Rolling Outdoor Island Building Plans

Friday, April 15, 2016 -
Learn how to build your own rolling outdoor grill island.

*This post contains affiliate links and sponsored content paid for by Simpson Strong-Tie®. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced. 

Is the weather gorgeous where you live too? In Arizona, this is the time of year we have to run outdoors and take advantage of the nice temperatures while we still have them. 120 degrees are right around the corner.

I knew I wanted to build an outdoor island to house our new grill. The problem is, you can't build one out of wood (for obvious reasons), and if I built one out of cinder block, like you frequently see, then we couldn't take it with us when we eventually move. I partnered up with my friends from Simpson Strong-Tie, and came up with a rolling outdoor island, built with steel studs and connectors. 

To make things easy for you I provided affiliate links for the materials below, but I found everything locally at Home Depot.

Materials List:

Cut List
  • (6) steel stud @ 81"
  • (8) steel stud @ 30-1/2"
  • (4) steel stud @ 33"
  • (2) steel stud @ 30"
  • (10) steel stud @ 15"
  • (4) steel stud @ 12"
  • (2) steel stud @ 22-1/4" (notched according to plans)

  • (1) cement backer board @ 30" x 20-3/4"
  • (2) cement backer board @ 36" x 22-1/4" (notched according to plans)
  • Once the frame is built, take measurements and cut remaining cement backer board

* I designed these plans to accommodate my particular propane grill (Dyna-Glo 4-Burner LP Gas Grill - $169 at Home Depot). Measure your grill before building. You may need to modify some dimensions. 

Working with steel studs is a little different than wood. They require either pre-drilling holes or using self tapping screws. You also have to build a little differently than you would with wood. The biggest differences are:

- Steel studs are hollow. You can't screw into one side or into the ends. 
- You will have to use an angle grinder or metal cut off saw to cut the studs to length. You CANNOT use a standard,toothed saw blade to cut steel. 
- Cut steel can have very sharp edges, so you will want to wear leather gloves while handling. 

It takes some getting used to, but you can handle it! 

1. The first stage was to build a box. This became the smaller side of the island. I ran four, 30-1/2" studs vertically. I faced all steel studs with the hollow side facing inward. 

I constructed the box, using *Simpson Strong-Tie® RTC2Z connectors on six of the corners. On the last edge of the box, I joined the horizontal sides to the vertical stud using a *Simpson Strong-Tie® RTF2Z connector; one facing up and one facing down. One end of the RTF2Z connectors will stick outside the box. Don't freak out if the box feels very wobbly and weak. It will get beefed up later. 

2. Next, I created a larger box in the same manner as the first box, with one exception. I slid one RTC2Z connector on each leg, and screwed it in place 15-5/16" from the top edge of the box.

3. I aligned the boxes so the RTF2Z connectors point to each other. I connected the two boxes together with two, 30" studs, hollow sides facing inward. 

4. There was now an open space in the frame where the grill would sit. The four back corners weren't attached to anything, so I placed a  *Simpson Strong-Tie® A21 angle in each corner and screwed each into place. 

5. Next, I created a shelf in the center of the larger box. I placed studs in the empty connectors and screwed them in place, creating a  9-7/8"  open space above and below the shelf. 

6. To give the shelf additional support, I needed to add a support stud horizontally through the center. I cut the studs at 22 1/4". Then, I notched each end, leaving a 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" tab on each end of the top edge. I centered the support and drove two screws through each tab and into the studs below. To reinforce the support, I added a A23 angle connector in each corner on the solid side.

7. Adding some "L" and "T" straps to the top of the frame gave the structure some much needed rigidity. 

8. With the basic frame built, it was time to build the floor. 

I cut six, 81" studs. I aligned a stud on each long edge and screwed it in place. I spaced the remaining four studs evenly in the open space and screwed into place. There will be small gaps between each stud. 

9. In order to attach casters to the bottom of the frame, I had to fill up the hollow space inside two of the studs. I flipped the frame over so I could access the bottom. The space inside a steel stud measures about 3-1/2" x 1-3/16". I used my table saw to re-saw a stock, redwood 2 x 4 down to size, although a band saw would work best. If you don't have a table saw, you could use a 1 x 4 board and a 3-1/2" wide strip of 3/8" plywood, stacked together. 

I needed to use a mallet to "encourage" the boards all the way into the studs. 


10. I used six, 175 lb swivel, plate casters. I ran four, 1/4" x 2" hex bolts through each caster plate, and through the wood board and steel stud. I placed a washer on each end and tightened the bolts with a lock nut on the top side.

11. Using a diamond wheel on my grinder, I cut a piece of 1/4" x 30" x 20 3/4" of cement board. I placed it over the floor of the opening and screwed it into place. I cut two additional cement board panels at 36" x 22-1/4". I notched a 3-5/8" x 1-1/2" rectangle from each corner and placed a panel on each shelf. I screwed them into the studs below. 

12. I made my own countertops. I followed the same process as when I made my own bathroom vanity countertop. If you're interested in making your own, click over for the full tutorial

If you wanted to get fancy, you could have natural stone countertops cut for you. Whatever material you use, remember this DIY outdoor kitchen is going to be beat upon by the elements. I created my countertop in three sections:

  • 16-1/2" x 25-1/8"
  • 29-7/8" x 3"
  • 38 x 25-1/8"

This gave me a 1-1/2" overhang on all outside edges.

13. I cut cement board panels and attached them to the outside of the frame, and inside the shelf space. I then sealed each seam with sanded grout caulk. 

At this point, the island was completely built. The cement board is a blank canvas. You could coat the exterior in stucco or tile for a traditional look. With the heavy concrete top, I was concerned about adding any additional weight, so I decided to try something new. I discovered Rustoleum makes a deck and patio coating called "10X". Its very durable, safe for concrete, and comes in dozens of colors. 

I picked up a couple gallons, tinted in the color "Spruce". I rolled on two coats and allowed it to dry. I dropped in my new grill and was ready to rock!

So far, the 10X coating is awesome! It looks and feels very similar to modern stucco. 

I decided to add a couple hooks on the smaller side, providing a place to hang utensils. 

Although the island is very heavy, it rolls smoothly. 

Since my grill runs on propane, I need to be able to access to tank. I left the grill side of the shelf spaces open, so I can easily reach in to open the gas valve.

What do you think? Are you ready to get grilling? Pin the image below to save the idea for later and stop by for more fun, outdoor ideas.

Learn how to make your own rolling outdoor grill island with FREE building plans

For more outdoor DIY ideas, check out How to Make a Solar Mobile Chandelier, and how to make a DIY Industrial Style Tiki Torch

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  1. That looks really awesome!! What a great idea. You inspired me for our grilling ideas. Thanks!

  2. First off, I always envy your coolness and ability to design and build stuff, but secondly, is your hair blue?? WOW! Even cooler. =D


    1. Haha thank you! Yep, blue hair is my attempt to try to stay young.

  3. Great design. How do you access the propane tank to change out when empty?

  4. Its a unique and stylish piece of work. and thanks for giving us such a great idea..

  5. I always have such great respect for DIYers. I grew up with constant DIY at home courtesy of my Dad. He built me a tree house when I was little and I loved it! Will show your project to him. Maybe he can build one for Mom. Thanks for the post Elisha!

    All the best,

  6. I am looking to see what the total cost of the project was for the island itself without the countertop or grill.


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