Adding an outdoor kitchen to your patio space offers you a great way to enjoy good weather and company while hosting friends and family. It can also be a nice alternative to cooking indoors, especially when you want to keep the house cool and spend more time in the fresh air.
Whatever design you choose - big or small, deck and patio surfaces are an important consideration when planning your ideal outdoor kitchen, and there are several factors to think about.
Want to know what kinds of patios work best for outdoor kitchens? Read on for everything you need to know about surface types, including which ones work well, and which ones to avoid.
Wooden decks are some of the most common patio spaces that either already exist on the property, or are an easy and cost-effective surface to build new.
Wood is an excellent material for the outdoors as long as it's rated for exterior application. Always use products that will hold up against the elements, keeping in mind the type of climate you live in.
Different regions will dictate what types of wood work best, but you can't go wrong with some of the more common outdoor species like cedar, redwood, pressure-treated lumber, or eco-friendly alternatives like bamboo and acacia.
The biggest advantage to a wood deck is that it's cost-effective to build and easy to design, while being generally inexpensive to maintain.
Wood surfaces are a great choice for an outdoor kitchen, but there are still some considerations depending on what material you choose.
Cedar is a beautiful and durable wood that is commonly used in any kind of patio or decking products. Due to the resins in cedar, it's naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and rot, and even deters insects since it repels moisture more than other species.
Cedar is a softwood, but is hard enough that it won't sag or warp, making it an enduring material to work with that will need little maintenance along the way. As a surface for outdoor kitchens, cedar is an excellent choice.
It has a light red or pinkish hue that turns gray as it ages, giving it a uniquely rugged aesthetic. This would be great to use in rustic or contemporary outdoor kitchens, as cedar is considered a high-end material.
It's average affordability compared to other wood species, and costs between $4-$10 per square foot.
Redwood is another excellent material to use for an outdoor deck or patio. It can also be used to make outdoor furniture, especially cabinetry, giving you more than just flooring options for your outdoor kitchen.
It's mold and mildew-resistant and not prone to insect infestations or warping. It's an even harder softwood than cedar, which may or may not be important for your project, but overall will give it a longer lifespan.
There are different redwood species, however, and some are more durable than others. This depends on your region, and how redwood is sourced.
Redwood looks like it sounds: it has a deep red color, which will fade to a medium brown over time. Maintenance will help it stay vibrant, and it can be stained or sealed.
This wood species is a good choice for any kind of outdoor kitchen, but especially ones that will use contrasting materials and design with it in mind.
Since redwood species vary, costs will, as well. Expect to pay $10-$20/ sqft for average grade redwood.
Pressure-treated lumber is made of wood that's been treated to withstand weather changes and extreme climates. It's the cheapest option, ranging from as low as $3-$8/ sqft, but it gives the least amount of aesthetic value to your project.
If you are building a new deck or want to use wood to build your own kitchen cabinets and framework, this is a great material to use.
It can be covered with higher quality materials like tiles and countertops to hide it, while providing you with a durable structure that will be resistant to rot, mildew, and bugs.
Used as deck or patio flooring, pressure-treated may not be the best looking surface type for your outdoor kitchen, but it's functional and can save money in your overall budget so you can spend it on other features like grills, sinks, and accessories.
Also consider how much of the flooring will get covered up. Open areas can be decorated with outdoor rugs, patio furniture, and plants to draw your eye away from the look of pressure-treated wood.
Bamboo is a very sustainable and eco-friendly product that's also durable and resistant to insects, mold, and rot. Make sure you are using exterior-grade bamboo as it's made for the outdoors, whereas indoor bamboo flooring is not.
Bamboo grows quickly, so it's easily harvested with little environmental impact compared to other woods (although it's technically a grass). For climates that experience harsh winters or excess rain and moisture, bamboo should be sealed.
It can be installed without any space between the boards, as well, which may offer a different aesthetic for your outdoor kitchen that looks more like indoor hardwood flooring.
This may also up the cost of installation, unless you are planning to DIY. Bamboo is an excellent choice for outdoor kitchen patio surfaces, however, it's expensive and costs $12-$30/ sqft.
Acacia is another sustainable, fast-growing wood species that's affordable to use for outdoor kitchens. It's naturally resistant to mold, mildew, rot, and insects and can last 50-100 years.
It's not easy to find acacia sold in typical long deck boards, but rather they're sold as deck tiles. This can give your outdoor kitchen a unique look and pattern, but some cheaper products combine acacia with rubber or plastic backing.
Acacia is a very durable hardwood and can be used to make outdoor furniture, too. It has a beautiful light golden hue and doesn't scratch easily, holding up well to outdoor wear and tear.
This easy-to-maintain hardwood species is a beautiful and elegant choice for outdoor kitchens that will last a lifetime. Acacia deck tiles range in price and will depend on the quality of product that you buy.
Composite decking is similar in shape and look to regular lumber, but it's made of a combination of plastic and wood fibers. PVC decking is similar in look and is made of plastic.
This type of flooring is only used outdoors, and as such boasts higher durability, stain-resistance, as well as mold, mildew, rot, and insect resistance.
It costs more than wood, ranging from $10-$20/ sqft, but there is little to no maintenance involved, which offsets the cost over its lifetime.
Composite and PVC decking comes in a variety of custom colors, but you won't get the interesting grain or texture that you would get with wood. There will always be a plastic look to them, but some are made of completely recycled materials which gives them ecological cache.
They're good choices for outdoor kitchens, as most come with stain and fade warranties, and will provide a sold, maintenance-free surface underneath cooking areas.
Some companies like Trex offer complete outdoor kitchen designs where you can choose your flooring, as well as grills, smokers, sinks, refrigerators, cabinetry, outdoor furniture, and even pergolas.
