Finding a perfect spot for your outdoor kitchen is the thing to figure at the very beginning of the designing process. Very often people ask: “Can you put an outdoor kitchen on a deck?”. And usually, a deck is the most convenient area for one.
Can you put an outdoor kitchen on a deck? A deck is usually a primary space to locate an outdoor kitchen at, as it’s close to the house, utilities are usually in place, and very often covering is already built. Things to consider are weight limits, heavy elements placement, and layout determined by the utility placement.
Not every deck though is going to work well, and not each outdoor kitchen can be placed on one. So what is the weight limit? How deck size can limit you? How to figure which location is going to work best for you, your family, and friends?
Can you put an outdoor kitchen on a deck?
Sure you can! The true question is what is going to work best for you and your budget. Usually, a deck is the simplest and most budget-friendly option. In my opinion, an outdoor kitchen should be treated as an investment, as it is an addition to a house that can change its value.
There are websites, made by contractors, which say that return on investment in an outdoor kitchen can be 200%. I’ve gathered a lot of data on this subject, and to me, this statement may be true for few people, but in general, you’re lucky if it’s 100% (so you get what you put in). If you perform your research well you can reach 130% level.
The reason I mention these numbers is: if you want to treat your outdoor kitchen as an addiction that increases the value of the house it’s worth keeping to the budget. And if so, figuring what location works best for you, has to be done with a budget in mind. I’ve put more data on constructing outdoor kitchens so they’re going to increase the value of your house in this post.
There are basically two types of outdoor kitchens: perimeter and satellite. Satellites, so outdoor kitchens in a distance from the house, are usually more expensive, require permits, utility connection, and their construction is far more lasting. As an investment, they’re rarely a good idea.
Outdoor kitchens built on a deck, have plenty of advantages. The main one, of course, is the budget. Utilities, flooring, and roofing are usually in place, which makes them faster to create. They’re also more convenient and safe to use.
An outdoor kitchen can be placed on most of the decks built up to code. And even if the deck needs reinforcement it is probably going to be worth it budget-wisely anyway.
There are plenty of questions to be asked though, that will make you more aware of what you’re willing to do:
- Is your deck strong enough to hold an outdoor kitchen?
- Is your deck big enough to accommodate an outdoor kitchen?
- Can your desired design be placed on a deck?
- What is the placement of utilities underneath the deck?
- Is placing your outdoor kitchen on a deck going to affect home design?
- Is your deck well situated for the time your outdoor kitchen is going to be used?
Answering these questions is going to help you make an informed decision you’ll be sure of. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the subject.
How much weight can your deck hold?
There is, unfortunately, no universal answer to this question. If you’re lucky this sort of data is in your deck documentation. If not, a good idea is to ask for professional expertise, as it’s better to be safe then sorry. Even if the deck is not strong enough additional structural support can be added. Can you figure your deck strength on your own? If you’re good with math, sure!
There are rules you can use to figure if the deck is a proper location for an outdoor kitchen, or not. The simplest one is: properly designed deck should be able to hold up to 50 lbs. per square foot. 10 lbs out of this number are dead load, so the weight of the deck itself. 40 lbs are live load, so furniture, planters, people, and snow in the winter (in colder states). This is a code, so if you have a deck it should work this way.
Now let’s get into more details, as the deck structure is very often not only going to affect an outdoor kitchen material choices, but also placement of heavier elements. Usually, a deck is placed next to the house, and the area facing the wall can bear the most load. So there is a reason most people use this area for an outdoor kitchen. It simply works.
To figure the design of an on-deck outdoor kitchen it’s worth getting to know a bit more about tributary zones. Basically you can divide each deck into 4 zones. Each of them can hold different amounts of load. There is an example, that can help you a lot, created by decksgo.com. Tributary zones are worth taking into consideration while picking perfect spots for heavy parts of an outdoor kitchen – like the grill, or pizza oven.
There is actually one more question to be asked: What if a deck gets more load then it can bear? Well, the deck will start to sink. And this is something to avoid at any cost really.
What is the weight of an outdoor kitchen?
So the code tells us each 1 sq ft of the deck can bear 50 lbs. So if the deck is 50 sq ft it can bear up to 2500 lbs. Is it enough for an outdoor kitchen, furniture, and people?
We already know, that a 500 lbs have to be deducted from this number, as these are deal load (deck bearing its weight). So for a 50 sq ft deck, we receive 2000 lbs live load. This seems to be a lot, and for some constructions is going to be enough. Not for all though.
If you’re looking for a simple BBQ island, that is about 10′ long, even if it is equipped with a burner, fridge, grill, and cabinet, you’re probably safe. Such construction weights usually about 800 lbs. It’s worth to remember your deck has to be able to hold not only an outdoor kitchen but also furniture and people. As you can see on 50 sq ft deck even a small island can be a challenge.
For such footage, the solution can be reinforcing the underneath of the deck. And this is a job that is going to eat a part of a budget for an outdoor kitchen.
How to minimize the weight of an outdoor kitchen?
