When the grill is not enough, and the outdoor kitchen is slightly much, an outdoor grill station is a perfect option. It brings grilling to another level, with a space to prepare food.
An outdoor grill station is basically the smallest possible outdoor kitchen. It consists of a grill and a countertop. There are 4 types of an outdoor grill station: freestanding grill with a cart, freestanding grill with a counter, an island with a built-in grill.
There are plenty of choices to make before placing one in your backyard. From type, shape, finishes to a grill model – there are many subjects to learn about before making informed decisions. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
Outdoor grill station designs
The first step in designing an outdoor grill station is choosing the proper type. There are basically 3 ways of creating a grill station:
- freestanding grill with a cart,
- freestanding grill with a separate counter,
- an island with a built-in grill.
There are advantages to all of these. It’s worth getting to know them a bit better before making a decision.
|Freestanding grill with a cart||Freestanding grill with a separate counter||An island with a built-in grill|
|Winterizing||Shed||Shed + Cover||Cover|
Outdoor grill station longevity depends obviously on the standard of chosen materials and appliance, but not solely. Keeping a grill station away from the elements, while unused, influences this factor a lot; therefore, the simplest option (freestanding grill with an additional cart) may be the one that will work the longest. There is an additional advantage to the movable option: it doesn’t take patio space permanently.
The cost of an outdoor grill station depends not only on the chosen structure option but also on the grill model. Prices vary from $300 to $5000. It is important to choose one that suits your needs but is not over the top (if budget is your concern).
On average, building a permanent grill station takes much more time than creating it from a grill and a cart. It is possible, though, to minimize outdoor grill station labor by buying a prefabricated structure.
Building an outdoor grill station from scratch allows customizing it to your needs. It is a good practice to bring some of the house exterior design to the outdoor grill station by incorporating a proper color, material, or shape. It is far more difficult with a cart and a grill.
Winterizing outdoor grill station is actually a pretty important subject. Even the best materials can get ruined by the elements, especially when uncovered in the snowy/rainy wintertime. It is easier to protect the outdoor grill station while being transferred to the shed when unused. For a permanent structure, a cover is a must (it can be bought or sewed to the size of a specific grill station).
Outdoor grill station option 1: Freestanding grill with a cart
An outdoor grill station made out of a freestanding grill and a cart is a fundamental option. On average, it doesn’t add too much to the backyards’ look, but that is not the goal with this option. It’s supposed to be:
- easy to assemble,
- easy to store and clean.
Usually, this option is made out of a freestanding grill, with landing spaces on both sides, and a cart. It can also consist of a built-in grill placed on a cart and a table (like this one from Brit IKEA). What is crucial about this option is the ease of building it.
Price-wise, this is the most tempting option. As mentioned before, an outdoor grill station’s price depends vastly on the type of grill ($500 – $5000). You can easily buy an excellent quality 3-burner grill for $1000. A cart is going to cost an extra $100. This means you can have a brand new outdoor grill station for about $1,100.
If you’re a beginner and do not know yet what type of grill you need, check this blog post about essentials.
For most outdoor chefs, a grill station is next after using a grill solely for barbecuing. For this majority creating an outdoor grill, the station will be $100 for a stainless steel outdoor cart. It is important to buy the outdoor-rated one to increase its longevity.
The cart can actually be used not only for cooking outside but also to bring comfortably prepped food from the kitchen and bring dirty dishes after a party. It can make a great difference for your back.
This option is as simple and inexpensive as it can be. No labor, no extra covering, no permissions.
Outdoor grill station option 2: Freestanding cart with a separate counter
A grill station can be made out of a freestanding grill and a permanent countertop. This is the more advanced solution that permanently takes space from your patio or porch but is also more convenient. Countertop height can be customized to your needs, which is crucial for your back comfort. Check this guide on figuring proper height for yourself.
