There are countless choices for an outdoor kitchen counter. Providers very often divide them into wood, laminate, stainless steel, concrete, tiles, and stone. All of them have valuable features for outdoors.
So what is the best countertop for an outdoor kitchen? In my opinion, the two best choices are granite and quartzite. As countertop is a space where food is prepared it’s worth having it resistant to stains, heat, and easy to clean. Those two stones have it all and are going to last for ages in beautiful shape.
I did research on the best stones for an outdoor kitchen. You can view results here.
I think Home Depot has a really nice service regarding natural stone countertops. They’re going to come over to your backyard to measure and cut everything right, and then come over and install a countertop. Warranty is always important if you buy a pricey item. Having a company produce a countertop for you and also install it gives extra comfort in case of damage.
What to look for in an outdoor kitchen countertop?
- Resistance to high temperatures. In an outdoor kitchen, there is usually a lot of hot appliances, pans, and dishes. This is an important factor.
- Resistance to staining. While cooking a lot of oily and acidic substances are being used. Porous materials are going to get stains if you do not wipe them immediately.
- Resistance to scratching. Using sharp tools makes this one pretty important. If you like your stuff to look as new pick one that is going to be able to deliver.
- Maintenance. If you’re not a handy type look for material that does not require a lot of care/ sealing.
- Looks. Get a countertop you like. It’s going to stay with you for a long time.
- Price. Sometimes you do not have to buy a high-end finish to make your kitchen look amazing.
I’ve done my analysis and to me, quartzite and granite are simply amazing for outdoors. But there are plenty of materials to choose from.
If you’re crazy about wood it might work great as an outdoor kitchen countertop as well, but it requires sealing. And care. It is definitely not going to be low maintenance if you want it to look nice. Personally I also love the look, I hate the work though… There is a solution though: exotic wood. Anyhow to me, it is rather material for cabinet doors.
Laminate, in my opinion, is not a good choice for outside. Outdoors moist not only may but will destroy it. Simply: not a good choice.
Stainless steel I find interesting. For industrial design, it looks crazy good. It is durable, especially when it’s structured. It has a few disadvantages too. Stainless steel countertop gets really hot from the sun, and this is a feature I look for in a grill, not a countertop. It might seem strange but you cannot cut or put hot pans on such countertop – as it is going to scratch and stain.
Concrete is a common choice for outdoors. Its main advantage is the price, but it also fits a lot of styles. It’s easy to make, easy to correct as well. Sealed with a proper solution it might do well. It may mimic stone. Unfortunately, it is porous so keeping it really really clean might be difficult. It’s also not the best choice for cold climate, as it tends to crack in the winter.
Tiles are another common choice. To be honest this is a full category of finishes, as tiles are made from a lot of materials: concrete, ceramic, stone, and more. My main concern here are grouts. How to keep them food-making clean is a big concern to me. If one of them is going to break what are you going to do?
Stone is simply the most durable and resistant material of all of those. I should mention here the previous sentence is true only for some stones. As I analyzed it I found out granite and quartzite are both equally amazing. Second stone choice was slate, and thrid soapstone. Marble, sandstone, and balsatina were way more high maintenance choices unless you’re ok with stains, scratches, and aging.
There is actually one more well-marketed choice for an outdoor kitchen countertop: dekton. It looks stone-like, has a good price and nice features. As owners and tests say it may chip off the edges.
How to choose a perfect slab for your outdoor kitchen countertop?
This is a peace of really important information, as even the name of granite or quartzite may not be enough to get a slab that is going to be low/ no maintenance. Fortunately, the test is easy to perform and cheap.
To perform the test you need a slab and three items: lemon juice, oil and a clock. Choose an out of eyeshot spot and put a drop of each liquid (size of a dime) on a countertop and start your observation.
- If juice starts to fizzle or bubble do not buy. This stone contains calcite and should not be considered for an outdoor kitchen countertop.
- The desired stone shouldn’t darken in 30 minutes. If stone got darker in 4-15 minutes it can be considered to be used outside only with sealer. Below 4 minutes leave it where you test it.
- After 30 minutes wipe the spots. Are they dull? If yes do not buy the slab.
This test should not be performed on an installed countertop as it may stain. After some time from buying you may check your countertop features with another test.
How to check if my outdoor kitchen countertop needs sealing?
There is a test that helps in figuring how many layers of sealer and how often need to be applied to a countertop. Also how fast it needs to be wiped when messy.
All you need is water and a clock. Make 3 dime-size drops of water on a countertop, start your clock and observation. If countertop darkens at any point wipe all of the drops.
After 3 minutes wipe the first drop. If you can see a stain it’s not good. Your stone needs multiple layers of sealer applied each year. The main rule with such material is to wipe it fast when it’s messy, as it can stain.
After 5th minute wipe another drop. If it’s dark under the drop multiple layers of sealer need to be applied every 3-5 years.
After 15th minute wipe the third drop. If your countertop started to get darker at this point you’re a lucky owner of close to perfect countertop. It needs one layer of sealer.
If your counter did not darken you’re a lucky owner of excellent quality outdoor kitchen countertop. No sealer needed.
This is a procedure you can run each time you’re not sure if everything is ok with your countertop.
Does the color of stone for an outdoor kitchen countertop matter?
For so many reasons: yes! Of course, it matters how the kitchen looks, but the color is an important usability factor.
If you choose a darker color for your countertop it is going to stain less. At the same time, it is going to get warmer from the sunbeams. With light colors it works opposite: they are more resistant to temperature but stain more easily.
To check if your slab is going to stain perform the test with lemon juice and oil. Even though white might stain more easily it really depends on the quality of your slab.
As there is a wide color selection dark doesn’t have to be black, and light super-white. Super-black can look great for the design, but it’s usability might not be great. Preparing food requires clean surfaces and with black countertop it is problematic to be sure of it (unless you cleaned it minutes earlier). Also lighter colors will not fade that much (or fading will not be so visible).
For uncovered outdoor kitchens lighter usually is a better choice. If your kitchen is covered you simply have more options.
Whichever you choose picking it with leather finish seems to be best option to have a countertop easy to clean with no smudges. Multiple companies state that leather-textured stone withstands one with glossy finish.