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Unread 03-14-2012, 11:47 PM   #1
tortaboy
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Default BBQ Island with rock veneer

I decided to take the plunge and am having a bbq island installed in my backyard. Rock veneer on the outside. 8 feet long OD, approximately 3 feet deep, with a cradle for a XL Big Green Egg on the end.

Question for someone knowledgable about construction (Definitely not me)...

Am I better off having the skeleton built out of aluminum or pressure treated wood? The guy building it insisted that pressure treated wood
will hold up much better.

These things are not cheap...I don't want to make a mistake.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:09 AM   #2
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My FIL built a BBQ island with a frame of pressure treated wood. He told me that were he to do another one, he'd go with cinder blocks instead. Over time, the wood frame expanded and contracted which put cracks in his finish. He finished his with stucco, which might show the cracks more than a brick veneer.

Good luck on your project and be sure to post some pics once you get started!
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rover24 View Post
My FIL built a BBQ island with a frame of pressure treated wood. He told me that were he to do another one, he'd go with cinder blocks instead. Over time, the wood frame expanded and contracted which put cracks in his finish. He finished his with stucco, which might show the cracks more than a brick veneer.

Good luck on your project and be sure to post some pics once you get started!
Thanks for the insight Rover.

Do you know how it expanded? Didn't he have a layer of cement board covering the wood?

I don't know squat about construction....but am interested in learning all I can on this. I know they can be super expensive from the commercial shops.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 06:09 AM   #4
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If you are using pressure treated wood, make sure it is double dried. The pressure treating process forces fluids into the wood. As the wood dries it can warp, twist, and crack, especially if it is exposed to the sun. If the wood is completely dry, you will have very few problems with expansion and contraction over time. I don't understand the contractors concern with aluminum, unless it will be in contact with pressure treated components of the island. If that is the case, your contractor is correct. Today's treated wood will quickly destroy aluminum (along with most other untreated metals).
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Unread 03-15-2012, 06:24 AM   #5
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What are you building the island on? A wood deck, a concrete patio?

If it's a concrete surface you're building on, I'd use concrete block for the inner structure to mount the veneer on. Moisture will effect the wood and cause it to fail.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 06:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rover24 View Post
My FIL built a BBQ island with a frame of pressure treated wood. He told me that were he to do another one, he'd go with cinder blocks instead. Over time, the wood frame expanded and contracted which put cracks in his finish. He finished his with stucco, which might show the cracks more than a brick veneer.

Good luck on your project and be sure to post some pics once you get started!
This is a good point about the expansion and contraction. Alum. would be more stable for masonry/tile applications I think.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 06:48 AM   #7
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When I built my outdoor kitchen I was considering pressure treated vs block. Then I talked to a builder and he said if you want it to last a lifetime then go with block. I did. Turned out to be a good choice because I attached the stone straight to the block.
From a construction standpoint I think this ends up being the easiest method when using stone.

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Unread 03-15-2012, 07:41 AM   #8
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I'd be hesitant about using PT wood for a frame under any masonry unless you are extremely careful and did the job yourself. PT lumber out of the store will have a very high moisture content and needs to be air dried before you can build something like you're talking about for up to several months. As said previously mentioned by VwSmoke, PT can do crazy things while drying out from cracking, warping and bowing. Some pieces will stay straight but some will go crazy, and you don't want to use those pieces. So by air drying them over a long period of time you can weed out the bad wood from the good. No contractor will do this so unless you're tackling this project yourself, you can expect to see defects and i'm sure the contractor wont repair them. PT wood will expand and contract since that's what wood does, it's a natural product which is effected by it's environment and moisture. Stone and masonry does not expand and contract.

I suggest going with a masonry frame. You just need to make sure whatever it's sitting on isn't going to move at all. So that means a concrete pad, not a wooden support. If you're going through the trouble of making this, you might as well do it right have it look good for years and years to come versus having cracks start showing up in a year or two. A lot of the projects i take on consume a lot of my time and some friends and family ask why it takes so long and all i do is point out that most projects will look the same years down the road and that's because i take the time to do things right. Sure i could cut corners and get things done a lot quicker but they wouldn't last as long.

Last edited by Zak; 03-15-2012 at 08:51 AM..
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Unread 03-15-2012, 07:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garyclaw View Post
What are you building the island on? A wood deck, a concrete patio?

If it's a concrete surface you're building on, I'd use concrete block for the inner structure to mount the veneer on. Moisture will effect the wood and cause it to fail.
It's being built on professionally layed pavers. They will hold more weight than my driveway (According to the paver company).
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Unread 03-15-2012, 07:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zak View Post
I'd be hesitant about using PT wood for a frame under any masonry unless you are extremely careful and did the job yourself. PT lumber out of the store will have a very high moisture content and needs to be air dried before you can build something like you're talking about for up to several months. As said previously mentioned by VwSmoke, PT can do crazy things while drying out from cracking, warping and bowing. Some pieces will stay straight but some will go crazy, and you don't want to use those pieces. So by air drying them over a long period of time you can weed out the bad wood from the good. No contractor will do this so unless you're tackling this project yourself, you can expect to see defects and i'm sure the contractor wont repair them. PT wood will expand and contract since that's what wood does, it's a natural product which if effected by it's environment and moisture. Stone and masonry does not expand and contract.

