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Outdoor Kitchen Roof: Starter’s Guide & 4 Breathtaking Ideas

By Daniel Cdebaca

September 29, 2022

There’s no better time to use an outdoor kitchen than during the summer!

Warm air and a soft breeze… Fourth of July celebrations… And cookouts by the swimming pool!

…But let’s pause for a moment. Is that actually what it’s like cooking outside?

Or do you find yourself dripping sweat while you’re trying to cook food for your family?

Your beautiful countertops will be so hot… By midday, you won’t even need a cooktop to make a fried egg to put on your burgers!

And if your outdoor kitchen is made out of a reflective material like stainless steel… Even sunglasses can’t protect you from the blinding glare.

custom galley rta outdoor kitchen under metal roof structure

It’s not pessimistic to admit that sometimes… The best season of the year for cooking outside is actually the most difficult.

But what can you do about it?

There’s an easy answer that you and your guests will love… An outdoor kitchen roof!

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Why Get an Outdoor Kitchen Roof?

As exciting as it is to cook outside… Let’s face it. It’s miserable to try to cook over a steamy, hot grill while a sweltering sun beats down on you.

And you don’t want to subject your guests to the heat and sunburns.

But don’t just listen to us… We asked an expert for some advice on why (and how) you should get your own outdoor kitchen roof.

Meet Colin LeVeque… The CEO and owner of ShadeTree Cool Living.

They work with clients to create custom-sized outdoor roof solutions for all kinds of backyards and climates… So he has lots of insider tips and tricks for getting the best outdoor patio cover for your backyard.

So why should you invest in an outdoor kitchen roof? It’s simple!

“Shade is number one because most of the time, we’re out cooking in the summertime,” LeVeque said. “A roof cools down the area and makes it usable space. It also protects everyone from those harmful rays.”

On top of that… It’s the perfect protection from rain and snow! You’ll be able to cook outside no matter the weather.

They also protect your patio… And your outdoor kitchen deck from sun damage!

Sounds simple enough… But as you’ll see later, there are a ton of different roof types to choose between… And they can all benefit your space in different ways!

We can talk about all the upgrades later… But to start, what are your basic options?

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Types of Outdoor Kitchen Roofs

As LeVeque says… “There are a lot of different shade systems.”

Some attach to your home’s exterior, while others are freestanding… And you’ll find them in all different colors and materials.

There are five main categories. While many people use their names interchangeably… It helps to know what you’re looking for so you can find exactly what you need!

Gazebo

outdoor living space with outdoor kitchen, firepit and gazebo

Gazebos are freestanding structures that have a solid roof at the top.

A gazebo can be quite elaborate. You’ve seen them in nice parks… Usually as rounded wooden garden structures with lattice fencing around the sides.

They are often (but not necessarily) a bit smaller than some of your other options… So they’re perfect for a small outdoor kitchen.

Pergola

u shaped outdoor kitchen under pergola with pizza oven and pellet grill

A pergola is a square or rectangular structure that uses columns or posts as the frame.

Its roof isn’t solid, so it will allow light to pass through… Whether between wooden boards or lattice.

This means that a pergola will not protect you from the rain… Nor will it provide complete coverage from the sun.

Regardless, it is a beautiful way to cover your outdoor kitchen and patio.

Awning

An awning is a structure attached to your house that extends the roof to provide more shade. They are typically made from a waterproof fabric.

If you build an outdoor kitchen up against or near your house… An awning might be just what you need.

Canopy

fabric canopy with wood poles in the backyard with chairs

A canopy is a less-permanent structure that is similar to a gazebo… But which has a fabric covering over the top.

Canopies are often made up of poles that are mounted on a sturdy base.

They aren’t as durable as more permanent roof features like gazebos… So you’ll probably want to take yours into the shed or garage when storms come.

Pavilion

A pavilion is a permanent, roofed structure with open sides.

It is a very popular choice for covering a patio or seating area. Some people will install electricity into them for lighting or ceiling fans.

Now that you know the main types of outdoor roofing… What features are you looking for?

Outdoor Kitchen Roof Features

Whatever your goals are for your covered outdoor space… You can make it happen.

Here are a few examples of the most-common add-on features.

Retractable Ceiling Coverage

Are you looking for something to keep the sun off during the day while you cook at your outside kitchen… But that won’t block the stars at night?

Or a covering that will keep the rain and snow away… But that can let light through on a nice day?

Then you could look into a retractable system! It’s the best of both worlds.

The motor will pull the covering back to one side at the press of a button… So you get as much or as little coverage as you want.

This will be most popular with simple gazebos, pergolas with a fabric covering on top, or awnings.

