Tuesday, May 20, 2014

PROJECT OUTDOOR KITCHEN PART 1: A PAD FOR GRILLIN'

As we finish up the yard renovation project, there are some really fun things happening.  Creating an outdoor kitchen might be the most gratifying of all of the big ideas we came up with a year ago when we envisioned what we wanted in a yard, because it means we can spend our evenings outside, which just feels more intimate and fun than cooking meals indoors. (And there is the added bonus of making our friends and family jealous, which is ultimately one of our biggest goals in life ;-)

Ryan did a TON of research on grills before choosing the Weber Summit S-660. I'll have to have him write a post documenting his process, because it was complicated, but he chose the Weber Summit because he felt it was the best combination of value for the money, warranty and support, and quality stainless steel manufacturing. There is a stand alone model, but we plan to build the grill in to an island, which is what this particular grill is meant to do.


While trying to decide what exactly we wanted in our kitchen, Ryan asked me to create Photoshop mockups of a few different configurations. The image below was the ultimate winner.

We're planning on adding a gas burner to the left side of the grill, and a sink basin to the right. The stainless steel door to the right of the grill is simply for access to the sink and additional storage (we have a kegerator on the deck, so we didn't feel like we needed an additional refrigerator.) There will also be a peninsula jutting out on to the patio that will provide extra prep space and seating.

The plan is to build the frame from welded metal, face it with the same redwood siding we used on the planter box, and top it with granite.

But first we have to create a level base for everything to sit on... details details.

The gravel Ryan is moving in the picture above has become a bit of an inside joke for us. We moved it when we brought it in for the patio base, then we moved it again before we could install the sod, and now we were moving it for a third time so we could pour a deep enough concrete pad for the grill. The funny thing is, I'm sure we'll have to move it at least one more time to get it out of the yard all together... dem's da berries.

You can also see the green tape line that we created to show us where the island would jut out on to the patio.

After the excavation we had a hole about 4-6" deep from the patio to the back fence. It wasn't perfectly level, which was okay, because our plan was to level the cement frame. We just needed it to be close. We used the hand tamper (in the pic below) to make sure our gravel was good and compact before pouring the cement.

And just in case you were wondering what pipes we have sticking up out of the ground, I labeled them. The grill and burner will run on natural gas, and we have white PVC for water in, and 3" ABS for grey water. We also buried conduit for electricity. You can read more about that process here.

The next step was to build a frame for the concrete, which we created from douglas fir 2x4s.

I learned when we were pouring the cement footings for our planter boxes that the frame doesn't need to be perfect, especially when you are working below ground, but it does need to be level.

We built the frame by laying out the 2x4's in the proper shape and then checking for level. Once we had the proper layout we began the fun process of leveling the frame to the existing patio. We began with the piece closest to the patio and then raised it to match the level of the patio. Once we had achieved level we hammered a wooden stake in behind (wouldn't want it in the concrete now would we) the frame and then screwed the board to the stake making sure that we maintained level. We continued the same process all the way around the frame until it was married back into the patio. Then we remembered (realized) that our patio has a slope (for drainage), so we raised the form up just a little on the low side of the patio. There is still a slope (which means we'll have to slightly shim our grill in order to get it perfectly level) but it's not sloped quite as much as the patio.

Then came the fun part, mixing concrete. An 80 pound bag of concrete will cover 2/3 cubic foot, so we did some math and decided we'd need around 20 bags to complete this project. We came home with 24, just in case our math came up short.

I wanted no part in hand mixing concrete once again, so I headed out to do some errands. When I left Ryan, he was just laying down the rebar for the project, in order to give the base added stability.

And when I came home two hours later, he had a whole footing in place and was smoothing it out. Talk about great timing!

He used a magnesium float to smooth out the concrete, which is actually really fun! I love the way the texture goes from rough to silky smooth so easily.

And here's an obligatory concrete mixing shot. We ended up using 21 of the 24 bags, which means in about two hours, Ryan mixed and poured nearly 1700 pounds of concrete by hand, on his own.

As the concrete was drying, I gave it a watermark with our initials... call it cheezy, but I think it's really cool that some day in the future someone might be redoing the kitchen island and see our initials and the date the pad was poured.

And, this post wouldn't be complete without showcasing our first epic night grilling on our new Summit. I almost feel bad for the little Kemore grill that we had beforehand. It was a $50 garage sale find that we acquired a couple years ago. We nicknamed it "the divorcer" because the couple we bought it from were very obviously getting a divorce and liquidating their assets. We definitely got our moneys worth from it, and hopefully we can find a home for it where some other family can call it the "starter grill".

So far the grill has been exceeding expectations. It's got some killer features including those lights, a sear station an infrared rotisserie and more. We could probably cook on it every single night, which is good, because we'll need to once we demo the indoor kitchen later this summer.

For now, it just needs an island enclosure around it, which we're hoping to get in sometime during the month of June. So exciting!

3 comments:

  1. ooh. have you tried out the infrared portion of the grill yet? i'm curious how it works, if it's worth it.

    can't wait to see the rest of the outdoor oasis. :)

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