How to Build an Outdoor Kitchen and BBQ Island

Updated on May 7, 2019
altanet profile image

Alex, alias altanet, is an engineer from the Northwest with expertise in building and remodeling.

Year after year, I've considered purchasing expensive BBQ islands from showrooms. They are beautiful and shiny but poorly built, featuring plastic tops and spray-painted side panels that create the illusion of a stucco finish. Most of these BBQs fell apart after minimal use in my friends' backyards after only one year.

I really wanted a summer kitchen after considering the amount of time I spend cooking outside using my grill and smoker. I had already finished building a deck in my backyard, but I decided to add one more level for the installation of an outdoor kitchen and BBQ island. Below are the steps you need to build your own.

How to Build an Outdoor Kitchen and BBQ Island

Step 1: Estimate the size and shape

Estimate how big you want the island to be, and come up with an idea of the shape. Also, determine which BBQ you want to buy. I decided on a Vermont BBQ after reading about it on Amazon and checking the quality of the equipment at my local Home Depot. Try to get a BBQ with straight corners, a side burner, and wheels. For me, it made sense to buy the complete unit, instead of purchasing the head and side burner separately.

The Vermont BBQ with a side burner cost $649. I bought a couple of 20% off coupons on eBay and got the BBQ for $519. You should get your construction materials at the same time so that the coupon works for 20% off the total purchase.

Step 2: Decide on the style and number of doors

Decide which stainless steel doors you want and how many. Measure them on a Weber grill at the store. Call Weber and order the ones you decide on. They should cost about $40 each. So-called "Door Kit for Built-in BBQ" sets cost about $400 from the same manufacturer. Avoid these.

Complete the framing with 2x4 PT boards, calculating how long and high you want the walls to be. Good measurements will save you some cutting when you install the 12x12 stone slate tiles (they are actually 11 3/4"x11 3/4").

Considering the 1/4" spacing that is left over, you should make the top 24" wide, enough for two slates. When framing openings and doors, remember to make openings 1/2" larger than you need, taking into consideration the thickness of the beckerboard, adhesive, and slate layered on top of each other.

So for a 20x20 door, you will need to frame the opening at 20 1/2"x20 1/2." Also, remember to angle the top slightly backward to allow rainwater to run off into the yard.


Step 3: Run the conduits

Run conduit for the outlets, lights, and water pipes during the framing process.

Step 4: Install 1/2" beckerboards

Install 1/2" beckerboards. Do not use Wonderboards, as these are for floors and are not as tough as Hardibeckers. You will need a special blade marked for cutting Hardiplank siding to cut these.

Step 5: Install stone slates

Install natural stone slates. These cost 90 cents each with a coupon. I chose a beautiful color that can withstand harsh weather. I also bought a simple 12" chop saw on eBay to cut the tiles. It cost $30 and came with a diamond blade.

Step 6: Seal the slated surfaces

Use a polymer synthetic blend as a mortar and, for grout, use Keracolor S Sanded to fill in the extra spaces. Upon washing off excess grout and letting the stone tiles dry, I applied Impregnator 511 sealer to all of the slated surfaces.

Step 7: Extra additions

Because the Vermont grill was a stand-alone model and did not have a rear heat-resisting panel, I installed one sheet of galvanized steel behind the BBQ prior to rolling it in place. I also decide to add a refrigerator in anticipation of the summer months.

The total cost of the project was around $1200. This accounts for the cost of the grill, refrigerator, and materials. The materials alone cost less than $500.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • If you, the writer of this article, had to do it again would you choose the tile or veneer?

    Built new kitchen using metal studs, 1/2" backer board and veneer.

  • What fridge did you, the creator of this article, purchase?

    It was purchased at Lowe's, made by Char Broil


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I want to drop a Weber kettle into the top of the island worried about the heat if there would be a fire

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I would never ever use a wooden frame in a bbq island. Why even risk fire, and what burns better then anything? Wood. You can buy metal studs at Home Depot, it's a bit more work to make a frame out of it, but at least it's fire proof. The rest of the steps are the same, you can still attach backer board to it. Also if you in the northern states extra precautions need to be taken to waterproof hardibacker.

    • profile image

      Mara Leach 

      5 years ago

      Did you allow for space for the vents on the sides and back of grill? If not, have you had an issues? We are trying to do this with a Kitchenaid stand alone grill, but are concerned about covering the vents.

    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 

      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Nice hub, I'll have to pass this onto my family who are in the middle of redoing their backyard.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice job looks great.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Robert. Betty

    • profile image


      10 years ago


      This is as step-by-step as I did it few years ago. Still looks good, but I don't have any plans, since everything was tied up to the size of the deck, tile pieces and BBQ' dimensions.

    • profile image

      Robert Ramirez 

      10 years ago

      By any chance you happen to have a step by step guide? if you do can you publish them or you want some $$ so I can use it to build mine?

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Nice design idea. I think I might have used 2" thick concrete block in the grill area to ensure no flamables are in contact.


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