What Are The Best Countertops For An Outdoor Kitchen?

What is the best countertop for an outdoor kitchen? Read our Ultimate Guide To Outdoor Countertops!

Today, more and more people are enjoying time in their backyard entertaining friends and family. An outdoor kitchen is a great way to further enhance your ability to be a great party host! In order to be properly equipped to handle the needs of your guests, you’ll need plenty of countertop space for preparing and serving food, and maybe even some space for dining or a place to sit back and relax. The market is filled with great selections of countertops, but some materials are better than others for outdoor use. That being said, here are some of the best countertops for outdoor kitchens today.

Granite

Granite is perhaps the best material for homeowners to use as an outdoor kitchen countertop. This stone’s durability can stand up against the harsh conditions on the South Carolina coast with ease. Hot and sunny day? No problem! Granite can withstand the heat from the sun and hot pans without any issues. With a proper coat of sealant, granite is also resistant against stains, mold, and mildew so even the messiest gatherings or rainiest days won’t pose a threat. This natural stone is already very easy to maintain, but with a proper sealant, it will be even easier to take care of. Depending on the density of the granite you choose, you may only need to seal it once, but sealing it once a year will keep it looking fresh and pristine for your outdoor gatherings.

Granite is a homeowner favorite because there’s a huge variety of colors and finishes to choose from. No matter what style you choose, you wont need to worry about it fading under sun exposure. Sunlight can make darker colors hot to the touch, so you might want to purchase a lighter color if your outdoor kitchen doesn’t have shading. If you’re looking for to match the look of nature with your outdoor kitchen, consider going with a honed finish rather than a polished one. Overall, granite sets the bar high for materials to use in an outdoor kitchen countertop, but there are plenty of other great alternatives as well.

How To Pick Outdoor Countertops

Quartzite

Quartzite is another beautiful option for your outdoor kitchen. However, it should be noted that quartzite is not to be confused with quartz, which is a man made material. Quartz should never be used in an outdoor setting because the resin used in the creation process will turn yellow when exposed to sunlight and weather. Quartzite, on the other hand, shares many of the same qualities as granite and looks nearly identical to marble, but is much easier to care for.

When preparing food in your outdoor kitchen, make sure to use a cutting board because knives and sharp objects will leave scratches. Most of us use a cutting board anyways, but it’s still worth mentioning. You won’t need to use any special cleaners for this material, soap and water will do just fine. But, you’ll need to make an effort to clean them up quickly or else you risk them getting stained.

With quartzite, you won’t need to worry about its color fading in the sunlight, making it another great choice for an outdoor kitchen countertop. However, unlike granite, it can’t withstand high temperatures. While you won’t need to worry about a hot summer day damaging your quartzite surfaces, you’ll need trivets or pot holders for when dealing with a hot pan. It’s recommended to seal quartzite about once a year, but the durability of this hard stone will make it last for years to come.

Concrete

Concrete is another great material for outdoor kitchen countertops thanks to its high durability. The advantage of concrete is that it can be poured into many shapes to fit your outdoor kitchen’s exact dimensions and can come in a variety of custom finishes. You can even embed tiles and stones into it for a unique look that you won’t find in most other alternatives. While concrete does have the ability to be stained almost any color, there are some drawbacks. Sunlight can cause many colors to fade and yellow overtime. However, this isn’t an issue if you go with natural earth tone colors or if they’re placed under constant shade. If you’re a fan of utilitarian or rustic styles, concrete countertops are perfect for this look.

If you choose to go with a concrete countertop for your outdoor kitchen, make sure it is sealed during installation. Although this material is sturdy and durable, it’s still porous, leaving it vulnerable to stains and bacteria growth from nature’s elements. Sealing will also prevent cracking, which concrete is known to do. But don’t let any of these caveats hold you back because concrete still offers easy maintenance, easy clean up, and will withstand South Carolina’s coastal climate year-round.

Outdoor Concrete Countertops

Soapstone

You can’t go wrong with soapstone countertops for your outdoor kitchen. This dark, natural stone is very dense and non-porous. This gives soapstone the advantage that it doesn’t need to be sealed for protection against stains. Although sealing isn’t needed for maintenance, soapstone will darken if it’s exposed to liquids or oil from your hands. But the good news is, they can be simply washed off. Furthermore, if you choose soapstone for your outdoor kitchen, consider applying mineral oil to give it a beautiful dark shine.

Even though soapstone is very dense, it’s still a very soft material. If you’re thinking about choosing soapstone for your outdoor kitchen countertops, just be aware that is can be scratched and nicked from sharp objects. Thankfully, you can always buff these out with a little sandpaper. Maintenance is also a breeze. All it takes to keep soapstone looking clean and beautiful is a little soap and water… go figure!

Similar to granite, soapstone is also highly heat resistant so you can place hot pans directly on its surface. This material’s natural qualities also make it a fantastic choice for the outdoors because it can withstand rain, sunlight, and even cold temperatures. Being a naturally dark color does have one drawback, however. Under direct sunlight, it can get very hot to the touch so it’s important to use caution if the sun has been beaming down on it all day. But overall, soapstone is another top contender for outdoor kitchen countertops thanks to its well-rounded qualities.

Porcelain Tile & Slabs

You may already have porcelain inside your home, but this material can be applied to the outdoors as well. Porcelain can be manufactured in almost any color, finish, and can even mimic the look of other natural stones but with more advantages than their counterparts. Like many other options already mentioned, porcelain is non-porous, very durable, low-maintenance, and fade proof. Since this material is crafted under extreme temperatures, it too is very heat resistant and will hold up well even in chilly temperatures.

