Does Fall mean and end to outdoor entertaining??

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The above home is an estate we completed in 2011.  The owner has multiple levels for outdoor entertaining and relaxing by the pool while soaking in the amazing views of Las Vegas.  The owner also included in this outdoor experience an amazing outdoor kitchen which is easily accessible by those outside and inside.

Building Success 101


Q: What’s the difference between the various grades of stainless steel used on outdoor appliances?


A: The grade of stainless steel indicates the amount of chromium and nickel in it. 304 stainless has more of these elements and is thus more rust-resistant than 430. How to tell the difference? The most common suggestion is to place a magnet on the grille in question: if the magnet sticks, it’s probably 430, which has a higher carbon content. Note that some manufacturers will use 304 on the lid (because that the part most people check) but not the body, so the test should be done in more than one place. These days, 304 stainless is used mostly in high-end grilles, with most of what’s on display at box stores being 430. Also examine the screws: some manufacturers use non-stainless screws, which will rust.

Creating a backyard gathering space that works hard and looks great.

Outdoor kitchens in custom homes in Las Vegas are “cool” even in our summer heat. In a 2012 survey by Professional Builder magazine, a fourth of the respondents named outdoor kitchens as one of their top selling features. There’s no shortage of ideas for these spaces, as a simple online search will show, but the best ones have some important things in common: they’re easy to use, work well in less than ideal weather conditions, and are outfitted with thoughtfully chosen appliances and materials. Here are some of the backyard elements Merlin Custom Home Builders has installed in homes this summer that complimented a new outdoor kitchen: a one-sided, roofed outdoor room with a fireplace and TV.  An open sided roofed cabana for lounging and pool watching.  A fire pit with surrounding seating; a pool just the right size for the kids soccer team to cool off in, a Jacuzzi with lots of jets, latticed walkways to the barbeque, designer sinks, a vegetable garden, and mist systems to keep it all cool.

Come Together

In the best designs, the indoor and outdoor kitchens in a custom home function as one space, half of which happens to be outside. The most basic consideration is placement: putting the two spaces as close together as possible makes it easier for the cook to move between them. Large windows and sliding doors can visually link the spaces, while making it easier to pass food and dishes back and forth. Placing a small pantry in the pathway between the indoor and outdoor kitchens can make dishes and cookware easily accessible to both.

The two spaces can also work together visually. For instance outdoor decking or concrete can be colored to mimic the indoor flooring, similar countertop materials can be used, and the brick or stone used on the grill island can be chosen to match the indoor fireplace.

Extending the Season

There are ways to extend an outdoor kitchen’s usable season.

Many outdoor kitchens lack shelter from the sun or rain. That’s a mistake. Adding a pergola or simple roof will make it usable in all types of weather, and adding lighting or a ceiling fan will make it even more so. A well designed mist system adds curtains of cool, moist air.  Behind those curtains of mist are a transformed and inviting living space.  When the weather gets chilly, a gas or propane heater can extend the season considerably, as can a simple wall or fence placed where it will block prevailing winds. A shelter can also make it possible to add amenities like a flat screen TV.  Outdoor music speakers disguised as rocks blend into the landscape, providing additional atmosphere and can be controlled by your smart phone or iPad.

Choosing Wisely

Marine-grade plywood is a good choice for outdoor cabinets. So are granite, glazed tile, or stone countertops.

The grill is the centerpiece of the outdoor kitchen. Stainless steel is the top choice, but can be expensive: for instance grilles made from #304 stainless steel have been known to last for years in harsh climates. However they do need cleaning and lubrication; even stainless steel will get surface rust. If stainless isn’t in the budget a powder-coated grill will last if maintained properly, but it needs to be made from quality steel. The structure supporting and surrounding the barbeque should be built with CMU (concrete blocks) or steel studs and cement board.  Steve and I have seen a Las Vegas wood framed barbeque catch fire from the grill’s heat. Fortunately a garden hose was all it took to put it out.

The outdoor kitchen in a custom home isn’t really a kitchen without a sink and fridge, but these can be approached differently than for the main kitchen. The sink is a relatively simple choice, but ideally it should be big enough to hold party platters. The performance of outdoor refrigerators can be less than ideal. On a very hot summer day, for instance, even an expensive model may not provide adequate cooling. A simple alternative is to build a stainless steel beverage well into the counter and fill it with ice.

Following these guidelines will support an outdoor space in a custom home that friends and family members can enjoy year round.

Warm Regards,



Steve Jones & Bart Jones
Merlin Custom Home Builders
6408 S. Arville Street
Las Vegas, NV 89118

702.257.8102 – Phone