OUTDOOR KITCHENS 101
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There are 9 key product & purchase components to understand and consider when comparing outdoor kitchens and fire pits for purchase. Print out this Tutorial using the PRINT PAGE button above to use when comparing products as you shop and ultimately make a purchase decision.
DELIVERY, INSTALLATION and PORTABILITY. Many outdoor kitchens require delivery via a semi tractor-trailer. Once left on your property you must forklift or crane them into position.
- How are you getting the product to your home? What does that cost?
- Once it is at your home, how do you get it into place in your yard? What does that cost?
- Who will put the materials together and make it functional once in place in your yard? What does that cost?
- If you don’t like where it was initially placed, can it be permanently moved? Can it be temporarily moved for different events/functions, or even to a different location outside of your yard?
- When you move, can you take the outdoor kitchen with you? Will you WANT to move it?
NOTE – The Sunset Bay Outdoor® HERITAGE LINE of kitchens and fire pits comes knocked-down (flat in boxes). It can be shipped via UPS, fits in most cars and can be assembled without tools in minutes by one person the same day you get it utilizing our patent pending SLIDE-N-LOC ™ Technology.
FUNCTIONALITY & CUSTOMIZATION. Simply mounting a grill on an outdoor work surface to make your living space look contemporary and finished is a huge part of why people purchase outdoor BBQ islands. However, making your outdoor kitchen as functional as possible with storage doors, drawers, charcoal bins, cooler drawers, a refrigerator and other amenities turns a BBQ area into an outdoor living space. Before you start making decisions about what to buy you need to know exactly how you are going to use the space.
- How much space do you have and/or how much space would you like to fill with outdoor kitchen and fire pit amenities?
- What shape or configuration of an outdoor kitchen do you need to fit into your space?
- Do you have a budget?
- If you want more than you can afford right now, can you expand on the kitchen you get now in the future to complete it?
- How do you envision yourself living in this space? What will you be doing? How will you be entertaining? What kitchen design features do you need to accomplish that?
- What do you need outdoors with you to make this an outdoor living area? BBQ tools, serving platters, spices & seasonings, plates, napkins, silverware, glassware, paper products, cold food storage, charcoal storage, candles, etc.
- Will you just cook and prepare food on the kitchen or serve from it? Will you eat and drink from it? How much counter space will you need?
NOTE – The Sunset Bay Outdoor® product lines have distinct styles that accommodate different needs. Our high-end Tuscany line products are the Rolls Royce of Kitchen designs, and more permanent structures that can be installed using our stock designs or custom creations inspired by your specific needs. Matching Terrace collection fire pits also add to the ambiance you create. Our BBQ pit Fiesta carts are portable versions of the Tuscany line, smaller and more focused on the cooking and prepping part of entertaining. They can also be customized to your specific needs. The Heritage line is our most popular line. It is feature intense, highly portable and functional. It comes in a nearly infinite number of styles and configurations that can be easily customized by you. It can also be added on to as your budget or needs expand in the future. The Heritage line also has matching patio fire pits to accompany the design of your kitchen space. The Metro Classics collection allows condo and apartment balconies to become outdoor living spaces with compact electric cooking surfaces.
COUNTER TOPS. Counter-tops provide three important functions. They are the part of the kitchen on which you will entertain guests that they will see and feel, it is the surface on which you will prepare food and it is a visual focal point that must look clean and neat to give the kitchen or fire pit an attractive look.
- Is the surface smooth and comforting?
- If it breaks or cracks, can it be replaced? You can’t match granite post purchase.
- Granite has a huge propensity to chip or break glasses and plates when used.
- Is the surface non-porous so bacteria from birds, animals and food cannot breed in it? Can it be bleached? This is where you prepare food!
- If scratched, can it be lightly re-sanded and buffed to new with items found in most homes and performed by a homeowner?
- Will it stain? If so, could the stain be buffed out?
- Dark colors can get dangerously hot in the sun – your counter should be comfortable.
- Expensive counter top materials may look prestigious, but have most of the flaws above. There are better materials that actually costs less and perform better.
NOTE – The Sunset Bay Outdoor® product line uses Wilsonart® countertops exclusively. These countertops pass the test of all of the above countertop issues with flying colors.
FRAME CONTRUCTION. The base frame (and fasteners) of any outdoor product take a beating! Heat, cold, wind, sand/dirt, moisture, salt air, snow and ice. Using inferior frame products would be like building the frame of your home with Styrofoam!
- Is the metal used rust and corrosion free? This quickly deteriorates the performance and look of a product, and shortens the product’s life.
- Is the metal used heavy gauge to stand up to the elements and extended use for longevity?
- Will the exposed frame parts scratch or chip? This can quickly destroy the “eye appeal” of a kitchen or fire pit.
- If you live in a salt-air environment you have unique challenges. Will the product hold up, perform and look good for a long time?
NOTE – Sunset Bay Outdoor® product lines utilize .090 aluminum powder-coated extruded frames that are nearly twice as thick as most other manufacturers. The frames are rated for south Florida use, have passed a 4000 hour sand and salt-water spray test and the triple treated coating is virtually scratch and chip-proof under HEAVY USE.
EXTERIOR. The exterior façade of a kitchen or fire pit are what create a luxurious ambiance on your patio. There are many different styles of façades on the market – most of them appealing to the eye. However, there are a few other things to consider along with visual appearance.
- Is your façade weather resistant? Will it stand up to sun fading, salt air and cold?
- What happens if the façade gets hit or scraped? Will there be an obvious flaw from an accidental bump, scrape or mishap?