Preparing food on these countertops is a walk in the park. Being non-porous makes it safe to prepare food directly on its surface and you won’t need to worry about staining or etching.. But it should be mentioned that ceramic blades could scratch them, so just be careful if you use these knives around them. Plus, although it’s rare, this material can chip and repairs will be noticeable so use caution when handling heavy objects around these countertops.

Outdoor Tile Countertops

Marble

People believe marble is a material is better suited for indoors, and in most cases they would be right. But you can still make it work for outdoor usage too. If you’re a fan of marble and you want to use it for your outdoor kitchen countertops, there are a few things you should know before you make a decision. Under South Carolina’s typical rain and wind, a polished finish will almost certainly be worn away. You can, however, keep it looking fresh if you stay on top of sealing it regularly. But if you’re not a fan of maintenance, go with a honed finish instead.

Rather than deal with constant maintenance, use the weather to your advantage! Since you’ll be prepping food a lot on this surface, you should be aware that acidic food and drinks will leave etching and stains. However, if you’d like for your marble to age naturally for a rustic appearance, rain will work with you by washing out stains and blending in the etch marks. Marble is a very durable stone, so it will certainly hold up outside even with very little maintenance if you decide to let it age naturally.

Glass

Glass might not seem like a good material to use for an outdoor kitchen countertop, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Right off the bat, you might be wondering about its durability. This material can come in any thickness between 1.5 to 4 inches, allowing it to handle almost anything you throw at it (but not literally, please don’t throw any heavy objects at glass!). Glass is also rain, wind, and sun proof, meaning it won’t fade or get damaged from any of these elements.

From a maintenance and food safety standpoint, glass is one of the best surfaces to purchase. You won’t need to worry about bacteria, grime, or dirt seeping into these countertops since glass is non-porous. For cleaning, you don’t need to purchase any specific cleaning product like you would for other materials since glass can be cleaned with a wide variety of cleaners. You’ll still need to worry about etching from acidic foods and drinks, but you can use coasters or clean up spills quickly, which most of us already do.

As far as customization goes, glass has many options to help add a gorgeous look for your outdoor kitchen. You can embed shells, small stones, and other materials inside of it for a truly unique look. Glass can also be customized with many textures, colors, or a mix thereof to help it stand as a focal point during gatherings. And finally, you can even add LED backlighting for a jaw dropping appearance and nice place to gather around when the sun sets below the horizon.

Slate

Slate can be used for outdoor kitchens countertops, but it can be a little tricky. Slate is potentially one of the strongest materials for usage in an outdoor kitchen. However, the durability and other aspects of this stone can vary because no two slate slabs are alike. Some are more dense and harder than others, being able to withstand stains and constant use with ease. But some are more porous and will crack, stain, and scratch much easier. To prevent staining for the more porous slate slabs, you’ll need to apply a sealant on a yearly basis and keep up with routine cleaning. Denser slabs won’t need to be sealed as much, if at all for that matter.

Although slate is a strong material, it’s still a soft stone so it can scratching and chipping is possible, although it’s not very common. Like soapstone, you can use sandpaper to lightly remove any scratches. Slate is also very heat resistant like granite, so you can place hot pans on its surface without any worry of damage. If you can purchase slate that’s guaranteed to be high quality, then you won’t need to worry about its potential flaws. The quiet, yet elegant look and feel that slate offers might even make you want to spend more time outdoors!

Tile

Tile itself is very durable and long-lasting. Ceramic and granite tiles have the same great characteristics as their slab counterparts, but for the outdoors, tile has a few caveats. The grout work that’s required to install tile can attract dirt build up, stain, and break up much easier than slabs, so more maintenance is required to keep these countertops in pristine condition. The grout lines must be sealed in order to prevent staining and other issues than cause your tile countertops to fail, especially in an outdoor setting.

One advantage that tile offers is that they’re cheaper than a full slab, making it an attractive option for some homeowners. Plus, you can choose from a large selection of different stone tiles, such as granite, porcelain, slate, marble, and much more. You’ll just need to take into consideration about how these different materials will hold up in your region’s respective climate and weather cycles.

Tile Outdoor Kitchen Counters

Ipe Wood

If you love the look of wood and you want to use it for your outdoor kitchen countertops, then you should highly consider Ipe wood. Ipe is also known as Brazillian Walnut, and is famous for its exotic look. Now, you might be thinking how Ipe wood fares under normal weather and even more so for the elements on South Carolina’s coast. Compared to other species, Ipe wood is one of the strongest, hardest, and most durable types on the market, making it the best wood for outdoor settings. This species of wood is resistant to mold, rot, weather, and insects, which are all great characteristics for an outdoor kitchen countertop.

Ipe lumber comes in medium to dark brown colors, which work to create a tropical look and feel for your outdoor kitchen. The finish is very stylish, smooth, and doesn’t have any splinters so you can prepare food on it without a second thought. It’s also heat and even fire resistant so you can feel safe handling any hot objects near its surface. But if you want to keep your Ipe wood looking brand new, you’ll need to spend a little extra time with maintenance.

You’ll need to seal your Ipe wood upon installation to help further protect it from weathering. To prevent your Ipe wood countertops from fading to a silver color (unless you’re a fan of its patina), you’ll need to apply an appropriate sealer once a year. You can prevent this, however, if your countertop is under constant shade of if use a cover when it’s not being used. But overall, you can count on Ipe lumber to give you years of wonderful memories in your outdoor kitchen.

Ipe For Outdoor Kitchens

Out of all the contenders, granite is the best all around option for outdoor countertops, but you can’t go wrong with some of the other alternatives. To make the best decision for your outdoor kitchen, consider your personal design preferences, budget, your region’s climate, and the amount of maintenance you’re willing to put up with. If you’re looking to spend more time outdoors with friends and family, we hope that this guide was useful for choosing the best material for an outdoor kitchen countertop.

What Are The Best Countertops For An Outdoor Kitchen?

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