Can I use my freestanding grill as a built-in grill?


Outdoor kitchens are popular right now and it’s not hard to see why. We’ve embraced food culture more than probably any other time in America’s history, we have unprecedented technology to make our outdoor spaces as welcoming and comfortable as our indoor spaces, and most importantly, food cooked outdoors just tastes better. Mark my words, 400 years hence scientists will discover that cooking al fresco causes changes at the molecular level. A built-in grill can make it easier, buuuuut….

That doesn’t change one important problem with outdoor kitchens: the cost. Every drawer and every appliance you add increases the size of your outdoor kitchen, which can then mean more structure, stone or tile veneer, and countertop material. Here are just a few of the items you may want as part of an outdoor kitchen and their cost.


Given that, one area where people try to save money is the grill. After all, they’re perfectly happy with their Weber or Char-Broil or whatever. Can’t they just use that?

Can I take the legs off my existing grill and use it like a built-in grill?

The answer, in almost all cases, is no. With your higher-end grills the manufacturer may offer a cart that also fits your grill head, but most box store/consumer models aren’t built that way. Even if you could remove the legs without sacrificing the strength and integrity of your grill it may not be built appropriately for actually inserting it into an enclosure. You’re talking about a gas appliance. Unless the manufacturer recommends that kind of conversion, I wouldn’t do it.

Can I build an alcove in my outdoor kitchen to fit my grill?

Yes, you can, and I have done this for clients. You’ll want to make sure of a few things first:

  • if your built-in grill has folding sides to act as a work surface you’ll probably want to remove them. Leaving them on, even folded down, causes some big unsightly gaps between the grill and the surround.
  • that said, check your manual to see what the recommended clearances are around the built-in grill. Even if you’re building it into a non-combustible structure like stone and block, you may have airflow requirements so the grill works efficiently.
  • If you’re doing stone veneer, wheel the grill in AFTER the veneer is up. I’ve known people who veneered around the grill and ended up sealing it in.

You should also think ahead to the next grill you think you’ll want and design the cutout accordingly. Most consumer grills in that sub-$1,000 price range only last so long. You won’t want to have to redo a bunch of masonry when it comes time to upgrade!

Can building around my grill look good?

What do you think?

Outdoor Kitchen Haymarket VA

The client just wasn’t interested in spending $2-3,000 on a new grill but he wanted a fun, functional, and gorgeous outdoor kitchen. I think we delivered and kept him on budget.

Looking for an outdoor kitchen that looks great AND works with your budget? Give me a call and let’s start the process. And in the meantime, don’t forget Hank Hill’s advice!


    May 13, 2018 REPLY

    I’m building a masonry/ flagstone outdoor fireplace/ BBQ with sink, fridge etc… I plan on using a char broil four burner s/s free standing grill without the side burner or shelf. I have provided an opening with 1″ of side clearance and 8″ of depth clearance to accommodate a particular model with combustion air vents high and low thru the masonry totaling 144 sq. inches. Do you have an suggestions based on your experience building these.

      May 15, 2018 REPLY

      hey Jim, it’s hard to say definitively without seeing everything, but it sounds like you’re on the right track.

    April 3, 2019 REPLY

    We have a free standing Grand turbo 38″ BBQ, an egg and a free standing 4.5 refrig that would like to in close in an island. island

    April 3, 2019 REPLY

    We have a free standing Grand turbo 38″ BBQ, an egg and a free standing 4.5 refrig that would like to in close in an island.

    April 19, 2019 REPLY

    What material is good for enclosing a commercial charcoal grill made of cast iron on a outdoor kichen island constructed of wool

      April 20, 2019 REPLY

      If the manufacturer doesn’t offer a solution I honestly don’t know. Gas grill manufacturers can provide inserts that act as a thermal break between the grill and a combustible surround, but there’s a BIG difference between the heat from a stainless steel gas grill and a cast iron charcoal one. If you were our client, honestly I’d say that the grill goes into a masonry surround or you need to find someone else. I know it’s not much help, but it’s how I would keep everyone safe.

