The XXL Big Green Egg was a Big Hit!!!
The XXL Big Green Egg will soon arrive in our stores in Orange and San Diego County.
By Jim DeLong
Todays’ backyards are an expression of lifestyle, combined with the proper balance of design and function. Often, the design incorporates and mimics the interior of the home’s three main gathering points-- the living room, dining room and kitchen. The placement of the areas can occur in multiple arrays, from straight linear positioning to typical offset triangular depth.
When exploring the Outdoor Kitchen design, the sky’s the
limit. We take pride in our indoor kitchen, with its beautiful counter tops, backsplashes and quality stainless steel appliances. So, the question is, why not create the same with our outdoor kitchen? The answer may seem simple, but there are common mistakes that are made, which can compromise the kitchen’s function and beauty, such as placement, shape, materials and appliance placement. Here are a few of the pitfalls to avoid while expressing yourself with your outdoor living space:
1. Location, location, location: Just as todays’ kitchens are a focal point and gathering place, you want to consider your outdoor kitchen as a social gathering area as well. Usually in the tri-area landscape, the living room is a retreat area separated by the dining area. If you’re considering having a seating area built into your outdoor kitchen, take a quick check of the views. Common location mistakes are having your guests face a blank wall or guests find their selves being smoked out while “relaxing” behind a monster grill. If the seating direction must face away from open views, consider being creative with backdrop views. For example, use decorative wall hangings or
2. The chef: Even though we may entertain on occasion with friends and neighbors, with the California climate, many of us cook outdoors 2, 3 or more time per week. If you like to Barbecue frequently, you probably don’t enjoy walking to and from your grill as a form of exercise. You want to keep it close, with easy access.
A common mistake with the design of the grilling area is having adequate room to move. In one of the typical “U”
shape designs, I’ve had a number of customers say that they only need 3 feet of room to grill. Big mistake! If your outdoor kitchen has doors or drawers, you’ll find yourself bumping and kicking hard surfaces. If possible, give
yourself at least 4 feet or more of working width.
3. Appliance positioning: This is really where the pro can help. Think about just a few of your appliances on your wish list and where they need to be. First, refrigerators are the second highest request next to the grill. Place the fridge in a convenient place for your guests to have access to, without getting in your cooking space.
Second, side burners are a big want. They can be used for sautéing and are often used as part of the buffet self serve for chili, beans, corn, etc. Often, I see the placement of the side burner right next to the grill. Another big mistake, especially if there are two chefs in the kitchen. Of course, if you love bumping elbows with your sous-chef, then go for it.
4. Finish materials- Again, in today’s world “Express yourself” is the key. Sometimes, it’s all about keeping it simple with smooth contemporary tiles, or go wild with colored glass mosaics. Color is the key. If the flooring is dark, than contrast with light matching tones on the base and black to dark on top. Here’s an easy way to remember: dark-light-dark or light-dark-light. Don’t try to match two darks or two lights. It will look like you tried to match, but made a mistake. Another mistake, in my opinion, is using rough counter tops, such as flagstone, because plates and wine glasses will sit uneven.
Enjoy your creativeness, but stay away from some of the typical pitfalls of old school designs. Be comfortable in your new outdoor kitchen. You’ve spent the money, so love where you cook!
1. Do not use wood (fire hazard) or interior galvanized steel studs that are available at the big box stores. Interior galvanized steel studs are too thin and do not have enough galvanization to hold up for exterior use.
2. Purchase 20 gauge, galvanized 60 steel studs commercially. It’s best if you use both stud and track, since the track allows the studs to slip inside for perpendicular assembly.
3. Using screws to attach the stud and track works, but will make the top and sides “lumpy” when you apply the cement board. The finish product will look better if you can rivet or weld the pieces together.
4. Use a square to keep the structure and stainless openings true and remember to cross brace the studs so the structure will remain square.
5. Think about the spacing between items on the top and face so they are symmetrical. The bottom of every opening should be the same distance off the ground.
6. When cutting upright pieces, its best to use a chop saw with “stops” so each piece will be exactly the same height. This will help keep the structure square and level.
7. Most of the stainless appliances have an outside flange (top, bottom and both sides) that is larger than the opening. If you don’t space the openings far enough apart, the items may not install properly if the flanges overlap.
8. When figuring the height of the grill, side burner or beverage center, be sure to take into account the finish material. If you only measure from the outside of the unfinished top, the gap below the grill, side burner or beverage center will be exaggerated.
