questionsdoes anyone use a charcoal grill on a wood deck?

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I used to use portable gas and charcoal grills on (mostly redwood) picnic tables with a heat shield I made from titainium alloy (timet) backed by about 3/4" of wood panelling in a frame that kept it all together. The frame was about ten inches longer and wider than the largest of the grills I used it with. I'd periodically soak the wood panelling in water.

The tables were never damaged and I used it on a plastic table (with a metal frame) a few times, also without damage.

You can use sheet metal if you cannot get titainium alloy (my father worked in the aerospace industry so I had it laying around).

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Purchase a grill mat. Target has them for about $17 as well as most of the home DIY stores and Cabela's.

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We also have a grill mat. Been using it and our grill on the deck since April with no issues.

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My dad has his grill on the wood deck with no protection whatsoever. It's been like that since 1994 with no incidents yet, but I wouldn't recommend his method :)

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I've used charcoal on a wooden deck before with no problems at all.

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I've done it in the past, but it is illegal in my current location: if the police (or nosy neighbors) see you the fine can be up to $1000.

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Haven't grilled myself, and this is not really answering your question, but be careful. I, of course, know nothing about the setup of your deck, but the general rule is that you have to be at least 15 ft away from any part of your house or roof to avoid possibly setting the house on fire. We've had a lot of house fires in my area recently because of people grilling too close. (Which is why it annoys me that so many decks I've seen recently are built by licensed contractors with "grilling areas" basically in a corner right next to the house) [/rant]

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Worth looking into the city ordinances. In Atlanta, you can have an open-flame grill on your deck if it's a single-family dwelling, but not if it's a condo. Then it has to be, as @kalira mentioned, x-number of feet away from the building.

Your mileage may vary.

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As previously mentioned, play it safe and use a grill mat. Very inexpensive fire insurance.

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I have a firepit on my wood deck. The belly of it is only about 8" from the deck. The first time we lit it up I kept checking the heat underneath, but the deck stayed relatively cool, comfortable to the touch. My deck is painted white (it has that fancy solar reflective coating that keeps it cool) and we have used the firepit many times and it has left no mark on the deck. Of course it is never left unattended.

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@lavikinga: I saw them at Big Lots yesterday, I think they were $8.

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@moondrake: Thank you, and I'm OFF to Big Lots!

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Thanks for everyone's input. Now, one more question. Those of you who use pads or metal or whatever, does your deck stay wet underneath it after a rain? Just wondering how that affects the wood. Also, for others reading this, many of the mats say "for gas grills only," so beware.