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Modular Outdoor Kitchen: 7 Pros & Cons + the Best Options

By Jayme Muller

July 26, 2022

When considering an outdoor kitchen project… Ease of assembly plays a large role in the decision making process.

In our ever-increasing desire for instant gratification, you don’t want to wait. The ideal outdoor kitchen project is quick, easy, and satisfying.

For this reason, many homeowners gravitate toward modular outdoor kitchens.

But… What are they, exactly?

Allow us to assist you in your research!

By the end of this article… You should have a good idea of (a) what a modular outdoor kitchen is, and (b) if they are a good fit for your project.

Let’s start with the basics.

Quick Links:

What is a modular outdoor kitchen?

As you may have noticed… The term “modular” can be a bit ambiguous.

Depending on if you are a manufacturer or consumer, the meanings can be different.

Let’s review a few definitions for the term:

Modular 

mod·​u·​lar | \ ˈmä-jə-lər \

Adjective

  1. Employing or involving a module or modules as the basis of design or construction.
  2. Constructed with standardized units or dimensions for flexibility and variety in use.
  3. Composed of standardized units or sections for easy construction or flexible arrangement.

These definitions may seem like word salad to you… But it really is quite simple!

The third definition speaks most directly to what we’re talking about here. Essentially, modules are uniform sections that can be arranged to create a full structure.

stainless steel modular outdoor kitchen

The term modular design may make the concept a bit clearer in terms of outdoor kitchens:

“Modular design is the ability to take subdivided parts, modules, or components and independently create, modify, replace, or exchange with other modules or between different systems. Modular design provides a high level of flexibility and the benefit of flexibility in the future.”

Modular systems are the “have it your way” of the design world.

Let’s relate this concept to outdoor kitchens.

You’ll often see listings online for modular outdoor kitchen cabinets. These are the single units you’ll piece together to create a full kitchen.

Do you want a sink? Select a modular outdoor kitchen cabinet with a sink. This unit can then be attached to a unit with a built in grill.

And voila. The connection of these two units will create a modular outdoor kitchen. Of course, you can go much larger than that! This just gives you a general idea. You could string together 10 outdoor kitchen cabinets if you wanted to. That would be a bear of a setup!

Point is, modular outdoor kitchens are flexible in terms of design. You have a predetermined set of cabinets to choose from… And arrange them as desired.

This also makes modular outdoor kitchens easy to install.

Traditionally, patio kitchens require a specialized skillset to install. You can hire a contractor to build from scratch… Or you could go ready-to-finish and assemble it yourself. This requires you to have some construction knowledge.

Not the case with modular options. The pieces are finished already. You just have to put them together.

That’s the story on modular outdoor kitchens. Now that we’ve got that cleared up… You’re likely wondering where you can find outdoor kitchen modular units.

THE New KITCHEN ON THE BLOCK

Check out RTA Outdoor Living's modular outdoor kitchen offering. It's outdoor kitchen magic.

Modular Outdoor Kitchen Brands

The concept of a modular outdoor kitchen is intriguing to you… But where can you find them?

There are a fair amount of companies creating modular outdoor kitchen kits. There are also sub-categories here: pre-built and pre-fab.

Pre-built models are standard cabinetry components configured to make an outdoor kitchen. Brands offering this type are:

Char-Broil modular outdoor kitchen

Mont Alpi modular outdoor kitchen

New Age modular outdoor kitchen

Napoleon Oasis outdoor kitchen

Prefab outdoor kitchen models are islands or carts that can be easily moved due to weight or wheels. These units would not be directly attached. They’ll be placed right next to each other. Brands offering this type are:

Pottery Barn outdoor kitchen

Ikea outdoor kitchen

Thor modular outdoor kitchen

Weber modular outdoor kitchen

You’re probably wondering what materials are commonly used for modular outdoor kitchens.

The vast majority you’ll find are made from either stainless steel or aluminum. Both are extremely lightweight compared to methods using masonry or concrete. Therefore, modular options are easier to handle and move.

You may also see marine-grade polymer and wood being used, although less common.

So, what are the pros and cons of a modular outdoor kitchen?

Let’s discuss.

The Pros and Cons of Modular Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets

Before you make a purchasing decision… It’s essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the product.

Speaking of which… Is a modular outdoor kitchen right for your project?

Maybe! As with anything, it depends.

Lets take a look.

Advantages of an Outdoor Modular Kitchen

"They're straightforward to assemble and don't require a specialized skillset. If you know your way around an instruction manual... You can handle this!"

This is for a couple reasons. As mentioned earlier, materials for modular outdoor kitchens are generally lightweight. This can keep shipping costs down.

