How to build a backyard DIY outdoor kitchen cooking station for a griddle and smoker.
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The year of the deck project is what I like to call 2020. Fortunately for us we ordered the lumber for our deck rebuild before the prices went out of control. The deck was the bulk of the build. The kitchen part not as much.
Because I get the most questions about our outdoor kitchen anytime I share on my Instagram, I wanted to show you how we built it.
Detailed measurements will not be part of this post. If you have considered an outdoor kitchen and are handy with wood and tools, the process photos will help you. Depending on what cooking equipment you own and the size of your space, your measurements will need to adjust for that anyway.
I will be sharing our thought process on the design, which is very important.
Here was our deck before we did anything new to it. I used blue painters tape to give Ray and idea of my design and how I wanted the new deck to look. I had a vision of cleaner lines without rails. In order to remove the railing we had to lower part of the deck and add the bench.
In a quick summary here is what we completed:
- extend the deck by 5 feet when we rebuilt it
- add a tin roof over the kitchen area only
- design the layout of the outdoor kitchen
- build the cabinets and add countertop
- stain and seal kitchen
We are not perfect disclaimer: if you notice the front 2×4 legs for the griddle and the smoker are turned differently. This was something that Ray and I did not notice until he was building the drawers. At that point, we were not willing to tear it apart to correct. I think it may come in handy if I add hooks to hang a spatula or hand towel on.
When deciding on our deck rebuild we came up with a plan to extend the deck by almost 5 feet. This allowed us to add the outdoor kitchen while keeping enough hang out area on the deck.
Outdoor kitchen roof
Highly recommend adding the roof before you build your kitchen. This will allow you to have full access to the deck for your ladder and supplies. It will also give you shade when you start building the kitchen.
Ray designed the roof style himself. The goal was to have our outdoor kitchen covered the full length of the deck without having to tie into the roof of our house. We wanted the option to cook outside when it rained.
The tin roof that slants away from the deck. It is higher in the front than the back. This way, any rain water runs off the back. Ray braced the roof against the deck to ensure it was sturdy. He did a great job with the roof and it has worked super well.
One thing about the above photo you will notice the opening. The plan is to add decking wire there. We just have not done it yet.
Kitchen cooking station design
The smoker and griddle both came with rolling carts. We have been using our smoker on that steel cart as long as we have had it. The reason for building the outdoor kitchen was to create a permanent spot for them on our deck.
Before we built the kitchen in we wanted to test how we would use the space. We kept the griddle and smoker on the rolling carts they came with and placed them on the deck how we thought they should go. We cooked on them to see how we would most effectively use the space.
In my mind I had a different plan for how it was going to work. Entertaining and having guests was my first thought. I wanted the counter surface to be a long consistent area to act as a serving station. This would mean both cook surfaces would go directly beside each other. I realized quickly that was not effective for cooking.
When cooking outdoors you need to have utensils, seasonings, and food handy. This meant we needed a counter surface on all sides of the smoker and griddle. This brought us to the evenly spacing the griddle and smoker along the length of our deck.
The smoker is extremely heavy therefore Ray needed to build that box so that it was strong enough to hold it. He used cement backer board that you were use with tile because we had originally just thought we would tile that space. I ended up having a can of heat spray paint on hand and decided to give it a try. Turned out to be a good idea.
Butcher block countertops
Butcher block countertops may be questionable for a lot of people, it was for us as well. Using butcher block outside could go bad. But with the affordability we were willing to give it a try. The key to using butcher block outside is going to be sealing it. I made sure to seal three coats of sealer on all sides. Even before we installed the countertops, I sealed the bottom side.
The end away from the house can get water sitting when it rains really hard. But so far I can go out there wipe it, dry it, and it is still holding up after almost a year. No buckling or swelling. I will keep an eye on it and reseal when needed.
Outdoor kitchen lighting and electrical
Here I just wanted to show you where Ray placed the lights and an electrical outlet. He has done electrical his entire life. He has an electrical engineering degree. Teaching others how to do this is out of my expertise but this can at least show you what is possible.
We used one overhead light that was adjustable. Having the cafe lights strung from the back of the roof really helps as well.
Outdoor cooking station gadgets
Building this outdoor kitchen has been one of the best things we have done. We cook so many meals out here. It has allowed us to spend more time together while we’re cooking because it’s more fun outdoors.
We always do our projects to fit within our budget and the way we use our home. I hope you can find inspiration in the design we used for our outdoor kitchen.