Can You Use A Charcoal BBQ On A Deck?

Have you ever wanted to use the decking in your garden to host a BBQ? Perhaps you have a small garden that is all decking? In this article, we look at whether or not it’s safe to BBQ on decking.

You can use a BBQ on a deck, as long as you follow a few precautions. To stay safe, you should use a grilling mat, correctly clean your BBQ between sessions and take the weather into consideration. Without these measures, you could damage your decking or even set it on fire.

These are the main safety procedures, but there are more. Let’s discuss the additional options, while also looking at the potential dangers of BBQing on decking.

Can You Use A Charcoal BBQ On A Deck?

Is It Safe To Use A Charcoal BBQ On A Wooden Deck?

If you start to cook on wooden decking, you are taking a huge risk. This is a fire hazard as a gust of wind could cause ash to blow onto the wood below. In addition, you could accidentally drop hot coals onto the decking when topping up your BBQ.

Using a BBQ on a wooden deck can be done safely, by implementing some of the precautions listed below.

How To Grill Safely On A Wooden Deck

If you are planning to use a charcoal BBQ on a deck, implementing as many safety methods as possible is crucial. Without them, you are putting yourself, your guests and your property in danger. Here are a few things you could consider to make the gathering safer for everyone involved.

Grill Mats

Purchasing a grill mat could be the most effective way of preventing a deck fire. The purpose of a grill mat is to provide a safe space for any ash to fall. As they are completely fire resistant, grill mats make the perfect barrier between the BBQ and your wooden decking.

Simply roll out the mat, move your grill on top and begin cooking. With many different sizes to choose from, they are suitable for virtually any patio. Keep in mind that you can always buy multiple mats and layer them accordingly.

BBQ Maintenance:

Maintaining your BBQ by cleaning it regularly is essential for safety. It will also make your food taste better and less burnt. By removing the leftover fat and grease from the grills and other areas, you will be reducing the risk of flames suddenly flaring up. Here are a few places to clean on your BBQ, alongside some useful tips:

The Grill Grates

Grill grates will likely contain large amounts of fat, which can trigger a sudden burst of flames when cooking. Of course, it will also have an impact on the taste of the food. There are many specialist products for cleaning grill grates on the market, but soaking in warm soapy water before rinsing will usually do the trick.

The Interior

Remove the excess debris from the interior (Or bowl) of the BBQ, before scrubbing away any remnants. Dispose of or reuse the leftover coals, as these are no longer fit for cooking. The inside can usually be scrubbed clean with water; with or without soap. If you do opt for soap or another cleaning agent, finish with a hose down and let the BBQ dry naturally.

The Lid

Cleaning the inside of the BBQ lid will prevent any leftovers from falling onto the food or coals below. The same applies to the outside, however this can be done less diligently. Again, water will be usually be sufficient for a complete clean. If any other products are introduced, thoroughly rinsing them off with water is essential.

These cleaning methods should be performed after every session. Give the BBQ time to cool down before starting. Most people will clean the grill thoroughly the day after cooking. You could also look to invest in a quality cover for your BBQ, which will help to keep it clean when not in use.

Can You Use A Charcoal BBQ On A Deck?

Grill In The Center Of The Deck

Keeping the BBQ away from fencing, trees, sheds and your home in general is another good idea. This will help to reduce the risk of starting a fire. Some basic guidelines on where not to BBQ are as follows:
  •       Do not barbeque on a porch that is close to your home.
  •       Keep the BBQ 10 feet (or 3 metres) away from anything that could potentially be set alight.
  •       Never barbeque from an apartment balcony.

As well as your surroundings, you should pay attention to what is directly above the BBQ. Heat rises and cooking under a tree, a gazebo, or any enclosed area could end in disaster.

Evaluate The Weather

As a standard rule, you want to avoid BBQing on wooden decking in windy conditions. Ash can easily blow out from the grill itself, landing on the surface below. While a grill mat will cover a portion of the decking, the wind can move ash unpredictably. Really strong winds could even blow lit coals out onto your patio. Both of these situations could have disastrous results.

Lighting The BBQ

When igniting your BBQ, avoid using lighter fluid on the decking. This type of fluid can easily burn out of control, setting fire to the wooden beams beneath. Starting a BBQ on decking is perhaps one of the most dangerous parts of the process. Having a fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby could be something to consider.

If you are cooking for a larger crowd and use a chimney starter for adding more coals, place it away from the wooden decking. The starter will heat up very quickly, ruining your decking in almost no time at all!

Supervise The Flames

BBQ chefs should always do this, regardless of where they are cooking. Keeping an eye on the flames is important for safety. After all, it only takes a couple of seconds for a fire to start. Make sure the coals are kept at a suitable cooking temperature, without being out of control. This can be achieved by using the vents to adjust the air flow, or by lowering the coals.

Can You Use A Charcoal BBQ On A Deck?

Where You Should Use A BBQ

There are various laws related to where you can and cannot barbeque. All BBQs should be held outside, with as many safety measures implemented as possible. Beaches, local gardens, parks and fields are all popular places to barbeque. You can check the legality in advance by using the internet, or by paying attention to signs in the area. If it is legal, then a portable, disposable BBQ is probably best suited to the location.


Regardless of whether you want to utilize your decking, or have no other available space in your garden, cooking should be done with caution. Follow the measures in this article for maximum safety. If you can’t, for whatever reason, holding a BBQ elsewhere is your best bet.


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