Another reason is how they are packed. Most modular outdoor kitchens are flat-packed because they arrive unassembled. This saves space and contributes to the ease of shipping.

They’re straightforward to assemble and don’t require a specialized skillset. If you know your way around an instruction manual… You can handle this!

The ease of assembly also translates to disassembly. Modular outdoor kitchens are relatively easy to transport compared to other options. So if you decide to move, you could choose to bring your outdoor kitchen with you.

We’ve already touched on this in terms of design… But it also applies to future add-ons.

With modular, you can start small. As budget or space allows, you can easily expand your outdoor kitchen in the future.

Yes, you can later expand with other methods… But it’s much more costly with a hefty time investment. In that case, it’s best to have your full outdoor kitchen right off the bat.

If you’re unable to install your complete outdoor kitchen right away… You may prefer to go with a modular option.

As you can see, there are definite advantages to the modular system!

What about the disadvantages?

Disadvantages of Modular Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets

"Generally speaking, that reduced cost comes from low quality materials. Some manufacturers use low grade metals that can easily rust or corrode."

As with anything, there are tradeoffs to the modular system.

For most… The lack of permanence is a large detractor.

We can’t knock the line of thinking here. If you’re going to spend a huge amount of time and money on an outdoor kitchen project… You may as well decide on a solution that is going to last you a long time.

We will admit modular options are slightly better than a grill on a cart. Yet, this does not erase the issue of permanence. Most modular outdoor kitchens simply aren’t designed to last. A lot of the materials are poor quality (we’ll get to that) and prevent this system from becoming a family heirloom.

If you’re looking for an outdoor kitchen solution you can enjoy for decades… Sadly, modular probably isn’t for you.

No matter how you cut it… Modular outdoor kitchens have less perceived value than a more permanent option.

Some homeowners invest in an outdoor kitchen to increase home value. If this is you, you may want to steer away from a modular option.

Of course, this isn’t true of every modular outdoor kitchen! However, this is a common issue.

Modular outdoor kitchens tend to be a more inexpensive solution. There’s a reason for that! The reduced cost has to come from somewhere…

Generally speaking, that reduced cost comes from low quality materials. Some manufacturers use low grade metals that can easily rust or corrode. Same goes with components that can later put the integrity of your structure at risk.

With the way modular outdoor kitchens are constructed… There are ample ways moisture can enter the structure. It’s impossible to keep track of. You’re at the mercy of how much your outdoor kitchen can handle. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to prevent it either.

Alright. Let’s say you’ve weighed the pros and cons. You decide that you want to move forward with a modular outdoor kitchen.

What brand is best?

The Best Modular Outdoor Kitchen Brand

newage modular outdoor kitch

With the wide variety of brands out there… It can be difficult to know what option is best for your outdoor cooking space.

Let us help streamline the process for you.

If we had to pick a modular outdoor kitchen company… We’d go with NewAge.

Why?

NewAge provides the benefits of modular without some of the pitfalls.

Of all the modular outdoor kitchens out there… We find New Age outdoor kitchen cabinets to be better in terms of permanence.

Materials are higher quality as well. NewAge uses 304 stainless steel and aluminum for their outdoor kitchen cabinets and grill sets. These materials are more durable and will be less likely to degrade over time.

NewAge also offers several finishes for their outdoor kitchen modules. They offer stainless steel, aluminum, and wood grain.

We also appreciate that NewAge has staying power. They’ve been in the business for over 10 years with a good reputation behind them.

For downsides… We only have a couple nitpicky things to report.

The standard countertop option is composed of stainless steel. While there’s nothing wrong with this material… It gets incredibly hot in the sun and scratches easily.

It appears there is an option for granite countertops. We would recommend exploring this option if it’s available to you.

Second, the grill warranty is not as robust as we typically like to see. NewAge built in grill warranties last only 10 years. We prefer to see a limited lifetime warranty on built-in grills.

While we think NewAge is a great option for many people… There’s a new modular outdoor kitchen solution on the market.

Introducing MOKs (Modular Outdoor Kitchen System)

At RTA, we fully embrace the concept of modular design. It’s the primary driver behind how we plan, design, and build outdoor kitchens.

That’s why we continue to invest in not only technology… But also into material and construction innovations to simplify your outdoor kitchen project.

In 2020… We had a vision to create and offer an alternative option to the traditional modular outdoor kitchen.

That vision has come to life in the form of MOKs. Allow us to introduce you.

Why MOKs?

In order to fully understand our Modular Outdoor Kitchen system… We have to break down the acronym. There’s actually a lot of meaning hidden there!

Moks·y

The term Moxie means a force of character, determination, or nerve. That spirit holds true to MOKs as well. It’s the smarter alternative to traditional modular outdoor kitchen products.