    January 7, 2020 REPLY

    Hello, We are in the process of building an outdoor kitchen. One question I haven’t been able to answer is, can a typical store bought, free standing grill be built into the outdoor kitchen? I have looked into adding metal studs to support the weight but am I missing something as to how a free standing grill is designed compared to that of one which is advertised as a “built-in grill”. The cost significantly different from a traditional free standing grill at about $400-$500 whereas a built-in grill begin at $1,500-$3,000. Any advice would be appreciated. I’ve considered using an insulated jacket around the grill is there are issues with the heat control.

    Another question would be, do you have any information as to the building code where a built-grill is installed underneath a gazebo? I understand the clearances are important but are there ways to navigate this?

      January 10, 2020 REPLY

      I would really be hesitant to try and separate the grill head of a freestanding grill from the cart. You’re not going to have appropriate mounting points for just making the head part built in, and especially on the less expensive units the cart frame may be part of what provides rigidity to the grill head.

      As far as code issues, best thing is to call your local building office. They can answer specifics for where you’re located as a lot of outdoor kitchen stuff lies in a fuzzy gray area and the local permit store is the final authority.

    March 26, 2020 REPLY

    Found you during some researching I’m doing on a new outdoor kitchen project. I was (still kinda am) a charcoal snob. I gave up on gas about 15 years ago, but recently bought a propane grill for quick weekday dinners, which is where most gas grills excel.

    On my new outdoor kitchen build, I have been agonizing over which grill (or two) I should install. My original idea was to compromise with a Fire Magic 790 with a charcoal/wood chip tray. Looks like an awesome grill! We talked about it and a dedicated Fire Magic 30″ built in charcoal grill is still up for discussion/addition as well. I want no regrets with the new outdoor kitchen!

    My thought is that a dedicated charcoal grill would be better for long/slow cooks, but the gas grill with charcoal would be best for everyday use and could still do indirect cooks as a back-up or for larger get-together, or when we want to skip a charcoal run and just cook.

    Question: Do you know anything about how well the gas grills with charcoal trays compare to a dedicated charcoal grill? Indirect cooking ability? Any thoughts about this type of set-up? Is this overkill? Should I skip a dedicated charcoal grill and just use the gas grill with charcoal? Most of my charcoal grilling is indirect anyway?

    I’m a rudderless ship in a sea of confusion!

    May 9, 2020 REPLY

    Where are you located we live in Southern California

    May 15, 2020 REPLY

    I have a BBQ island 3 piece unit (grill, radiant burner, sink/fridge) with granite tops. It is nice looking and everything has been kept covered so it is in good condition, except the bottom of the grill. The grill is very heavy, hundreds of pounds, and the bottom portion wasn’t covered. Each time I roll it away from my house to use it, I feel the wheel is going to rust out at any time. I have a very small section of vinyl on the top portion of my brick house (grrrrrr), so I can’t use it as is next to the house. I’d like to put a hood or something above the grill so I can keep it in place, but nonetheless, it is going to rust out at some point. This isn’t a typical grill where I think much would be involved to essentially remove the countertop and head of the grill. I’d like to just put all 3 pieces on some wood framing so it has a built in look. I know you said it isn’t quite as simple as removing the head, but since this is a little different animal, wondering if you have any experience with that.

    June 15, 2020 REPLY

    I’m trying to build an outdoor cooking area. My area is covered and I’m using a 12 ft space across the back and I thought about coming up on both sides about 8 or 10 ft. One side being a bar then across the back and up the other side I want a 36” Blackstone and a 28” Blackstone, a 24” Kamado, a 30” grill, 2 side burners and a sink. I’m trying to use wood where I can. Could I just put cement board and tile down under the grill spaces and use wood everywhere else?

      July 29, 2020 REPLY

      Without a drawing it’s hard to say, but I would definitely get all the info I could on recommended distances to combustible materials. The issue isn’t just flame directly on the wood, it’s the heat drying the wood out to where it’s not going to take much to cause it to ignite. Is what you’re doing going to conduct heat through it to the wood?

