About to adventure into building a Barbecue Island

davensac

Member
May 26, 2015
9
Sacramento/CA
So I recently completed extending my existing patio with Basalite pavers and then installing a 15' x 15' Alumawood fee standing patio cover with gabled roof. I'm pretty happy with the results so far. See below pic of patio cover. Now I'm about to adventure into building a barbecue island/bar. See below drawing I have mapped out. The sink in the drawing will be sitting about where the red coffee container under the table is in the picture. The leg of the island where the barbecue is will be parallel to the fence shown in the picture.

Before installing the pavers I installed electrical, water, and drain line (for grey water). The 15 amp electrical was previously used for an above ground pool pump and runs from a subpanel about 15 feet away. Hopefully this will be adequate for refrigerator, kegerator, and general lighting relating to the barbecue island. I have a separate line for ceiling fan.

I plan to use the heavier gauge steel studs and follow the technique of Dchambers at this posting (http://www.troublefreepool.com/threads/69577-New-build-Advice). Looks like he lives in Sacramento and his name is David as well, so he's got two things going for him there. I also would like to do the cast in place concrete counters. In my case I would have two levels, one for the lower main counter, and then a higher bar level counter. I have some concerns about support and the 12" overhang of the bar counter. I would prefer to have any necessary supports concealed as much as possible.

Some questions I have so far:

  • I've been told it's a good idea to get the various components (barbecue, fridge, kegerator, sink, doors, drawers) first and get the dimension directly off them rather than rely on manufacturer specifications. How true is this? I have the components I want in mind, but haven't ordered them yet. I'd prefer not to have to worry about storing them securely to keep them from walking off. I expect the project to be a several week adventure.
  • For the concrete bar counter top, slightly less than 12" of overall 2' width will be resting on the barbecue island structure. Is this enough support given the weight of the concrete and people leaning on it?
  • I have about a 1" to 10' gradient for runoff on my pavers. How do I compensate for this to keep the barbecue island level? Shim it somehow? I'd prefer to not have to build the structure taller on one end, that would seem to make cuts for the varying heights pretty tedious.
  • I see Dchambers added cement board to the bottom of his island. Is this for added barrier from moisture? I'm keeping in mind that I'll probably be using a garden hose to hose off dirt and **** from the pavers now and then.
  • Looking at my drawing, do I have too many components in too of space? It will likely be just one person on the working side of counter most of the time, and maybe somebody else coming over for a pour from the kegerator now and then.
  • I'm not exactly going top of the line for the refrigerator and kegerator as I've been told it's not worth it. True? Since I have insulated panels on my patio cover, and the island will be in the shaded part during the afternoon summer heat (up to 110 degrees in Sac sometimes), I should have that going for me.

I'll be adding a list of my components to this post sometime this weekend. I would appreciate any constructive feedback on this.
 

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BoDarville

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 5, 2012
3,844
DFW, Texas
Welcome to TFP!

About the only suggestion I would make is to swap the location of the sink and fridge. If you're like me, I would be going between the grill and sink fairly often and would want those to be closer together.

davensac said:
I have about a 1" to 10' gradient for runoff on my pavers. How do I compensate for this to keep the barbecue island level? Shim it somehow? I'd prefer to not have to build the structure taller on one end, that would seem to make cuts for the varying heights pretty tedious.
I wouldn't sweat this. When I built mine, I had the same slope. But I didn't factor this into my cuts. I notice no discernible slope on the counter. But, having a very slight slope on the counter is not necessarily a bad thing. The slope "sweet-spot" is having just enough so that excess water doesn't accumulate but is otherwise unnoticeable.
 

dcole1217

New member
Apr 8, 2015
1
Gilbert, AZ
Welcome to TFP!

About the only suggestion I would make is to swap the location of the sink and fridge. If you're like me, I would be going between the grill and sink fairly often and would want those to be closer together.

I wouldn't sweat this. When I built mine, I had the same slope. But I didn't factor this into my cuts. I notice no discernible slope on the counter. But, having a very slight slope on the counter is not necessarily a bad thing. The slope "sweet-spot" is having just enough so that excess water doesn't accumulate but is otherwise unnoticeable.
I am in the middle of my build...framing (metal studs) and hardi backer complete; I was promised that the dimensions supplied by the manufactures are good...NOT. 1 of the 4 items were off by 1 1/2 inches...which created a little bit of a rework on the opening...but it would have been better if I had the items first. Good luck on the build!
 

davensac

Member
May 26, 2015
9
Sacramento/CA
Looks like I'll be going with the Blaze 32" grill.


