When you want to be outdoors as much as possible, you will still need to entertain guests and cook meals for everyone. Outdoor kitchens are becoming more and more popular in backyards across the country.
Designing and budgeting for an outdoor kitchen is a tedious process with a lot of features and options to consider. This guide will help to inspire your kitchen creativity as well as alert you to everything you need to consider when making your plans and budget.
As with any other build, you need to check with local laws and see if you are required to obtain a permit for the build. If you decide to install the outdoor kitchen yourself to save money, you need to ensure you meet all the regulations for safety and building codes.
If you hire a professional to install it for you, you should always get a minimum of three bids and read the bid details to ensure all requirements such as permits and electrical lines are included.
Table of Contents
1. Costs of Outdoor Kitchens
When planning for a kitchen, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much it will cost you. With so many variables and options available for you, as well as extras and smaller details, you may end up on the low end of the average range, or the high end.
On the low end, you have less detailed extras, without a lot of fuss. You may not have everything an outdoor kitchen can acquire, and your grill may be a less expensive option. On the high end, you will have counter space and sinks as well as furniture and perhaps even coverage like a gazebo or pergola.
The national average for an outdoor kitchen will range between $2,700 and $10,000. On the higher end, you can even exceed this average and spend well over $30,000. Your budget should allow for shortcuts and less expensive options if needed.
Standard features will consist of things that will appear in most every outdoor kitchen. Optional features are things you can consider adding to your design, or leave off entirely if you are on a tighter budget.
The grill is the centerpiece of the outdoor kitchen and should command most of your time and attention. If you skimp on the grill for your design, you may end up with an outdoor kitchen you rarely use.
The grill is so important that there are options for grills designed specifically for outdoor kitchens. You have the option of charcoal, electric and propane grills. The choice is up to you, and your preferred cooking method.
Smokers, uprights, and barrel grills are popular options, and many will choose to incorporate more than one grill or grill type in their design.
If you choose to have a built-in grill you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,500 for the grill itself.
Another option is a drop-in grill. These will run a similar average to the built-in options with a range of $1,000 to $2,500.
Another standard feature is the flooring of your kitchen. Just like the indoor counterpart, you have a multitude of choices to decide from. Tile is trendy and is easily cleaned and installed. It is susceptible to damage over some of the other options but will allow you to have a nice pattern or design on the floor.
You can expect to pay $500 to $2,000 depending on the area of coverage as well as if you choose ceramic or porcelain tiling.
Poured concrete is one of the most popular choices because of its durability, ease of maintenance and ability to keep clean. You can have a concrete slab professionally installed for about $3,000.
Stone is another option and will add durability as well as beauty to your project. Natural stone can be installed for $40 to $100 per square foot, while manufactured stone flooring will cost you at least $60 per square foot.
Check out patio brick pattern options here.
Most counters will be incorporated in with the grill. You can get prefabricated or custom-built framework for your counters. You should make sure that you have enough room for food prep, the grill, and sinks if you install them.
The typical counter framework will cost you between $200 to $600 per square foot. You will also need to choose a countertop material as well. Granite is very popular and also very costly. With a range of about $60 to $80 per square foot.
A secondary option to granite is bluestone. Stone countertops like bluestone and soapstone will cost you an average of $250 per linear foot. However, the durability, beauty and life expectancy of stone countertops is unrivaled.
If you are budget conscious, you can also go with a tile counter which will be one of the least expensive methods. Costing an average of about $10 to $25 per square foot.
Outdoor entertaining will require places for you and your guests to sit and relax. You can find plenty of outdoor furniture options and some will cost more than the furniture you have indoors.
Chairs, loungers, even sofas are now made for outdoor kitchens and rest areas. You can find fabric, textured, or even plastic furniture that will match your kitchen and style.
The cost will depend on the material and how many pieces you decide to have. These will also be determined by the amount of space you have available for the furniture.
Optional features such as sinks will need to be considered. Sink installation can become expensive quickly. You will need to run water lines to the sinks and include drainage as well.
Undermount sinks will range from $150 to $500 while top mount sinks can reach upwards of $750. You will need to include the cost of labor and water lines and plumbing on top of those prices.
Having a fridge will be a very handy appliance to have in your outdoor kitchen. Keeping your drinks cold and your uncooked meals ready to go, a fridge is an almost essential option.
