If you want to put a grill on your deck, there are specific criteria you need to keep in mind to avoid health and safety issues. One of the most critical questions is the amount of clearance you need for the grill on your deck.
A general guideline for a grill is.
A grill needs to be placed ten feet away from a house. Sufficient clearance to ensure that there is no possibility of your house catching on fire from the grill. A grill should also have adequate clearance from combustible material on your deck. The amount of clearance is determined by the grill fuel and design.
Care should also be given for sufficient clearance of smoke from your house and people.
But let’s dive into more specific examples to help us understand how much clearance your grill needs. Making knowing where to place your deck grill easier.
Deck Grill Clearance
Grill manufacturers recommend placing rolling grills 24 to 36 inches (600-900mm) from any walls or surfaces. The American Fire and Safety Commission increase this to 10′ or 120″ (3m). The distance helping to ensure no fires are started, or combustible items explode. In addition, there is enough room for the smoke and the heat to dissipate and not cause more problems.
But the type of fuel impacts clearance.
Amount of Clearance of Grills Base on Fuel
Three different types of grills impact the amount of clearance they need and how far they need to be from flammable things.
Charcoal Grill Deck Clearance
A charcoal grill should not be used on a wood deck. If you live in a windy climate, the charcoal can blow out of the grill onto your wood deck, making it possibly catch fire. This can lead to severe damage. A charcoal grill can be used on a concrete or brick patio. Which will not catch fire even if the wind is blowing.
But in regard to a charcoal grill on your deck.
Weber, a leader in grills, puts it best.
“The grill must not be used on combustible surfaces (wooden or composite decks or porches).”
Well, that clears that up. If you love grilling with charcoal, you shouldn’t be doing it on the deck.
Charcoal shouldn’t be used on a deck, both composite and wood. It’s just too easy for a coal to fall and burn or melt the decking. Or worse, a gust of wind tipping the entire grill over spilling burning coals all over your deck, not giving you a fighting chance to save your deck.
Not that you want to be grabbing red hot coals with your bare hands.
Safely on a concrete patio, how close can a charcoal grill be to the deck?
Charcoal Grill Clearance Examples
This is fairly straightforward.
|Charcoal Grill Model
|Weber 22-Inch Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
|Napoleon Charcoal Professional Cart Grill
Both Weber and Napoleon agree a charcoal grill needs to be a minimum of 5′ (1.5m) from the deck.
The length of a Hockey stick. If you can hook the grill from the deck, it’s too close. Make sure there are no hooking penalties called on your grill.
Gas/Propane Clearance Examples
Gas or propane grills by design and better heat control allow for smaller clearance. Gas grills can also be safely used on decking both wood and composite.
But I do recommend placing it on a grill mat. For added protection from heat and grease. Wood decking is not as particular but for composite, you need to use a grill mat compatible with composite. Click the link to learn more about grill mats safe for composite decking.
For gas grills, the required clearance isn’t as clear. Varying between models and size.
Gas grills may require as much as 30″ (762mm) clearance but as little as 7″ (178mm).
Below are a few examples of clearance of popular propane barbeques.
|Gas Grill Model
|Napoleon Rogue 500
|Napoleon Rogue 425
|7” (180 mm)
|Regal™ 490 Pro
|Kenmore Elite 600 Series Gas Grill
If yours isn’t listed, check your owner’s manual. You can often Google it if you have misplaced yours.
Not always, but generally 2 feet clearance will protect everything around a gas grill. Occasionally a little more such as with Regal 490 Pro.
With composite, vinyl and wood railing, a little added protection can also help to prevent damage. Which is easy enough with a wool blanket draped over the railing. Wool has amazing thermal and fire-resistant properties.
But for your house and anything else combustible, make sure you give enough space to prevent damage. Vinyl siding is one of the easiest to melt and damage. Always give it a little extra clearance.
Windows are also included in the list of items that need a little extra clearance. Smoke glazing is nice, but not when it’s from your barbeque.