    July 22, 2020 REPLY

    Hi, if we are building a BBQ surround for our existing BBQ do we require a jacket like built in BBQs do? I can not find the information anywhere. We are using wood with a stone top. Thank you

      July 29, 2020 REPLY

      Your grill manufacturer should have guidelines for distances to combustible structures. I would be hesitant to wrap a wood surround around a grill without any kind of protection. My old boss melted a huge section of vinyl siding off the back of his house by using his grill too close to the wall.

    August 18, 2020 REPLY

    I’m building a masonry/ flagstone outdoor BBQ with sink, I plan on free standing grill , can I separate the side burner and install it separate in the counter.

      March 3, 2021 REPLY

      Not a “Reply”. Just encouragement for someone to answer, as I have the same question 🙂

        March 11, 2021 REPLY

        Ok so I’m new to this site… and I’m sure there will be people that disagree with me… and honestly… that’s fine…. disagree all you want. I am a steelworker and in the engineering field… and can honestly tell you that with the correct planning, correct protection around the grill… and possibly some fabrication you can turn almost any stand up grill into a built in.
        Now does the manufacturer reccomend this? No.
        Can u just plop a grill into a 2×4 frame, put up stone veneer and go….? NO!

        You can however take the actual grill parts (basically the tub where the burner tubes are, hood (everything but the frame that it stands on) and install that. (Please read further for what I did and will be doing… I can not tell you how to do yours… but I can tell you what I did)

        So…I am building a new outdoor kitchen and entertainment area…and wanted a built in grill…but they are EXPENSIVE… so instead I did some research and thinking…
        I purchased a monument bramd 6 burner lp grill and will be installing that into a countertop.
        What I did (and will do) is measure everything and build a frame out of wood for the countertop and leave a gap around the grill so that there is extra room around the bottom of the grill and the sides. I then lined the 2x4s with a cement board (hardibacker from lowes) and THEN I installed 1 inch fire brick to set the grill onto. (Fire brick also surrounds the grill cut out for protection. I can (if needed) drill holes in the fire brick to allow airflow into the grill if needed…and if I need any extra bracing and or support for the grill since it is not on the cart… I can fabricate a stand (or anchor points and bracing) out of metal if needed. I have plans to buy and install built in countertop burners…and may also use the burner that came with the grill. In doing that, you can create a second cut out and line with firebrick and cement board for fire proofing for that burner.

        If that is all done correctly, then when I build the actual counter top (out of poured cement) the coumtertop will be about level amd equal with the grill grates when open. You shouldn’t see any of the fire brick, or any of the frame. (This Fire brick I have is good for 1000’s of degrees and used in high heat applications) this grill will never get THAT hot..and should last basically forever in theory.

        I will then tie all of the burners, grill and a 36″ flat top grill that we are installing also into one gas line and go from there. With the correct fittings and regulator this can all be done off of one connection. If I find that the propane tank gets to be to cold and drops in pressure, I can separate the flat top onto its own bottle to make up for that.

        I hope this helps someone… and again, I can’t amd won’t tell you what to do (I won’t be held responsible for something like that) but I can tell you this is what I have done already and will be finishing up shortly.

          October 12, 2021 REPLY

          I am considering doing the same thing with the same grill. How did yours turn out?

    September 7, 2021 REPLY

    I’m looking to build brick/stone side pillars for a freestanding 30in grill that comes with a side burner, if I do not install the side burner and side shelves will the grill still operate with a 1″ gap on each side? There is a separate gas line to the side burner that i should be able to just leave unconnected and hide inside the housing.

    March 12, 2024 REPLY

    Built in grills are now super expensive. There has to be a way to use a freestanding grill without the legs and sides for my new outdoor kitchen I am building out of cinder blocks and decorative stone.

      March 13, 2024 REPLY

      hey man, you can 100% do what you want, and I’m sure someone with some metalworking skills could stiffen things up to where it could work. But freestanding grills aren’t designed to have the grill head separated and used on its own so I wouldn’t ever do it for a client.

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