That Custom Outdoor Kitchen in Your Backyard

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• Permanent Staycation •

If you long for an outdoor kitchen to keep the party going into warm summer nights, have you stopped to consider all the things that it takes to keep it running smoothly? Remember: there’s live electricity, gas lines, appliances, and other things that will need regular effort.

Your house is ready for an awesome outdoor kitchen where you’re all set to grill and chill outside all summer – into the fall and winter, too. An outdoor kitchen can be the best investment you’ve ever made with a hefty return at re-sale, but you definitely should be aware of how outdoor kitchens are different from indoor kitchens as you ponder these points.

Outdoor Versus Indoor Kitchens: The Big Differences

Some of the early pioneers had outdoor kitchens before it was cool. There’s nothing wrong with an outdoor kitchen, they’re not inherently dangerous or troublesome, they’re just different than an indoor kitchen. At the end of the day, though, the two are fairly different, so let’s take a look at the biggest stuff.

Exposure to the Elements

Your indoor kitchen is around 72 degrees Fahrenheit or so all the time, day in and day out. Depending on where you live in San Diego, your outdoor kitchen could be exposed to some really extreme weather – especially in our inland regions and the backcountry areas of San Diego County, swinging from below freezing in the winter to above 100 degrees F in the summer. It’s a lot for gaskets, plumbing, and wiring to bear.

Regular health checks and routine maintenance are vital for your outdoor kitchen; otherwise, you could have catastrophic failures without warning. In addition, ensure that all your outdoor kitchen components are approved for outdoor usage — if anything is not, replace it right away or plan for it to have a shortened lifespan.

Levels of Cleanliness

Your outdoor kitchen will be a lot dirtier than your indoor one (duh). It’s obviously because your indoor kitchen is inside, protected from blowing pollen, fallen droppings, debris, dust, and the various types of insects and animals that happen to run around at night in your backyard. But, there’s also the fact that the grill isn’t cleaned as often as it should be, and often times the grease catch is full.

Though it’s impossible to keep an outdoor kitchen 100% squeaky clean, you should always, always, always clean that grill from top to bottom with a thorough degreaser. Not only does grease left in the catcher underneath attract mammals you would not normally invite into your kitchen, but the dirtier the grill is, the worse it will perform when it’s time to cook.

Countertops and Flooring

Indoor kitchens are super easy to maintain. It’s simple to clean tile, vinyl, or hardwood with a regular household floor cleaner and wipe the counters with a wet sponge. Your outdoor kitchen, as you may have guessed, is a bit more complicated. So many outside kitchens use stone like granite for counters because of this material’s ability to withstand heat and, of course, because they look amazing next to the pool. The “floor” of that kitchen is often concrete or stone. Not exactly the kind of thing you just mop and go with.

First, make sure your granite counters are sealed every three to five years to protect them from the worst heat and UV our San Diego sun can deal out. Next, make sure you always sweep your patio clear of grass clippings, blown dirt, and other plant debris to prevent weeds from popping up where they can find footing. Lastly, power wash that patio at least once a year to remove stains, grease, and mildew.

Winterizing an Outdoor Kitchen

Your indoor kitchen should need little to no winterizing since it’s both serviced by a modern heating system and protected from the cold by at least one wall and the insulation therein. Even in a very old house at higher elevations, during wintertime, the most you might need to do is turn on heat tape that’s wrapped around plumbing to prevent frozen pipes. Your outdoor kitchen, though, will need a lot of care ahead of the cold.

If you’re prone to freezing temps with an outdoor kitchen, remember to disconnect all your outdoor appliances from their various services. Turn the gas off to the grill, empty and disconnect the fridge, drain, then and winterize the water lines running to the outdoor sink. Cover your patio furniture or bring it inside. Cover the grill and other appliances, too, if your outdoor kitchen lacks a permanent roof – a sail or solar cloth isn’t the same thing.

For San Diego areas that only freeze once in a while, you can wait to disconnect everything until just before the storm comes, provided you’re still using your outdoor kitchen regularly.

Having an Outdoor Kitchen is Amazing..

…until something breaks or is severely damaged because of a lack of maintenance, that is. Keeping these items in mind can help extend your period of trouble-free enjoyment, but even the best outdoor kitchen oasis will need to have a thorough professional inspection every now and again to remain reliable.

When that time comes, just tap into your Compass community. Plumbers, electricians, patio-builders, landscapers, and even pest control experts are at your fingertips, just waiting for a call from their Compass family. Your neighborhood Compass REALTOR® recommended them, so you know you can trust that they know their stuff.


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About The Author
Portia Green, REALTOR®

Portia’s clients all have a similar story. Most likely, you met her huddled around a tablet at the dinner table yet she feels like a friend. Her personable nature and easy going approach attract Sellers and Buyers alike, in what can be a stressful and emotionally charged event. A talented REALTOR® with 16 years experience, Portia is just as excited about real estate today as she was with her first transaction. She remains ever-committed to helping her clients find their place in the world and helping busy people navigate this crazy real estate market like a pro.