The space shown in the pictures above is actually visible in option 1 as well. A freestanding grill was paired with the cart, and here it is incorporated into the permanent construction made from metal studs and wood. The shape of it, and the materials used, resemble the look of the gazebo in the backyard.
What is unique about this project is a multilevel countertop that consists of a worktop (24″ wide, 36″ high) and a bar counter (15″ wide, 42″ high)—all of that in an L-shape.
In my opinion, this project would actually be much better if combustible materials were not placed so close to the grill back. To me, this is simply a fire hazard. Other than that, it looks great.
The budget for such a project can vary, as it can be a DIY, but it doesn’t have to be. It actually takes the same gas grill (about $1,000 for a 3-burner) and a structure that can be $200 – $700 depending on the way it is constructed (the final cost is $1,200 – $1,700). The final budget should also include chairs if a multilevel counter is also your design of choice.
Any permanent solution needs to be covered to increase its longevity. Countertop protected from elements is going to require a lot less work (especially made from wood).
Outdoor grill station option 3: An island with a built-in grill
This option is basically creating a mini outdoor kitchen. Such an outdoor grill station can be fully customized to resemble the house exterior, not only with finishes but also shape and color. As you can see in the pictures above, it can be a part of a relaxing zone or a freestanding construction.
Actually, we have 3 types of shapes shown in the pictures above: along the wall (picture 1), an L-shape, and an island (shown one is rounded). These are shapes that work very well in grill stations.
Pictures above present a few ways an outdoor grill station can resemble the overall look of the backyard.
In the first picture, the grill station is covered with the same concrete as on the wall. The second shows that what bonds the area might not be material but a color. The last picture presents an outdoor grill station made out of brick in the same color as the fireplace stone. It is not identical, but it works really well.
The price of an outdoor grill station depends vastly on the chosen appliance and a method of assembly and a type of structure. The most budget-friendly option is, obviously, DIY. The second is buying a prefabricated structure. The third is going with a contractor.
If you’re going with DIY, the budget rather will not go over $1,500. A prefab outdoor grill station is going to cost about $2,300. A complete custom outdoor grill station will start at $2,700 (for 60″ and very moderate choices). These are starting points that can be easily increased.
It is important, though, to remember that a permanent structure may require a permit. Most commonly, permits are needed when you work with utility lines (gas, electrical), or your construction is placed close to property lines (which is called zoning requirements).
It is common sense to ask your local HOA or City Building Department if you need your project permit. Why is it so? Building a permanent outdoor grill station not up to code may result in a demolition order (if it is impossible to make it up to code).
If you don’t want any permits, there is an option that might interest you – movable outdoor grill stations. You can DIY, or buy a ready to use island with a built-in grill that does not require permits, as it is not permanent, can be easily winterized, and does not permanently take space from the patio/ porch.
Outdoor grill station with a roof
Adding a roof to the outdoor grill station may drastically increase its longevity, as well as convenience while cooking (is there anybody who likes to cook in direct sun?). The way your outdoor grill station needs to be protected depends on your location and preferences. I wrote an entire article about choosing a proper covering for your location. It is available here.
There are solutions available at any price range:
- an umbrella or sail shade,
- a pergola,
- a gazebo,
- a roof over patio.
|A type of roofing||Price range|
|An umbrella or sail shade||150$ – $500|
|A pergola||$300 – $15,000|
|A gazebo||$300 – $20,000|
|A roof||$7,000 – $11,000|
The price of a covering depends on the method of construction (DIY, contractor) and quality and size.
The least expensive are umbrellas and sail shades. They should be kept at some distance from a grill because of the fire hazard and staining. There are options in multiple styles, but you can only choose from what is available.
The second choice, most common for grill stations, is the pergola. It gives shade, pleases the eye with looks, and can be made out of various materials. Pergolas can be made up to your needs or bought in kits. There is a variety of options to choose from.
The third choice is a gazebo. It protects the area not only from the sun but also from rain and snow. This sort of roofing can elongate a grilling season quite a bit. Gazebos work well on bigger lots, as they take a lot of space. There are plenty of options to choose from – from materials and style to assembly.
