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Outdoor Grill & BBQ Islands

Are you curious to learn more about our grill islands? Or even grill islands in general?
There’s an overwhelming amount of options out there… It can be difficult to make sense of it all.
Allow us to sort through the noise.

Types of Outdoor Kitchen Island Kits

In the outdoor kitchen industry… There are three types of grill island kits you will encounter:

Modular outdoor kitchens are an option you’ll often see online or at big box stores. These products are generally sold in units that you can piece together to create a full outdoor kitchen.

Ready-to-finish is another popular outdoor kitchen option. These brands can also be found at big box stores and elsewhere online. Though they require a bit more work to build, ready-to-finish outdoor kitchens are more customizable than modular.

Prefabricated outdoor kitchens are another common option. These are quite similar to RTF systems… With just a few differences. These differences are mainly in the assembly / build process.

Ready-to-assemble outdoor kitchens

Ready-to-assemble outdoor kitchens. RTA systems are the new kids on the block! Ready-to-assemble systems combine the benefits of modular and RTF… With fewer of the pitfalls. This is the grill island kit we offer here at RTA.

Advantages and Disadvantages
of Grill Islands

Let’s continue the discussion on the various types of grill island kits you may see. To help you make your decision… We’d like to review the pros and cons of each type.

Modular BBQ Grill Islands Pros & Cons

stainless steel modular outdoor kitchen

Modular grill islands can be an excellent choice depending on your situation.

For advantages, modular BBQ grill islands are easy to configure and assemble. You combine all the units you desire and… Boom. You have a grill island with refrigerator, or sink, or whatever works for your outdoor cooking area.

Another bonus is how easy these kitchens are to transport. Modular outdoor kitchen cabinets are easy to pack and ship to you. It also means they are relatively easy to move to another location.

This means if you move… You can bring your outdoor kitchen with you. That’s pretty great!

Modular outdoor kitchens are also easy to access. Many big box store and online retailer brands sell everything you need to get started.

Unfortunately, there are some notable disadvantages to the modular model. For one, modular grill islands are limited on design.

Yes, there is some flexibility! However… That flexibility is only within the confines of what unit options the manufacturer offers. Usually, you will select a few slightly different layouts and outdoor appliance placements.

If you’re happy with the items offered… That’s great! In many cases, it can leave more to be desired. Don’t expect a custom bbq island with this option.

Another large detractor is quality. Of course… Not all modular grill island brands are made with poor quality materials. This is the exception, not the rule.

The vast majority of modular outdoor kitchens you’ll find are made with metal. Generally speaking, some form of stainless steel or coated aluminum is used.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this! It just depends on how invested you are in the longevity of your investment.

Coated aluminum is fairly rust resistant, which is a plus. However, it’s still susceptible to corroding over time. Not catching the corrosion quickly… results in the structure of your modular grill island rapidly becoming compromised.

It’s a similar situation with stainless steel. The higher the grade of stainless… The more likely you’ll avoid problems. 304 stainless steel is a high grade option to look for. Just know that you’ll be running the risk of rust or corrosion with low grade stainless products.

While not in the purview of this page… We do want to mention we have created our own durable modular grill island system. We’ve developed this system to avoid many of the pitfalls of traditional modular outdoor kitchen products.

RTF Outdoor Grill Islands Pros & Cons

As we discussed earlier, there are a couple types of RTF systems. Concrete block and metal frames are the main two you’ll see today.

We’ll begin with metal frames.

Metal frame island grills have a lot of great benefits. Like modular, they’re light in weight. So these systems are easy to ship to your home and carry to your backyard.

Metal frames also offer solid structural support for appliances and countertops. You can feel confident that your outdoor kitchen is structurally sound.

Further, RTF outdoor kitchens are generally more customizable than modular products. Since you’re just starting with frames… You have a lot more wiggle room in terms of your final layout.

The main concerns are the elements and the finishing process.

If you live in a freeze / thaw climate… Metal frames can spell trouble for you. Due to the way RTF outdoor kitchens grill islands are constructed… They are very susceptible to water damage. This can lead to corrosion and rusting of your outdoor kitchen frames which will compromise the structure. Yikes!

The second caveat is the finishing process.

For experienced DIYers, this may not be an issue. But for the average bear just dipping their toes into the DIY world… The finishing process can be overwhelming. This process hinges on having a certain level of basic construction knowledge to do this right.

