We earn a commission on products purchased through some of the links in this article.
Cooking and dining al fresco is part of the summer fun, but with the British weather being so unpredictable, covered outdoor kitchens are a must if you’re looking to upgrade your outdoor BBQ area.
Providing a kind of cover for your outdoor kitchen and dining area, it extends the time you spend outdoors, provides shade from the hot sun, protection from rain and wind, and additional warmth.
There are many options when it comes to shading ideas for outdoor areas. From simple, easy to set up canopies to cover a BBQ or grill, to wooden pergolas and freestanding structures, annex roofs and roof extensions. So your choice will depend on the space you have available and how simple or elaborate you want your cover to be.
Ideas for a covered outdoor kitchen
If an outdoor kitchen is out of order in bad weather, you can protect your cooking space from the elements and use it all year round. So it pays to invest in shade or shelter when setting up an outdoor cooking and dining area or garden bar.
1. Oversize a pergola for added protection
Heat from the sun can get pretty intense, especially when cooking outside, so installing an outdoor pergola to provide shade for an outdoor kitchen is an easy way to keep the heat from becoming too uncomfortable. And while an open pergola doesn’t offer complete protection from rain, panels or fencing on two (or three) sides will help protect the area from wind and draughts.
If you decide to go for a do-it-yourself or DIY furniture idea like this, a wooden pergola can be cut to the exact size and shape of the outdoor space. Extending it to span the full width of a patio or deck creates continuity in the outdoor space, and overhead construction can be a useful tool when trying to zone an outdoor space. Hanging greenery and suspended lights from ceiling beams help to liven up the space visually and create separate cooking, dining, and seating areas.
2. Think about ventilation
One of the most important considerations when it comes to covered outdoor kitchen ideas is making sure the area is adequately ventilated. Whilst there is no such problem with open roofed structures such as pergolas and gazebos (as air and smoke can escape), with semi-enclosed covers or roofs ventilation is required to prevent smoke, vapor and fumes from accumulating under the roof. Providing adequate ventilation for gas, wood, or charcoal appliances in sheltered spaces is also an essential safety requirement.
For grills and barbecues, opt for an outdoor hood that is more powerful than a standard kitchen hood but removes smoke, heat, grease and food odors and keeps the area safely ventilated. Important considerations when building an outdoor kitchen. Pizza ovens require a chimney to draw heat and smoke out of the oven. Remember that metal vents get extremely hot and should therefore always be positioned away from wooden structures and away from plants to avoid creating a fire hazard.
3. Be hard on work surfaces
Whether sheltered or open to the elements, with any outdoor kitchen, it’s the worktops that take the brunt of the weather, from direct sunlight and rain to frost and even snow. It is therefore important to choose worktops that are weather-resistant, hard-wearing and durable.
Natural materials like stone and quartz are strong and weather-resistant, and choosing an integrated outdoor sink and countertop in the same material ensures a seamless finish that prevents dirt from building up in joints. Concrete countertops are also notoriously tough, making them well-suited for outdoor use, while stainless steel is tough and won’t rust in wet weather. Easy-to-clean materials that won’t stain or leave marks from greasy grilled food are also a must.
4. Opt for an outdoor cooking hut
Create a special place for cooking and entertaining with a purpose built cabin that can be placed further from home as a hideaway and enjoyed all season long.
A fabulous focal point for a garden, the cottage is built around an outdoor stove which includes an insulated smoke extraction system and chimney which helps keep the cottage warm and cosy. The interior shelves provide space for the chef’s prep, while the side shelves provide additional outdoor space for guests to sit and join in the action.
5. Try a simple shelter
For a less permanent option, try this metal frame shelter that provides direct coverage for a best grilling and grilling area so rain doesn’t stop the game. With a powder coated aluminum frame that will remain rust free when left outside, it has two glass side tables for storing tools and drinks and mounting plates to keep it securely in place in high winds.
6. Consider a freestanding pergola
A freestanding pergola is a great option for covered outdoor kitchen ideas when your cooking equipment is positioned a little further from the house. Even if you have an integrated patio. In a large garden or multifunctional outdoor space, a freestanding structure helps to better define the area, making it instantly visible and more obvious to guests as a meeting place.
While pergolas are typically open on all four sides, adding wood paneling to one side helps enclose the area a bit and can provide a backdrop for kitchen units, cooking appliances, and additional storage.
7. Consider an easy-to-open retractable cover
For a semi-permanent outdoor cover for an outdoor kitchen, consider a pergola with a retractable awning. An awning provides protection from the hot sun as well as protection from rain so wet weather doesn’t ruin the occasion and can be either manually operated or motorized for added ease and speed.
Fixed or freestanding, a pergola can be installed in a convenient location. Whether right next to the house on a terrace or further along the garden at a place specially built for this purpose. An awning or pergola can be safely used over outdoor cooking equipment provided all smoke vents are positioned at least 0.3m from the underside of the roof and all side rails are securely held away from heat surfaces.
8. Weatherproof your kitchen set
When setting up an outdoor kitchen, the choice of weatherproof materials is crucial. Even when covered or placed in a sheltered location, the kitchen can still be partially exposed to the elements, so appliances and units built to withstand all weather conditions are a must.
Known for its durability and longevity, stainless steel is a robust choice for an outdoor kitchen. Resistant to impact, corrosion and extreme temperatures, its antibacterial properties will not affect or contaminate food, while the easy-to-clean surface requires little maintenance. Dirt can collect between hinges, corners, compartments, and around control knobs, but regular wiping with mild soap and water is all that’s required to remedy this.
9. Select wearable parts
Easy-to-maneuver parts make building an outdoor kitchen a breeze. Lighter wheeled units can be brought into play and taken out of play as needed. In addition, they can easily be moved to a garden shed or garage when the season is off. Stainless steel panels and enamelled doors are heat and weather resistant and super easy to keep clean.
10. Expand an outdoor shelter
Bi-folding doors create easily accessible indoor and outdoor spaces that are a prime spot for an open-air kitchen. A pergola shade is the perfect patio cover that can be easily attached to the outside of a home to expand the utility of the outdoor space.
Add extra shade and shelter to a pergola by training climbing plants to grow over it. Fast-growing vines will establish themselves quickly and can provide cover in as little as two years. Make sure that hanging greens do not protrude too far over the cooking area.
Can I build an outdoor kitchen without planning permission?
Provided you follow the guidelines for size, height, and distance from boundaries, an outdoor kitchen housed in a permanent gazebo or pergola generally does not require planning permission. Check before building, especially if you are in a conservation area or your structure will affect neighboring properties.
How do you weatherproof an outdoor kitchen?
Even if an outdoor kitchen offers some form of canopy or shelter, protecting your gear and furniture is a must if one or more sides of the outdoor area are exposed to the elements. Especially in the winter months.
Choosing durable, weather-resistant materials should be the first step. Countertops will take the brunt of the weather, from hot sunlight falling on them to downpours, frosty mornings and even snow. Choosing sturdy materials like stone, granite, concrete, and stainless steel that can be left outside year-round is a smart option.
Stainless steel appliances are also fairly weatherproof and will not rust if left outdoors. However, investing in outdoor covers is a good choice that will provide an extra layer of protection during the winter months. And opting for moving parts that can be moved to a shed or garage is also a viable option.