6 Tips and Tricks for Grilling on a Deck

Built in outdoor kitchen with grill and granite

Your deck often makes the best place for grilling. It’s close to your house, easy to set up a dining area on, and comes with a view. 

And in our experience, many homeowners agree!

We regularly chat with our clients, and it’s very common to hear questions or stories relating to grilling on a deck. But that’s no surprise considering 7 out of 10 adults in the U.S own a grill or smoker (Hearth, Patio & Barbeque Association).

So for all the grill lovers out there, we’re going to share our top six tips and tricks for grilling on a deck. These ideas will keep you safe, keep your deck in top shape and help you get the most out of the experience. 

1. Safe Setup for Grilling on a Deck

There’s no single perfect setup for your grill. The convenience of being close to your guests and the kitchen is something to consider, but even more important is safety. 

You’ll want to keep your grill away from all combustible materials. Grills get extremely hot, and typically more heat escapes from the back than the front. So if you aren’t careful, it’s easy to end up doing damage without realizing it. 

The CPSC recommends keeping your grill at least 10 feet from your house or any building, but it’s a good idea to practice that with anything that can easily catch fire on your deck. 

Here are some examples to be extra cautious about:


Most deck railings will melt or char if you place your grill too close and crank up the heat for too long. We’d recommend putting your grill at least 6-12 inches away from your composite railings or posts (farther for wood railing). One exception is if all of your deck railing is made of aluminum or another metal; in that case, you don’t need to be too concerned. 


Unfortunately, the siding of your home is another material that’s easy to damage while grilling. But much worse can happen than a bit of melting, it can catch on fire and quickly become dangerous. Not to mention resulting in an expensive repair. 

Deck Furniture

Similar to your siding, the heat from your grill can melt, scorch or catch your deck furniture on fire. However, it will largely depend on the material. Always use your best judgment because your furniture is a staple item to your deck, and any damage can easily draw the eye. 

Tree Branches

Grilling under trees can be problematic for a couple of reasons. The main one is you don’t want to take the chance of catching one on fire. And two, you probably want to avoid having stray leaves or branches falling onto your grilling steaks. 

2. Watch for Spills 

If you spend a lot of time grilling on your deck, then you know the odd grease spill is inevitable. The quickest solution is to put a splatter mat underneath your grill to protect your deck from grease and food stains. 

However, a splatter mat isn’t as necessary if you have a capped composite deck, such as Trex. Grease and food won’t stain capped composite decking as long as it’s cleaned up within a week.

The best practice is to watch for any spills, regardless of whether you have a mat or not. And make sure to clean up any mess sooner rather than later to keep your deck clean and looking new.

3. Clean After Each Use

The safety precautions don’t end when you’re finished grilling. To keep your grill in good condition and help avoid grease fires, you should clean your grill regularly. 

A good pair of cleaning brushes will do the trick. But not all are created are equal, and we recommend you invest in a set of high-quality grill brushes. The cheaper options are more likely to shed and leave slivers of steel behind on your grill, which won’t be the best to ingest on your next meal! In our experience, a cedar wood grill scraper works wonderfully.

4. Add a Cocktail Rail

A cocktail rail (also known as a drink rail) is a popular railing upgrade that’s convenient for social gatherings. Your friends and family can stand and socialize across your deck and have an easy spot to place their drinks on the railing. 

But cocktail rails can also be helpful if you’re grilling on your deck. Having that extra spot to put down plates or your own drink is a real bonus if you have a lot to cook.

5. Add a Built-in Gas Line

Running out of propane and having to switch tanks is a minor inconvenience. But, it’s still worth finding a solution. Such as having a plumber come out and install a built-in natural gas line.

While it may seem like too much of an investment for some, it’s a very beneficial upgrade to consider if you find yourself grilling a lot in your spare time. And keep in mind, in many localities natural gas is about 75% cheaper than propane gas.

6. Set Up a Tilting Umbrella

You’ve safely positioned your grill away from your house, furniture, and low trees. But now you’re openly exposed to the sun, and during those long summer days, it can be blinding as much as it is hot. 

Here’s a tip! Add a tilting umbrella to your deck to give you some shelter. But make sure it’s a safe distance away from the grill (and not over it). You can adjust it to block the light from shining in your eyes during sunset or provide you a bit of shade when you’re grilling earlier in the day. 


Hopefully, these six tips and tricks will be useful when you’re setting up and using your grill on your deck. Our goal in sharing these best practices is to keep you and your guests safe, while also helping you use your deck to its fullest potential.

What’s Next?

Are you in the market for a new deck? Let’s chat!

At Custom Deck Creations, we work with clients to design and build composite decks across Southeast Michigan. We handle the entire process from getting permits to inspections and can complete your project in as little as a few weeks. 

Feel free to check out some of our most recent builds and get in touch if you have any questions or want to get started!

If you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend who loves to grill! If you want to keep reading, check out these posts next:

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