Between applying cement board… A scratch coat… And finally, the finish itself… There’s more to an RTF grill island build than meets the eye.

Prefabricated Grill Island Pros & Cons

As mentioned earlier… Prefab grill islands are quite similar to RTF systems.


Well… They’re generally made from the same materials.

Most commonly, you’ll see prefab grill islands made with metal frames.

Compared to RTF… The advantage is that prefab grill island products come pre-assembled.

There’s no need to apply cement board… Apply a cladding material… Apply your finish… None of that is required!

You won’t even have to install your appliances!

It simply gets dropped into your backyard, ready to go.

For those that don’t feel comfortable with the DIY aspect of an outdoor kitchen… This is a great benefit.

However, there is a list drawbacks to a prefab grill island.

The main advantage of prefab can actually be a huge disadvantage!


It really comes down to access. More specifically, access to your backyard.

If it’s easy for heavy machinery to enter into your backyard… You won’t find this much of a problem.

Since a prefab grill island is already assembled… It has to be placed into your backyard. Most commonly, this is done with a crane.

So if a crane can’t get into your backyard easily… The process can easily turn into a logistical nightmare.

While it may not seem like it at first… Sometimes you will find it easier to pursue a more DIY friendly option!

Another concern can be limitations in design. Most prefabricated outdoor kitchen brands have only a select few layouts available.

If you’re looking for products that can be highly customized… This may not be the option for you.

RTA Outdoor Kitchen Grill Islands (That's us!) Pros & Cons

rta outdoor kitchen near swimming pool under pergola

Even though we created the ready-to-assemble system… We have to be honest about the advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s begin with the pros.

Of the three outdoor kitchen grill island options we’ve discussed… RTA is certainly the most customizable. We’ve put a distinct effort to help give you the ability to personalize your project to your needs.

In fact, we have a free online design tool for this express purpose. You can play around with layout, appliances, and finishes to your heart’s content. More than likely… You’ll end up with an outdoor kitchen design that’s exactly what you’re looking for.

We also have a dedicated team of design experts to help. Should you choose to work with RTA… One of our experts will be assigned to help with your project. They’ll guide you through every aspect of your design and answer any questions you have. Consider them your personal outdoor kitchen guru.

Another advantage is the assembly process. RTA outdoor bbq kitchen kits can be assembled in just a few hours. That means you can have your panels and appliance products arrive in the morning… And be grilling by the end of the day. Talk about convenience!

A third advantage is durability. Our high quality panels and countertops are composed of an ultra high performance concrete. The outdoor kitchen materials we use are durable and designed to last the test of time. You don’t have to worry about rust, rot, or corrosion. No matter the climate you live in.

While we tout how flexible RTA designs are… We can’t do everything. If you’re looking for circular or other highly specialized designs… We unfortunately won’t be able to accommodate you. In this case, you’ll be better off looking for a full custom option.

Even though our BBQ grill islands are very DIY friendly… Not everyone wants to assemble their outdoor kitchen! Hey, we understand. We will say you can hire someone to help you assemble if that’s something you’re open to. We even have a certified network to help with that!

Another drawback may be the aesthetics of an RTA outdoor kitchen. While we offer many finishes from stacked stone to rustic wood, modern plank and more to accommodate your tastes… We don’t have tile or stucco finish options. So if your heart is set on that look, that is a sign RTA may be a deal breaker.

DIY Outdoor BBQ Island

If you’re a big DIYer… You’re probably wondering, “How do you make a BBQ island?”

Well, there are varying levels of do-it-yourself when it comes to outdoor kitchens.

Normally, when people think of an barbecue island DIY project… They think of building from scratch.

Now, you can definitely do this! But if you don’t have a decent amount of construction experience… This can be an absolute bear of a project!

The nice thing is… There are DIY outdoor kitchen projects you truly can complete yourself. Without a ton of construction knowledge.

What are they?

Well, they’re some of the options we just talked about!
RTF brands and RTA are all accessible DIY choices. The only one that you may find a bit tricky is an RTF system due to the fact you have to apply the finish yourself.

You enjoy that sense of accomplishment… Without all the stress.

modern concrete outdoor kitchen by rta for mike pyle
two people easily putting together a ready to assemble outdoor kitchen grill island

What is Included with Our BBQ Grill Island Kits?

Short answer is… Just about everything you need!

At RTA, we are all about providing complete solutions.