It's not the most unique looking option, but highly functional with lots of options.
Outdoor tile is a very popular choice for outdoor kitchens as it's very easy to find styles that give you the look of a polished, indoor space. Outdoor tiles are also rated for different weather extremes, so don't try to get away with using indoor tile.
Outdoor tile will be stronger and possibly thicker than indoor, and is usually un-glazed, slip-resistant, and holds up under foot traffic. Outdoor tile is durable, but if it isn't installed correctly, it can chip or crack and is expensive to repair.
Always use a proper base or substrate when laying any kind of outdoor tile. Specifications will depend on the product, but most outdoor tile should be laid on a solid concrete surface for flooring, and cement board or concrete for wall applications.
Ceramic tile is not the best choice for outdoor flooring as it's not rated for outdoor use, and will be prone to cracking. It's inexpensive and comes in a variety of options, but it's best considered for wall applications.
Even still, ceramic tile will not hold up well in extreme climates where temperatures get very cold and may also pop off in very wet or hot climates.
If your patio space is covered or sheltered from the elements and you have moderate temperatures, ceramic tile may be fine for certain sections of your outdoor kitchen.
Porcelain tile is much stronger than ceramic and can give you the look that indoor ceramic flooring offers. It's durable and can withstand freezing temperatures, heavy rain, and weather fluctuations.
This type of tile is also good around pools or anywhere there's potential for water and spills, like an outdoor kitchen. It may chip or crack if very hard things are dropped on it, but any material may dent or scratch with an accident.
It can give you the feel of a regular kitchen underfoot, with enough options and styles to get whatever look your going for.
They are generally affordable and prices can range between $2-$35/ sqft depending on the pattern and quality. Often you can get the look of expensive natural stone or marble for much cheaper with porcelain tile.
Travertine tile is a natural stone that's prized for its durability and beauty. it's an excellent choice for outdoor use and can withstand extreme temperatures and moisture.
This stone is very porous and should be sealed after installation and again every two years or so. Sealing will help to keep it clean, as it's prone to staining since it's so absorbent.
The rustic look of travertine makes it an ideal choice for classic kitchens with Italian or traditional designs. It's versatile enough that it can be used for contemporary outdoor kitchens, too.
The cost of travertine tiles will depend on where it's sourced and their quality, but can range anywhere from $6-$400/ sqft. They can also be used as face and wall tiles on outdoor furniture and come in sheets for easy application.
Slate is a very durable outdoor tile option, but not all slate is made the same. It can be prone to peeling or slaking off since it's a layered material. It can be hot in full sun since it's a darker color and absorbs temperatures around it.
It's a gorgeous statement-making tile that can look stunning in the right application. You wouldn't need to do your entire patio space in slate, either, and it contrasts wonderfully with wood, giving an all-natural, woodsy feel to your outdoor kitchen.
Slate needs to be sealed on an annual basis since it's so porous, and while you can find polished slate, most outdoor slate is naturally uneven and non-uniform in size, making installation tricky if you want a perfectly even surface.
You can find outdoor-rated slate tile for around $10/sqft or more for higher-end tiles.
A concrete patio is another popular choice as an affordable, durable patio space for an outdoor kitchen. It's not DIY-friendly and requires professionals to pour a pad if building new.
Basic poured concrete patios are affordable, however, priced around $4-$7/sqft for both the labor and materials. This can be an economical choice for larger areas, or if you want to extend an existing patio space to make room for an outdoor kitchen.
Concrete is hard underfoot, which is something to consider when cooking on your feet for a long period. Concrete will also be cold and absorb moisture, but would be cool in the summer.
You aren't stuck with plain concrete anymore, either, as there are more options to color the concrete, stamp, or stencil it, but this will increase the overall cost. This may be worth it to create a warm and welcoming dining area.
Concrete will last 25 years before you might start to see some cracks. Keep in mind, once concrete's lifespan is up, you would need to remove and pour a new one, or build something else - it's not something you can touch up like the other options.
It's extremely mold and mildew resistant, and will not suffer rot or insect infestations at all. It can be custom designed to fit odd spaces, and if sealed properly, can be stain and fade-resistant, as well.
Paver patios are another popular option, as they are similarly long-lasting and durable. Pavers come in a variety of styles, offering the homeowner lots of options to pair with outdoor kitchen designs.
Many pavers can also look like other types of natural stone, concrete, or brick, giving you a lot of freedom when choosing your design.
Pavers come in many different sizes and are a DIY-friendly installation as long as you can handle hard work. Outdoor ovens and fireplaces can be built with pavers, either integrating into the floor, or as a separate unit.
Starting at $2/sqft and going up from there, pavers are an economic option for outdoor kitchen surfaces, both floors and walls, just note that you need a proper base excavated for patios which can up the costs.
Plan on buying more than you need for easy repairs and replacement in the future, otherwise, pavers are relatively maintenance-free and aren't prone to mildew, mold, or rot. Weeds and insects may find homes in between paver joints.
When planning your outdoor kitchen, don't make your flooring an afterthought, or you may run into problems during your build. Consider the materials you want for aesthetic reasons, but also for ease of construction.
Any of these materials can be cut or drilled into. However, poured concrete should have any gas, electric, and water lines pre-planned before it hardens for ease of hookup and installation.
While your flooring doesn't necessarily need to be flame-proof (no flames or fire should be in contact with the ground), if you plan on having a pizza oven or are worried about flammability, then wood products may not be the best choice.
If you're installing a sink, consider how your surface would react to leaks or large spills. While most outdoor flooring materials are rated for rain and snow, some will react differently to water damage or floods.
Each type of outdoor kitchen patio has its pros and cons, and with good planning and design, you'll be able to decide what's right for you. The hard part will be narrowing it down, as options for outdoor kitchen surface types are endless.