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 of 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 is going to 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 a scratch gives an opportunity to customize it to your needs. It is a good practice to bring to the outdoor grill station some of the house exterior design, by incorporating a proper color, material, or shape. It is far more difficult with 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 it can be 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 very basic 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 ease in building it.
Price-wise this is the most tempting option. As mentioned before the price of an outdoor grill station depends vastly on the type of grill ($500 – $5000). You can easily buy a very good 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 the next level after using solely a grill for barbecuing. For this majority creating an outdoor grill station is going to be $100 for a stainless steel outdoor cart. It is important to buy the outdoor-rated one to increase its longevity.
The cart actually can be used not only for cooking outside, but also to bring comfortably prepped food from the kitchen out, as well as bring dirty dishes after a party in. It can make a serious difference for your back.
This option is as simple and inexpensive as 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. There 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 doesn’t have to be. It takes actually 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 multilevel counter is also your design of choice.
Any permanent solution needs to be covered to increase it’s 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 the shape 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 a 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, but also 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 is going to start at $2,700 (for 60″ and very moderate choices). These are starting points, that can be easily increased.
It is important though to remember that a permanent structure may require a permit. Most commonly permits are needed when you work with utility lines (gas, electrical) or your construction is placed close to property lines (which is called zoning requirements).
It is common sense to ask at your local HOA or City Building Department if you need a permit for your project. Why is it so? Building a permanent outdoor grill station not up to code may result in a demolition order (if it is not possible to make it up to code).
If you don’t want any permits there is an option that might interest you – movable outdoor grill stations. You can DIY, or buy a ready to use island with a built-in grill that does not require permits, as is not permanent, can be easily winterized, and does not permanently take space from the patio/ porch.
Outdoor grill station with a roof
Adding a roof to the outdoor grill station may drastically increase its longevity, as well as convenience while cooking (is there anybody who likes to cook in direct sun?). The way your outdoor grill station needs to be protected depends on your location and preferences. I wrote an entire article about choosing a proper covering for your location. It is available here.
There are solutions available at any price range:
- an umbrella or sail shade,
- a pergola,
- a gazebo,
- a roof over patio.
|A type of roofing||Price range|
|An umbrella or sail shade||150$ – $500|
|A pergola||$300 – $15,000|
|A gazebo||$300 – $20,000|
|A roof||$7,000 – $11,000|
Price of a covering depends on the method of construction (DIY, contractor), as well as quality, and size.
The least expensive are umbrellas and sail shades. They should be kept at some distance from a grill though, 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 a variety of 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 most common. So let’s talk about them for a bit more.
Outdoor grill station pergola
Pergola is an amazing solution for outdoor grill station. It works especially well where the main concern is a scorcher, but with a permanent roof added (eg. acrylic glass), it can protect the area from rain and snow as well.
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 is going to 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 from 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 is going to 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 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 from 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 that is used only as a landing space for 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 in one piece. So with additional 12″ on the other side of grill it is going to 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″ 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 sort of location. The most common locations are:
- on a deck,
- on a porch,
- on a patio,
- next to the swimming pool.
There is a number of advantages for 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 most 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 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 convenience, 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 very easy 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 prior to 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 takes up to 1 hour).
If you live in a colder climate, with a lot of snowfalls, it is also worth checking if your deck can bare 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 prior to 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, insulated grill jacket for a grill (if your outdoor grill station is built out of combustible materials), range hood, and keeping fire blanket/ extinguisher close.
The 4th and last advice is going to check wind direction prior to built. Add the construction downwind, so the smoke is not going to 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 shorter outer edge of the porch.
The size of an outdoor grill station is usually limited by the depth of the porch. 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 so the cooking is going to be convenient.
If 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 is going to appear.
A porch grill station needs also proper ventilation ( a vent installed every 4’/ventilated doors) if the fuel for the grill 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 is not going to 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
Patio is one of the most common locations for outdoor grill station. There are plenty of layouts for a grill station that can be used in such 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 sort of 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 bar counter is a bit higher than a working top (42″ instead of 36″), and it’s worth buying chairs prior to built (their height vary too.
Outdoor grill station cost
Outdoor grill station cost can vary a lot, as it can be modest, or very fancy. For 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 there are multiple factors affecting 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 is your project price range, 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?