(BPT) - It’s hard to argue the popularity of cooking outdoors, with seven in ten U.S. adults owning a grill or smoker, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Whether it’s entertaining friends on a holiday or cooking a casual family dinner on a weeknight, grills and smokers are transforming backyards into full-fledged outdoor kitchens. The focal point of any beautiful, functional and comfortable kitchen is the cooking area, which makes a grill station a must for any backyard.
Building your own grill station may be a simpler proposition than you thought. Stonegate from Keystone Hardscapes is a multi-piece segmental retaining wall system with a weathered stone appearance. The versatile design of the Stonegate units gives homeowners a variety of design options for his or her grill station. While more complex outdoor kitchens are probably best left to a contractor, homeowners can confidently handle a simple rectangular grill and counter design with the right materials and instruction.
Note: Wear gloves and eye protection and check local building codes.
Steps for building a grill station:
- Outline the rectangular base dimensions with paint and excavate the area with a shovel to a depth of 12 inches. Level the bottom with a hand tamper.
- Add six inches of crushed stone a few inches at a time and compact with a hand tamper.
- Install the first course by centering the blocks inside the excavated area and leave six inches from the perimeter. Check front to back and side to side for level and square. Make adjustments as necessary with a level and hammer.
- Insert pins into the center holes in each block.
- Lay the second course of block on top of the first by aligning the pins into the bottom channel.
- Remove the second course of blocks and apply two quarter-inch-wide strips of Quikrete Advanced Polymer Construction Adhesive on each block in the first course, approximately three inches away from the inside and outside edges, before attaching the second course permanently.
- Repeat the process for courses three through seven, which are designed with a compartment to house the grill and gas tank. Alternate the course layouts as indicated by the directions and use a level on each course.
- On the top of the seventh course, you will need to mark the two appropriate blocks and notch out the areas with a masonry disc attached to a wheel grinder, in order to embed the lintel that will support the grill.
- Pour and finish a three-piece countertop using Quikrete Countertop Mix to the proper dimension. Allow the countertop to cure at least 18 hours.
- While not required because of the heavy weight, the concrete countertop can be attached using construction adhesive.
- Using the same method as the previous course, install the back wall of blocks and attach the fourth piece of concrete countertop to serve as a bar.
- Install the gas grill and tank access door according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Comprehensive how-to instructions and videos are available for Stonegate outdoor kitchen designs. For these plans and other ideas on how to update your front or backyard with a fireplace, fire pit, planters, benches and other outdoor living amenities using concrete pavers and block systems, visit www.KeystoneHardscapes.com.