Motorized Panels

motorized louvered panels on a pergola

Are you looking for a permanent roofing structure… But want to be able to choose how much shade it provides?

You can get a motorized, louvered structure where you can open or close the panels whenever you want… Just like shades on a window!

“Those shutters rotate to let light in… But they also let the heat out,” LeVeque said.

A system like this is also a great way to catch a cool breeze and drive it down towards you and your guests. It will provide shade for your outdoor kitchen patio space… And you can still watch the stars at night.

These are typically found in pergolas and simple gazebos.

Side Coverage

side curtains on a pergola

Are you looking for something that provides more privacy? Or that will keep the sun out of your eyes while it sets and rises?

“If you want coverage on the sides of your outdoor cooking area… You want to create a structure, and then do some drop-down screens or lattice,” LeVeque said.

These can be motorized… Or even fabric that can be tied open or left down.

You’ll find these in gazebos and pavilions.

As you can see… You can find a structure that truly meets all of your goals. No compromises!

Another consideration that will affect how your outdoor kitchen roof performs is what it’s made out of!

design with your lifestyle in mind

Use our free 3D design tool to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality in just a few minutes.

Outdoor Roof Material Options

Just like with your outdoor kitchen materials… What you make your outdoor kitchen roof out of is important!

The materials will determine how well it will work… And how long the structure will last in your backyard!

Aluminum

aluminum tubing used for outdoor kitchen frame system

Aluminum is a lightweight metal that is silver in color… And is quite common for outdoor kitchen roof coverings.

Pros

Aluminum is lightweight, durable, and it won’t rust.

If you don’t like the metallic look… You can treat it to look like wood!

But unlike wood… It is non-combustible!

Cons

You should seal aluminum when you first purchase it to keep it looking good for longer.

Whether or not you seal it… Aluminum is susceptible to corrosion.

It will get hot in the sunlight.

Steel

sheets of stainless steel used to build an outdoor kitchen

Steel is another metal that is widely used in outdoor kitchen roofing. This material will pair nicely with a modern outdoor kitchen.

Pros

Steel is even stronger than aluminum… So if you want a very large structure, this may be a better option for you.

It is also fire-resistant.

Cons

Steel is subject to rusting. You’ll want to treat it with a 100% zinc coating when you get it to prevent this.

It will also get hot in the sunlight.

Wood

2x4 wood planks for outdoor kitchen frame

Wood is a very common material for outdoor living construction due to its availability and how easy it is to use. It will give a natural look to any outdoor patio.

Pros

Wood is typically a less expensive option than metal… And it is the easiest material to use for a DIY outdoor kitchen roof.

Its natural look is very aesthetically pleasing… And it comes in a large variety of colors and stains.

Cons

Just like with a wood outdoor kitchen… A wooden outdoor kitchen roof can warp, crack, bow, rot, and twist.

It will require sanding, staining, sealing and other types of treatments every few years to keep it in good condition.

Some types of wood are susceptible to termites.

It is also not fire resistant… So be careful if you intend to put a hot outdoor kitchen under it.

PVC

hdpe plastic sheets used for outdoor kitchen panels

PVC (also called vinyl) is a plastic composite that is used in all kinds of different outdoor living surfaces… Such as boat decks and outdoor kitchen cabinetry.

PVC outdoor kitchen roofs are typically made to look like wood.

Pros

Just like with outdoor kitchen cabinets… PVC is quite durable and easy to maintain. It is also fire-retardant.

It won’t rust, corrode, or rot.

Cons

Over time, PVC can fade, warp, and crack.

Acrylic Roof Panels

acrylic roof panels for an outdoor kitchen roof structure

An acrylic roof will be a very light color. You won’t be able to see through it… But the soft light it lets through will gently illuminate your space.

Pros

Acrylic covers let light in… But keep the heat and UV rays out.

It is very low maintenance.

Acrylic is strong enough that hail will not break it. It is also flame-inhibiting.

Cons

While it is a very durable material overall, and is difficult to break… It can be scratched or dented.

Fabric Covering

a white fabric bunched up ready to be used for outdoor kitchen roof structure

Many people choose to cover their outdoor roof structures with fabric.

Pros

There is a wide variety of fabric patterns, colors, and textures.

If you get bored of the look after a few years… You can easily change it.

You can find fire-resistant fabric if you want to use it over an outdoor grill station.

Depending on the kind of fabric you purchase… It will still let small amounts of light in.

Cons

Fabric is not very durable.

It runs the risk of sagging and ripping during rain… Or even acting as a sail during high winds. A strong enough wind could rip your structure out of the ground.

To avoid this… You’ll want to set up a motor to retract the fabric.

Fiberglass Panels

Fiberglass is a common material for outdoor patio roofs. It is frequently white or green… And can top an awning or a gazebo.

