Is It Okay To Grill Under A Covered Porch?


I would grill under this covered porch

I remember a few years back when I invited some friends over for a labor day barbecue. My wife and I had just purchased a new house and really wanted to break it in with a major celebration. We invited our friends and started getting excited about the big day.

Well, the big day arrived and one of my wife’s friends brought her new boyfriend. Of course, we were happy to offer our hospitality to him and help him feel welcome.

However, as I’m preparing the burgers to put on the grill, he chimes in: “You know, you shouldn’t grill under a covered porch like that.”

I responded “Oh, it’ll be fine. It’s just an awning and this is a gas grill.” But he was adamant and would. not. stop. talking about it. Finally, I moved the grill 3 feet just so he would shut up.

Later on that night, I started thinking about it. Was Larry right? Is it safe to grill under a covered porch? I did what any Captain would have done — I researched it.

Now, a glass of whiskey in hand, I’m happy to report my findings. Read on, and let’s set the record straight.

Please note: every situation is different. The following advice is not a substitute for consulting a professional!

Is It Safe To Grill Under A Screened-In Porch?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: You definitely don’t want to grill with charcoal in a screened-in porch.

The smoke might not kill you, but it will leave everything smelling like char. Not only that, charcoal grills can burn way hotter than their propane cousins, increasing the risk of fire.

You probably can grill on a screened-in porch with a propane grill, but you probably don’t want to.

The burning gas could permanently stain your ceiling. Additionally, there may be local rules, regulations, and ordinances that prevent a grill from being used inside a screened-in porch.

Even with proper ventilation, you still run the risk of an uncontrolled grease fire. So I would avoid using either type of grill on a screened-in porch if it were me.

But of course, I didn’t have a screened in porch. I had an awning.

Is It Safe To Grill Under An Awning?

An awning is a bit of a different story.

Air flows much better without the restriction of the screen. This means you may be able to get by grilling (even with charcoal) underneath an awning as long as you have proper clearance (9+ feet). Even though you can, extreme care should still be taken.

Similar to a screened in porch, the burning gas and charcoal could stain your ceiling over a long enough time period. Flame-ups, sparks, and grease fires could also be a lot more damaging under an awning than open air. Uncontrolled grill fires are dangerous under any circumstances, but are exponentially more problematic with a structure overhead.

For that reason, you should keep an inspected fire extinguisher nearby, as well as a spray water bottle to handle flame-ups and sparks. However, even with precautions, grilling under an awning is still more dangerous than grilling under nothing at all.

The Captain did take all precautions, and like usual, I was prepared for the worst. I had my spray bottle and I had an inspected fire extinguisher nearby (this is the one I use — affiliate link). However, accidents can and do happen, even with the best of intentions.

In retrospect, Larry just wanted to protect the house and party guests. He might have had a bad experience with a grill under a covered porch, who can say?

Protection tip

Now, you’ll want to make sure you do all you can to reduce the likelihood of accidents. This includes heat damage or grease stains on the surface of your porch/deck. A grill pad can do wonders to keep your outdoor area clean and safe.

I’m including the one that I use just below.


GrillTex Under the Grill Protective Mat

I can’t say enough about this fantastic mat. I’ve been using it for a few years with no problems at all. My deck is very thankful, as the pad helped prevent many unfortunate grease accidents.


Is It Safe To Grill Under A Carport?

A metal carport is very similar to a patio/awning setup, so the same rules apply here. You might not care as much about staining the ceiling of a carport though, so it’s an even better option than an awning. If the weather starts looking stormy, it can be a great place to post up and grill some burgers.

How Far Should A Grill Be From Your House?

Regardless of which area you choose, you should still make sure that your grill is far enough away from your house as to not cause a problem. Most grill manufacturers will tell you to keep a minimum of two feet from your gas grill. You should keep an even wider berth for both charcoal grills and portable propane grills.

In fact, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends you place the grill at least 10 feet from any standing structure (source).

Update: Can You Grill Under A Tree?

backyard oak tree
This isn’t Mary’s tree, but it sure is gorgeous.

Mary Allen of Fort Worth, TX emailed me and asked the following question:

Hey Captain, I’d like to grill underneath an old oak tree in my backyard. Is this safe?

Mary Allen, Ft. Worth, TX

This is starting to get a bit repetitive. Yes, you can grill under a tree as long as you follow the proper precautions. Make sure there are no dry leaves nearby or any low hanging branches that could catch fire. And still keep a fire extinguisher / spray bottle of water handy. You should be prepared to say goodbye to the grass underneath the grill, though.

And next time, invite the Captain for some of that Texas BBQ!

Anything Else?

Do you all have any questions about where you can grill? I’m happy to do the leg work and figure it out for you! And Larry, if you’re reading, thanks for making sure the Captain was being as safe as he could be. I truly appreciate it!

Captain

I'm Chuck (the Captain). I'm passionate about my outdoor space and love sharing my experiences with the world at large. I want Captain Patio to become the best place on the internet to find, share, and learn about all things patio-related. When I'm not keeping up my content schedule, I'm spending time with my wife and two kids (usually on my patio!).

18 thoughts on “Is It Okay To Grill Under A Covered Porch?

  1. Hey I have a house down by the water in little egg harbor township nj…the house is up on pilings 8ft in the air with plenty of airflow underneath…I was thinking of setting up my gas grill smoker and flat iron underneath vs of building or buying a grill canopy…do you think it’s safe enough to grill underneath my house…

    1. I’m not an expert on those types of houses, but I’ve seen folks regularly store their grills under houses on pilings. I’d probably move the grill out from underneath the house first, that’d make me nervous. And keep a fire extinguisher handy!

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  3. I have a balcony on the third floor of an apartment complex. It’s covered (roof about 10 ft up, didn’t measure it but it seems like more than twice my height and I’m 5’2”). I really want to get a small gas grill for the space. Do you think it’s safe?

  4. Hi,
    My downstairs neighbors bought a traeger electric grill. Somehow the smoke is getting in my 3rd floor unit. Everything is buttoned up tight. Yet, i am startled awake thinking the building is on fire. How do i breathe easy in my apt with out alienating my good neighbor?

    1. That’s a hard one. I’d bring it up with your neighbors, as they might not know what they’re doing. Chances are that if you’re experiencing it, other neighbors are experiencing it too. And the other neighbors may not be as understanding!

      If the problem persists, I’d check with the building manager/landlord to see if any lease parameters are being broken.

      In terms of removing the smell from your space, I’m not exactly sure. We run an air purifier in our room to get rid of the smell of fire pits to varying degrees of success.

  5. ihavea 2 burner char broil propane grill on my screened in deck the grill will be a minumum of 3 feet from any wall or screen the top of the grill is 4 feet from the ceiling i think the ceiling is fiberglass do i run the risk of the heat melting the fiberglass or flareups there is also a ceiling fan adjacent to the grill thanks,

    1. I would avoid using the grill on a screened-in deck. If there are flare-ups, you could be in serious trouble.

  6. Hello Captain!

    My backyard has a metal/wood porch covering, and my backyard is too small to set the grill up in. Is it safe to use a charcoal grill under it?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Lorinda! Unfortunately, I cannot recommend doing that. It’s much harder to control a charcoal burn and it makes me nervous to have charcoal grills so close to a standing structure. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news!

  7. Hi!!

    My husband wants to buy a gas grill and grill under our lanai/ covered patio house area. Is this safe?

    Thank you!

    Tonya

    1. Gas grills are typically safer than their charcoal counterparts. However, without seeing the area I can’t say for sure. I would advise you to stay on the safe side!

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