The last one is a roof over the patio. It also protects the grilling station well, but such a location usually requires a range hood installation. The information about the need for range hood installation can be found in a grill instruction. Adding a roof over the patio in the style of the rest of it creates a unified space.
From all of the options, pergolas are the most common. So let’s talk about them for a bit more.
Outdoor grill station pergola
Pergola is an amazing solution for an outdoor grill station. It works especially well where the main concern is a scorcher, but with a permanent roof added (e.g., acrylic glass), it can protect the area from rain and snow.
There are plenty of material options to choose from: wood, vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum, CPVC, brick, and stone (for pillars). The most common out of these is wood, but there is an option to choose a material that will work best in a specific backyard. It is important to check if the chosen material gets hot from the sun.
Outdoor grill station dimensions
Creating an outdoor grill station requires a bit of knowledge about standardized dimensions. These values massively help in designing areas that are convenient and safe. Not keeping to them is actually the no.1 reason for a remodel.
Crucial number for outdoor grill station are:
- height, depth, and width
- landing spaces for the grill,
- prep space length.
So let’s start from the beginning. How high, deep, and wide should an outdoor grill station be?
|Outdoor grill station dimensions||Value|
These are just basic calculations, as all of these numbers have to be cut to your needs.
Outdoor grill station height depends on its users’ height. 36″ standard is for people who are 5’2″ – 6’1″ high. If you are not in this range, this is not the height that will work best. In fact height of an outdoor grill station can vary from 30″ – 42″. If you’re looking for a perfect fit, go ahead and read this article.
To figure out how deep a countertop should be, you have to find a grill. An outdoor grill station depth can vary from 24″ (for smaller grills) up to 30″. If you do not know yet what sort of grill you want to use, designing a deeper countertop is a way to go.
An outdoor grill station width depends on the size of the grill, prep area, and additional features. The absolute minimum is grill width increased by 36″ of landing space (12″ on one side and 24″ on the other).
|Grill landing space side 1||Grill landing space side 2|
So for a 24″ grill, a countertop used only as a landing space for the grill should be 60″ wide. This is not enough space if you’re planning to prep your food outside too. A prep area needs to be at least 36″ wide of free space in one line. With an additional 12″ on the other side of the grill, it will add 48″ to the grill width.
|Grill width||Cooking (+36″)||Cooking & Preparation (+48″)|
The table below shows the minimal width of an outdoor grill station according to its purpose. So if your grill size is 42″, the minimal space for cooking conveniently is 78″, but if you want to prep the food outside too, a countertop width should be at least 90″. This number includes the grill width.
More dimensions you can find in my Outdoor Kitchen Dimensions Guide. That is an excellent source if you’re looking for data like tabletop counter height, outdoor bar dimensions, and so on.
The best location for the outdoor grill station
An outdoor grill station can work perfectly in any location. The most common locations are:
- on a deck,
- on a porch,
- on a patio,
- next to the swimming pool.
There are many advantages to each location. Let’s dive into them a bit deeper.
Outdoor grill station on a deck
The deck is a perfect location for an outdoor grill station. There are multiple areas you can install a grill station on it:
- a central island,
- along the outer edges of the deck,
- against the house.
The universal layout out of these three is along the outer edges. It works for small and large decks as well as for attached and detached. Such a placed outdoor grill station doesn’t take a lot of space.
If your goal is to create a wow factor with an outdoor grill station of yours, going with a central island may be a way to go. It is a better choice for a big deck, as it takes a lot of space, but it also brings a lot of conveniences, as the grill can be accessed from multiple sides.
Against the house might seem the most obvious choice (for decks attached to the house), as it takes a small amount of space and doesn’t block the view. Unfortunately, very often, it requires range hood installation (aka additional $1,000 in your budget).