Still not sure on the refrigerator and kegerator as I would like them to have matching door and stainless steel finish, and affordable. That seems to be asking a lot. I've also been told for outdoor use to avoid kegorators where the CO2 is mounted on the outside of the unit as opposed to inside where it's cool. A local dealer in ODKs and equipment was saying the warm CO2 causes the first few pours of beer to be foamy. I spent part of the weekend researching this, and all the talk seemed to be about cooling the tap tower some how, by fan or coolant, and not about placement of the CO2. I plan to be brewing my own and kegging it to use in the kegerator and I don't want to be wasting that much of it with all the hard work I put into brewing it. Are there smaller bottles for the CO2 that will allow me to mount it inside with the keg even on the inexpensive kegerators that are designed to have them mounted outside?

Regarding the island structure, I've seen 3-5/8" wide and 2-1/2" wide metal studs used. I like the idea of the narrower ones as it gives me a bit more flexibility for positioning things. All I've been able to find at Home Depot or Lowes is 25 gauge stuff. Can I get away with using 2-1/2" wide, 25 gauge studs if I plan on using cast in place concrete countertops?

Has anybody had any issues with countertops cracking for some reason even if plenty of wire mesh and rebar is used? The ODK dealer above was also saying DIYers rarely get away with doing concrete counters without having some cracks appear.
 

cwescapexlt4x4

LifeTime Supporter
I wouldn't sweat the 1" for 10' too much as you want a slight slope to let water (hoping you get rain soon) drain off vs. pooling or backleaking into your island.

Regarding measurements, I would see if on a couple websites that sell the same product(s) that the dimensions are consistent.
 

davensac

Member
May 26, 2015
9
Sacramento/CA
I've added a 3D model of my structure. I have access to Solidworks so I used the weldments feature draw this up. Most of the metal studs are 2.5" wide. I'd appreciate any feedback or recommendations. I have concerns about the overhang of the concrete countertop. About 50% of the concrete top would be resting over the main structure, and 50% would be overhanging along the backside. Is that asking for trouble when you start adding up the weight of plates of food, drinks, heavy elbows, etc? I'm going to make every attempt to securing dinning top substructure to main structure so it won't tip off.

Also still trying to determine an inexpensive solution for kegerator and refrigerator such that the door finish and styles reasonably match.


 

Riles_J

Well-known member
May 8, 2007
218
Nashville, TN
I will take a stab at some of your questions:

- getting components first? I would since it does enable you to rough fit things in so you don't get everything built just to find out later something didn't fit. I would make exceptions for the fridge/kegerator. For those I would look at "typical" dimension and make sure you have enough room for replacement. I went with a cheap fridge and it lasted 3 years and I just had to replace this year. Another $75 and swapped them out. My kegerator is still plugging away though, but it will probably go in the next 2 years I suspect

- Countertop width? you should be good there. I have a 15" overhand similar to yours with concrete counters and it is solid. You want to frame your steel to support the concrete and put some steel "L's" in each support member, but everything is concealed that support.

- Gradient? As others have said, I wouldn't worry about it. Some slope is good to shed water.

- Cement Board on Bottom? This is really seal up for critters, etc. more than moisture I would think. No required but I did it

- Too many components? I think it looks good. I would vote against swapping the sink closer to the grill though. I like having lots of counter next to the grill to lay things out. Just a preference though.

- Top of Line Fridge/Kegerator? I would be more apt to spend the money on the kegerator since a real cheap one might not be able to keep your beer at the temp you want. You certainly want something that circulate air up into the tower. For the fridge though I would go inexpensive. I got a used one off CL for $75 and it lasted 3 years and I just replaced with another.

Good luck,

Riles
 

davensac

Member
May 26, 2015
9
Sacramento/CA
Thanks for the informative reply guys. I plan to meet with a local supplier this Saturday regarding components. The Danby refrigerator and keqerator look promising since they at least have the same style doors and SS finish. I don't know how they will perform in the hot (100+ degree) weather. I guess it's not a major investment to find out anyway. The sales guy says there is room to keep CO2 inside with a 5 gallon keg, which is what I was hoping for.
 

prs

Silver Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Sep 8, 2014
155
Bakersfield, CA
You might want to consider locating the grill closer to the edge of the patio so the smoke can escape rather than rise up into the roof. It looks like the SE corner would be the best spot if your prevailing winds are from the West.
 

davensac

Member
May 26, 2015
9
Sacramento/CA
Thanks Riles_J.... . I decided to upgrade and go with a EdgeStar outdoor rated Kegerator, which should hopefully work fine to keep my beer cold even in 100+ degree heat we get in Sacramento.

Hey I was admiring your ODK build. It looks great. How are you concrete countertops holding up? Any cracks? I'm planning on doing a narrow concrete cap on the backsplash behind my grill, like you did behind your grill and egg. I know you poured and placed your countertops, and I'm planning to pour mine IN place. How did you deal with that joint between the narrow portion and the wider dinning surface portion? Are you having any issues in that area, like separation? I'll probably put some form of an expansion strip or something where mine joins just to avoid possible cracking. If you were do your ODK over again, what would you do different?