9. Depending on which grill and doors you selected, the unfinished structure may have to be a minimum of 36” tall. To properly calculate the minimum island height, you need to add up the height of the doors including the top & bottom flange, plus the height of the grill, plus a minimum of 2” for spacing above and below the door flange.
10. The island depth (front to back) can be usually be determined by adding to the depth of the grill plus the “hood throw” (the clearance distance between the back of the grill and the furthest distance the hood reaches when fully opened. The island depth is particularly important when the island backs up against the house or a wall; or if a backsplash or raised bartop will be used behind the grill. Be careful not to make the island depth too shallow resulting in the grill hood only able to partially open.
11. If you use 20 gauge galvanized 60 steel studs, the distance between studs can be 16” apart as they would be when framing a house.
1. There are four cement board options for facing the studs to make the island structure finish ready. Of the four, only one is warranted for exterior use: PermaBase manufactured by National Gypsum. Its available at specialty building material supply stores like Thompson’s.
2. Avoid using Hardibacker. It’s clearly stated right on the label that the material is for interior use only.
3. ¼” thick material is available, but we only recommend using ½” thick material. It will add significantly to the structural integrity of the island.
4. Try to minimize the amount of seams, using larger 4’ x 8’ pieces will add to the structural integrity of the island and also reduce the number of seams that will have to be taped prior to applying stucco.
Leveling & Anchoring
1. You’ll probably notice the ground on which the island sits slopes, often in two directions. Gas appliances operate more efficiently and your island will look better if it’s installed level, not sloping with the ground.
2. Use pieces of PermaBase to shim and level the low sides of the island. This is best done before installing PermaBase on the sides, so the PermaBase sides can run all the way from the top of the island, over the shims to the ground.
3. Once the island is shimmed, level and ready to install the sides, you’ll have to decide if you want to anchor the structure to the ground. Red Heads are a good anchoring device if you elect to do this. However, most islands once finished with the stainless installed are heavy enough not to require anchoring.
1. The countertop should be finish ready after the PermaBase is installed. We recommend using a higher grade thinset, such as Versabond for applying tile, travertine, slate, etc to the counters.
2. Stucco Preparation. Prior to applying the stucco, you will need to tape all the PermaBase seams with drywall net (yellow or white plastic net). Adhere the net to the PermaBase with speedset or thinset using a taping blade as you would with drywall mud. Make sure the taping is applied smoothly since you don’t want to sand the speedset or thinset after it dries.
3. Stucco Application. We use a premixed acrylic product called DryVit for the sides. The product comes in different textures and can be finished smooth, semi-smooth or sanded. It’s possible to either spray or trowel it onto the PermaBase. The product comes in many standard colors but can also be custom colored. The application is quite thin, approximately 1/8” thick.
4. If you are using stone or rock on the sides, you may be able to apply it directly to the PermaBase. If the rock is quite thick, you may have to attach a diamond steel mesh to the sides prior to installing the rock. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
1. Thompson’s Building Materials (714) 637-7373 – PermaBase
2. Cal-Wal (714) 637-3450 – 20 gauge/galvanized 60 steel studs & DryVit stucco
3. Home Depot – self tapping stainless screws for screwing steel studs & track, self taping drywall screws, VersaBond
Designing a BBQ island that works for you and your yard is not overly complicated but it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are 7 tips that will help you design an island that is both beautiful and functional…
1. Put the grill downwind from where your guests will be sitting so the smoke does not blow in their face
2. The back of the grill is the “messy” part of the grill. Position the grill so the back has the least amount of exposure as possible from the yard or home.
3. Try to keep the cooking appliances together and the cold appliances together. The grill and sideburner should be at one end and the sink & refrigerator at another end as an example. If possible leave enough room for others to get into the refrigerator without making the chef step aside from the grill.
4. Leave a minimum of 9” to 12” inches of counter space on each side of the grill or sideburner if possible. Dinner plates are typically 9” in a diameter and you’ll appreciate having enough room to set one down on both sides if possible.
5. If you are including seating behind the island, try not to put anyone behind the grill since it will be hot, smoky and messy. Figure on 30” per chair for seating. A five foot (60”) bar top will seat 2 people for example.
6. Consider adding a kickplate with the same material you use on the countertop around the base of the island to protect the stucco finish from standing water.
7. If you plan to use stone on the sides of your island, you will want the top to overhang the sides by at least the thickness of the rock. The island looks better when the top overhangs the sides.
Take advantage of our free island design service by contacting any of our stores or just come on in. Store locations and hours can be found at http://www.bbqgrillsandislands.com/locations.html