Wood Pellet Grill Clearance
Wood Pellet grills are wonderful for a distinct fire taste. Brining any grilling to the next level.
The challenge is inconsistent with required clearance.
“Maintain a safe distance between your grill and any combustible materials.”
Now that is not very helpful. Fortunately, other brands are clearer.
|Wood Pellet Grill
|Side and back Clearance
|Pit Boss Sportsman 820
|TRAEGER PRO 575 PELLET GRILL
|Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett
|Camp Chef SmokePro DLX
|120’ (3 000mm)
Camp Chef goes the standard distance of 10′ (3m) from combustible material. Which is always the recommended clearance if you don’t know.
I was surprised to learn that even a smaller portable wood pellet grill Green Mountain, Davy Crocket needs 24″ (600mm) clearance. I guess fire is fire, hot enough to cook meat, hot enough to burn a deck.
Pit Boss Sportsman 820 requires the least clearance at 12″ (300mm). You can tuck that in tight on your deck. But best not to push it too tight.
Better Safe Than Sorry.
In short except for the Camp Chef and a few other grills not on this list. Wood pellets and gas grills need roughly the same two feet clearance. Three is even safer.
Built-in Outdoor Kitchen Grills
An outdoor kitchen typically involves a grill. They are usually built into either a stone, concrete, or wood stand, which is its biggest advantage. Non-combustible material surrounding the grill. Adding design to the deck while protecting it from the grill.
You still need clearance even from non-combustible material. Commonly 8″ (200mm) for the lid can fully open. A small essential space between the grill and the backsplash.
Built it right, and you will have little to worry about.
Overhead Clearance for Grills
Short answer don’t.
Smoke needs an open sky to dissipate away from your deck and you. A roof or awning covering a grill may be great for shade but is not good for grilling as the smoke has no place to go. Making grilling under a roof unsafe and unenjoyable.
But don’t take my word for it.
“Do not operate unit under overhead combustible construction”
This is pretty standard for all grills, from charcoal to propane. A grill should not be used under anything that can burn.
I did find one exception, and surprisingly is the Traeger Pro,
“When operating this grill under overhead combustibles, a MINIMUM of 40 inches (102 cm) is required”
The Traeger is 53″ (1347mm) to the top of the chimney. Add 40″ (1020mm) gives you a safe overhead height of 93″ (2363mm). Most pergolas rafters are higher than this giving you permission to fire up Traeger pro smoker under your pergola.
But this is the exception, not the rule.
The rule is no grilling under an awning or any enclosed roof. Trapped smoke and Carbon monoxide are just too dangerous.
The exception may be a pergola, with its open rafters allowing smoke to escape. But if built from wood or composite, the potential for a fire is still high. Not the same, but a gas fire pit can be used under an open pergola if there is sufficient clearance. Except for the amount of clearance required for a raise, grill fire makes it impractical.
You are better to pull the grill out into the open. Enjoy the blue sky overhead. Save the shelter for dining under.
Conclusion of Grilling Clearance on a Deck
The type of grill and fuel determines how much space you need around your grill.
[Always check your grill manual before lighting the grill.]
A charcoal grill should be used on the patio away from the deck. But never on the deck.
Pellet wood-burning grills and smokers can be used on your deck, but the model will determine the required space around the grill.
The same is true with a gas/propane grill. They can be safely used on a deck if sufficient clearance is provided. Often between 2′ and 3′ (0.6-0.9m) but there are some exceptions.
Always protect your decking from grease with a grill mat. For composite decking, use a mat that will protect the decking from grease while not damaging the composite. I have a fuller discussion at Qualities of the Best Grill Mats for Composite Decking.
Wood decking is not as particular, but a quality mat that can be used for composite will also work for a wood deck. Regardless of fuel, grills should not be operated under overhead shelters. Smoke needs someplace to go. Safely grill under open skies with nothing above that can burn