- Will it mildew if exposed to the right weather conditions?
NOTE – Sunset Bay Outdoor® product lines incorporate façade raw materials that are mildew-free and stand up to south Florida UV sun and salt air exposure. They also hold up in cold weather climates brilliantly! The finish of our heavy-duty aluminum based polyurethane façade panels is SOLID – not a laminate. If it chips or dents the solid material color is still there beneath the scrape or dent.
DOORS & DRAWERS. Doors and drawers on an outdoor kitchen may initially look like great features and conveniences, but you have to realize the “practical” nature of their existence.
- FIRST & FOREMOST – will you actually want to cook or eat with the items you store in them? Mice and insects are notorious for getting into outdoor kitchen drawers, coming in contact with grilling utensils, plates, napkins, silverware, cups, spices and seasonings. They also leave behind feces after they make a nest in or chew into your stored items. This almost completely reverses the convenience factor that lead you to purchase an outdoor kitchen. Is it still convenient if you have to take utensils in the house to wash and bring back out, or need to store serving items in the house and bring them out to eat? You need doors and drawers that are insect and rodent proof!
- Are the drawers vented to keep things from molding or getting mildew?
- Are they sturdy enough to hold what you want them to hold?
- Do they pull smoothly like your inside cabinet drawers or are they clunky and metallic sounding when you use them?
- Are they finished on the inside AND outside?
- Can they be locked to protect stored items?
- Do the drawers fully extend open, or just partially? Full extension drawers allow you to see inside of them, rather than digging in the back from the opening.
- Will the materials used for the slides allow them to pull out with ease after a few years? A little corrosion on drawer slides can make for a frustrating experience using them.
NOTE – The Sunset Bay Outdoor® product line uses all .063 aluminum (the same gauge many companies use on their exterior frames) for doors and drawers. Drawers come standard with weather-stripped bug & dust covers to keep stored items sanitary for use. Vents keep them moisture and mildew-free. Slides are sturdy, rust and corrosion proof, and work smoothly in any climate. Fully finished inside and out, with full extension access. They open and shut softly similar to indoor drawers. They may also be locked to keep stored items safe.
HARDWARE. The unsung heroes of an outdoor kitchen or fire pit, fasteners, are the “Achilles Heel” to most any product and are CRITICAL to quality – especially for those products that live outdoors. Screws, rivets, brackets and braces. Many manufacturers skimp on their fastener quality because they are not seen or featured in a description. Other hardware includes drawer pulls and slides. Both critical to functionality and a potential problem spot for outdoor products.
- Are the fasteners heavy duty use rated?
- Are the fasteners made from 304 Stainless Steel to be free of rust and corrosion?
- Are the hinges on doors adjustable to ensure tight seals and smooth operation, even if the surface the kitchen is on is slightly un-level?
NOTE – The Sunset Bay Outdoor® product line uses all 304 stainless steel to meet the above requirements. Remember “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”! Even the most durable frame is of no use if it falls apart because fasteners fail.
LIFE EXPECTANCY. Owning a product for a long time and ENJOYING a product for a long time are two very different things. As you review the above points and put them all together you should consider a few things that are critically important:
- Functionality – Will it be sturdy and do its job years from now? Will signs of rust, corrosion or deterioration of any parts hinder its functionality or ability to perform like new? Will drawers still pull out smoothly? Will doors open squarely?
- Sanitary – This is where you prepare and serve food and beverages to your family and friends. How clean and sanitary will these surfaces be 5, 10, 20 years from now? Will there be pitting in surfaces that breed bacteria from years of food service and wild birds & animals standing on and “doing their business on it”?
- Visually Appealing – Will you still be proud to show off your kitchen or fire pit 5, 10, 20 years from now? How will it look? It is tough to make a lifestyle investment you will be proud to show off for the first couple years, then want to hide it when it starts to wear down. Pick a product that will hold its visual appeal for a long time.
NOTE – The Sunset Bay Outdoor® product line was strategically designed for the end user, not corporate profits or the bottom line, by the product designer that invented glass fireplace doors in the 70’s. Those products are still around as the industry standard in most every home in the country! We are a “boutique” shop that hand crafts each kitchen or fire pit – no assembly lines here. Quality materials, design and construction always shine through as a solid investment. And don’t forget that every Sunset Bay Outdoor® product is 100% Made in the USA – all construction and materials, right down to the smallest rivet.
COST. Most things in life, at some point, boil down to cost. There are a few different ways to look at REAL cost that bring to life the total ownership cost of something.
- Initial Ownership Cost – The actual price you pay for something at retail.
- Delivery Cost – Shipping/freight to get the product to your home.
- Installation Cost – Getting the product put together in the location you would like it set up.
- Maintenance Cost – Replacing parts as they wear down, become damaged or outlive their durability.
- Non-Use Cost – The cost of having something sitting around your home that isn’t used because it doesn’t work properly or no longer is appealing to show others.
NOTE – The Initial Ownership Cost of Sunset Bay Outdoor® products are right on target with other similar products when actual retail selling prices are compared. Sunset Bay Outdoor® “Heritage” line products ship via UPS (not truck) and/or can be transported in most cars to your home. Sunset Bay Outdoor® “Heritage” products do not need professional installation or several days to set up – one person can set them up without tools in a matter of minutes. Sunset Bay Outdoor® kitchens and fire pits have no maintenance costs – they are highly durable and weather resistant. Non-Use Cost is a Non-Issue with Sunset Bay Outdoor® products – they perform and like new after years of heavy use.