At the heart of every outdoor kitchen lies a BBQ island. (And at the heart of every BBQ island? A gorgeous grill, but we’ll get to that in a minute.) We’ve helped thousands of customers plan, design, and build outdoor kitchen islands over the past 20 years, so we know what it takes to ace the process. Or should we say “processes” — you can either build a DIY grill island, or bring home a complete grill island.
If the DIY route sounds appealing, our free 3D design service will be an indispensable resource as you strive to make your vision a reality. We can also get you in touch with local contractors via the BBQGuys Pro Team for those better-left-to-a-professional parts of your project. (Performing excavation and connecting gas lines? No thanks!) But in the event DIY just isn’t your thing, we have good news: there are BBQ grill islands ready to be built right out of the box! We carry a wide selection of these complete BBQ islands, which have varying amounts of assembly required but come with all the components, countertops, and finishes you need for easy ordering and installation. Let’s take a closer look at which option is better for you before digging deeper into the details.
Outdoor Kitchen Kits
Does DIY sound like too much work? Don’t sweat it! (Literally.) Outdoor Kitchen Kits, also known as complete BBQ islands, are the easy and often elegant solution for homeowners who want their outdoor kitchen up and running as soon as possible. They include the island body, grills and other cooking appliances, components, finishes, and countertops all in a single purchase and shipment. That being said, complete grill islands aren’t one-size-fits-all — there are many options for size, style, finish, color, brand, grill type, and more. Assembly will vary between islands, with some needing only a few components attached and others that arrive with the frame, components, and finishes all packaged separately. Carefully read item pages and manuals to make note of special installation details.
BBQ Grill Island Fuel Types
We hinted at it up top, but a grill is the centerpiece of virtually every outdoor kitchen island. And just as fuel type is a notable consideration when buying a stand-alone grill, it’s equally as important while searching for the right BBQ island. Our grill island selection includes just 3 different fuel types, so this won’t be a terribly complicated decision. It’s still something you’ll have to figure out, though, and what better time than now to make your choice?
Propane BBQ Islands
Most grill islands with a propane grill are designed to fit a standard, 20-pound cylinder, though you may be able to connect to a bulk tank. Some models even ship with orifices for either to accommodate any setup. Regardless, standard tanks are desirable if you want the island to be portable. If that’s your preference, look for a unit that can be broken down and moved or has rolling casters instead of one intended for permanent installation. Portability is a huge benefit of propane grill islands, but keep in mind that you’ll need to occasionally refill or exchange your fuel tank.
Natural Gas BBQ Islands
Homeowners who already have natural gas supplied to their home via a utility company should seriously consider this option. It’s highly convenient because you’ll never need to refill a tank (just make sure those bills are paid on time!), but you’ll also have to hire a professional to run the gas line to your new island, which isn’t necessary with standard propane tanks. Ventilation is the other main concern between natural gas and propane — vents in natural gas islands should be positioned as high as possible, whereas vents in propane islands should be placed as low as possible.
Electric BBQ Islands
This may or may not come as a shock, but we carry a few complete BBQ islands featuring an electric grill. While none of the considerations about gas apply here, you must have an available electrical outlet for the grill located near the installation site. Depending on the placement of your outdoor kitchen island, this might require professional work. You know what doesn’t need hardwiring, though? Our electric BBQ grill islands! Every electric grill we carry plugs directly into an outlet for easy setup.
BBQ Island Finishes
You may just be starting to learn about outdoor kitchen islands, but right now it’s time to talk about finishes! What do we mean by that? Finishes are the materials that cover the island frame and appear alongside your outdoor kitchen components, giving you the chance to make an aesthetic statement in your backyard. (No pressure, right?) We’ve written about outdoor kitchen finishes and materials at length, but we can offer a few pointers here on how to choose the finish that’s right for your space: solid colors or all-stainless steel are great options for setting a backdrop and matching other appliances, while stone finishes make grand statements. Think carefully about what you want your outdoor kitchen to say!
