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Brick Outdoor Kitchen: Pros & Cons, 7 Step How To Guide, & Inspiring Ideas

By James King

March 24, 2023

When planning your outdoor kitchen… You want to make sure your grill island is perfectly tailored to your tastes. 

We get it… You want your outdoor kitchen to be the stunning centerpiece of your backyard.

A brick outdoor kitchen is an excellent solution for those looking to be creative with their outdoor living space. 

Whether you invite a rustic look with a red brick outdoor kitchen island…

Or charm your guests with a stunning white brick outdoor kitchen…

Brick is a great choice when it comes to long-lasting durability. 

But before you commit to a brick kitchen… It’s important to understand the full scope of the project.

Let’s start with the pros and cons of building a brick kitchen outdoors.

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l shaped grill island with dual burner and double access doors on patio in reclaimed brick finish

Pros of a Brick Outdoor Kitchen

Brick is a great consideration for constructing your barbeque island.

There are a few key benefits to a brick built outdoor kitchen…

Let’s first discuss durability.

Bricks are Highly Durable

stack of bricks ready to be used

Brick is one of the most durable building materials out there (second only to concrete blocks or panels)

This makes it a great choice for building an outdoor kitchen!

If your brick kitchen is built correctly… You can be confident that it will withstand the test of time.

And if you choose brick over outdoor kitchen materials such as wood or metal You’ll avoid potential issues with structural integrity.

If a wood frame is exposed to water… It can warp and rot.

Plus, any outdoor wood structure invites pests such as termites.

And if metal gets wet… It’ll rust and corrode.

With brick, you don’t have to worry about rot, rust, or other issues associated with wood or metal structures. Since bricks are porous… They will absorb water with little risk to your outdoor kitchen.

Sounds like a pretty reliable method, right?

Let’s see what else makes brick a great choice for your BBQ island.

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Bricks are Non-Combustible

flagstone patio idea with brick outdoor kitchen

Non-combustible  (non-flammable) materials are a fantastic choice when building an outdoor kitchen!

Since bricks are non-combustible… They are highly resistant to fire.

This benefit alone makes brick a much safer solution than a typical wood frame outdoor kitchen.

When wood gets hot (as it inevitably will when supporting a piping-hot built-in grill…) It runs the risk of catching fire.

Not only is this a safety hazard to you and your property… But it also means lost time and money that you spent building your outdoor kitchen.

If you choose brick… You can eliminate any worries of your BBQ island going up in flames.

Bricks are Great in Northern Climates

As we mentioned earlier… Wood or metal frame methods for outdoor kitchen construction have their own unique set of issues.

Let’s recap…

Wood frames exposed to water run the risk of rotting, warping, and swelling.

And if metal frames get wet… They may rust and corrode.

When wood or metal frames are damaged, it may lead to your kitchen delaminating. 

Delaminating refers to when the layers of your structure split apart… This is often evidenced by the exterior finish starting to fall off. (Yikes!)

Ultimately,  these materials weren’t built to last in Northern climates with frequent freeze/thaw cycles and precipitation.

But what about brick?

Bricks are a coveted building material for many reasons. One of these reasons is that they are porous. This means that bricks absorb water. 

Moisture does not damage bricks the way it does wood or metal… Making it great at withstanding freeze/thaw cycles in Northern climates. 

We should mention that while bricks fare well in nearly every climate… There are some cases where extreme weather may get the better of brick structures. We’ll return to this later.

Bricks are Customizable

brick outdoor kitchen on patio

When you build an outdoor kitchen from scratch… An added benefit is that you have total creative control with your design.

This sentiment is true with an outdoor kitchen brick design, as well!

You’re free to customize your design however you like to best fit your outdoor living space.

And let’s not forget another unique advantage of opting for a brick kitchen…

There’s No Need to Add a Finish

brick patio surface with matching rta u shape outdoor kitchen with grill and pizza oven

You probably know that when you build an outdoor kitchen using the frame system… You need to add a finish or veneer to your structure (think: stucco, tile,  natural stone, brick veneer, etc).

But when you build your structure with brick You’re constructing the frame and finish at the same time!

Not only does this save you from additional planning, labor, and expenses… It also eliminates any risk of your kitchen delaminating (exterior finish falling off).

Furthermore… You can choose to customize the exterior finish of your brick kitchen with different mortar styles, paint, or glazes. Just keep in mind that a painted brick outdoor kitchen means additional upkeep to maintain your desired aesthetic.

