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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 05-08-2013, 04:48 PM   #1
caliking
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Default Patio and outdoor kitchen suggestions?

Howdy, Brethren.

The time has come. I have grown up enough to plan and have built an outdoor kitchen and patio!

Some years ago, I started a thread to get some ideas from folks. Now that planning is actually underway (still meeting with contractors), I wanted to ask all of you for tips or suggestions.

Here is a picture of the area I want to pave over:

The patio will be freeform, approx 350 sq ft, up to the edges of the beds and upto the maple tree to the right. The prep stations/kitchen islands will go on either side of the maple (towards the right in the picture). My BGE's and some other cookers will go on the opposite side (left in the picture). This area gets nice shade in the morning and evening, so I think it would make a great spot to cook and hang out.

A flagstone deck/patio surrounds the pool, so I would like a patio that matches it as closely as possible. I was thinking about stamped concrete, since the price was much lower than a stone patio, but have since reconsidered because of concerns about durability (cracking, sealer/stain wearing off, popouts, etc.) Houston is built on swamp land, so the ground seems like it moves all the time e.g. if you're not careful about watering the yard evenly your house will settle funnily and develop cracks.

Things that I would especially welcome suggestions about:
1. Lighting options: was thinking about one or two lights on posts, so I'm not cooking in the dark.

2. Want to add 2 counters/stations for prep work, bar area, etc. One will likely have a sink. Will include options like drawers, cabinets, trash pull-out. Any suggestions for these components/modules? cabinets, sink etc

3. Is a stone overlay patio on a concrete slab a good idea in terms of durability, and long-term maintenance? Any idea of what a reasonable price per sq ft would be?

4. If you know of any contractors or patio builders in the Houston area, I would like to talk to them and get an estimate.


Any ideas or suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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Unread 05-08-2013, 05:50 PM   #2
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A few ideas.

1. For lighting, I do not like pole lighting for outdoors, unless you are in a parking lot or playing basketball. Go with low voltage ligting, but, from a professional grade supplier. I like Vista Lighting. Use a mixture of path lighting for the walks and patios, uplight the trees a little bit, not "Vegas Baby" style. For the cooking areas, look at task lighting certain areas. This can be done with overhead lighting on trellises, or with lamps on flexible necks in key prep areas.

2. Always consider dominant wind direction when choosing to site your cookers. Since you are going to design the locations of the cookers, consider where you can place them, so the smoke can get up and over both your cooking area, casual patio space and all of the adjacent houses. Try to place them so nobody has to deal with the smoke.

3. Generally, in a kitchen, more than 4 to 5 steps and things are a pain. Consider this when laying out the work areas. If you can, have prep and cooking areas just a few feet apart. Proper work flow generally places pantry, then cold, then prep, then cooking. It is nice to have two sinks, a large double in the prep area and a smaller one on the side, so other folks can access water.

4. Plan for a fire extinguisher, someplace easy to get to, but, out of the way. This really means, plan for all the little things you might want or need, that often get forgotten. Paper towel holders, butcher paper holders, a dry drawer outdoors for lighters, matches, batteries etc... Even towel racks, which you can easily take for granted, sure make cooking outdoors a lot more fun.
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Unread 05-08-2013, 05:54 PM   #3
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Stone over concrete is generally a good idea in areas where soil stability is an issue. Many contractors will try to steer you away from that, but, it is far more stable when done right. I happen to like dark granites for outdoors, but, in Texas, that is probably a bad choice. You cannot avoid cracks, the earth always wins. You can manage them, or plan for them. I don't like soft based stone for kitchen areas, as settling or a loose stone can spell disaster when handling hot liquids.

If it was my kitchen area, I would go with concrete, with a medium tan integral color and medium broom finish, and score it tight, like 30" centers in a diamond or free arc pattern. This is a nice, hard, durable, easy to clean surface.
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Unread 05-08-2013, 11:39 PM   #4
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landarc: a big thank you to you! I had almost forgotten about your considerable expertise with this sort of thing until I remembered what your handle stands for.

This is what the existing pool deck looks like. This was in place when we bought the house 3 years ago. It is likely 10years old now (same age as the house).


I am leaning somewhat towards the stone overlaid on a concrete slab. The difference in price is quite a bit - ~$19/sf for stone vs. ~$11/sf for stamped concrete. The electrical work, sink plumbing and outdoor kitchen stuff will be extra. I am not planning on installing a refrigerator. I will be interviewing potential contractors over the next few days and getting estimates.

My thoughts have been that stamped concrete may initially be cheaper but in a few years may come close to the cost of a stone overlaid patio when the cost of restaining or refinishing every few years is factored in? The concrete guy I spoke with tried to talk me out of integral color, but I don't think I agree with him. I meet with him tomorrow so he can give me a better estimate after seeing the site. Could you explain what you mean by "score it tight, like 30" centers"? I will also be meeting with 2 landscapers to discuss the stone option.

I was also thinking of having a brick paver border around the patio, as a visual break between the pool deck and the new surface. Either laid sort of end to end vs. perpendicular to the edge of the patio.

In terms of lighting, the trees already have low voltage lights, so the only electrical work I need ( I think) is task lighting for cooking. A floodlight on the side of the house used to light up that side of the yard at night, so I will try and repurpose that light for the patio.

For cabinetry, I saw these at costco.com (manufactured by Bull Outdoor products, $379 for the first one, $209 for the second image):




A fire extinguisher is a must. My cookers will be mobile i.e. not fixed ( 2 BGE's, Performer, drum) so I have flexibility in terms of positioning. You bring up a good point about not annoying the neighbors. Still working on figuring out all the little details (paper towel holders, etc).

