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Deep Dive: Countertops for Outdoor Kitchens

January 25, 2020

The addition of an outdoor kitchen can transform any backyard into a space ripe for entertaining. However, creating the perfect outdoor kitchen for your home can be a tall task, especially when it comes to deciding which materials to use. Unlike choosing materials for an indoor kitchen, mother nature is often the final say on which materials are fit for your outdoor space. Any outdoor kitchen needs to be built with materials that are made to withstand the elements. So when it comes to finding the best countertops for your outdoor kitchen, always look at durability first and select for aesthetic second. Functionality over fashion should be your motto.

Let’s break down a few options for your outdoor kitchen countertops.

GRANITE

Most individuals consider granite to be the ideal material for the outdoor kitchen. Granite is a natural, durable stone that will last in nearly any environment. It is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, meaning it will look great in almost any outdoor space. Granite is easy to maintain and while no stone is completely resistant to UV fading, granite is much less susceptible than other stones and it’s also very hard to scratch. If you want to keep your granite looking fresh for decades to come, the occasional application of sealer will keep your countertop protected against the elements. Due to its durability and the variety of options, granite is widely viewed as the perfect material for an outdoor countertop.  

SOAPSTONE

Soapstone is another durable option that requires little maintenance and holds up well to all types of substances, namely acidic foods and liquids. Soapstone also does not require any type of sealer as it is an extremely dense material and is naturally non-porous making staining of little to no concern. Looks-wise, it does not provide much variety as soapstone generally appears only in darker tones. These darker tones rarely fade in direct sunlight but will cause the surface of your countertop to heat up easily. Should you experience fading over time, a quick coat of Soapstone Wax will bring the original luster back to life. Soapstone is another great option for any outdoor kitchen as long as you don’t mind the reduced aesthetic selection.

MARBLE

Marble is an upscale looking material that is durable but requires regular, substantial maintenance to retain the upscale appearance its often chosen for. If you decide on using marble for your outdoor kitchen, it is critical that you apply a resilient finish to the stone and only consider doing so if the countertop is under cover of an awning or pergola. The wrong finish can easily be worn away by direct sunlight and rain and severe weather can really exact a price. Like concrete, marble requires a special sealant to help prevent staining. This is especially important when it comes to acidic foods that may be prepared on your outdoor countertops. Marble can bring a great look to any outdoor kitchen, but its relatively soft composition makes it susceptible to damage and is thus a risky selection. Durability ultimately depends on the climate you live in and how well you care for the stone.

QUARTZ

Quartz is often thought of a nearly invincible countertop option for all areas of the home which is why most people are surprised to learn that it should not be used in outdoor applications. Quartz can fade rapidly from UV exposure and will easily deteriorate in humid environments. It’s best to avoid quartz at all costs when looking at outdoor countertop materials. However, if you’re considering a fully covered patio where the countertop won’t receive direct sunlight and if you live in a mild climate quartz just might creep into the discussion. Just don’t plan on a manufacturer warranty if something goes wrong!

CONCRETE

Concrete has recently become a popular option for all sorts of spaces, indoor or outdoor. It brings an industrial, yet clean and simple appearance to the space it is installed in. Concrete can withstand almost any element as long as it is crafted and installed correctly. If crafted and installed incorrectly concrete becomes highly susceptible to cracking, especially in environments where extreme freeze/thaw occurs. Concrete countertops aren't as simple to create as they may seem, in fact, concrete countertops are typically considered an artisan craft and anytime you're enlisting someone to custom create a finish, you can expect to spend some money. Concrete countertops require substantial rebar support and careful, professional installation. Sealant must also be used regularly to prevent discoloration and staining and scratches and chips are especially difficult to repair on a concrete surface. So, while concrete may seem like a simple and inexpensive choice at first blush, you may find yourself wishing you'd have gone a different direction. If you have your heart set on it be sure to do the research, check references, and make certain that the provider knows what they're doing!

Ultimately, there are several suitable options when it comes to choosing the best countertops for your outdoor kitchen. It is important to note that some materials are better than others in different climates such as colder or warmer climates, or even in places where it may rain more. Make sure you take these factors into account and do your research before you make your decision.