Is building an outdoor kitchen with brick starting to sound like the way to go?

Before jumping to any conclusions… Let’s first discuss some of the major disadvantages of building your kitchen with brick.

Cons of a Brick Outdoor Kitchen

So now we know what makes brick a great consideration for your outdoor kitchen project.

But do the pros outweigh the cons?

It’s time to turn our attention to the reasons why a brick kitchen may not be the best fit for you.

Brick Construction is Challenging

We won’t sugar coat it… Building an outdoor kitchen from scratch can be laborious.

Let’s break down the challenges you’ll likely face when building an outdoor kitchen with brick.

You Have To Pour a Footing

man stirring a wheelbarrow full of concrete mix for use on diy concrete countertop

While individual bricks are lightweight… Brick structures can get quite heavy.

Because of this… It’s not really feasible for your brick kitchen to sit on a deck or patio without a proper structural footing.

If you don’t pour a concrete footing to support your base… It will settle over time, posing serious risks to the structural integrity of your outdoor brick BBQ kitchen.

So, this step is necessary to complete your project… And is often an unexpected obstacle for the average DIY-er.

In fact… We strongly recommend hiring a professional to pour your concrete footing. 

It’s Labor-Intensive

its labor intensive to install bricks

Building a brick kitchen is no easy feat!

A DIY brick outdoor kitchen may seem like a great idea… But the reality is that it’s probably better off left to a brick mason.

Not only will a brick mason have all the right tools… They’ll also have the knowledge and skills to execute the project correctly.

We won’t get into too much detail here… But it’s vital for each and every brick to be placed just right in your structure to ensure it will support the weight of your counter tops and appliances.

It’s not as simple as you may have been led to believe!

Not to mention… Laying individual bricks takes a lot of time, especially when it’s not something you’re trained in.

Ultimately… A DIY outdoor kitchen brick project is not realistic.

Bricks are Prone to Damage in Certain Environments

bricks are prone to damage

Although bricks are highly durable and not easily susceptible to water damage… It’s true that brick holds up better in some climates than it does in others.

If you live in a humid environment… Your brick kitchen will constantly be taking in water. This incessant moisture may invite mold to your structure (they can only handle so much!)

And if you live in a windy area prone to hurricanes… You may find yourself frequently rebuilding or replacing bricks.

It’s also important to be wary of the type of mortar you use for your brick kitchen.

If you live in a colder area… Make sure you select mortar that is rated for freeze/thaw cycles to prevent damage to your structure.

Brick Goes In and Out of Style

linear brick outdoor kitchen

Aesthetics are a key part of planning any outdoor kitchen project.

It’s important that your BBQ island complements your home as it will be a permanent structure… And the focal point of your backyard.

If you’re considering a brick kitchen… Just know that brick cycles in and out of style.

While a white brick outdoor kitchen may be in right now… It may not be in the coming years.

And though a red brick outdoor kitchen may provide a rustic look… It’s definitely not universally appealing.

Point is, it’s worth thinking about whether or not you want to commit to a brick finish as it will be nearly impossible to remodel after it’s completed.

So while devising your outdoor brick kitchen plans… This is another factor to be cognizant of.

But if you’re willing to overlook the risks and are still eager to add a brick kitchen to your outdoor living space…

It’s time to see what you can expect when it comes to building a brick outdoor kitchen.

How to Build a Brick Outdoor Kitchen

So… We’ve covered the major advantages and disadvantages of building a brick outdoor kitchen.

Now it’s time to see exactly how to build an outdoor kitchen with brick.

Brick Outdoor Kitchen DIY Difficulty

We want to reiterate that building a brick outdoor kitchen is not a DIY-friendly project.

In fact… We think it’s best left to a brick mason.

Building a brick kitchen is extremely labor and time intensive.

A professional will have the right tools and skillset to build a sturdy and attractive structure for your outdoor living space… And will prevent the headache of trying to master the art of brick laying yourself.

That being said, if you still want to see how a brick BBQ island is made… The steps below will give you a general idea of what goes into building an outdoor kitchen with brick.

1. Create Plans for Your Outdoor Brick Kitchen

Play Video about create plan thumbnail

As with any outdoor kitchen project… The first step in the process is making a plan.

