In any kitchen, the workspace is always at a premium and this would be no exception in an outdoor kitchen. You can never have enough counter space. Whether it’s for preparing food, serving, or just space for your guests to sit and visit. Just like we chose appliances that are outdoor rated to stand up to the elements, we want to consider the same when selecting the countertop. Whether you are looking for a simple surround on a built-in barbeque grill or an elaborate outdoor kitchen, you want to choose the countertop that suits your style, your cooking goals, and the outdoor elements in your area.
Depending on your space and layout, you may want to consider an extended countertop area with stools for a bar or dining area. Another option is using a stepped design in your countertop so you can prep at a traditional countertop height of 36” and serve at the bar height level (42”). To accommodate the grill, outdoor countertops tend to be deeper than what you may be used to indoors. Typically, the depth is between 30-36” as opposed to 24” indoors.
Let’s explore the available materials to choose the best option for your design and lifestyle. An outdoor countertop needs to be durable, weather resistant, easy to clean, and look great. There are many material choices including granite, concrete, tile, and more. We would recommend avoiding manufactured countertop materials such as quartz and Corian as they can fade when exposed to UV rays.
Granite is easy to maintain in an outdoor application, it is not affected by rain or snow, you are able to set your hot tools or trays directly on the granite, and it cleans up easily. With Granite you get a luxury look and a durable solution. Made from natural stone, each slab is unique and beautiful, and can help you bring your design dreams to life in your outdoor kitchen.
In order to reduce expenses with granite, fabricators often have remnants available that may meet your countertop needs at a lower cost if the square footage is not too big. We would recommend avoiding darker colors of stone that may absorb heat and could become hot to the touch.
Quartzite would have similar capabilities to granite and would also be a good outdoor choice.
Like Granite, Marble is made of genuine natural stone. Marble comes in a large variety of colors, all with a luxurious look. Marble is more porous in comparison to granite and quartzite and will be more prone to staining. This is especially true when using acidic ingredients such as citrus, oils, and alcohol. Marbles color will fade over time outside particularly the darker marbles. This can be re-polished every few years and restored to new if you are set on getting marble for your outdoor kitchen.
Other types of natural stone such as bluestone or slate can also be used for outdoor countertops. Limestone and Travertine would not be recommended for outdoor kitchen use, they are both print to etching, and too porous for a countertop surface.
We mentioned above that quartz can be affected by UV rays. Too much direct sunlight can elicit a chemical reaction of the polyester resins and synthetic pigments used during the production of quartz. This could cause discoloration of your countertop. As long as the quartz is sheltered, say in a covered area, it can be safely used in outdoor kitchens. The goal is protection from constant exposure to sunlight. You would want to clear this application with the quartz manufacturer prior to using this material in an outdoor application.