First and foremost… You’ll receive the panels and countertops to create the frame of your outdoor kitchen. Of course, all the components you need will be included in orders as well.

Here’s where we differentiate ourselves.

Unlike other BBQ grill island kits… RTA outdoor kitchen orders ship with the appliances.

This takes a lot of planning off your plate. There’s no need to juggle working with multiple companies… And struggling to find out what appliances will work for your outdoor kitchen.

Better yet… We offer best-in-class appliances from Coyote Outdoor Living.

Coyote offers a wide range of gas grills, kamado cookers, and appliances in complete 304 stainless steel. The grills have the option of either natural gas or liquid propane for fuel.  These deluxe appliances are not only durable in every climate… They are incredible to use!

Grilling in style has never been easier.

So… Is there anything RTA orders don’t include?

Just a friend to help and a power drill. We don’t keep those in stock ;)

Where Do I Go From Here?

Now that you have some background on grill islands…

It’s time to explore!

As you’ve seen on this page… We have nearly endless grilling station options available for your outdoor space. You can start by browsing through our predesigned shop to get a taste of what is possible.
You can consider these islands as our “best hits” in grill island design.

Still not satisfied?

Give our free online design tool a try. In just a few minutes… You’ll get a complete picture of what is possible with RTA. Not to mention… You’ll have a custom outdoor kitchen design at the ready!

You can also get more information by reading various articles on our learning hub.

As always, we are more than happy to help you… No matter where you are in your outdoor kitchen research. If you’re looking for advice on your project, set up a call with one of our design experts! We’ll consult with you on your needs and help you decide what solution is best.

Call our design experts to help with every step of the process

Frequently Asked Questions

A grill island is a synonym for an outdoor kitchen. It’s an outdoor island fully equipped with appliances. Of course, there will be a grill in a grill island… But you’ll also find a wide array of other outdoor kitchen appliances. Refrigerators, sinks, storage, and more.

Once again… It depends! 

The installation method you choose will directly affect the cost. Say you choose a prefabricated outdoor kitchen option like RTA. The work is 95% done for you already. 

In this case… You can install it yourself in a few hours with a friend. With no need to hire anyone… You completely eliminate the installation cost there.

On the other hand, you could hire a contractor to install your prefab BBQ island. Expect this to run you anywhere from $700 – $1,500. 

You may also decide to build your BBQ island completely from scratch. It will take days or weeks for installation depending on your design. Hiring a contractor to build your island this way could add thousands of dollars in installation costs.

There are many BBQ island solutions out there. How you make one depends on the method you choose!

Most commonly, BBQ islands are made from a frame. They can be made from wood, metal, or concrete block. 

If the frame is metal or wood, you’ll attach cement board to create a surface. From there, you apply the finish you desire. It could be stone, brick, tile, stucco, etc. Drop in your countertop, install appliances, hook up utility and gas lines… And you’re good to go. 

The steps are simple… But it definitely requires some construction know-how to ensure being properly installed.

Perhaps you’re interested in a more modern approach to BBQ island construction. In that case, consider RTA. Our outdoor kitchens are frameless… Which eliminates multiple steps in assembly. 

Instead of frames, we utilize structural concrete panels. These panels are constructed and designed with longevity in mind. Even better? The finishes are already incorporated into the panels. 

You simply fasten the panels together, drop in your countertop, install appliances, and hook up utility lines. No need to fuss with constructing frames… Attaching cement board… And applying your own finish.

Anything you would make on your cart style grill, and more! Steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, and kabobs are standard fare… But you can do even more with a grill island. Consider adding a flat top grill, outdoor pizza oven, or side burners for added functionality.

A grill island is the perfect way to upgrade your patio or outdoor living space. Enjoying your backyard and hosting gatherings are far easier with a grill island. There’s a central area for everyone to mingle… And a complete station to make food for everyone!

A grill island is more similar to an outdoor kitchen. It’s not just a cart model grill… It’s a complete outdoor kitchen setup. You’ll have the grill, countertops, other appliances, and maybe even bar seating. It’s a complete cooking station.

Absolutely! Select a BBQ island finish that complements your paver style. You’ll also just want to make sure that your pavers are level and have correct pitch. Otherwise, your BBQ island will be uneven and cause issues!

Yes, you can put a grill island on a deck. You will just have to ensure that your island isn’t too heavy. If it is… You’ll have to install structural footings to hold the additional weight.

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