BBQ Island Countertop Materials
Just like with an indoor kitchen, the countertops for your outdoor kitchen island will go a long way toward establishing style. This decision largely comes down to personal aesthetics, but there are still a few paths to consider. For starters, stainless steel matches virtually anything and is a safe play in terms of style (not to mention sturdiness). Granite or stone countertops, meanwhile, bring a touch of the rustic and traditional to a backyard, while concrete and aluminum appeal to modern sensibilities. It’s also worth noting that aluminum lasts longer than stainless steel and can never rust, though both are easier to clean than other countertop materials. Alternatively, you can just pick whatever you think looks best!
Final Considerations When Buying an Outdoor Kitchen Kit
You’d think we’d have finished with finishes, but we’re not quite done yet. There are just a few more things worth pondering before you dive headfirst into island life, and we’re not talking about digging your toes into the sand with a margarita in your hand (though that’s our second-favorite pastime behind grilling). Protective covers, anticipated weight, and proper ventilation are all serious considerations that you shouldn’t take lightly. Let’s get into each one below (margaritas optional).
Grill Island Covers
Your brand-new BBQ island will be a significant investment, so you should do everything you can to protect it. Before you scramble to find a cleaning guide, know this: using a BBQ grill island cover is the best thing you can do to ensure years of outdoor cooking greatness. These covers are made from heavy-duty materials to keep the elements off your precious components, and they often cover the entire island for comprehensive defense. Keep in mind that island covers are specially made to fit certain units, so do your best to match the model you choose to the cover designed for it. Otherwise, you probably won’t have total coverage or a good fit, leaving certain components exposed to the weather.
Weight of BBQ Islands
You (hopefully) know to lift with your legs and not your back, but do you know how important it is to check the shipping dimensions of the grill island you intend to purchase? This information will help set expectations for delivery day, such as whether your island has light aluminum frames and finishes or heavier components, countertops, and finishes that require serious lifting power. Knowing what to expect is crucial because BBQGuys’ grill islands are delivered curbside — when they arrive, you’ll need to make sure you have the manpower necessary to move them from the street to the installation site. No matter the weight, we recommend you never try assembling a complete BBQ island by yourself. It’s best to have at least one other person with you during installation in the event a piece is heavier than you anticipated.
Weight is also a major consideration when it comes to breaking down and moving complete grill islands. Aluminum is much lighter than steel, making permanent islands with aluminum frames generally easier to take apart and transport. Islands with steel frames are still movable, though ease of portability depends on construction — some models have casters, others are designed to break down with varying degrees of effort, and a few literally require a forklift to move. (Seriously, read those spec sheets before buying.) So, while weight is a concern for initial installation, it’ll come around again in the event you move into a new home. If you see a move in your future, strongly consider investing in a grill island with casters or an aluminum frame. But if you’ve already planted roots in your forever home, weight becomes much less of an issue.
Grill Island Ventilation
We briefly touched on BBQ island ventilation earlier, but this is something you don’t want to overlook. It’s quite literally a matter of your family’s safety: when a gas leak is allowed to build up inside an island rather than venting into the atmosphere, dangerous explosions can occur. So, what to do? As mentioned above, natural gas vents need to be placed as high as possible on the island, while propane vents must be installed as low as possible. Plan for at least 1 vent every 4 feet, with no fewer than 2 on an island. Our outdoor ventilation planning guide is a helpful resource if you’re unsure of how to space your island’s vents.
But proper ventilation goes beyond what you install in the island — where you set up the island itself also plays a big role. If you plan to install it under a permanent structure, for example, then you might need to invest in an outdoor vent hood. An easy way to find out if your outdoor kitchen island needs a vent hood? Check out our outdoor ventilation buying guide!
That’s all, folks! They say no man is an island, so why not rely on our free 3D design service to help you design the outdoor kitchen you’ve always been dreaming of? At that point, you might as well also give our BBQ island experts a call 1-877-743-2269. They’re ready and willing to answer any questions we missed here, or to provide more clarification on what we covered. Congrats on taking the first step toward (grill) island life!