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Barbecue island.

Build an attractive station for your portable gas grill

Here's a way to enjoy the advantages of a built-in barbecue at a fraction of the cost: a multifunctional, freestanding "parking structure" for the ubiquitous roll-around gas grill. Covered in gauged green slate tiles, the garage has the look of a built-in. In addition to masking the barbecue's frame, wheels, and propane tank, the shell provides a buffet counter and a storage cabinet for cooking supplies. The dimensions of the island can be adjusted to fit almost any portable barbecue; the amount of materials required will vary accordingly.

For safety, the gas grill industry recommends a 24-inch clearance between a propane-fueled grill and any combustible material (such as walls made of wood). For that reason, we used a noncombustible framing material--steel studs--covered with fire-resistant concrete backerboard.

The steel studs proved surprisingly easy to work with. Available at building supply centers, they're competitive in price with wood (about $2.15 for a 10-ft. 2-by-4) but are much lighter. Use a circular saw with a composition metal-cutting blade ($4 for a 7-in. blade) to cut them to size. The vertical studs slip into horizontal U-shaped channels used for the top and bottom of the frame. Self-drilling screws, designed for steel framing, hold the pieces together instead of nails.

The backerboard (sold in the tile section at home centers) is available in 3- by 5-foot panels and in 1/4 and 1/2-inch thicknesses. We used the lighter weight 1/4-inch panels on the sides and covered the top with the 1/2-inch panel. The backerboard can be scored and snapped, or cut with a saw blade designed for cutting concrete and stone.

TIME: Three to four days

COST: About $110 for steel stud and backerboard; $200 for tiling


For shell

* Six 10-foot-long, 3 5/8-inch-wide steel studs

* Three 10-foot-long steel channels

* One 1-pound box of 3/4-inch self-drilling metal screws

* Four 3- by 5-foot sheets of 1/4-inch backerboard

* One 1-pound box of backerboard screws

* One 3- by 5-foot sheet of 1/2-inch backerboard

* 4 feet of 1-by-12 rough-sawn red-wood for door

* Paint or gray semitransparent stain for door (optional)

* Two 4-inch galvanized metal or zinc strap hinges (with screws)

* Wood screws for door

* Galvanized metal door pull

* Cabinet door catch

For tile surface

* 54 1-foot-square slate tiles

* Mortar

* Two 7-pound boxes of sanded grout

* Tile and stone sealant


For frame

* Tape measure

* Circular saw with wood, metal, and (optional) stone/cement blades

* Drill with Phillips head bits

* Framing square

* Paintbrush

For tiling

* Tile saw (from tool rental store)

* Bucket (for mixing mortar, grout)

* Rubber gloves

* Rubber-backed trowel

* Bag of plastic spacers

* Notched trowel with 1/4-inch teeth

Construction of shell

As shown in "Top View," four rectangular stud walls screw together to form a P-shape. To stiffen the frame and support the backerboard for top and floor, we spanned it with cross-braces formed by steel studs turned flat.

1. Measure the length and width of your grill, plus the height of its work surface. For adequate clearance, the "parking space" should be 2 inches longer and wider than the grill itself. For the front side (A), add 24 inches for the storage end. The finished counter height should be level with the barbecue's work surface, so account for the thickness of tile and the top piece of backerboard when determining the frame height.

2. Cut the studs and channels for A, B, and 2 Cs. The door for the storage compartment goes on A. Its opening has a horizontal header flanked by pairs of studs, their solid sides facing out. Each pair measures 3% inches from outside edges--the width of a stud. Add a third stud next to the inner pair to create blocking to which you will screw the back panel of backerboard.

3. Butt and screw both Cs to A so the outside edges are flush with outer edges of the pairs of studs flanking the door opening; add B, as shown in "Top View."

4. To provide surfaces for attaching the floor, cut pieces of scrap channel to fit between all the studs that frame the bottom of the storage area. Offset them upside down over the bottom channels; attach with screws through the sides.

5. For cross-braces, cut four 193/4-inch-long pieces of stud material. Cut 1 1/2-inch slits along the creases on both sides of each end to create two tabs (see detail above). Equally space these crosspieces, fold tabs out, and screw in place.

6. Cut 1/4-inch backerboard to cover the sides; secure to the frame with backerboard screws. Cover the top and floor with 1/2-inch backerboard (notch bottom to fit around studs). Screw in place with backerboard screws.

7. Cut the wood door to fit opening; paint or stain. Attach hinges to studs with metal screws and to face of door with wood screws. Add handle and catch. Install the door after you finish the exterior.

Note. The basic shell is complete and light enough to be carried to the final location.

Covering the frame

If you live in an area subject to freezing, be aware that the backerboard manufacturers cannot guarantee that the tiles will remain adhered. Consider covering the sides of your garage with stucco, cement-based siding panels, or artificial stone, or create a board-and-batten look with backerboard. You could also have a top of galvanized sheet metal fabricated at a sheet-metal shop.

Many tiles are appropriate for outdoor uses (see "Patio Tile Primer," May 2000), but edging and corner tiles can add considerably to the cost. We selected slate tile because, when it has been cut, the visible edges look attractive.

How to tile

Plan the tile layout before you mix the mortar.

To minimize tile-cutting, place whole tiles at each corner of the top of the storage cabinet, overhanging sides by the thickness of the tiles so they serve as a cap for the side tiles. Calculate the size of the tiles that must be cut to fit between the whole ones, allowing for grout lines. Plan the placement of the tiles on the remainder of the top. Continue the grout lines from the top surface down the front (some trimming of tiles may be required); an attractive option is to offset the middle band of tiles (see photo, page 136). Plan the layout of the remaining vertical surfaces; leave a 1/8-inch gap at the bottoms.

When you're sure your plan is correct, cut all partial tiles with the wet saw, double-checking fit as you go. Mix mortar, then set tile in mortar in stages, starting with the top. Use the plastic spacers to create even grout lines and to hold the bottom band of tiles off the ground. When mortar is dry, mix and add grout. When grout is dry, seal.
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Title Annotation:portable gas grill station instructions
Author:Whiteley, Peter O.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2000
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