Building outdoor kitchen bbq having fun and saving thousands
BBQ Island for $500: step-by-step
Years after years we've been looking at expensive BBQ islands in the showrooms. Shiny and poorly built with plastic tops and sides spray-painted to create illusion of stucco finish they were falling apart on my friends' backyards after one season in the Northwest.
We really wanted summer kitchen, considering time we normally spent cooking outside using our grills and smoker. Deck was built already, but we've decided to add one more level for kitchen island only.
Step 1: Estimate how big of an island you need, which shape, and which BBQ you will be buying. We've decided on Vermont brand after reading about it at Amazon and checking quality at local Home Depot. Try to get one with straight corners, side burner, and with hidden underneath wheels. It made sense to buy complete unit instead of going for "separate head and separate side burner" sets. Top quality Vermont (made in Canada) with side burner was $649, while head itself (made in China) was around $800 plus $400 for extra burner. We've bought couple 20% OFF coupons on eBay and got BBQ for $519 (get your construction materials at the same time, so coupon would work for 20% OFF TOTAL PURCHASE).
Step 2: Decide which stainless steel doors you want and how many. Measure them on Weber grill you like at the store. Call Weber and order them for about $40 each. So-called "Door Kit for Built-in BBQ" costs about $400 from the same manufacturer. Complete framing with 2x4 PT boards, calculating walls' lengths and hights so less cutting will be required during installation of 12"x12" stone slates (they are actually 11 3/4"x11 3/4"). Considering 1/4" spacing you might want to make top 24" wide (2 slates). Frame opening(s) for door(s). REMEMBER to make openings 1/2" larger then you'll need them considering thickness of beckerboard+adhesive+slate. So for 20"x20" door you will need opening framed at 20 1/2" by 20 1/2". Make sure while framing top, that it has to be at slight angle backward (outside) to allow rainwater to run off, but not inside your island.
Step 3: Run conduit for outlet, lights and water pipes during framing process.
Step 4: Install beckerboard. Use 1/2" thick. Do not use Wonderboards: they are for floors and not as tough as Hardibeckers. You will need special blade to cut them: one that marked for cutting Hardiplank siding.
Step 5: Start installing natural stone slates. They only cost (with coupon) 90 cents each, got beautiful colors and can withstand any weather without compromising quality. I bought a simple 12" chop saw on eBay for $30 delivered price with "diamond" blade. It is still good after finishing this project.
Step 6: Use synthetic blend (polymer) as a mortar and for grout I went with Keracolor S Sanded type, since spaces were about 1/4". Upon washing off excess grout and letting stones dry, "Impregnator 511" sealer was applied to all slated surfaces.
Step 6: Because Vermont grill is a "stand-alone" model and did not have rear heat-resisting panel, one sheet of galvanized steel was installed behind it prior to rolling BBQ in place. Refrigirator was added for summer months.
Total cost was around $1200 (with grill and refrigerator). Materials alone: under $500