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Outdoor kitchens: Tools & tips to do it yourself

Outdoor kitchens are one of the hottest trends for exterior home improvements in 2014, a survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects reveals. If you’re considering creating a backyard kitchen this year, you may be wondering how much of the work you can do yourself in order to get the most out of your budget. Fortunately, many aspects of the job are within the abilities of the average do-it-yourselfer, and resources like rental stores mean you can easily obtain the tools you need to get the job done.

Getting started

Your first step is to assess your outdoor space, decide where your kitchen will be and determine how much area you can dedicate to it. Will you start from scratch, perhaps creating a patio of pavers or building a new deck to accommodate the kitchen? Or will existing structures provide a starting point?

Next, seek inspiration. Resources like Pinterest, YouTube, home improvement shows and outdoor living websites can provide ideas and insight into current design trends in outdoor kitchens. Gathering ideas can help you decide what elements your kitchen must have - such as a multi-burner stove and ample lighting for nighttime entertaining - and what might be on your list of possible features, like a wet bar or built-in seating around the kitchen.

Designing your outdoor kitchen

Once you know where your outdoor kitchen will go and what features you will include, it’s time to start laying out your plans. Plenty of online tools are available to help you design an outdoor living space, including the kitchen of your dreams.

You’ll need to consider many factors, including the dimensions and layout of your outdoor kitchen, materials you will use and how you will landscape around it. Popular building materials include pavers, stone, wood or composite materials, and each imparts its own look to your outdoor entertaining area.

The building process

While most homeowners will have at least some of the tools needed to complete an outdoor kitchen, it’s likely you’ll be missing others. Renting tools through an American Rental Association member store is a cost-effective way to obtain the equipment you need without a long-term investment of money and storage space. To find a rental store in your area, visit

Tool rental can also ease another reality of DIY construction - the ability to work around your schedule and at your own pace. Renting tools means you can get what you need when you need it, without having large or expensive pieces lying around when not in use.

Give yourself plenty of time to work on your outdoor kitchen, and don’t be afraid to seek help. Friends and family can pitch in on basic tasks, but some higher-level jobs - such as installing a gas line for a built-in range - may require professional help.

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