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Why Does an RTA Outdoor Kitchen Take So Long to Ship? The Top 5 Reasons

By Daniel Cdebaca

December 20, 2022

When you buy a new outdoor kitchen… You want to get cooking right away!

You’ve already planned out what it’ll look like in your backyard… And you’re excited to get it set up.

While you can pick up a prefabricated outdoor kitchen from a box store and install it on the same day… RTA’s outdoor kitchens take a little bit longer to get to you.

Typically, once you finalize your order and pay your deposit… You could be waiting anywhere from four to ten weeks based on the time of year.

Since summer is the busy season for outdoor kitchens, it will probably lean towards the longer side… While winter orders might be a bit quicker.

Whether or not your outdoor kitchen is customized for you will also affect the lead time.

Why Does An RTA Island Take So Long to Ship?

RTA outdoor kitchens take so long to ship for a few reasons.

Some reasons are unavoidable, like shipping issues due to the pandemic…

While others are completely intentional… Like the simple fact that you deserve a high-quality kitchen, and we’re going to take the time to make that happen!

At the end of the day… It’s a time-consuming process, but we’re happy to share why that is!

The first reason we’re going to talk about is the growing demand for outdoor kitchens.

1. The Demand For Outdoor Kitchens Is Increasing

Especially since the pandemic… The demand for outdoor kitchens has quickly accelerated!

People across the nation have started to spend more time in their own homes… And so they want to bring more functionality to their houses and backyards!

Of course, one of the best ways to invest in your space is with an outdoor kitchen… So you’ll find that contractors and any trade-industry professional will probably be busier now than in previous years.

The same is true of RTA!

This means that lead times will be a bit long, sometimes even 8 – 10 weeks… Especially in the spring and summer when even more people want to start their projects!

The next reason why RTA outdoor kitchens can take awhile to get to you is because of the shipping itself! The pandemic caused all kinds of setbacks for manufacturers across the world that we still feel the effects of today. 

2. Continued supply chain issues

a room full of rta outdoor kitchen crates waiting to be shipped

As you probably know… The shipping industry has been facing big problems for the last few years.

Travel restrictions, terminal shutdowns, and a limited workforce have caused the industry to be at an all-time low.

This affects how long it takes you to get your island in two ways.

First of all, these delays can affect the timeline for your project before it is shipped!


The appliances needed for your summer kitchen might not arrive on time!

Appliances are ordered months in advance to avoid delays… But sometimes, they still won’t come in time!

This is a frustrating problem for everyone involved.

A second issue is that it can take extra time for the finished kitchen to arrive at your doorstep!

Sometimes, the shipping trucks don’t have room for all of the islands that are supposed to go out that day, and things get backed up.

Other times, your island might be delayed during shipping. Unfortunately, this is out of our control.

Another reason why RTA outdoor kitchens take awhile to ship is that every single step concludes with a thorough quality check… Just to make sure that your island is built correctly.

That’s a bit vague… So let’s go into more detail on how extra time is spent to guarantee quality.

3. Extensive Quality Control

rta employee checking measurements on an outdoor kitchen before it ships out

When you order from RTA Outdoor Living… Your island isn’t just grabbed from a box. It’s a complicated building process, as you’ll see a little later.

With a lot of steps… There are a lot of ways that things can go wrong. That’s why extra time and care are put into the process to make sure that the island you get is exactly what you ordered.

Each step is checked meticulously by the head of every single department in the Manufacturing Team… Just to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect before moving on to the next stage of production.

This adds to the time it takes to prepare your island for shipping because everything is checked over and over again to make sure it’s just right… And if something is a little off, the team will start over!

Your DIY outdoor kitchen won’t just be pushed out the door to you as fast as possible. This process makes sure that everything will be perfect when it arrives.

Another reason why it takes awhile for RTA islands to ship is that they aren’t all the same… Almost every island RTA builds is custom-made.

Want to bring your idea to life?

