Ready to build that dream outdoor kitchen you’ve always wanted? If it’s time to pull the trigger and start grilling, smoking, and serving in the great outdoors in style, you’re in luck: outdoor kitchens have come a long way and the design options are seemingly endless. Whatever feel or motif you’ve created inside your home can be easily carried through to the back and out into your new outdoor kitchen. But even though it’s become so easy to re-create your indoor kitchen outside, there are a few key things to think about. The kitchen counter, for example: though you have the option to repeat what was done inside, you may not always want to. There are reasons to change things up once you’re talking outdoor cooking. Here are 6 big things to consider when choosing an outdoor kitchen counter.
Outdoor wear-and-tear can be rough
Durability is, of course, something you think about when you’re installing indoor kitchen countertops as well as outdoor. But it might matter a little bit more outside. Outdoor kitchens are exposed to inclement weather: heavy rains, heavy winds, and even flying debris can all befall your outdoor cooking space, so your countertops will likely experience far more wear-and-tear than indoor ones. If you live in a place with particularly significant weather events or lots of rain you might consider forgoing softer natural stone countertops (like limestone or soapstone). These could likely chip if hit with falling debris and would need to be sealed regularly lest they stain under heavy rains. Likewise, avoid butcher block; butcher block would also need to be sealed at regular intervals to avoid staining due to persistent rainfall, and even then might start to stain over time. Stick with countertops you know are sturdy: granite, quartz composite countertops, or even concrete countertops are all great choices that won’t stain with frequent rain and shouldn’t chip if hit with flying debris.
Direct sunlight = serious color fade
Where is your outdoor kitchen: in a place where the sun will shine down on it 16+ hours a day? That sunshine is wonderful – there’s nothing quite like grilling outside with the sun on your back and the wind in your hair. But for your beautiful countertops, sunshine can mean the end. That amount of consistent exposure to sunlight can, over time, cause the colors of certain countertops to fade (not unlike what happens to furniture if it’s consistently exposed to sunlight). Quartz is absolutely one of these: avoid it like the plague if your outdoor kitchen is in direct sunlight. Ceramic tile may also fade. Your best bets are granite, concrete, or porcelain tile for the sunbathed outdoor kitchen.
How much maintenance are you willing to take on?
Whether you’re talking indoor or outdoor, some kitchen countertops simply require more attention than others. Natural stone countertops – while gorgeous – tend to be fairly porous and therefore require regular sealing. This is as true outside as it is inside (if not more so). Limestone, sandstone and soapstone are perhaps the greatest culprits and will require frequent sealing outside to keep them clean and beautiful. Marble and granite are also porous (although a little less so). If you’d like to forgo the maintenance altogether, try tile. Tile countertops, once considered outdated, are now coming back into fashion, particularly for the outdoor kitchen as they are easy to maintain, heat resistant, and come in a wide range of styles, colors, and price points. Just make sure to use a dark tile grout; otherwise, you’re going to find yourself having to clean that grout regularly to keep it looking fresh.
Will high-heat cooking be an issue?
In the perfect outdoor kitchen, you should have everything you need to succeed without dashing back and forth to the (inside) kitchen. That should include trivets or hot pads: ideally, your outdoor kitchen will allow you to go without. An outdoor kitchen with soapstone countertops solves that problem, as you can set your hot pots and pans directly on it without issue. Granite, tile, quartz, and even butcher block can all take direct exposure to hot pots and pans, but it must be brief. Extended exposure to high-heat will inevitably damage the materials and melt sealants (if your countertops are sealed); this goes for indoor kitchens as well as outdoor.
Countertops themselves can get seriously hot
Choosing a heat-resistant outdoor kitchen countertop doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve chosen a surface that won’t get hot to the touch if it’s sitting in the sun all day. For your safety and your family’s safety, you need to choose a material that won’t start to bake, even in July. Light-colored granites are a great option. They’ll remain generally cool, even as temperatures soar. Avoid soapstone: this generally dark material retains heat more so than other natural stones. Concrete, likewise, can get very, very hot if left in the sun all day. For more information, please visit www.slabmarket.com.
Think about your wallet
No two countertops are alike: this holds true for indoor kitchens as well as outdoor. The durability, maintenance required, longevity, color, and style can all vary greatly, and so too can price point. If you’re willing to put in the time to maintain your outdoor kitchen properly and want it to look as glamorous as your indoor kitchen, there’s no reason not to choose granite or marble. Just make sure that the countertops aren’t in direct sunlight and that you’re willing to put in the work to keep them sealed. However, budget-friendly options can look equally stellar, and are sometimes even easier to maintain. Tile countertops are a mainstay of the outdoor kitchen: they come in a wide variety of looks and styles, are pretty easy to maintain, and won’t hurt your wallet too badly. Concrete has also become increasingly popular for outdoor kitchens and isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg like marble will (make sure though, that the concrete is installed properly and is kept out of direct sunlight).
Ultimately, you have a lot of options when it comes to designing your dream outdoor kitchen. Just keep in mind the amount of maintenance you’re willing to put forth, the wear-and-tear the kitchen is likely to face, and what certain countertops will mean for your wallet.