Choosing the best stone for an outdoor kitchen counter is a crucial moment of the design. It makes an outdoor kitchen either a hit or a miss. Poor material is going to stain, scratch, etch and will make your outdoor kitchen look not satisfying in a short period of time (not to mention it is going to require a lot of attention).
What is the best stone for an outdoor kitchen? The best stones for an outdoor kitchen are granite and quartzite (not quartz). These stones are the most resistant to high temperatures, staining, etching, and scratching from all accessible materials. The other available options are slate, soapstone, basaltina, sandstone, and marble.
How to make the best choice in the given price range? Is it possible to somehow check the stone slab quality before installation? In the article below you’ll find a table with stone types comparison and tests you can run on both a slab and a countertop.
What is the best stone for an outdoor kitchen? Which can be used?
Not each stone works well with an outdoor space and cooking. Some of them are porous, stain easily and change color from UV rays. Stone is a premium material, so mistakes at this choice should be carefully avoided.
Below is a table I prepared that shows features of each stone type and its price. There are only stones that can be and already were used as outdoor kitchen countertops. I hope I’ll be able to help you with your decision.
|Resistant to high temperatures||***||***||***||***||***||***||***|
|Resistant to staining||***||**||***||***||*||*||*|
|Resistant to etching||***||***||***||***||**||*||**|
|Resistant to scratching||***||***||**||No, also easy to dent||**||**||*|
|Require sealing?||No||No||No||No, but needs oiling||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wide color range?||2500+ color and patterns||Yes||Yes||Limited||No||Limited||Yes|
|Price range per sq. ft.||$45 – $200||$70 – $200||$65 – $115||$70 – $120||$30 – $90||$20 – $60||$40 – $200|
Despite all the data listed in the table, there are plenty of factors to take into consideration before picking the stone type for your outdoor kitchen, like:
- What is your lifestyle? Are you going to use an outdoor kitchen often?
- Are you ok with instant cleaning and maintenance?
- Is the exact style of the stone more important than durability to you?
- Are you a person who is going to use countertop carefully, or you rather need a solid solution that cannot be destroyed?
Answering these questions is crucial to figuring a perfect stone for your outdoor kitchen. I’m not the constantly cleaning & careful type, so from my point of view countertop needs to be resistant to human actions. And this is far more important than any other factor. I know I would not have fun while using space where I have to be aware of my actions all the time.
So to me, there are 4 stones to choose from for countertops: granite, quartzite, slate, and soapstone. They come in such a variety of colors and patterns that everybody should be able to pick the one. Best of those 4 are granite and quartzite, as soapstone and slate are not resistant to scratches. Soapstone also needs oiling to keep the same color in each area of a countertop.
Granite is a stone that is highly recommended for outdoor kitchen countertops and its features are hard to beat. It is resistant to staining, etching, and scratching. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns that is incredible – 2500+. Cleaning and maintenance are easy – very often it doesn’t require any sealing.
Quarzite is also an excellent choice for an outdoor kitchen, as it is resistant to etching, and scratching. It usually comes in lighter colors, so the stains may occur. Maintenance of this material is low, cleaning is easy. There are plenty of colors and patterns to pick from.
You can put hot pans on slate and it’s not going to scorch. This material is anti-bacterial, which means it will not grow mold or mildew. On the cons side, scratches can occur and it can crack under excess weight. There are not as many color options as with other types of stone. Slate countertops are “weathering” outside, which means they’re fading from the sun. If you are not into “aging with grace” it can be a huge drawback.
Soapstone is also an interesting solution, as it looks awesome and still has pretty good features. So it is resistant to staining and etching. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty soft stone, so dents and scratches are going to be a part of it in some time. Parts close to water going to change color in time, so it’s worth oiling it to get same color shade everywhere.
These types of stones come in a variety of prices – from $45 up to $200 per sq. ft. So they should suit most of the budgets. I would say to go for most durable solutions from your price range, but I have friends who are capable of being conscious all the time, so it can work another way too.
If you consider stone as a finish for your frames every stone from the list should do ok.
Unfortunately, general specifications are not describing specific slabs of stone. Sometimes even granite may be porous and not durable. But there is a way to figure if slabs picked for your outdoor kitchen countertop are going to work as you wish.
How to check if your stone slab is an excellent quality?
Fortunately, there is a solution to this query: Lemon Juice and Oil Test. It should be performed on a slab, not a ready kitchen countertop, as it can damage the surface polish of calcite-based stones (yes these innocent materials constantly used in a kitchen can damage low-quality surfaces!).
To perform the test lemon juice, oil and a clock are going to be needed.
- Create a dime drop of lemon juice and oil drop that are going to be the size of a dime.
- Look at the stone surface through drops. If it is getting darken right away the stone is absorbent and shouldn’t be used in an outdoor kitchen.
- Does the juice start to fizz or bubble? This means stone contains calcite and it shouldn’t be used in an outdoor kitchen.
- If the stone is getting darker in 4 – 15 minutes it can be used in an outdoor kitchen, but sealer has to be applied.
- The desired stone shouldn’t darken in 30 minutes or even longer.
- Let’s double-check: wipe drops and look where the lemon juice was applied. Is the spot dull? If yes do not use the slab.
That is all nice when you’re looking for a perfect slab. But what if you already have a counter that needs to be checked?
How to check the quality of an outdoor kitchen stone counter you already use?
The Water Test goal is to figure out how many layers of sealer should be applied to the stone. So if you already have a counter to check this one will do the trick.
This time all you need water and a clock:
- Make a dime-sized drop of the water and start your observation.
- If the stone starts to darken immediately it’s not good. Multiple layers of sealer need to be applied yearly. Also, spills need to be wiped up quickly.
- Your stone turned darker after 4-5 minutes? That is a way better result. Still, multiple layers of sealer need to be applied every 3-5 years, but staining shouldn’t be a big issue.
- Surface darken after 10 – 15 minutes? That is close to awesome. One layer of sealer needs to be applied.
- If your stone did not darken until 30th minute struck, or at all? You are a lucky owner of an excellent quality outdoor kitchen countertop!
If your stone needs help you can find some sealer ideas here.
What stones to avoid in an outdoor kitchen? Final tips on choosing a stone for an outdoor kitchen
If you have an outdoor kitchen that is not covered, it’s worth considering lighter shades of stone. Dark stones can get real hot from UV rays.
While lighter shades seem not to warm as much, they’re more likely to stain. So picking up a white stone, that is not top-quality, might be not such a great idea.
And the most important one: before picking a stone that is calcite-based, even if it’s ridiculously beautiful, it’s worth thinking twice. Or even thrice. Unless one is ok with staining, etching, and scratching.