I suggest going with a masonry frame. You just need to make sure whatever it's sitting on isn't going to move at all. So that means a concrete pad, not a wooden support. If you're going through the trouble of making this, you might as well do it right have it look good for years and years to come versus having cracks start showing up in a year or two. A lot of the projects i take on consume a lot of my time and some friends and family ask why it takes so long and all i do is point out that most projects will look the same years down the road and that's because i take the time to do things right. Sure i could cut corners and get things done a lot quicker but they wouldn't last as long.
Good points...thank you.

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Unread 03-15-2012, 09:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanr View Post
When I built my outdoor kitchen I was considering pressure treated vs block. Then I talked to a builder and he said if you want it to last a lifetime then go with block. I did. Turned out to be a good choice because I attached the stone straight to the block.
From a construction standpoint I think this ends up being the easiest method when using stone.
I'm not a contractor , but from my point of view , the block construction with rock attached directly to it, may actually be a cheaper route.( P.T. wood can be expensive) and much greater stability. Just my thought!
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Unread 03-15-2012, 10:05 AM   #12
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tort,
If you do go with a block inner structure, I don't think pavers would make a good foundation. You would need to pour a concrete footer, about 16" deep, with some re-bar in it for structual support. Doesn't have to be the whole demensions of the island or a "pad", just where the block is being layed.
If you're hooked on the veneer design, you need a sound foundation. You may or may not have explored all the outdoor kitchen design ideas out there. There are many beautiful setups, but for my money, you can't beat the look and lasting effect of stone.

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Unread 03-15-2012, 11:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garyclaw View Post
tort,
If you do go with a block inner structure, I don't think pavers would make a good foundation. You would need to pour a concrete footer, about 16" deep, with some re-bar in it for structual support. Doesn't have to be the whole demensions of the island or a "pad", just where the block is being layed.
If you're hooked on the veneer design, you need a sound foundation. You may or may not have explored all the outdoor kitchen design ideas out there. There are many beautiful setups, but for my money, you can't beat the look and lasting effect of stone.

This is a good point, however you're in CA so check your local frost line requirements. I'm thinking there may not be any, but check. Here in IN, our frost line is 30", so anything that you don't want moving (and consequently cracking the mortar joints in the block/stone) needs to be built with a solid concrete footing under it. The pavers may support the weight of the structure itself, but if the frost heaves the pavers and lifts the island, then anything masonry is succeptable to cracking.

As has been said, I'd also recommend at least FULLY DRIED PT wood or a metal or masory structure to mount the stone to. Cultrured stone will adhere to a vertical surface with the use of the wire mesh and a mortar bed. I had cultrured stone applied to my house, which is framed (of course) with standard kiln dried lumber with a 1/2" OSB sheet material. Then they put a double layer of black paper or asphalt empregnated "felt" paper, then screwed a layer of steel mesh, which a mortar bed goes over. Then the cultrured stone is "back buttered", or mortar is spread on the back of the stone and stuck into place. My point is that it's not necessarily required that the construction of the island itself be pressure treated (my house isn't), but unless you can be absolutely sure that the wood will never be exposed to moisture, I wouldn't try it.

If it were me (and I plan to have an outdoor kitchen/fireplace/BBQ built one day) I'd make it out of CMU (concrete block) and then they can adhere the stone veneer directly to the block. It will last forever that way. Just make REALLY SURE that whatever you're putting it on is VERY sturdy. To be completely safe, I'd really recommend a poured concrete slab the size of the island and build up from there. The pavers can be laid around that later.

Again, though.....check frost requirements for your area to be compliant.
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tortaboy View Post
Thanks for the insight Rover.

Do you know how it expanded? Didn't he have a layer of cement board covering the wood?

I don't know squat about construction....but am interested in learning all I can on this. I know they can be super expensive from the commercial shops.
I think that he finished the skin of the frame pretty much like you would on the exterior wall of a house, with a layer of OSB, building paper, lath, then stucco.

Hope this helps! Good luck with your project!
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Unread 03-15-2012, 12:25 PM   #15
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Ta Daaa, I am quite familiar with San Jose, and although we do not have a frost line out here, many but not all parts of San Jose have highly expansive soils, with heavy concentrations of clay and silt, which can and do create issues with settling and heaving of paving and footings. That being said, there are many solutions, from isolated islands, that either are mounted on heavy duty permanent footings to mobile units using heavy duty casters. We also have light weight aggregate stones fascias that can allow for less settlement issues. All that being said...

If it were me, I would take up some of the pavers, they simply will not support a heavy structure and I would go with concrete masonry units over either wood, steel or aluminum. Even though professionally installed pavers would be more stable than your typical homeowners work, they will still heave, or settle, if you are on clay. Now. there are also gravel substrates in San Jose, those are extremely stable, and that would allow for placing a lighter wieght CMU construction on the pavers.

I do not like Pressure treated wood for exterior carpentry, as any cut exposes the core of the wood, which, typically is not as treated. Further, recent changes to the chemicals and processs of pressure treating leaves most P.T. wood more suscpetible to rot, my experience has been that it will last less than 10 years. Aluminum is cheap, but, is subject to corrosion just like any metal, but, it fails catastrophically, which is to say, one day it looks fine, the next day it fails. Galvanized structural steel is a fine material, and one that if I was building a house, I would not hesitate to use. However, once you cut it, the edges are subject to rust.

BTW, there are ways to frame a structure and isolate the backer board for the stone fascia in such a manner as to prevent expansion of the wood structure from the fascia. However, a CMU substrate will be much more solid and durable. If it was me, I would do the exterior three wall with CMU, and use easily replaceable components to 'frame' out the interior. This way, the overall appearance will remain consistent and attractive while the components can be easily repaired. And I would probably use steel with painted cuts.
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