How Much Space Is Needed For An Outdoor Grill

How Much Space Is Needed For An Outdoor Grill

Grilling outdoors is one of our great pastimes; it brings visions of great food, company, laughter, kids playing, and good times! Now that you have bought the grill and you’re going to place it, the question arises as to how much space you need.

An outdoor grill, whether built-in or portable, should have at least 10 feet of clearance from the closest structure and should not be positioned underneath an awning or similar overhanging cover. There should also be enough space for people to pass by safely while the grill is hot.

Placing the grill with enough clearance space is extremely important, so we will look at the clearances and other spatial elements you need to consider whether you are buying a grill to install or a portable one; there are some vital considerations for both options.

How Much Space Is Needed For An Outdoor Grill

How Much Space Is Recommended For An Outdoor Grill

Firstly, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission advises a clearance of at least ten feet between the grill and the house or nearest structure.

This spatial recommendation would apply to built-in and portable grills for the same reason. Having a grill in close proximity to structures that are potentially flammable or that could be damaged by heat or smoke is risky, so this should be avoided at all costs.

When it comes to fire, safety is always the priority, and you want to ensure that there is zero risk of ignition should the grill capsize or flame up while cooking. This is why the 10-foot clearance zone is recommended, and it also allows your grill hood to open safely as well.

Many manufacturers of outdoor grills advise a three-foot clearance, but given the temperatures and fuel types like coal, wood, and gas, the more space you have between the grill and the house or structure it’s being placed in, the better.

Another consideration for using the 10ft clearance is that this will prevent smoke from the grill from entering the house. While it smells great coming off the grill, having residual smoke infiltrate your curtains or having that lingering ‘old smoke’ smell in your home is not very appealing.

Providing enough space between the outdoor grill and the house allows proper airflow to dissipate the smoke will make your life and your wife that much happier!

Create Enough Clearance For Safe Traffic Past The Grill

Another consideration regarding the space required for an outdoor grill is creating enough clearance so that people walking past the grill can do so with no risk of contacting the super-hot surfaces.

Ideally, your grill should be placed where there is no foot traffic, like kids or animals playing nearby or near the pool where people are moving past you constantly, as this will reduce any risk of burns through contact or in the event the grill should get knocked over.

When looking at where and how to position your outdoor grill, always consider the safety of people walking past it and look to position the grill in a spot away from the main area where people would congregate or position it with ample clearance from the walkway.

Make Space For The Fuel Source

When assessing the space requirements for an outdoor grill, you also need to consider the space required for the fuel and whether this gas, coal, or wood, these combustible materials also need to be kept at a safe distance.

For gas, the cylinder would often fit next to or even under the grill, and most gas grills have a built-in cavity for gas cylinders which keeps it out of sight and away from the heat.

If you are using wood or coal, you need to allocate space for those fuels and ensure they are not too close to combusting accidentally in the event of burning embers being ejected from the fire or the grill capsizing.

If installing a built-in grill, part of that design should include a designated fue storage area where coal and wood can be placed for easy access , but still far away from the grill to be safe.

How Much Space Is Needed For An Outdoor Grill

How Much Work Space Do You Need For An Outdoor Grill

Aside from the positioning of the grill and clearance from people and structures, you also need to ask yourself how much workspace you need for an outdoor grill.

Here, it would be advisable to have around 36 inches on each side, and if this isn’t possible, try and work in 24 inches on one side and 18 inches on the other. This is because you don’t want to be cramped when trying to cook, with meat, sauces, implements, and drinks all cluttering the working area- you’re going to knock things over and get frustrated.

Whether this is built-in or portable grill, providing enough work space around the grill is crucial from both a safety aspect and convenience.

We have a huge selection of articles on outdoor kitchen cooking and grilling here on Perfect Outdoor Spaces and you can check them out below or try a search.

Keep Your Grill Away From Flammable Materials

Aside from a distance between the house and the outdoor grill, you also need to ensure that you provide enough space to keep the grill away from any additional flammable materials like decking, wooden railings, or wood fences.

Again, apply the ten-foot clearance rule when placing your grill so that there is little or no risk of secondary combustion should embers be blown out of the fire or the grill falls over after being knocked accidentally.

You certainly don’t want to contend with a burning deck or wooden fence because your grill was placed too close, so give any potentially combustible materials a wide berth when setting your grill outdoors.


The amount of space you need for your outdoor grill isn’t rocket science; rather just common sense when working with any high-temperature heat source. While that 10-foot clearance zone should be the minimum distance, this may not always be possible; if not, use the maximum space you have.

Outdoor grilling is fun and rewarding, and having enough space to work in and having peace of mind that no one could get hurt being too close or that nothing else can catch fire while you are grilling makes the experience much more enjoyable!


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