Pros

Fiberglass is UV resistant. It is very durable and can withstand harsh weather.

It’s also naturally fire-resistant.

Cons

Fiberglass can get brittle in intense sunlight… So it is more likely to break after several years if you live in a sunny location like Arizona.

Now you have the type, features, and materials down… But there are still a few things to consider when buying an outdoor kitchen roof!

Outdoor Kitchen Roof General Considerations

Making a covered outdoor space is a great idea… But there are a few things to be aware of before you dive into this home improvement project!

It May Cover Your House’s Windows

While shade is probably your goal for your outdoor living area… You want to be aware that your outdoor kitchen roof could also shade your house’s windows.

“When we put a structure by your windows… That can darken the inside of the house,” LeVeque said.

“There’s a benefit to it during the summertime. We’re shading those windows, which can help with your AC bills… But during the wintertime, people want to let light in.”

Which Way Does Your House Face?

rta outdoor kitchen under structure next to pool and furniture

The last thing you want is for your roof to be too small to protect your outdoor kitchen area!

…But the direction your house faces can affect this!

If your backyard faces the east… You’ll have the sun in your eyes during sunrise, even with a cover.

On top of that… Most of our bad weather in the US comes from the west… So if your summer kitchen is at the western edge of the coverage… It might still get wet when bad weather comes.

“The wind and rain can come at an angle from the back of the house… And it will still hit you while you’re trying to grill,” LeVeque said.

You’ll want to think about the sunlight and weather conditions in your backyard to make sure your roof will actually protect your outdoor kitchen from the rain, snow, and sun.

“How big of a structure you actually need depends on the weather and the position of the sun. What you might have to do is create a bigger structure… Or do drop-down screens if the sun will be coming in from the back,” LeVeque said.

It’s Less Expensive to Go Bigger

an outdoor summer bar kitchen underneath a pergola in texas

We’d never suggest spending more than you’re comfortable with… But it’s important to note that installing an outdoor kitchen roof costs less per square foot the bigger it is.

“Once somebody is already coming on site to put up a structure… To double the size of the structure, it doesn’t double the cost,” LeVeque said.

If you’re unsure of whether or not you should take the leap and cover your whole outdoor dining area or outdoor bar seating area… It’s better to just ask how much it will cost.

Next… What about safety?

Design with your space in mind

Use our free 3D design tool to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality in just a few minutes.

Outdoor Kitchen Roof Safety Considerations

Picking out an outdoor kitchen roof is exciting… But there are a few things to watch out for!

Taking note of these will help you keep yourself and your backyard safe.

Grill Safety

family enjoying their rta outdoor kitchen under a pergola with lighting

First and foremost… You want to make sure you’re being safe with your outdoor kitchen.

Your outdoor kitchen appliances are hot… And you don’t want them to catch your new outdoor kitchen roof on fire!

Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid disaster if you follow the local codes and safety recommendations for your builtin grill and other appliances.

They will inform you of how close your BBQ island can be to your roof structure… As well as whether or not you need special ventilation.

If you want to be on the safe side… You could also install a vent hood over your grill.

Another important consideration is how flammable your outdoor kitchen roof materials are.

Making Sure Your Materials Won’t Burn

an image of an outdoor kitchen that caught fire due to poor ventilation

The two most flammable materials for an outdoor kitchen roof are wood and fabric.

If you’re set on using one or both of these materials for your roofing… Here are some tips to reduce the chance of a fire.

Fabric

Fabrics have different ratings for how flammable they are.

Smoldering and flame-resistant fabrics are the best options for something that will be near an outdoor kitchen.

“If a spark hits a smolder fabric… It smolders and just creates a little hole,” LeVeque said.

Even better… You could have a fire-resistant fabric.

“When we do commercial coverings, that’s what we’re required to do. Flame-resistant fabric doesn’t smolder or ignite,” LeVeque said.

Wood

There are a few ways to help protect your outdoor kitchen roof when it’s made of wood.

First… Make sure that the wood you buy is fire-retardant. This is typically pressure-treated wood that has been infused with chemicals.

You can also find sealant to paint over the wood… But neither of these will make it completely non-flammable, so you still want to be careful.

Look for Hurricane-Rated

hurricane winds bringing danger to house on suburban street

Heavy winds can be a problem for outdoor kitchen roofs.

If you’re using fabric… LeVeque also recommends buying a motion or wind sensor that can retract your canvas if it senses bad weather.

“Because you may be at the grocery store or on vacation… We want that wind sensor attached so that when the wind blows, it will automatically bring that canvas back in,” LeVeque said.

At this point… You know all about outdoor kitchen roofs and how to make the best choices for your backyard. But should you DIY it yourself or not?

