Outdoor Counter Tops
Your In-Depth Guide to Outdoor Kitchen Countertops
An outdoor kitchen is the perfect place for dinner parties, relaxing afternoons, and small outdoor celebrations with friends or family. There are a lot of things you can do in this outdoor space, and you can elevate the experience with the right appliances, furnishings, and equipment.
One of the most important yet underrated parts of an outdoor kitchen is the countertops. Many people are focused on stuff like grills and smokers, so they end up getting the most generic countertops. However, this outdoor kitchen component is more than just a working surface. It’s an aesthetic element and highly functional area that could make or break your experience.
In this guide, we’re going to share the basic considerations you should make for your outdoor countertop as well as the different materials it can come in. Keep reading to see the options you have for your outdoor living space.
What Makes a Good Countertop for Your Outdoor Kitchen?
An outdoor countertop has a few qualities that make it different from indoor countertops. Perhaps the biggest of these is its ability to withstand weather and the elements. Since it’s exposed to direct sunlight, rain, and other natural phenomena, it needs to be sturdy and resistant to high temperatures. This durability also applies to heat from cooking and frequent use during busy days.
Then there’s the matter of aesthetics. You’d want to invest in a countertop that ties together the aesthetics of your entire outdoor kitchen. There are natural materials and styles if you want to go for a unique look. If you want a more modern look, there are others that offer a more subtle yet sophisticated appeal.
Types of Countertops to Consider
Today, outdoor kitchen countertops are made primarily from natural and man-made hard materials. These are the ones that can be easily molded and polished without sacrificing aesthetic value and durability.
1. Concrete Countertops
Concrete as a countertop material became popular in the 2010s as many people started DIY-ing parts of their homes. Since concrete starts out in a fluid form, it’s easy to mold into any shape desired by the homeowner. It also offers a sleek and contemporary look that’s all the rage today.
However, we still recommend that you let a professional install this. Setting it properly is crucial to make it last for as long as possible. Concrete countertops are also prone to cracks and chipping, and they can fade over time when exposed to UV rays. It also needs to be sealed from time to time since the porous material will otherwise absorb stains and spills easily.
2. Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops are engineered stones, meaning they are artificially manufactured and later shaped into the slabs you see in homes. These are favored by many interior designers, so many people are thinking of adding quartz countertops outside to join the trend. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it looks.
The material is colored using resin. Resin, while it is an attractive substance, doesn’t do well under direct sunlight, fading into an unappealing shade of yellow over time. That’s why most contractors say it’s really only a good choice for indoor applications. However, if you really must have it, make sure that the countertop is sheltered from direct sunlight.
3. Stainless Steel Countertops
The sleek, utilitarian, and straightforward design of stainless steel countertops make them a very appealing option for no-nonsense homeowners. The material is also one of the best options for heavy-duty work since it’s very durable. In addition, stainless steel countertops are easy to clean, won’t need routine resealing, and are generally the most low-maintenance option.
Of course, this material’s lack of visual appeal may turn off homeowners who want something more aesthetically pleasing. And since it’s made of metal, a stainless steel countertop gets hot under the sun. You need to be extra careful when working around it on hot days to avoid burns.
4. Marble Countertops
One of the most popular options in today’s market is marble. The material is a classic in outdoor kitchens, with a variety of colors available for every preference. While it’s still relatively softer than other stones like granite, marble is very sturdy and can last for a long time. However, it does need regular resealing to avoid scratches and other signs of damage.
You might be tempted to get polished marble, but that’s only suitable for indoor kitchens. The coating will wear off if you place it outside. The better choice is a honed finish, which doesn’t change appearance even in the long run.
5. Soapstone Countertops
Soapstone is a naturally-occurring material that’s been a staple in the countertop industry. While not as well known as granite or marble, this one is still a favorite option for many homeowners. It has the same veins as marble and often dark hues that add a sleek look to your outdoor kitchen.
The material is softer than granite, however, so it’s prone to scratches. However, you can easily sand away signs of damage and leave your surface looking like new. Perhaps the biggest drawback of this material is that it’s prone to darkening because of oils and stains. This can be remedied with the routine application of mineral oil.
