How to build an outdoor grill

Updated November 21, 2016

Outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity in home design, complete with refrigeration, grills and sinks, surpassing the old barbecue or hibachi on the patio.

To grill means to cook quickly over high heat. To barbecue means to cook slowly using wood fire or charcoal. An outdoor grill is therefore not the same thing as a barbecue, though the two terms have become synonymous in our everyday use. You can grill food on a barbecue with a hot enough fire, but gas “barbecues” are actually gas grills. You can also purchase electric grill units, good if your area has restrictions on open flames.

Plan your grill location the same as you would a mobile cart grill, watching for fire hazards. Be aware that a covered porch will trap smoke from the grill, and may not be the best option.

Research and purchase a grill unit. You can find outdoor grills made for natural gas, propane or electricity through your local home improvement store or online. Expect to pay the bulk of your project budget on this piece. In 2009, prices ranged from £130 to £195 for a basic, single-basin grill all the way up to £5,200 for top-quality products with all the accessories.

Lay down a level base such as a concrete slab. You can build your own concrete form out of 2-by-4s.

When the concrete slab has set, install your grill island. You can purchase prefabricated grill islands or create your own out of breeze blocks or bricks. Be certain of the measurements of your grill unit, and leave the appropriate-sized hole. A comfortable height for the grill surface will be about 36 inches from the floor.

Choose a countertop material that will weather well in the elements. Stainless steel, stone and brick are good choices (stainless Steel can be applied over heavy plywood). Install the countertop material before you place the grill.

Attach the grill to the skirt using the same mountings you would use to attach it to a mobile cart. Lower the skirted grill into the opening on the grill island. You will need two people to do this.

Attach the propane tank, the gas line (check with a contractor or the gas company for help with this step) or electricity if you have an electric grill. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Check with your local building permit office to see if a permit is required and check local restrictions on outdoor burning.

Things You'll Need

  • Grill unit
  • Pre-fabricated grill island or island you build out of masonry materials.
  • Concrete
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