The essence of practicality, with zero compromise on style. Minimalist. Modern. Sleek.

What does this look like in the real world?

Just take a peek at the sleek sophistication of MOKs.

De·Mok·ritization

To democratize is to make something accessible or available to everyone.

That is exactly what MOKs seeks to accomplish.

We wondered… How can we make a modular outdoor kitchen system that is accessible to all?

We looked to similar industries that democratized their products. Take DIY closet manufacturers, for one. The do-it-yourself mentality empowers the consumer.

And now… RTA has made building your outdoor kitchen as accessible as possible.

Gone are the days having to wait on a contractor… Juggle with multiple vendors… Learn a specialized skillset to assemble your outdoor kitchen…

Anyone can assemble a MOKs kitchen. On their time.

Mok Speed

Mach speed describes when an object moves faster than the speed of sound.

Now… MOKs obviously can’t ship to you that fast (Two weeks or less)! However, it can be ready to use far faster than other options on the market.

It’s possible the outdoor kitchen you order on Monday… Can be delivered and ready to use come the weekend.

How’s that for streamlined?

MOKs dramatically reduces project timeline on your outdoor kitchen. No matter when you decide to start your project… You don’t have to feel like you’re missing out.

Now… We’ve talked a lot about the concept behind MOKs.

What about the materials and how it actually works?

MODULAR OUTDOOR KITCHEN RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR

Take advantage of RTA Outdoor Living's fast manufacturing & shipping. Get your outdoor kitchen at mach speed!

The Nuts and Bolts

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts… Or in the case of MOKs, interlocking channels!

It’s true. MOKs is a nearly boltless system.

The panels are made with interlocking channels. All you have to do is slide them together… And voila. Your outdoor kitchen island structure is complete in a matter of minutes. No tools required.

Not to mention the materials are so light you can hand carry the pieces to your backyard.

The only items that have to be fastened in place are your built in grill and other appliances. A simple screwdriver will do the trick there.

Talk about frustration-free assembly.

MOKs is just as easy to take apart as it is to assemble. You can easily move your MOKs kitchen to another location… Without damaging the integrity of the structure.

In essence, MOKs moves where you move. Never has an outdoor kitchen been so easy to relocate.

Further, you can add on to your MOKs kitchen at any time.

So, how is all of this flexibility possible?

It couldn’t be accomplished without high quality materials.

Quality in Every Square Inch of MOKs Cabinet

Let’s take a moment to discuss MOKs outdoor kitchen materials.

The outdoor kitchen cabinet is made from Marine Grade Composite Panels.

This material serves many purposes in the world of a modular outdoor kitchen.

Structural Strength

Marine Grade Composite has a higher strength-to-density ratio than other modular outdoor kitchen materials.

It’s impact and scratch resistant. No need to worry about denting or unsightly scratch marks.

The rigidity of this material allows MOKs kitchens to stand the test of time.

Engineered for the Outdoors

moks outdoor kitchen in frozen climate

The name Marine Grade Composite reveals the original intention of this material. This composite was designed and intended for marine use (Boat cabin construction, etc.).

As we know… The ocean can be incredibly unforgiving. Marine Grade Composite is designed to deal with high humidity, salt air, and freeze-thaw cycles.

There’s no moisture absorption, either. Worrying about warping, rotting, swelling, cracking… It’s a thing of the past.

Marine Grade Composite is resilient to the rays of the sun as well. This material is UV stabilized to resist fading. The color of your cabinet will shine true… Year after year.

Low-Maintenance

With how hectic our lives are… A low-maintenance outdoor kitchen is a huge bonus.

Marine Grade Composite is remarkably easy to clean. It can even be power washed!

Even better, Marine Grade Composite is stain resistant.

Lightweight

Marine Grade Composite is extremely lightweight compared to other outdoor kitchen materials.

This makes panels a breeze to hand-carry to your backyard. You don’t have to throw out your back to install, either!

With all this talk about MOKs cabinets, you may be wondering…

What about countertops?

MOKs Countertop Advantages

MOKs countertops are made from an advanced composite that fuses minerals and resin. This creates a homogenous and solid surface.

While a slightly different material… Many of the advantages are similar.

Solid, Seamless, and Hygienic

Similar to the cabinet material… MOKs countertop material is solid, seamless, and nonporous.

This gives dirt, bacteria, and mold no place to hide. No need for extra elbow grease when cleaning… The standard spray and wipe will do the trick.

Even better… MOKs countertop material is NSF/ANSI Standard 51 Certified for food contact. This is the highest level for all food types in commercial food prep.

And when properly cleaned… Our countertop material is Verified Mold Resistant per UL 2824.

