Living Space: Freshen up your outdoor grill station

By Kathryn Weber
Sept. 20, 2012 at 4:20 a.m.

These before-and-after views show the value of adding a tile counter and backsplash to the grill station.

These before-and-after views show the value of adding a tile counter and backsplash to the grill station.

With summer's heat giving way to cooler temps, this is the perfect time to refresh your outdoor kitchen or grill area.

If your grill is showing the wear and tear of heavy use, a tile backsplash is the perfect way to make your grilling station more attractive and easier to clean.

The challenge with this project was the outdoor grill's countertop and soot-stained backsplash.

Finished with limestone counters and a surround, the grill area was a beauty.

The problem was that while the natural finish was beautiful, the grill counters had absorbed stains and the stucco wall was covered with soot and grease.

Worse, these areas were impossible to clean; feeble attempts only smeared the grease and soot around.

The addition of a simple tile surround fixed that problem - and it looks terrific.

Practicality first

Shying away from grilling because of the mess it creates disappoints everyone, but the prospect of an unsightly mess that's tough to clean keeps many families from entertaining outdoors or using the grill very often. Adding counters and a tile backsplash can make all the difference.

Better still, this simple DIY project saves hundreds of dollars on labor costs.

A dark, mottled tile was chosen because it would hide stains. The sealed porcelain would also be easy to clean. By selecting a dark-colored grout, the backsplash would appear more as a solid surface and the grout would camouflage any soot.

Buying tile adhesive and grout in premixed tubs made the project go faster.


1. Porcelain tile

2. Tile cutter

3. Mastic and grout spreaders

4. Heavy duty mastic tile adhesive

5. Tile spacers

6. Dark gray grout, premixed and sealed


After measuring the tile and selecting the spacing for the wall and counter, the tile was cut and then applied using mastic. If your outdoor grill isn't under a covered area, you may need to use a thin set mortar instead of mastic. Check with a local tile store about your particular needs.

Because the tile was a thin porcelain, it could easily be cut with an inexpensive $20 manual tile cutter. Ceramic tiles can also be cut with a manual tile cutter. Working one 3-foot section at a time, the backsplash was covered with mastic and the tiles applied, starting at the top and working down, using spacers between tiles.

Once the backsplash was covered, the countertop tile was applied. Be aware that tiles have both sealed and unsealed edges, and make sure the sealed edge is placed on the outside edge of the counter. Next, the grout is applied, and then the entire surface is wiped down.

Following the directions from the grout manufacturer, allow the proper amount of time for the tile to cure before using the grill area.

This project cost less than $400, took only two days to complete and made the whole patio look better - just in time for fall cookouts. For more information on how to apply tile, check out resources such as,, and

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



Powered By AffectDigitalMedia