AOK Outdoor Cabinets - Big Picture
07/15/14 - 19:18 Filed in: Gear | Cabinets | Review
The two topics I get asked about the most via the Contact Form for this site both have to do with the grill gazebo I designed and had built in September of 2012. People have questions about the grill gazebo itself or the outdoor cabinets within it that are holding my two Big Green Eggs. There has been enough interest in the cabinets that I thought I might write a blog entry about them that answers some of the typical questions I am asked. For length reasons I split this into a two part blog. The first part will be an overview of the cabinets themselves and the second part will cover topics related to the installation and use of the cabinets for my grills.
THE COMPANY: The cabinets are made by a company called American Outdoor Kitchen out of Arkansas. Despite the fact their logo shows the dome of a Big Green Egg above their name, they do make outdoor furniture for other types of grills. The furniture can also be used independently of any grill. In my case my Big Green Egg dealer carries the line of cabinets, which they in turn get through their distributor for the Big Green Egg. The last time I looked the American Outdoor Kitchen dealers tended to be more regional than local. There is a dealer locator on their website you could use to see who carries the cabinets near you. I should add that the company has great customer service and will work with you to try to accommodate any special needs.
THE CABINETS - GENERAL: The company divides their products into two lines: Outdoor Kitchens and BGE Outdoor Kitchens. They recently added some new tops to the Outdoor Kitchen line which have openings to allow you to build in gas grills of various widths. On some parts of the site the BGE Outdoor Kitchens line appears to have been rebranded as the Kamado Collection, but it is not consistent throughout the site. This makes sense because most of the kamado grills completing with the Big Green Egg come in sizes similar to the BGE Large and the BGE XL. Regardless of what you call it, the only units that are specific to the Big Green Egg or other komado grills are the two base cabinets intended to go under the Large or the XL BGE's. The two grill bases I got several years ago had little metal plaques mounted above the cabinet door saying Big Green Egg. I am guessing they've discontinued using the plaques with the rebranded Kamado Collection. Other than these two special grill base cabinets in the Kamado Collection and the drop-in grill tops in the Outdoor Kitchens line, the two lines are the same.
THE CABINETS - SIZES & TYPES:
Single: The single unit base cabinets are 27” x 27” x 36” H (69 x 69 x 91 cm) and consist of:
- Drawer/Door Base (26” H (66 cm) Operable Door Below / 8” H (20 cm) Operable Drawer Above)
- Sink Base (26” H (66 cm) Operable Door Below / 8” H (20 cm) Dummy Drawer Front Above) The sink appears to be an 18” x 18” (46 x 46 cm) bar type sink with a single source (cold water) faucet.
- 3 Drawer Base ( 2 @ 13” H (33 cm) Large / 1 @ 8” H (20 cm) Small Drawer)
- Corner Unit (Finished on all sides but no Doors or Drawers)
Single - Kamado Collection Only: Also in the 27” x 27” footprint are the units for supporting a Kamado grill:
- XL Base 21” (53 cm) High (One 19” H (48 cm) Door)
- Large Base 19” (48 cm) High (One 17” H (43 cm) High Door)
Double: There are 50 x 27” x 36” (127 x 69 x 91 cm) double wide Server units consisting of:
- Pair Drawers / Pair Doors
- Drawer/Door & Open (Opening sized for 2.5 cu. ft. under cabinet refrigerator)
High Top: There are various configurations of so called High Dining Units which are 63” wide (160 cm) with 42” high (107 cm) high top counters.
- 30” (76 cm) High With Double Base Cabinet 30” High Base Cabinets below - Pair of Door Units
- 36” (91 cm) High With Single Base Cabinet & Open Base Cabinet 36” High Base Cabinets below - Drawer / Door unit 1/2 of width & Open (Opening sized for 2.5 cu. ft. under cabinet refrigerator)
Grill Cabinets - Outdoor Kitchen Line Only: There are two grill cabinets for drop in gas grill mounting:
- For Up To 60” (152 cm) Wide Drop-in Grills 75” x 27” x 36” H (191 x 69 x 91 cm) with notched top and 3 Door Base Units.
- For Up To 30” (76 cm) Wide Drop-in Grills 50” wide x 27” x 36” (191 x 69 x 91 cm) with notched top and 2 Door Base Units.
Accessories: There are various accessories made for the cabinets such as:
- Locking Casters
- Slide Out Waste Basket
- Top Extension (Side shelf and mounting brackets)
- TV Cabinet 39” x 15” x 29” (99 x 38 x 74 cm) cabinet intended to sit on top of counter top and conceal flat screen TV behind a pair of bifold doors.
- Rear Panel (Filler piece to fill back of dropped kamado grill cabinets. Brings cabinet end up ti countertop height.
CONSTRUCTION: Carcass: The exterior surfaces of the cabinets are constructed from boards made of a recycled plastic material called Envirotech. The interior framing members appear to be made of nominal 2x2 (1 1/2” x 1 1/2” or 3.8 x 3.8 cm) real wood cleats stained to match the Envirotech colors. The construction consists of a skeleton frame of the 2x2 wood members to which an outer paneled skin of Envirotech boards are attached. The outer Envirotech skin has the appearance of wood board siding with shiplap joints. The board siding pieces appear to be 5” (13 cm) T.I.G. members scored on the exterior side to appear as two 2 1/2” (6.5 cm) boards. There is a wood grain extruded into the plastic used on the various exterior surfaces, Because these cabinets may be used singly in a freestanding application, all exterior surfaces are finished with the vertical shiplap siding type cladding, There are 2 5/8” (6.7 cm) wide single corner boards on all 4 outside corners with the same extruded wood grain finish. These corner boards are not L-shaped, they are a single piece facing frontwards or rearwards. They project out from the face of the cladding and also stick out beyond the side cladding around the corner behind them. The corner boards lend a nice appearance, but also serve to hide the intersections of the cladding panels at the corner. Inside the cabinets the skeleton frame is exposed to view as are the back sides of the exterior cladding panels, so there is a vertical seam every 5” o.c, This seam is a tight butt joint type seam. The back side of the exterior cladding (inside the cabinets) and all of the visible framing members have a smooth finish to them. The bottom of the carcass consists of 5” wide T.I.G. boards tightly joined to one another.