6. Outdoor Granite Countertops
Granite countertops are often considered the best choice for outdoor use. The natural stone is extremely durable, weather resistant, and comes in an array of shades and colors. It’s even available in pink! For these reasons, this material has become a staple in outdoor and indoor kitchens alike.
The only drawback of granite countertops is that they need regular resealing. Since the stone is porous, it can absorb stains, oil, and other liquids unless it has a layer of coating. However, this only needs to be done annually, so it’s not much of a dealbreaker to most.
7. Other Natural Stone Countertop
Marble, granite, and soapstone all belong to a larger category called natural stone countertops. While those three are the most popular options available, there are so many other varieties to choose from.
Some stones are better suited for certain climate zones, which is an important consideration when choosing a countertop that will last for life. Lava stone is one of the most heat-resistant materials out there, but it can be rather pricey. On the other hand, flagstone is a popular choice for milder climates. This one is sought-after for its rustic look. Finally, there’s slate, which is known for its stain resistance and durability. While it’s not a primary choice for indoor kitchens, the material fares well in an outdoor setting.
8. Porcelain Countertops
The biggest advantage of a porcelain tile countertop is its durability. It’s among the strongest materials out there, and it’s virtually scratchproof. Only ceramic knives and other sharp utensils made from the same material can do damage, so avoid using those if you’re planning to get a porcelain countertop.
Porcelain does not need sealing, won’t fade under direct sunlight, and can stand up against impact. Best of all, it’s one of the cheapest options out there, so it’s really no wonder why it’s one of the most popular materials.
9. Laminate Countertops
Speaking of affordable countertops, laminate countertops are arguably the most inexpensive material available today. These are made using thin pieces of paper tightly stacked on top of each other and a particle board to serve as support. Because they’re easy to work with, many people use them for DIY projects.
Unsurprisingly, the low prices of this material mean there are many drawbacks. For one, it’s really better suited for indoor use. While you can use one outdoors, it’s susceptible to warping during extreme temperature changes. It’s also less durable than those made of stone and other natural materials.
10. Tile Countertops
Strictly speaking, a tile isn’t really a material used for a countertop. But it’s one of the options available. In this case, the tiles are made from other materials like ceramic, marble, and porcelain. Underneath will be concrete, plywood, or other bases that can accommodate each piece.
The biggest advantage of a tile countertop is its customizability. So many colors, patterns, and textures are available, so you can choose whatever fits your aesthetic or vibe. However, tiles can be brittle, especially when they’re thin, so you’ll probably start seeing chips and cracks the more you use it. At the same time, it’s much easier to repair a single tile than it is to replace an entire countertop when it sustains damage, so it’s really up to the homeowner’s preference.
11. Outdoor Wood Countertops
Wood countertops remain popular because of how gorgeous the grain is. They look stunning outdoors and serve as the perfect complement to the greenery outside. Depending on the kind of hardwood you get, the countertop can be more durable than some natural stones on the list.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of wooden countertops, however, is the constant maintenance that they require. To keep them in the best condition, you’ll need to regularly apply food-grade oil, remove stains, and dry off excess moisture. Cross-contamination is also a potential issue, especially if the surface is not sealed properly.
12. Dekton Countertops
Dekton countertops are manufactured by Cosentino, and these have steadily made their way as one of the best countertop options. Thanks to the mixture of quartz, glass, and porcelain, Dekton has many qualities that make it a cut above the rest. It’s heat and scratch-resistant, extremely durable, and comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. Hot pans and acidic foods don’t stand a chance.
Of course, no material is perfect. Aside from being on the expensive side, Dekton countertops have printed patterns that don’t penetrate the inner material, so if chips appear they can be quite visible.
Final Thoughts on Outdoor Kitchen Countertops
When it comes to choosing the best material for your outdoor kitchen countertop, you have many options available. There are many qualities to consider, too, such as durability, weather resistance, aesthetics, and pricing. Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of the characteristics you prioritize the most in your own kitchen.
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