First, assess your outdoor space to determine the shape, dimensions, and layout of your brick kitchen… As well as where you want it to be.

Consider the layout of your indoor kitchen to help you form a plan.

And don’t forget to factor in which appliances you want to include in your outdoor cooking setup… This will help you make sure you have the correct dimensions for appliance cut-outs.

If you’re unsure how to begin tackling your brick kitchen project… Talking with a skilled brick mason will help you get started.

2. Site Prep

utility lines coming out of patio for outdoor kitchen

When you’re ready to put your outdoor kitchen plans to action… The next step is preparing the site for construction.

A vital part of this process is deciding which utilities you need to run to your outdoor patio.

If you’re running utility lines… It’s strongly recommended to be done prior to pouring the concrete footing.

If you don’t run utility lines before the footing is poured… It’ll complicate your outdoor kitchen plans (and it will be exceedingly difficult to add utility lines after the concrete is poured).

3. Pour the Concrete Footing

concrete being poured from truck

Once the site is prepped and utility lines are installed… It’s time to pour the concrete footing.

As we mentioned before… The structural footing is necessary when building a brick kitchen as the finished island will be quite heavy.

Your concrete footing should be poured within an inch of ground level… And should be twice as wide as your BBQ island.

And if you live in an area prone to cold weather and freeze/thaw cycles… Your footing must extend 12 inches below the frost line.

As you can imagine… Pouring a footing is an extremely involved process with its own set of challenges.

When it comes to pouring the footing… We recommend hiring a professional to make sure the job is done correctly.

Also… It’s important to keep in mind that a concrete footing will need two days to cure before your brick kitchen can start to take shape.

4. Prep your Bricks

When your footing has cured… It’s time to start prepping bricks for construction.

We’ve mentioned this a few times now… Bricks are highly porous. So… hosing them down a few hours prior to starting construction will ensure that they don’t absorb moisture from the mortar once you begin building.

Keep in mind… Your bricks should be damp when you start building. Bricks that are too wet will reduce the mortar’s strength.

5. Lay the Bricks

Your footing is poured… Your bricks are prepped… Now it’s time to start laying the framework for your outdoor kitchen design.

Here’s how your outdoor kitchen will begin to take shape.

Laying a Dry Course

Play Video about laying a dry course

The first course of bricks must be perfectly measured and laid out on your surface to ensure the remainder of your island is built according to plan.

Start by laying a dry course of bricks in the shape of your island. 

A dry course will be the first layer of bricks you lay, and will serve as an outline once you begin building your structure. It will not be adhered to any mortar. 

Measure and mark 1/2 inch of space between each brick for the head joint (vertical mortar placed between two bricks).

When the foundation of your outdoor kitchen is marked on your base… It’s time to get to brick laying.

Laying Walls

Play Video about laying brick walls

To begin building your brick kitchen, start by spreading a layer of mortar along the marks on your surface.

Then, apply mortar to the head of each brick and begin to lay the bricks accordingly. Make sure the bricks are placed firmly against the mortar! 

Once the first layer of bricks is laid… It’s important to confirm accuracy of placement and make sure the bricks are level before you add additional layers to your structure.

When you’ve confirmed your bricks are level… You can continue building your structure by applying mortar between each layer and on the head of each brick.

As you continue to layer… Don’t forget to frequently check the accuracy and level of your bricks!

And as your structure begins to take shape… You’ll need to account for appliance cut-outs.

Appliance Cut-Outs

Play Video about appliance cut outs

Building appliance cut-outs into your brick kitchen design means that you’ll need to create openings in your structure as you build.

To create an opening in your brick wall… Measure the dimensions of the appliance cut-out and build your wall up to the top of the opening.

To bridge the opening… Lay angle irons (structural steel to support your bricks spanning the opening) across the cut-out, secure, and mortar into place. When your angle iron is placed… Run bricks along the opening, which will hide the angle iron.

Strike and Remove Extra Mortar

When your bricks are laid, appliance cut-outs are built, and your outdoor kitchen structure is complete… It’s time to take care of excess mortar.

To give your brick kitchen a cleaner look… Run a striking tool across all horizontal and vertical mortar joints.

Then, use a trowel to remove any mortar that was squished out of the joints during construction.

Before completing this step… The mortar should be thumbprint hard.

If you have a larger project… You may have to periodically strike mortar joints before the structure is completed (as extra mortar should be removed before it is completely dry). 

