How important is ventilation for an outdoor kitchen?
Once you’ve decided where you’re going to build your outdoor kitchen, Kieran says the next key consideration is ventilation.
“To be considered an outdoor kitchen and to allow the use of outdoor gas appliances there must be appropriate airflow,” Kieran says. “This can be achieved by either having no roof, at least two open walls or having at least 25 per cent of the perimeter completely open and significant openings on the remaining walls.”
He says an area will also be considered enclosed if it is fitted with plastic blinds or moveable walls.
If your alfresco area is deemed to be more than 50 per cent enclosed, then it is considered by Energy Safe Victoria to be ‘indoors’. This means it will have be subject to a number of building requirements (Standard AS/NZS 5601), including:
The BBQ will need to be re-certified for use in an enclosed alfresco. This means it will need to have robust manufacture, a flame failure system, must be plumbed in (rather than using a bottle), have a readily accessible isolation valve and be installed on a non-combustible surface (such as stainless steel, tiles, brick or concrete)
It will require installation of a range hood or extraction fan
The cooktop will have to have an interlock mechanism that ensures the extraction fan automatically turns on when the BBQ is being used.
“If your area is considered enclosed then a suitable exhaust canopy will need to be installed with a number of requirements that you should check with your trade professional, such as ensuring the range hood or exhaust fan is installed at the correct height above the cooktop and making sure burners have enough clearance from surrounding walls and surfaces.”
Installing a range hood or extraction fan will also help to keep excess cooking gases and fumes from being blown back into your house as soon as there’s a light breeze.
For those going down the DIY route, Kieran says appliance installation is best left to the professionals, particularly when there are multiple trades involved – such as plumbers (or licensed gas fitters) and electricians. Whether you're looking for a quote or help installing your kitchen, you can find qualified trades through RACV Home Trades.
What materials should you consider for an outdoor kitchen?
Being outdoors, your kitchen will not only be more exposed to changes in temperature, rain, moisture and even damage from the sun, but also to slips and spills from all the rad garden parties you’ll be hosting once it’s built.
“All of these factors should be considered when selecting surfaces and materials to ensure they do not deteriorate or discolour with time,” Kieran says.
You’ll also need to ensure any cooking surfaces comply with building standards.
“For example, you wouldn’t put a gas barbecue on a timber bench.”
What is the best layout for an outdoor kitchen?
Much like when planning an indoor one, choosing the best layout for an outdoor kitchen or barbecue area will laregly be determined by your space and how all-out you want to go with appliances.
If you're building your kitchen in a spacious al-fresco area, an L-shape can work nicely - you can put the barbecue or grill plate on one side and then have your fridge and any additional storage, as well as a sink or preparation area on the other side. You can even add some bench stools along the free side to keep your cooking social. If you've got the space, go one further and make it a U-shape.
If your space doesn't allow for an L-shape, the single-wall design is a classic for a reason. It's simple, requires less room and can be applied to most settings. A single-wall kitchen can take up as much or as little room as you need and works well in more compact areas, such as a balcony or apartment settings.
Depending on your set-up, a galley-style kitchen can also function beautifully outdoors. You can have all your cooking appliances on one side, then a separate island bench for cabinetry, a sink, fridges, or anything else you might dream of including (hello, pizza oven). It also means you've got plenty of bench space to prep or serve food.