Attached to the house deck is a super convenient location as the kitchen is usually a few steps away, so it is effortless to bring stuff out and in. Placing an outdoor grill station on a deck requires a few steps, though.
Number 1 is inspecting your deck before the installation. According to the North American Deck & Railing Association, half of the decks in the United States need to be replaced or repaired. They actually prepared a checklist you can follow to inspect the deck on your own (available here). To be safe, it is worth paying a professional for an inspection ($50-$200, and it takes up to 1 hour).
If you live in a colder climate, with many snowfalls, it is also worth checking if your deck can bear 60-70 psf (pounds per 1 sq ft.), as snow itself may exceed 40 psf. If you live in such a climate, it probably can, but it’s worth knowing before adding additional load to it.
The 3rd thing is to build your outdoor grill station, so it is safe. By that, I mean adding ventilation, an insulated grill jacket for a grill (if your outdoor grill station is built out of combustible materials), a range hood, and keeping the fire blanket/ extinguisher close.
The 4th and last piece of advice is going to check the wind direction before building. Add the construction downwind, so the smoke will not sit where your guests do or get into the house.
Outdoor grill station on a porch
Locating an outdoor grill station on a porch can be a bit challenging. As, on average, the space is pretty narrow, an outdoor grill station can be located on the side of the porch’s shorter outer edge.
The depth of the porch usually limits the size of an outdoor grill station. To design such a structure well, it is important to remember that a grill needs at least 12″ on one side and 24″ on the other of free space to be convenient.
Suppose a grill of your choice needs to have a range hood installed above. Do not skip this step. The porch is located next to the house, so any fire hazard should be limited. The range hood goal is not only to take the smoke but also to control the fire if one appears.
A porch grill station also needs proper ventilation ( a vent installed every 4’/ventilated doors) if the grill’s fuel is gas.
Adding an insulated grill jacket in such a location is a must if your structure is made out of combustible materials.
A porch grill station should be installed downwind, so the smoke will not sit on a porch or get inside the house.
And the last advice is: never leave your porch grill station unattended when on.
Outdoor grill station on a patio
The patio is one of the most common locations for an outdoor grill station. There are plenty of layouts for a grill station that can be used in such a location:
- an L-shape,
- an island,
- a U-shape,
Plenty of patio grill stations are combined with fireplaces or fire pits. The size is limited by patio size, shape, and your needs. The exact location can vary depending on utility placement (if you need to connect any).
To increase patio grill station longevity, it is important to protect it from elements. It can be done either by some permanent covering or material covers put on the grill station while unused.
Outdoor grill station next to the swimming pool
If a swimming pool is important for your household members, you might want to add a grill station to it. With a bar counter, it is going to add a lot of function to your backyard.
For such a location, it is worth choosing finishes that are going to be resistant to water. Stone is always a good idea, but ceramic tiles with proper grout are going to work well too. Same with concrete.
It is important to know that the bar counter is a bit higher than a working top (42″ instead of 36″), and it’s worth buying chairs before building (their height varies too.
Outdoor grill station cost
Outdoor grill station cost can vary a lot, as it can be modest or very fancy. For the options mentioned in this post, prices are as follows.
|Type of outdoor grill station||DIY||Custom|
|Gas grill with a cart||$1,100||–|
|Gas grill with a counter||$1,200 – $1,700||$2,500 +|
|Island with built-in grill||$1,500 +||$2,700 +|
These prices are indicative, as multiple factors affect the price: size, materials, grill, and even your location. If you plan on building a custom solution, it is always worth asking around before making a decision.
The first thing to do is asking your friends and neighbors if they can recommend a company. If you get numbers, use them. At least you’ll know what your project price range is, and it’s crucial to make an informed decision.
If you’re less lucky and got no recommendation using services like Home advisor is an option. You have to type in data into the survey, like your zip code and desired elements of the project. As a result, you’ll get up to 4 free offers from local contractors.
I hope this blog post answered a lot of your questions. If you have any more, please post them below in the comments section. What information was the most important to you?