Use our free 3D design tool to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality in just a few minutes.

4. Most Islands Are Custom Built

mike pyle with his family at their custom outdoor kitchen with a modern concrete finish

Our kitchens are anything but basic… And that’s because you have the option to choose exactly how you want yours made!

Custom outdoor kitchens make up the majority of our orders… And that means that every single aspect of your outdoor kitchen is unique to you.

RTA takes a tailored approach to your outdoor kitchen. So every panel and countertop is made from scratch!

There is nothing cookie-cutter about this process. Extra time is taken to create your personal, unique outdoor kitchen… Down to every detail.

You can decide on a variety of layouts, sizes, veneers, outdoor countertops… And choose from multiple appliance options.

With that much freedom comes a longer wait-time. After all, these islands aren’t mass-produced… But more detail on that later.

Each custom island is unique to you… So there isn’t a perfect mold that will immediately work to make your kitchen. The Production Team creates molds for every single custom panel that may never be used again… Just to make your outdoor kitchen perfect.

There’s a lot of planning that goes into each island… And each island is built differently, so the process is never quite the same.

Of course, this special care and tailoring takes time!

This time is further lengthened when there are a lot of islands to make.

Another part of why they take awhile is that they’re made to order… Even when you don’t go the custom route!

5. Your Island is Made to Order

two rta employees pouring concrete into an outdoor kitchen panel mold

The Production Team makes every single island in our factory in Cambridge City, Indiana!

That means two things…

First of all… We don’t keep islands sitting around that can be pulled off of a shelf. Your island is made to order, even if you chose a Quick Ship island from our website.

Second, these islands aren’t made by a machine.

Our team is taking the time to make sure that your island is exactly what you’ve asked for. Every single piece of each island built is getting personal attention.

Each individual panel takes a lot of work and many steps to make.

So what are those steps, then? And why does it take so long to complete them?

Let’s break them down to get an idea of why this process takes so long.

Step 1 — Blending the Concrete

In terms of our outdoor kitchen materials… We use a high-performance concrete for our islands. Blending this concrete is the first step in actually building your outdoor kitchen.

The entire library of recipes is stored digitally so adjustments can easily be made… And the team double checks to make sure everything goes well and is done correctly.

They take the time to keep detailed records of every single batch that’s blended… Even down to details like the exact amount of humidity in the air!

Step 2 — Layout and Casting

This next step is one of the most time-consuming.

Basically, the Casting Team will lay out big rubber molds on a table for your panels and countertops.

These molds will have whatever design you’ve chosen for the face of your panels… Giving you the look of a brick, wood, plank, modern concrete, or stone outdoor kitchen finish.

Then, they’ll block off all the spots for the cutouts. That way, the area where you’ll put your cooking appliances won’t be filled with concrete.

The Casting Team will use the measurements from the blueprints your designer made to do this.

Once the mold is ready and the measurements have been checked… It’s time to pour the concrete! The team will then smooth it all out and make sure it is resting evenly in the mold.

The concrete will sit in the mold and cure for about 24 hours. The Casting Team will check the quality and measurements of the panels again when they come out.

Step 3 — Processing

First, the countertops and outdoor kitchen panels are washed off and sanded…

Then, they are trimmed into just the right size and shape…

And finally, your countertops are sealed with 3 coats of a water-based sealer.

This step makes sure that they’re all ready to be assembled when they arrive at your house.

Trimming them ensures that they’ll fit together correctly and be able to hold your built-in appliances… And the sealer helps them handle the elements!

The panels and countertops will need time to dry after this step… So they will sit for another 24 hours after processing before moving on to the next task.

Step 4 — Crating

Just because your island is finished doesn’t mean that RTA is done building!

Your island is made up of very large panels that could break in transit… You can’t find just any box to safely ship them in!

The Crating Department specializes in getting your outdoor kitchen kit ready to ship to you. They will build your shipping crate to be able to withstand the stresses of shipping.