There are plenty of ways to reduce the weight of an outdoor kitchen. First of all, size matters. And not only size – the number of appliances too. If the kitchen is to heavy for your deck reducing its size and getting rid of unnecessary appliances is going to make a huge difference.
If you plan to sell your house at some point it’s worth including in your outdoor kitchen fridge, sink, grill, and storage. This is the list of the most wanted parts by buyers (made by real estate agents). If not omitting the fridge and sink can be an option od a deck, as it is close to the indoor kitchen.
If you already downsized your project and the weight is still too high it’s time to rethink the structure. Cinderblock and wood are usually heavier than aluminum and steel studs. If you’re a DIYer going with steel studs or aluminum is going to be a bigger challenge, as requires specific tools. Otherwise, your contractor is probably going to use metal anyway, as aluminum frames do not rust or sag.
Finishes can also play a major role in making the construction lighter. Stone or tiles are pretty heavy compared to stucco. Even if you’re a huge fan of a specific look changes in this area can make a huge difference.
A wise option for a deck might be buying a ready-to-assemble product. This way an exact weight is known while buying and will not change with finishes.
What is a proper deck size for an outdoor kitchen?
An outdoor kitchen can be placed on most of the decks. It is pretty important to realize how much space it is going to take.
What are deck space requirements for an outdoor kitchen? A small grill station requires not more than 3 sq ft of space. On the other hand, if you want to have a multi-piece with a dining table it is going to take up to 168 sq ft. On average a regular outdoor kitchen without a dining area requires a section of 60 sq ft.
So the size of an outdoor kitchen depends not only on your budget but also on the amount of space you want to dedicate to it.
Is your deck well situated for an outdoor kitchen?
Cardinal directions are actually a pretty important factor to take into consideration. Usually, people use an outdoor kitchen mostly in the evenings and nights. This is of course not a general rule, as breakfasts made in one tastes delicious too. In fact, there are plenty of people using it all day long. What is important is to figure out how it is going to work with you.
If your patio is directed to the West, you’ll be able to view sunsets on a daily basis. This is usually the most wanted location. If it is directed to the East it is going to be well illuminated in the morning, but later on, it is going to require extra lighting. South direction is one that is screaming for roofing but delivers a lot of natural light through most of the day.
Each of the mentioned above directions has it’s advantages that can be used to achieve even more spectacular effects. It’s worth knowing them and using them to your advantage.
How the deck is going to influence the design of an outdoor kitchen?
Nearly any design of an outdoor kitchen can be placed on a big enough deck. There are multiple factors though, which can influence how an outdoor kitchen is going to look finally:
- total weight,
- wind direction,
- utilities accessible and their placement,
- wooden railing.
Weight is an important factor on a deck. An outdoor kitchen is usually pretty heavy, as even small sizes weigh about 800 lbs. Pizza oven alone weighs about 400 lbs. Choosing lighter solutions might be important in this area, as well as reinforcing the underneath of a deck.
Wind direction is an important factor rarely discussed. We grill and smoke outside the house for a reason – the process can be smelly and smoky. It is important to place cooking appliances downwind from the house and sitting area. If the wind blows in different directions try to find the most common one, or if there is some sort of pattern. This one seems innocent, but left alone can lead to a huge headache later on.
Utilities are always an important factor for both, design and budget. If they’re in place it might be necessary to put proper appliances close to them. If they’re not where needed a long and pricey process starts with getting permits and hiring a proper contractor.
Why is it so important to build up to code with permits? First of all, if somebody will tell on you may get a demolition order for what you built without permission. Secondly while selling a house with parts built not up to code it may occur you have to fix everything first. And it gets pricier to fix than to build up to code.
The wooden railing shouldn’t be close to the grill. This is a safety hazard that should be avoided at any cost. Also, it’s worth keeping a fire blanket outside in case of an emergency.
How outdoor kitchen design can affect the house interior?
While figuring an answer to “Can you put an outdoor kitchen on a deck” question not a lot of people think how outside is going to affect inside of the house.
First of all, new walking paths are going to appear, and it is better to acknowledge them at the very beginning. People are going to walk in with dirty shoes (or even dirty barefoot) from the backyard to the inside kitchen and toilet. These paths should be resistant to dirt and well brightened. This way hosts are not going to get angry, and guests are going to be able to safely reach desired areas.
A great hint here is to add a light at the back entrance, so it is going to be easier to navigate after the sunset.
Secondly, an outdoor kitchen can take a lot of daylight from the interior. If your patio was uncovered and nothing stood between windows and the view the change may be drastic. It is very important while designing an outdoor kitchen to not cover windows with any elements.
Third of all an outdoor kitchen placed on a deck can vastly enlarge living space. You’ll be able to host more guests, more comfortably. This is an opportunity that can be used to create a much-wanted indoor-outdoor experience. If you want to enlarge your house a bit an outdoor kitchen can be the least expensive addition that is going to work very well. There are plenty of reasons to build one, but this one is really important.
Building an outdoor kitchen on a deck is usually the first and best idea. I hope my post helped you in making an informed decision regarding this subject. Is there any advice you would like to share with others on this topic? Please live it in a comment section.