Most outdoor kitchens opt to have a smaller fridge that will sit under the counter. Having a full-size refrigerator may distract from the aesthetics of the kitchen.
You can purchase a mini-fridge for about $300, but you will need to include power supply from your breaker to the outdoor kitchen. Depending on your local service fees and the distance from the box to the kitchen, this cost can vary greatly.
3. Power, Water, and Gas
You may be able to get away with not having to provide power water or gas lines to your outdoor kitchen. However, you should consider the options based on your planned usage for the space.
If you plan to entertain well into the night, for example, having power for lighting will be crucial. You will also need power for appliances like refrigerators that you choose to install in your outdoor kitchen.
Water supply will be needed if you plan to install sinks. You should also consider gas lines if your grills will run on natural gas, or if you install gas heaters in the area.
When it comes to outdoor entertainment, shade and weather protection is a must. Simple umbrellas on nice days may offer shade for you and your guests, but a more permanent option should be thought about.
You can also provide a pergola for shading and light rain protection for an average of $3,000, depending on materials and your location.
Another viable option is an awning for shade or a covering.
Another option to consider is fencing in your outdoor kitchen. Fencing will add security as well as privacy to your outdoor entertainment, especially if you plan to store electronics or other high-end valuables in the area.
You can choose from a vast assortment of fencing materials such as cedar, redwood, wrought iron or even brick and stone. Depending on the area of coverage and materials you choose you can expect to pay an average of $1,000 to $3,500 for a good fence. You can save a bit of money by installing the fence yourself if you are so inclined.
You should check with a contractor or a land surveyor before you install a fence to ensure that the ground is level or if it is in need of grading. You can hire a surveyor for about $200 and get an idea of what extra costs a fence may bring.
Check out our fence cost calculator here.
Backyard barbecues, cookouts, and outdoor kitchens need entertainment. When you are hosting a get together for the big game, you should have a means to watch it while being outside.
Televisions are very popular in outdoor kitchens, especially if there is a gazebo to house it. You can purchase a modest television for between $200 and $800. However, you will need to add cable or satellite to receive your channels outside.
You can check with your provider for installation options and their costs for running the extra cables or wiring for the service.
Stereos are another popular option and can be easily placed with a power supply that is already run to the area.
Fire pits are also prevalent in outdoor kitchens. Gathering around the fire and enjoying the warm nights with friends and family is a less expensive form of entertainment.
You can have the fire pit installed when the flooring is put in, or you can add one later. Ensuring you have enough space around the fire pit is essential, and you should try to maintain at least three feet of clearance around the fire pit.
7. Other Considerations
When planning and designing your outdoor kitchen, you also need to think about cleaning and maintenance.
Keeping your kitchen clean will help prevent insects, rodents and wild animals from invading your area when you aren’t around. Most of the materials used in outdoor kitchens are easily cleaned with a broom, a scrubbing brush, and a water hose.
Maintenance is also a high priority. Cracks and breaks in the flooring, countertops and appliances can lead to further expenses. You should regularly inspect every element of your outdoor kitchen for wear and tear and problems with your features before they become an expensive replacement.
8. In Conclusion
With so many options, features and additions to consider, outdoor kitchens can quickly become expensive.
Once you decide on the area you will use for your kitchen and the centerpiece grill (or grills) that will make up the essential elements of your space; you need to consider what else you will need and want carefully.
Flooring should be a priority. Choosing a durable material that is easy to keep clean will save you money and time in the long run. Tile is an inexpensive option but is more fragile than slabs or stone. Protecting the flooring will prevent you from having costly repairs down the road.
Other appliances will make your outdoor kitchen more feasible and enjoyable. Sinks and refrigerators will aid in your food prep and keep you from having to go back and forth to your outdoor space and the house.
Entertainment should also be a priority. A stereo or television might be a cost-effective means of entertainment, but they also shouldn’t be the centerpiece of the area. Fire pits or even electrical fireplaces can be used to create a welcoming and joyful atmosphere.
Shade and protection from the elements should also be up on your priority list. Gazebos or even a simple pergola will serve a purpose as well as a place to get out of the sun or rain when needed.
Whatever you decide on, you will have an outdoor kitchen that can rival any indoor space and are sure to have an area you won’t want to leave.
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