This means high-quality materials that are sturdy and will keep your new outdoor kitchen safe.

Each crate is also custom-made for its island to ensure a perfect fit! This helps keep the panels from bouncing around in their crate while they’re being shipped.

Of course, this means that the Crating Department has to take the time to measure, cut, and build each individual crate… As well as gently load all of your pieces inside.

Before your island is put in… The Crating Department will check the panels and countertops one last time!

Step 5 — Loading and Shipping

The last step is to load up your island and outdoor kitchen appliances and ship them out!

These steps are all vital to building a grill island that is made especially for you… And making sure that it meets our quality standard!

Now, how does this time-frame compare to some of your other options?

How Does Our Time-Frame Compare to Other Manufacturers?

chart showing the lead times of rta outdoor living and other options

To reiterate… Our outdoor kitchens typically take between 4 to 10 weeks from the time you finalize the design before they ship to you.

So how do other companies and contractors compare?

Well, it depends on who you go through!

The times can fluctuate greatly… But you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who can ship an outdoor kitchen sooner… Especially if they’re custom-made!

For example, we won’t list names, but there’s an outdoor kitchen manufacturer in Arizona who creates custom ready-to-finish outdoor kitchens… But you’ll have to wait for 14 months before they even start on your project!

On the shorter side… Another outdoor kitchen company in California will have a standardized prefab outdoor kitchen at your door in 3 months.

When you talk to contractors… You will run into the same thing.

Most contractors will need at least 3 – 4 months before they can begin your project… But it is not uncommon for the lead time to be as long as 14 months!

And then, of course, there is also the extra time it takes to design and build your outdoor kitchen. The building phase can take anywhere from a few days to a week or more.

So what if the building process takes longer than expected? How will you find out when your island will be shipped?

You Will Be Updated on the Progress of Your Outdoor Kitchen

You will absolutely be kept in the loop throughout the entire building and shipping process.

You’ll even have access to a Customer Success team member. They’ll be your point of contact for anything you need.

They’ll send updates about once a week… And they’ll be there for you if you need to call!

You’ll know if anything is on back-order, how building and shipping is going, if there are delays…

And they’ll tell you what delivery will look like, how to prepare your site’s outdoor kitchen utilities for the installation… And walk you through how to build your island on the day-of!

So no… You won’t be left in the dark on your island’s progress… Or anything else about the process!

Now that you have seen why it takes so long for an RTA outdoor kitchen to ship… You might be wondering how to move forward with your own outdoor kitchen!

How to Get Your Own RTA Outdoor Kitchen

l shaped outdoor kitchen with grill and sink

While yes, an RTA island does take a long time to get to you… You can trust that your outdoor kitchen will be well-made and high-quality because of our extensive system.

Like we said before, since all RTA outdoor kitchens are made to order… Your outdoor kitchen is personally inspected at every stage of the manufacturing process. Not a stone (or countertop!) goes unturned to make sure your outdoor kitchen is exactly as expected.

What can we say? We take pride in our work!

You also have the option to design your own outdoor kitchen to meet your every need! The layout, size, countertops, veneer, and appliances are all up to you.

Sound like a lot to think about? Don’t worry, the RTA experience is convenient… And it’s the easiest home improvement project you’ll ever do.

Our free online design tool makes it easy to get a 3D rendering of your ideal layout in minutes… And you’ll get one-on-one advice from a designer on our team of outdoor kitchen experts!

They’ll help you create the perfect outdoor kitchen for your backyard.

Once we’ve worked together to create the plans for your kitchen, crafted especially for your needs and backyard… You can leave the rest to us!

You won’t have to worry about tracking down appliances or countertops… Or that your backyard will be turned into a construction zone.

Your outdoor kitchen will be delivered right to you, ready for an intuitive and quick assembly… And no technical skills are needed.

It’s as easy to put together as a piece of furniture… But will give you a lifetime of enjoyment!

We look forward to designing with you!

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