Dave
 

Riles_J

Well-known member
May 8, 2007
218
Nashville, TN
The concrete counters are holding up great. I love them. Pretty bullet proof outside. I have only one crack in the entire concrete and it is in that thin concrete cap strip on the backsplash that you are referencing. I put rebar in it so it is not even noticeable. You are correct in that I poured mine in forms and move them into place. As a result I have about 8 pieces that but up to one another. The thin piece on the backsplash is two pieces about 6 inches wide and 10' long. The raised dining area was done as a separate pour and there is a joint between the two. The joints are sealed with clear silicone and are hardly even noticeable.

If I had to do it over I really can't think of anything I would change. Maybe I would have run a hose bib to the island somewhere. Ants love the ODK and it would be nice to spray the whole thing down on occasion. I can pull my hose over, but it is a little far and a slight pain. Other than we are extremely pleased with ODK and use it year round. Oh, I would also probably splurge and find some higher quality stools. Mine have held up OK, but they need to be replaced and the nice one are really expensive.

Riles
 

davensac

Member
May 26, 2015
9
Sacramento/CA
Here's how things are progressing so far. I have found that it helps minimize the racking affect if I add two screws to each side of the join between the stud and the track. Other than using more screws, does anybody see any harm in doing this? Such as weakening the join by adding more holes? The paver/retaining wall brick at the end is to hold that end down against the patio surface as the structure is sitting on the crown of the drainage slope in the pavers. I imagine that as I begin the add more structure this will become less of a problem.
 

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rodog123

Well-known member
Nov 13, 2013
311
Pearland, TX
Looking good so far!

Can you tell me what you used for the footer to hold the frame off the ground? What type of material is that and where did you get it?
 

Sandi_k

Member
Feb 1, 2015
19
California
Some questions I have so far:

[*]I've been told it's a good idea to get the various components (barbecue, fridge, kegerator, sink, doors, drawers) first and get the dimension directly off them rather than rely on manufacturer specifications. How true is this? I have the components I want in mind, but haven't ordered them yet. I'd prefer not to have to worry about storing them securely to keep them from walking off. I expect the project to be a several week adventure.
We have done this, because we read too many reviews of components that had incorrect cutout dimensions listed online. We double checked all the measurements before we built the frame (and then our fabricator did some of them wrong, requiring us to cut up and re-weld some of the aluminum). The Wonderboard is now almost done on the front, and we will be dry-fitting all components before we start work on the exterior stuccoing.

[*]For the concrete bar counter top, slightly less than 12" of overall 2' width will be resting on the barbecue island structure. Is this enough support given the weight of the concrete and people leaning on it?
I don't know - but concrete is heavy. I'd probably want to add something underneath as cantilever support - I'd hate to have a failure on something like that...

[*]I have about a 1" to 10' gradient for runoff on my pavers. How do I compensate for this to keep the barbecue island level? Shim it somehow? I'd prefer to not have to build the structure taller on one end, that would seem to make cuts for the varying heights pretty tedious.
We've added leveling feet to the underside of our frame - and now that it's up on our deck, we're glad we did. No need to use something like Trex and shims, and looks much more professional, to our minds.

[*]I see Dchambers added cement board to the bottom of his island. Is this for added barrier from moisture? I'm keeping in mind that I'll probably be using a garden hose to hose off dirt and **** from the pavers now and then.
We didn't care about moisture as much, but did care about critters. So we used sheet aluminum, and bolted and riveted a floor to our frame. Then used a Marine Sealant to plug any holes.

[*]Looking at my drawing, do I have too many components in too of space? It will likely be just one person on the working side of counter most of the time, and maybe somebody else coming over for a pour from the kegerator now and then.
Looks fine to me, but I'd be looking for a custom-cut piece of Corian or something to serve as a lid for your sink (and double as a cutting board). Most people I know say their outdoor sinks end up dirty and full of leaves, so we aren't doing one. (Four years in this house without anything more than a kitchen cart and a Big Green Egg means we're going to be happy anyway). :) The other thing I don't see is a trash drawer. We added a section for pullout trash and recycling bins.

[*]I'm not exactly going top of the line for the refrigerator and kegerator as I've been told it's not worth it. True? Since I have insulated panels on my patio cover, and the island will be in the shaded part during the afternoon summer heat (up to 110 degrees in Sac sometimes), I should have that going for me.
We are concerned about the fridge - the cheap indoor fridges are not UL-approved for outdoor use, and thei effective temp range is very limited. Since we get 90+ degrees regularly in the summer, we wanted a fridge that will actually chill our beverages, and have a condenser sufficient to do so, even in hot weather. So we bought an expensive fridge that met those criteria. If it dies in 3 years, we may try the cheap one next. ;)

Hope that helps, and good luck! I'm enjoying reading about your plans.