Having an outdoor kitchen can instantly transform your garden into a living space that you and your family love. An open-plan design also makes your home look and feel so much larger than it is. When creating your perfect outdoor kitchen, there are several different elements that you need to consider. What can often get lost in the middle of all of your planning is your kitchen counters. It can be tempting to pick your counters based on aesthetics alone, but this isn’t always the best choice.
You need to choose your counter material based on what is going to last when exposed to the elements. Outdoor kitchen counters aren’t going to last as long as indoor ones, because they go through so much more. You don’t need to worry, though, as there are so many different options to choose from. You can have the kitchen of your dreams, and ensure that it lasts as long as possible.
What stone counters are available for use in outdoor kitchens?
There are so many different stone countertops to consider, it can become overwhelming trying to look at all of them. Here are some pros and cons for each type, allowing you to make a better choice based on practicality.
Although marble is an incredibly popular stone for indoor counters, it is not the best choice for outdoor ones. It is incredibly porous. When looked after correctly with the right sealant, this is not an issue. But long term, you do not want to be continually resealing your outdoor counter, you want something that can exist a bit better as it is.
Marble is heat resistant, but not heat-proof. This means that direct sunlight will not necessarily cause any damage (it may heat up the counter, though). What you need to be more careful about is placing hot pans directly onto the surface. Marble will scald if you place hot pots, pans, and appliances directly onto its surface. Of course, there are ways to deal with this particular problem – use trivets and coasters to prevent any damage.
Marble is a great stone for indoor kitchen counters, but it is slightly too high maintenance for outdoor kitchens. Unless you are prepared to keep up with all of the necessary cleanings, resealing, and polishing, it may be best to look elsewhere.
Granite is a great choice for outdoor use, but you have to be careful what kind of granite you are looking for. Dark granite (black) absorbs the heat from the sun (and any nearby cooking appliances). This can lead to discomfort or even burns if you place your hand on the counter. Avoid this issue by opting for a lighter granite color.
Another pro for granite counters is that they will not fade/discolor in the sun. Prolonged exposure to UV rays should not have any effect on how your counters look over time.
Granite does still require a significant amount of maintenance. Depending on your outdoor conditions, this could really skyrocket. Although lighter granite is better for heat resistance, this is actually a lot more porous, so you will need to be very careful regarding staining. Just like with an indoor granite counter, you must be careful to wipe up any spills. Many things can stain the surface of the granite.
If you find that your counter is staining a lot, you may need to reseal it more frequently than you have been doing. It is recommended that you reseal approximately once a year for indoor counters, but this may shorten for outdoor counters. You need to be able to commit to this long term.
Although concrete isn’t technically a stone countertop, it has enough similar properties. Concrete is a really solid, durable option that truly can withstand the outdoor elements. It isn’t going to crack, it’s heat resistant, and it fits in really well with modern styles. This is becoming an increasingly popular option, and many great designs can be created with this material.
Looking online, you will easily find several different articles that teach you how to make your countertops. It may appear easy, but you need to leave it to the professionals. They need to be reinforced with hi-tensile steel or something similar, and most people just don’t have the skills to do that. If not done correctly, your counters will easily crack. It’s also possible that even if you got a professional to complete the job, they might not finish the task correctly – make sure you do your research.
Concrete is not necessarily the cheapest material to choose, but if done correctly, it will save you a lot of money in the long run with lowered maintenance costs. These are probably going to be lower than some of the other stone options.
Limestone is a very popular choice when it comes to indoor countertops, so it makes sense that some fo this popularity would be seen in outdoor countertops as well. The lighter shades make it a nice, brighter fixture that helps to warm up your cooking space, compared to darker stones that can make it feel smaller and colder.
Limestone is an option that is great with heat – you don’t need to worry about damage from the sun, ovens, or fire pits. The stone may get warmer, but will not experience structural issues. As long as you are careful when touching the hotter parts of the counter, you will be fine.
One thing that you must be conscious of when creating your countertops is that limestone is a relatively soft material compared to some of the others on this list. It is prone to scratches and nicks. Always use a cutting board when chopping food, and be extra careful when setting down heavy items, to avoid accidentally chipping the counter.
Soapstone is porous to some extent, but not as much as marble or quartz. This means that it is far less likely to stain. This is excellent news and means that you will generally have to deal with less upkeep. It will inevitably have to be resealed again, but less infrequently. It doesn’t experience issues with direct sunlight exposure, and so you don’t have to worry about any fading or discoloration caused by UV light.
Soapstone can easily look dry and lackluster, so you may find yourself needing to oil it to keep it looking shiny. This is going to occur more if it is left in direct sunlight to dry out continuously. Of course, you don’t need to constantly be doing this, as it has no structural effect on the counter, but you may feel as though for aesthetic purposes, you should.
Quartz is not a good option for an outdoor stone counter. This material is highly susceptible to sunlight, and direct exposure to UV is going to cause damage and discoloration sooner rather than later.
However, if your counters are in a shaded area that isn’t going to get directly exposed to sunlight, you may still opt for this stone. It’s durable and will last for years to come, even when exposed to outdoor elements. This is a non-porous stone, which is great for many reasons. Firstly, it means that it is less likely to stain. You are also less likely to get bacteria inside the stone, which can cause stains but also unpleasant odors that are difficult to remove.
When it comes to non-porous stone surfaces, you will need to undertake a lot less maintenance and upkeep. You will obviously still need to clean your counters and make sure to watch out for nicks and scratches, but they don’t need to be continuously resealed like some other options.
If you want something a little different for your outdoor kitchen, you can opt for stone tiles. These come in a full range – whatever stone slabs you can find, you will almost certainly be able to find tiles as well. The major draw to this is cost – it is far cheaper to buy tiles than it is to buy a slab.
Tiling your outdoor kitchen will obviously create a different appearance and feel to your space. This is not necessarily better or worse. It will all depend on the style that you are looking for. But this is a great way to incorporate patterns to make a bold and durable countertop.
Maintenance is key to any stone counter
As long as you have considered the pros and cons of each type of countertop, you should be able to find a stone option that works for you. No material is perfect for every situation, but you can still get one that works with the rest of your outdoor kitchen.
No matter what type of stone countertops you choose, just knows that there will be upkeep required for all of them. This can vary in terms of how much is required, but be prepared to invest at least a little time, effort, and money into ensuring that your counters stay looking great.