood under a pressure in chambers. This process creates enhanced wood. Impregnator gets deep into wood structures, so it makes pressure-treated wood more resistant to multiple factors. Even though impregnation can be done also by painting surface it is not going to be as effective as done with pressure.
Pressure-treated pine is resistant to mold, rot, and moisture. It can also bear hundreds of pounds. As it has knots it should be checked for insect invasion occasionally (unless it is covered from inside and outside with cement backer boards). As you can see it is another great option for framing an outdoor kitchen.
But how those super-woods cope with fire you may ask…
Is a wooden construction a fire hazard?
Even though in my opinion it is safe to use wood for an outdoor kitchen construction, I have to admit that steel, brick, and concrete are less likely to catch fire.
What is important to know at this matter is that construction is made, usually, with thick scantlings. Even if those elements catch fire they’re going to burn for a long time. It’s worth performing an experiment to figure out how fire works on different types of wood.
Next time you’ll make a fire put in a thick stump and a stick. Stump burns for a long time, stick disappears in minutes. As construction materials for your outdoor kitchen are pretty thick, so even if construction would catch fire there would be plenty of time to put the fire out.
If this is a big issue for you, go with the metal construction around the grill. It is an easy workaround for this particular issue.
Safety rules for an outdoor kitchen
You’re not irrational with your fear. 49% of home fires are caused by cooking. While this is a general number for the whole household, not only outside, it shows where a lot of fires start. If a fire is a big concern for you there are several things that can be done:
- Keep the grill, burner, and pizza oven clean and in good repair.
- Do not leave the grill unattended while on.
- Keep towels and pot holders away from grill, burner, and oven.
- Purchase a fire blanket and/or Class K Fire Extinguisher.
Those safety rules are general. As you can see they do not apply only to outdoor kitchens constructed out of wood. While using fire we should always be careful.
Keeping appliances in shape and clean is going to massively improve the safety of cooking in an outdoor kitchen. Fat and grease are easily catching fire. All the appliances that use fire should be in good shape. I would say that it’s double as important when gas is connected to appliances.
The second rule sounds obvious, but most of the fires start when nobody sees. So keeping an eye on outdoor kitchen appliances while used is a key to safety. Doesn’t matter if construction is brick or wood.
While you may have all appliances in shape there is another factor that may be a fire hazard – paper and material lying close to the fire. It seems natural to put paper towels close to the grill. It is not safe though. In any kind of kitchen. Again.
The last rule is to purchase a solution for fire. I’ve seen a lot of terrible advice on the internet, that I’m not going to repeat here. There are basically two things that can be recommended: fire blankets and Class K Fire Extinguisher. It should be stored in a place where if a fire starts you can reach. If more people use the kitchen a wise thing to do is adding a sign on the cabinet doors or keeping it outside.
All of those rules are valid for all outdoor kitchen construction types. No matter what material you choose, cooking with fire must be always done carefully.
I hope this post was helpful to you. If you’d like to get to know more please let me know what data you’re looking for in the comments section.