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Creating an Outdoor Cooking Space

The Grill Dilemma

Ah, summertime! That means the evenings stretch out seemingly forever, and every dinnertime is an opportunity to get the grill going. I love it! But I got tired of trying to cook dinner for my family in a space that is, objectively speaking, not a kitchen. I mean, where am I supposed to set plates, cooking tools, and seasonings? Fill pots and chop veggies, and everything else I need to fashion a fantastic BBQ?

So, I finally decided to go for it and build my own outdoor cooking space, complete with a durable concrete countertop, lots of storage, and a convenient outdoor sink. Here’s how I did it.

Building the Frame

This little backyard adventure has been in the back of my mind for a while now, beginning when a perfectly good steak slid off a plate balanced on the ledge of my grill. I’m not above dusting a little dirt off my sirloin, but when your food is on the floor, it’s a good sign you have a problem. So, I started off with the objective of building the one thing every grilling area lacks: a countertop.

I began with a sturdy base of 4×6 posts, secured with 2×4 cross-members, because the concrete countertop would need something solid to support it. The wood came from the standard lumber yard, so to make it a bit more interesting, I roughed it up with a chainsaw, then charred it to add some weathered character, and finished with an outdoor stain. This video was a great reference for the framing process.

The cross-members were joined with rabbets in place to give the entire frame a bit more stability and strength, and also because the joinery is interesting and adds a bit more unique character to the project. I cut the joinery with my oscillating saw and a plunge blade, which took some time but was much easier than a chisel and mallet.

Adding the Backing and Stone

The backing between the framing members provides lateral support as well as a surface for the stone facing. For this, I used a water-and-mold-resistant concrete board. This material is much more stable than wood and can withstand the weather much better over time. After I cut it to size and glued it in place, it also added some extra weight and structure to the frame.

The outer stonework on this project was a light, flat brick material that can be cut easily with a multi-tool. It secures in place with construction adhesive to the rough concrete board backing. This material is great for an outdoor application because it’s stable and won’t get damaged by water. This article from ManMadeDIY provided helpful insights on working with different materials for an outdoor kitchen.

Pouring the Concrete Countertop

Making a concrete top was a bit of a process, but totally worth it. The countertop was poured upside-down, allowing me to get a really nice smooth surface without having to trowel the face at all. Using melamine sheet goods (a smooth plastic layer on top of particle board), I made a mold with a cutout for the sink area. The construction of the mold took a bit of time, but wasn’t overly complicated.

Once the mold was finished, I added wire mesh and rebar, measured and cut to fit with about an inch of room around the edge. Then came the fun part – mixing up a batch of standard high-strength concrete, coloring it, and pouring it into the mold. The first batch was wet enough to flow into all of the edges and corners, but it’s important to limit the water use to control cracking and surface bubbles.

After the first lift of concrete, I gently inserted the metal frame and tamped it into the wet material. Then, the remaining concrete was added, screeded flat, and floated smooth. It’s important to vibrate the concrete thoroughly with a sander and rubber mallet for about 30 minutes to bring most of the bubbles to the surface (what will be the bottom) and away from the finished side. After about 48 hours, it was ready to flip and secure in place with adhesive.

Finishing Touches

To finish off the project, I applied a final stain and clear protectant layer. The concrete top was left mostly organic, with just a bit of sanding on the edges to knock off any exposed surfaces. The stainless steel bar sink was plumbed, and simple door and hardware bolts were installed to bring together the pieces and provide a protected place to store outdoor supplies.

The sink was plumbed with a garden hose attached to the faucet via a splitter and a few brass pieces, and another short run of hose from the drain out into the shrubs. For now, that will be good enough, as long as I watch the usage and use biodegradable soap. In the future, I’m planning on adding a climbing vine to the trellis against the fence and routing the drain water through a reservoir in that planter.

This was a long project, taking about 40 hours to get fully right, but the results sure make it worth the effort. Imagine the next outdoor party with food prep and cleanup all done without making a mess of the inside kitchen. And this video from YouTube provided some great inspiration for the final design touches.

Enjoying the New Outdoor Cooking Space

Now, that’s a successful barbecue! And Today’s Gardens, the garden design and landscaping company, can help you create a custom outdoor cooking space like this for your own backyard. With their expertise in design and construction, they can transform your outdoor living area into a functional and stylish entertaining space that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

As for me, I’ll be sipping on a refreshing Mike’s Hard Lemonade while grilling up a storm in my new outdoor kitchen. It’s the perfect drink to enjoy on a warm summer evening, with its light, flavorful taste. Cheers to a summer of great food, good company, and plenty of backyard adventures!

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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