Should I DIY My Outdoor Kitchen Roof?

man building a diy outdoor kitchen roof structure out of wood

To be frank… You can, but you probably shouldn’t.

For example… A professional will know about things like the different angles needed to keep your structure safe from high winds and heavy rains… And the best ways to put your structure into the ground to keep it safe.

“Certainly you can DIY it,” LeVeque said. “But if you’re doing any kind of fixed roof or canvas on top of it… You’re really going to need somebody who knows what they’re doing.”

If you don’t want to hire a professional… There are prefabricated options you can buy online like Toja Grid’s pergolas or Sojags gazebos.

These will be made for you… But you’ll still install them yourself.

Whether you go through a professional, buy one, or make your own DIY outdoor kitchen roof… You’ll want inspiration for what it could look like!

Covered Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Looking for outdoor kitchen roof ideas?

Here are a few outdoor kitchen design ideas we’d love to share with you!

Metal Roof Outdoor Kitchen

rta outdoor kitchen in charcoal plank under metal roof structure

This simple, metal gazebo is a great way to shade outdoor furniture… Transforming the space into an outdoor room!

Awning Roof over Outdoor Kitchen

ward schraeders custom rta outdoor kitchen under awning roof structure

This awning is a beautiful addition to the house!

They’ve created an extension of their indoor kitchen… By adding an awning that blends in with the colors of the house.

It’ll make cooking at this Ushaped outdoor kitchen a treat no matter what the weather is like!

Their LED lighting is a great addition.

Outdoor Kitchen with Metal Roof

custom rta outdoor kitchen under roof structure with tv

This massive pavilion is a great spot to cook and visit!

They’ve even added a chandelier… Making this space perfect for grilling whether it be day or night!

Outdoor Kitchen with Roof

l shaped outdoor kitchen with asado smoker under a gazebo next to a pool

This pool-house gazebo is a beautiful way to provide shade and create an outdoor living space!

Between the Lshaped outdoor kitchen, the bar, table, and pool… This is the perfect spot for a get-together!

Now you’re ready to create your own outdoor kitchen with a roof.

But the first step to creating your own outdoor kitchen roof plans is to build the outdoor kitchen area you want to cover!

Step One of Creating your Outdoor Kitchen Roof Design

It’s fun dreaming about the kind of outdoor kitchen roof you’ll get… But how will you know what size you need if you haven’t created your outdoor living space first?

You’re in luck… Because we can help with that!

We offer thoughtfully engineered, made-to-order outdoor kitchen islands with a serious attention to detail.

Having a custom-made outdoor kitchen used to be a long, complicated process… But we’ve completely reinvented the process so that you can sit back and enjoy convenience, speed, and a high-quality product that will last a lifetime.

With our expert efficiency… It’ll be the simplest part of your backyard remodel!

Of course… It’s important that your whole outdoor kitchen area looks good together… So we offer a custom design solution.

You’ll be able to pick out the size, configuration, layout, appliances… And the finish and outdoor kitchen countertops!

But don’t worry… It’s as easy as it gets. You can use our free Design Tool… And within a few minutes, you’ll have a 3D rendering of your very own outdoor kitchen!

You’ll get expert one-on-one advice from someone on our team of Design Experts… And a proposal that is unique to you and your needs.

You probably have a lot of questions…

To learn more about how we create our custom outdoor kitchen islands (and so much more)… You can visit our Learning Hub!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.

Q&A

Yes, and it will protect your outdoor kitchen for years to come! Some permanent outdoor roof covers include awning, canopies, gazebos, and pergolas.

There are a few ways you could build a roof over your outdoor kitchen. Most commonly and most recommended, homeowners will hire a professional. There are semi-DIY systems like Toja kits, as well.

To withstand changing weather… It is best for an outdoor kitchen’s appliances and surfaces to be covered. This will protect your outdoor kitchen from rain, snow, and the sun… And help it last for decades to come!

One way to weatherproof an outdoor kitchen is to cover it properly! You can use a specially-designed outdoor kitchen cover… And a roof covering, such as an awning, pergola, or gazebo! This will protect your outdoor kitchen from rain and snow.

A covering for an outdoor kitchen can provide shade and protection from the elements while you cook, eat, and entertain outdoors. This will prolong the life of your outdoor kitchen… And protect your guests from the sun, rain, and snow!

An outdoor kitchen roof or canopy will protect your guests from the elements… And accent the dining area space! These structures are both functional and beautiful. Your outdoor kitchen will last significantly longer if it is covered.

A roof will extend your outdoor living space and provide shelter from the elements so you can spend more time outdoors. You’ll have so much more fun entertaining your guests when you’re protected from the rain, snow, and sun!

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