Thank you again for your tips, and sorry for all the queries. Would it be a terrible imposition if I PM'ed you or emailed you?
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Unread 05-08-2013, 11:44 PM   #5
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How about a roof?

Wait, does it even rain in Texas though?
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Unread 05-09-2013, 01:06 AM   #6
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yes it does rain in TX, sometimes not enough. Summers have been pretty dry last year or two, which has been devastating for farmers. I'm not planning on a roof though - we have a number of trees around that spot, and I wanted the area to have an open look.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 09:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caliking View Post
landarc: a big thank you to you! I had almost forgotten about your considerable expertise with this sort of thing until I remembered what your handle stands for.

This is what the existing pool deck looks like. This was in place when we bought the house 3 years ago. It is likely 10years old now (same age as the house).


I am leaning somewhat towards the stone overlaid on a concrete slab. The difference in price is quite a bit - ~$19/sf for stone vs. ~$11/sf for stamped concrete. The electrical work, sink plumbing and outdoor kitchen stuff will be extra. I am not planning on installing a refrigerator. I will be interviewing potential contractors over the next few days and getting estimates.

My thoughts have been that stamped concrete may initially be cheaper but in a few years may come close to the cost of a stone overlaid patio when the cost of restaining or refinishing every few years is factored in? The concrete guy I spoke with tried to talk me out of integral color, but I don't think I agree with him. I meet with him tomorrow so he can give me a better estimate after seeing the site. Could you explain what you mean by "score it tight, like 30" centers"? I will also be meeting with 2 landscapers to discuss the stone option.

I was also thinking of having a brick paver border around the patio, as a visual break between the pool deck and the new surface. Either laid sort of end to end vs. perpendicular to the edge of the patio.

In terms of lighting, the trees already have low voltage lights, so the only electrical work I need ( I think) is task lighting for cooking. A floodlight on the side of the house used to light up that side of the yard at night, so I will try and repurpose that light for the patio.

For cabinetry, I saw these at costco.com (manufactured by Bull Outdoor products, $379 for the first one, $209 for the second image):




A fire extinguisher is a must. My cookers will be mobile i.e. not fixed ( 2 BGE's, Performer, drum) so I have flexibility in terms of positioning. You bring up a good point about not annoying the neighbors. Still working on figuring out all the little details (paper towel holders, etc).

Thank you again for your tips, and sorry for all the queries. Would it be a terrible imposition if I PM'ed you or emailed you?
cali, I'm planning an outdoor kitchen myself so I've got a couple of comments. By “score it tight, like 30” centers” I believe landarc is saying to cut expansion slots in the concrete to control where cracking occurs. I have a large patio. I went for looks instead of prevention and didn’t put enough expansion slots in. I now have some cracks where I should’ve put them in.

I looked at the SS cabinetry you show (at my local Lowes) and I wasn’t that impressed. You may have a different opinion but I’d physically look at them before I’d buy them online.

Finally, doing it right may cost a little more to start but is cheaper in the long run that having to replace or redo something.

Good luck.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 11:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DerHusker View Post
cali, I'm planning an outdoor kitchen myself so I've got a couple of comments. By “score it tight, like 30” centers” I believe landarc is saying to cut expansion slots in the concrete to control where cracking occurs. I have a large patio. I went for looks instead of prevention and didn’t put enough expansion slots in. I now have some cracks where I should’ve put them in.

I looked at the SS cabinetry you show (at my local Lowes) and I wasn’t that impressed. You may have a different opinion but I’d physically look at them before I’d buy them online.

Finally, doing it right may cost a little more to start but is cheaper in the long run that having to replace or redo something.

Good luck.

Thanks for your comments. I have not seen the cabinetry physically - went to Costco but they did not have any pieces on display. The price is tempting though compared to Fire Magic or CalFlame. Would you recommend any brand in particular?

I agree with paying a little more up front if it saves me some heartache and headaches later on. The initial proposal from the stamped concrete guy mentioned something about "18" center" but I don't know if that is better or worse than what landarc mentioned above. I will get some clarification this evening when I meet with the guy.

Did you get stamped concrete when you did your outdoor kitchen? I would be interested in hearing about your experience re; restaining or other defects.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 01:03 PM   #9
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I always use integral color for appearance jobs. In general, even if I am just using some lamp black, it evens out the color of the concrete and tones down the glare. I prefer to use tans, and the issue ends up being that tan integral color, runs with a red tint, that red tint fades after a few years. This does not happen with stone, because of the amount of iron in the stone. Unless you are prepared to go nuts, it will be very hard to match that stone you already have, as you will find that even it has faded. I would recommend going with a standard medium broom finish, and using an integral color that you think is one to two shades lighter than the color in your stone. It will complement, not match, the existing stone. It also creates a nice demarcation between the kitchen and the pool deck, think of this as separate rooms. Normally, you would not have the same flooring in your living room as your kitchen.

I like to score concrete in geometric patterns, or in random arcs. If I do a geometric pattern, I do a grid, with the lines equal distance apart, with a 12" band around the edges. Essentially, this gives a look of 30" square tiles, of sorts. I have seen some great stamped jobs, that held up well, but, it takes a real craftsman and artist to do a good job.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 04:27 PM   #10
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Thanks, Bob. I have a few folks coming out over the weekend and next week to give me estimates for both concrete and flagstone patios. Haven't quite made up my mind yet, but I'll keep y'all posted.
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