The Ultimate DIY Guide to Installing an Outdoor Kitchen

The Ultimate DIY Guide to Installing an Outdoor Kitchen

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Outdoor kitchens continue to gain popularity as people prioritize spending quality time at home with family and friends. With a focus on functionality and comfort, homeowners are embracing the opportunity to create inviting outdoor environments where they can entertain effortlessly and create lasting memories. 

All Things Barbecue has been in the outdoor kitchen construction business for well over ten years. We’ve worked with homeowners and contractors to create everything from compact outdoor cooking spaces to more elaborate kitchens with multiple cooking appliances and bar setups.  

With valuable experience under our belt, we’ve prepared this simple step by step guide that will walk you through the outdoor kitchen build process.  

This piece is intended to walk you through the steps of placing and finishing one of our custom outdoor kitchen frames and components. However, the process of installing an outdoor kitchen is relatively standard across the board, so you’ll likely find helpful tips here regardless of your frame construction process. This article and the accompanying video focus on a single 4-foot kitchen unit but the same basic principles apply to any of our galvanized steel frames. 

Supplies needed: 
  • Pencil 
  • Tape measure 
  • 2’ level for setting the undercounter components 
  • 6’ level for leveling the frame(s) 
  • Combination wrenches 
  • Box knife 
  • Impact driver 
  • Angle grinder with 4” diamond blade (for cutting cement board) 
Materials Needed: 
  • ½" cement board (Durock or Permabase) 
  • 1” self-drilling lath screws 
  • Composite shims 

Now that we’ve set the stage and gathered all the necessary supplies, we’re ready to dive into the outdoor kitchen installation. 

1. Set frame sections into place and get them leveled. 

Move your frame or frames into position. If using multiple frames, insert the provided clip nuts to the frame brackets and loosely connect with the nuts, washers and bolts. Assess the jobsite grade and begin the leveling process at the highest point. Start with the frame ½" off the ground and begin leveling the frame with a 6-foot level. This minimum height creates enough clearance under the doors and drawers to allow room for the finishing materials. This can also create space for drainage paths when necessary.  

Our custom galvanized steel frames come with built-in leveling feet that are easy to adjust. Once the frame is level, you’ll fully tighten the backup nuts on the leveling feet and any bolts at frame connection points. 

2. Apply cement board. 

You will skin the sides of the frame that finish materials will be applied to with ½" Durock or Permabase cement board. Hold the cement board against the frame and trace the openings for the components such as doors, drawers, and appliances.  

Cut out the openings using an angle grinder with a 4” diamond blade. Attach the cement board to the frame using an impact driver and 1” self-drilling lath screws. Space screws roughly 10” apart. If you are raising the structure for drainage, be sure to raise the cement board approximately ¼" to ½" off the ground. 

3. Install under-counter storage. 

Start by removing the laser film at the edges of the components where the finish materials will meet the component frames. This will make the film easier to remove after the finish material is applied. Leave the rest of the laser film in place for protection during the construction process.  

Use a 2-foot level to confirm plumb and level, adding composite shims as required to square the door in the opening. Secure the door on all four sides using 1” self-drilling screws. 

Make sure you have checked your appliance manuals to account for any venting recommendations from the manufacturer. This is when you would install vents. 

4. Install countertops. 

This is typically the part of the process where a countertop will be installed. A countertop company will measure the unit, considering any overhang and make cutouts for grills, side burners, and other appliances. Make sure you or the company installing your countertop material accounts for the thickness of your finish materials in calculating overhang. 

5. Install cooking appliances and refrigeration.

You’ll install your appliances before setting the finish material so that the tile, stone, or brick can stop neatly around your cooking appliances. This allows you to set the finish material up to the bottom of the countertop material without having big gaps to caulk.  

6. Install finish material. 

You will finish your kitchen with the material of your choice. This will typically be stone, brick, tile or stucco to match or complement your home. Installation will vary based on what kind of material is being applied. 

At this point, you’re ready to break in your new outdoor kitchen by firing up the grill and enjoying the fruits of your labor. These steps are not exhaustive, of course. If your outdoor kitchen design has certain intricacies, you’ll want to account for those as you plan your install steps. Taking a good look ahead at the breadth of your project will ensure you’re not caught off guard by additional steps required for your project. Our team has worked on every manner of kitchen imaginable and is always happy to jump in and consult on installation matters.  

All in all, installing an outdoor kitchen is a rewarding process and many steps are easily done by homeowners with a little handiness at their disposal. With the right guidance and resources, you can transform your backyard into an oasis where unforgettable moments are shared with friends and family.  

If you have any questions or are ready to get started on your outdoor kitchen project, reach out to our outdoor kitchen team to get your personalized outdoor kitchen and living design underway. Happy grilling!