Finally… Give the mortar time to cure.

Apply a Finish

Though this step isn’t necessary to the integrity of your brick kitchen… It’s an important step when you consider the aesthetics of your outdoor living space.

If you’re opting to add a finish to your brick kitchen (such as paint or glaze)… You should do so before installing the countertops and appliances.

But if you’re keen on the classic outdoor kitchen red brick look… You’re ready to move on to the next step.

6. Install Countertops

man pouring concrete into concrete countertop form

At this stage in the process… Your brick kitchen is getting close to the finish line.

But… You can’t use it until you install countertops!

When installing countertops… You have a few options as far as having one made.

You can either hire a professional to make a countertop measured to fit your outdoor kitchen…

Or you can choose to take the DIY route and make your own.

If you’re feeling ambitious… Concrete countertops have become a popular addition to outdoor kitchens. They are made by attaching a mold directly to your island… And then pouring concrete.

The finished product is a concrete countertop attached directly to your island.

But if you don’t opt for a concrete countertop… We’d recommend hiring someone to fabricate countertops for you. 

They’ll come to your house, take measurements, and make a countertop specific to your outdoor kitchen. 

Just note that having a countertop made will take extra time. 

7. Install Appliances

Play Video about install appliances

The final step in completing your outdoor kitchen couldn’t be easier!

At this point, you’ve already built your appliance cut-outs into your BBQ island.

Assuming the cut-outs were measured correctly… All that’s left to do is place the appliances and outdoor kitchen cabinets into their respective openings.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to install your appliances without a hitch.

But If the cut-outs are too large or too small… You may have to fill in or cut your openings to accommodate your appliances.

This obviously wouldn’t be the ideal turnout… Which is why it’s important to make sure you planned your structure correctly in the beginning stages of the project.

But assuming all goes well… Once your appliances are installed, you’ll be ready to start grilling! 

Brick Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

By now… You know the ups and downs of building an outdoor kitchen with brick, and you have a general idea of how to make a brick outdoor kitchen.

If this project still sounds like one you want to take on… You’re probably looking for inspiration.

Let’s see how other homeowners incorporated a brick kitchen into their outdoor living space with these outdoor brick kitchen ideas.

White Brick Outdoor Kitchen with Outdoor Dining

outdoor kitchen on patio with dining room table

This linear, reclaimed white brick BBQ island with access doors is the perfect addition to this modern outdoor space.

Nestled against the home under an outdoor roof… The dark accent colors throughout this outdoor living space really speak to modern design trends.

And that seating area makes this outdoor patio the perfect spot for dining al fresco.

Outdoor Kitchen White Brick with Pizza Oven

This linear, reclaimed white brick BBQ island with access doors is the perfect addition to this modern outdoor space.

Nestled against the home under an outdoor roof… The dark accent colors throughout this outdoor living space really speak to modern design trends.

And that seating area makes this outdoor patio the perfect spot for dining al fresco.

An Easier Solution for your Brick Kitchen...

Now that you’ve seen a few outdoor kitchen ideas with brick… You may be strongly considering adding your own brick kitchen to your outdoor living space.

But as you saw… Building a brick outdoor kitchen is not really a feasible DIY project.

If you want the outdoor BBQ kitchen brick look but don’t want to commit to building your structure with brick… You could opt for a brick veneer outdoor kitchen.

But you may be wondering if there’s an even easier solution to build an outdoor kitchen…

Well, you’re in luck!

A Ready to Assemble outdoor kitchen eliminates the intimidating construction process, as well as the need to hire a brick mason.

Our outdoor kitchens are delivered directly to you… And come 95% complete. There’s no experience required!

Not to mention… Our free online design tool makes planning your project as simple as can be!

Plus… Countertops and stainless steel appliances from Coyote Outdoor Living are provided for your outdoor kitchen design.

Instead of waiting hours for bricks to be individually placed… RTA kitchens are made of concrete panels that just need to be bolted together.

Then, just place your countertops and slide in your appliances... And you’re done!

RTA’s outdoor kitchens are made from high performance concrete reinforced with composite rebar… And are rated for 100 years.

So if it’s long-lasting durability you’re looking for… RTA is a great DIY solution.

And if it’s the brick aesthetic that you’re craving… We also offer a reclaimed brick finish!

So if you’re ready to get started on an outdoor kitchen that’s built to last…

Let us help you get started today!

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