The tops consist of a mitered wood grained picture frame type 1 1/4 x 3/4” (3.2 x 1.9 cm) surround on all four sides with rolled outside edges. The 12” x 12” (30 x 30 cm) tile for the tops is set into the middle area inside the surround.
Doors & Drawer Fronts: The doors and drawer fronts are an inset panel of the shiplap siding-like material with a 2 5/8” (6.7 cm) picture frame surround on 4 sides. The panels are set into a slot routed into the center of the picture frame surround.
Door & Drawer Hardware: The drawers used a good grade of extension slides and the doors use a European style hinge recessed into the back of the door styles. In looking at the information on the website today, mention was made of switching to Type 304 stainless steel hardware. This is the most rust resistant version of stainless steel. This change was made because a lot of these outdoor Kitchens are installed near the ocean, a particularly harsh environment for metals. I am assuming this means my hardware was made of 403 stainless or chrome, but with my cabinets under my grill gazebo I am not too concerned. Where I bought my 4 cabinets in 3 separate purchases I ended up getting two styles of pulls on the doors and drawers. The company made this right for me.
Base: The bases of the cabinets are a solid redwood board on all 4 sides. The base is not very tall, only about 1 1/2” high (3.8 cm), which presented me with some problems in my initial installation. The first cabinet I bought did not have any leveling legs on the bottom. The door to the cabinet actually hit the concrete surface of my terrace when it swung out. This was due to the slope of the concrete terrace. The second cabinet I bought did have threaded leveling legs and the company sent me some leveling legs to retrofit my first cabinet. I would prefer to have a higher base too, but the addition of the leveling legs does help. The other thing I don’t like about the base is it is not recessed just on the front (door) side like a Kitchen cabinet. It is recessed on all 4 sides. This is most likely done because the cabinets may be used by themselves in a freestanding mode. This means when you put two cabinets side by side there is a gap between the adjacent bases. This would make a nice home for 4, 6 and 8 legged creatures. I bought some 3”x3” (7.5 x 7.5 cm) foam pieces which I squished into place in any gaps in the cabinet bases.
Carcass: The Envirotech material for the cabinets now comes in three colors, up from the two available when I bought mine. The color I have is called “Deep Redwood”. The other original color is called “Coastal Gray” and looks like the color of weathered wood. The newest color is called “Chestnut”. I must admit that from the picture I wasn’t real impressed, but I will reserve judgment until I see the color in person vs. a picture on a website. I will admit while you can tell it is not real wood when you are up close, from a distance of 3 feet (90 cm) away it is hard to tell the cabinets aren’t made from real wood.
Countertop: The countertops use a Black & Tan British granite which goes well with the “Deep Redwood” color of the cabinets. There is now a porcelain tile option for the countertops, which I haven’t seen yet. The granite is sealed with a Dupont Exterior Sealer and is said to be good for 5-10 years. In a weird twist of fate. this granite countertop matches the color of the new granite top in my recently renovated Kitchen. The outdoor cabinets were newly installed at the time I ordered the Kitchen granite. I wasn’t aware until the Kitchen granite was being unloaded from the truck in my driveway, that it was the identical granite. It looks like it was intentional, and that should be my story, but it really was a happy accident.
Warrantee: The cabinets, hardware and tops carry a 5 year warrantee on defects to the original purchaser.
PRICE: I can only give a ballpark range on this since I’ve only purchased 3 types of these cabinets. At the time I bought my units 2 years ago the bases for the Large BGE were $500. The single width Door Base Cabinets and Drawer Base Cabinets were +/- $1,000. In my case the Door Base was on sale and was just under $1,000 and the Drawer Base was around $1,200. Now I realize this information may have scared some folks away, but I don’t think the prices are unreasonable. At the time I was getting these cabinets, my Kitchen was being renovated and I was buying indoor cabinets. When looked at through that perspective, the AOK cabinets weren’t that expensive. The AOK cabinets are finished on 4 sides, not 1 like a Kitchen cabinet. The AOK cabinets come with the countertop included unlike a Kitchen cabinet. The AOK cabinets are much heavier than a Kitchen cabinet and therefor cost more to ship. The AOK cabinets are made to survive in an exterior environment which is harsher than a Kitchen. You have temperature swings of 100 degrees not to mention rain or snow. The materials such as the hardware or screws need to be moisture resistant which adds to their cost.
TO BE CONTINUED:This concludes the overview of the American Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets I bought for use in my grill gazebo to hold my Big Green Eggs. Part 2 of this entry will cover the installation and use of the cabinets.
SOME RELATED LINKS Here is a link to the American Outdoor Kitchens website where you can download a PDF catalogue of their cabinets and use the Dealer Locator to find a dealer nearest to you. Additionally there is a link to Part 2 of this blog entry.
AMERICAN OUTDOOR KITCHEN WEBSITE
AOK OUTDOOR CABINETS - HANDS ON
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