A clean outdoor kitchen is the best outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor Rated and Durable

Like Marine Grade Composite… MOKs countertops are designed for outdoor use.

Our countertops can endure even the toughest freeze-thaw climates. No matter where you live… MOKs can handle it.

A Breeze to Maintain

MOKs countertops are simple to maintain. No periodic sealing is required as with other materials.

Resistant to stains and marks, you’ll have no trouble keeping these countertops in mint condition.

If you do happen to encounter staining or marks… They can be easily removed with a Scotchbrite® pad and household cleaner.

It’s easy!

Family Safe

What’s safe for the environment is safe for the family as well.

MOKs countertops are free of dangerous chemicals and perfectly safe for food preparation.

Environmentally… Our countertops have a GreenGuard® Gold certification for environmental performance.

less tools means faster installation

MOKs (Modular Outdoor Kitchen System) by RTA Outdoor Living is an easy breezy installation.

Simple Installation

Just like the panels… MOKs countertops make for a simple installation.

First of all, they’re lightweight and easy to carry.

Secondly, we use a patent pending tenon connection system. This mechanically locks the countertop into the cabinet… Without a need for messy adhesives.

When we say simple, we mean it!

Now that we’ve given you the lowdown on MOKs… Let’s see what some influencers think of this system.

Lauren & Robert Shaver

If you’re a big fan of DIY home improvement projects… You may have stumbled across the Shavers’ blog, Bless’er House.

Bless’er House is all about budget decorating and simplified DIY projects. Even if you’re not into DIY projects… Lauren and Robert’s fun-loving personalities makes their blog a joy to read!

This year, Lauren and Robert were focused on backyard projects. A DIY outdoor kitchen to was one of the last things they needed to bring the space together.

MOKs was the perfect solution for adding the outdoor cooking space.

This quote from Bless’er House shows just how easy MOKs is to assemble:

“We originally enlisted the help of my dad and Robert’s best friend because we weren’t really sure what sort of heavy lifting we’d be up against, but we ended up sending them home once we realized how easy it would be. Totally do-able for just a hubby/wife duo like us.”

For layout, the Shavers went with a Pure White L-Shape Refrigeration Island.

For appliances on the bar island, there’s combo storage to stow away cooking supplies and utensils. On the grill island, we have a refrigerator, double access doors, pull out trash, and 36″ C-Series gas grill.

The sleek, modern finish and style of MOKs looks beautiful contrasted with the lime washed brick of the Shavers’ home.

The backyard is officially complete.

Meaghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy is Editor-in-Chief of Woman’s Day magazine.

Currently, she’s undergoing a full backyard makeover. We’re talking pool, patio, outdoor kitchen… The works.

In pursuing the perfect kitchen project, Meaghan decided on MOKs.

For layout, she chose an L-Shape MOKs in Navy Marine.

Appliances for Meghan’s kitchen include a pull out trash, double access doors, double drawers, side burner, and a 36″ S-Series gas grill. On the bar island, there’s an outdoor rated refrigerator as well.

Here’s a little snippet of what Meghan had to say about MOKs from Instagram:

“We went with the navy MOKS L-shape island with Coyote Outdoor appliances. I’m obsessed… no surprise the storage drawers & hidden garbage are 2 of my favorite features! #neatfreak”

It’s true… MOKs is perfect for those who love to keep everything tidy!

Tamara Day

Tamara Day is a big name in the home improvement world. Most likely, you’ve heard of her through HGTV’s Bargain Mansions. She’s the designer and host of the show.

This summer, Tamara pursued an outdoor kitchen project to complete her backyard.

While she ultimately decided on a standard RTA outdoor kitchen for her space… Tamara also installed a MOKs to demonstrate how amazing they are!

Tamara assembled a MOKs straight island in Rubbed Bronze. Appliances in this model includes a refrigerator, double access doors, and 36″ Coyote S-Series built in grill.

Here’s what she had to say about the install:

“This is a technology that they [RTA and Coyote] brought together to create a really seamless design process and build process for homeowners… taking all the frustration out and doing it in less time.”

In fact… It was so easy Tamara installed this with her 13 year old niece!

Moral of the story?

You can do it.

Closing Thoughts

Today, you have learned a bunch about modular grill islands!

You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the rush of information. That’s okay.

Don’t just take it from us. Consult a few other sources. Ultimately, only you know what is best for your perfect kitchen project!

If you’re curious for more information about MOKs or what RTA offers…

We’d be happy to assist you! Our website offers access to a wealth of information about our grill islands, including MOKs.

If you end up deciding MOKs is the right fit for your project… You can order right online! Again, it doesn’t get any simpler.

Questions?

Feel free to reach out! We’re always happy to help you gain clarity on your outdoor kitchen project.

We hope to hear from you!

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