How to Build a Grill
If your old barbecue grill is getting too old and grungy for the backyard, you may want to build a barbecue island of your own. Building expert Doug Grant shows how to do it.
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If your old barbecue grill is getting too old and grungy for the backyard, you may want to build a barbecue island of your own. Building expert Doug Grant and Gardening by the Yard host Paul James build a barbecue (figure A).
The building materials
For this project, Doug uses pressure-treated lumber and cement backer board.
Pressure-treated wood, which is resilient to moisture, is great for parts of the country that get a lot of rain. And backer board is cement and paper that's pressed together, creating a durable sheet smooth enough to cover with tile. Plus, it has a factory-cut edge that helps Doug square the corners.
Remember the fundamentals of building
These are the basics to building anything:
You'll apply those basics right from the start. Once you've figured out where you want the barbecue island to go, level the ground and foundation. Doug uses concrete pads, so he'll remove dirt underneath to lower them, or lift them up with a few scoops of sand or mortar.
The right size
Dough decided the dimensions would be 3 feet by 5 feet for a couple of reasons:
Putting it all together
Doug uses 2 x 4s as the runner (figure B) to connect the 4 x 4s of the frame.
Using screws (a nail gun is another option), Doug starts with a corner of the frame, joining them at a toenail angle (figure C).
With the frame finished, it's time to affix the sides and top (figure D). "Just keep in mind [the three building basics] square, level and plumb," Doug says.
Once the top is nailed in place, it's time to decide where the grill will sit. The cool thing about building your own is that you get to decide. Doug wants some counter space on the left side for food and tools, so the grill will sit on the right.
With the new grill at the ready, Doug measures before he cuts a rough opening (figure E) in the island from the top and front cement boards (tip: a wet saw keeps dust down when cutting cement board).
He reinforces the cut edges with 2 x 4s so the island will be able to support the weight of the grill (figure F).
The gas line will drop into the empty space below the new opening and will connect to the propane tank, allowing access to the connection from the back side of the grill.
Tiling and grouting
The tiling and grouting may be the most time-consuming part of the project, but they can also be the most rewarding. You can select the color and tile that will look best in your yard. The choices are endless, from tumbled marble to flashy granite. Using the same color and material as the countertops in the kitchen makes for a nice transition. Larger tile means less time tiling and grouting; smaller tile adds more interest.
Doug mixes a fast-drying thin-set powder with water until he achieves a peanut-butter-like consistency (figure G). If it's too thick, it's hard too spread; too thin and it forms bubbles.
Again, keeping things level is key. As Doug lays the tile, he pushes and pulls as required to keep the top even.
Once the tile is laid, grout is a great cover-up for mistakes or blemishes in the tile. Grout is basically a mixture of sand, some sort of hardener such as cement, and a colorant. Doug mixes the grout in a bucket and he applies it to crevices to fill pits and blend the colors. After your complete grouting, and before it gets too hard (and too difficult to work with), it's important to take a bucket of clean water and a sponge to gently pick up stray grout (figure H).
Finishing touch: Two to three days after the tile work is finished, Doug applies a sealant to the stone.
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