Last updated on October 15th, 2022
When building an outdoor kitchen, one of the biggest decisions you will need to make is deciding which countertop material to install. This is important because when cooking outside, your kitchen is exposed to the weather, and only a strong, durable material will take all that bashing. So you might be asking –what is the best material for an outdoor kitchen countertop?
The best countertop material for an outdoor kitchen is arguably natural stone, given its durability and the abundance of styles and colors it offers. Granite is the best natural stone for your outdoor kitchen countertop. It is resistant to all the weather elements, easy to maintain, durable, and comes in a variety of colors. It also doesn’t warp, crack and is resistant to stain, mold or mildew.
However, each material has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice you make will depend on your style preference, budget, and the weather conditions in your area.
In the following sections, we look into some of these materials and offer our recommendations based on advice from outdoor remodelers and designers.
Table of Contents
Why outdoor countertops are important
If you plan to cook outdoors, you will need ample countertop space to prepare and serve your food. It can also serve as a relaxation spot for enjoying a cold drink.
Also, having a countertop will allow you to make the most of your outdoor space and save you the stress of constantly going back and forth to the kitchen anytime you prepare a meal.
Thirdly, you need to install an outdoor kitchen countertop because regular laminate or quartz won’t do. Even though these materials are great indoors, they can’t survive for long when subjected to the conditions outside.
Besides, these countertops are available in various styles, sizes, and designs. It’s almost impossible not to find something that will complement your yard.
What Is The Best Material for an Outdoor Kitchen Countertop?
Although there are many materials commonly used for indoor countertops, not all are appropriate for outdoor use. In this section, we are going to look at which outdoor materials to consider.
Granite needs no introduction. It’s arguably the most popular outdoor countertop material. It also happens to be one of the toughest and most durable options out there.
In terms of its origin, granite is a type of natural stone made up of mica, quartz, and feldspar. Each slab is naturally fabricated, making it possible to obtain various patterns with beautiful colors and veins. There’s hardly any other countertop material that offers as many design options as granite.
Granite can also come in different textures, which could be honed or polished.
One of the major advantages of granite that makes it perfect for outdoor application is its ability to withstand the elements.
It is also highly resistant to heat, so briefly placing a hot plate or pan on it won’t cause any harm. The surface is fairly scratch-resistant and doesn’t etch as quickly as other stone materials; so, unintentional dicing or slicing shouldn’t cause any damage.
It is worth noting that most granite countertops need to be sealed to make them completely stain-resistant. However, lengthy or constant exposure to heat can cause the sealants to weaken. So it’s always recommended to reseal the material at least once a year.
Also, a granite countertop tends to chip if beaten too much by tough objects. This is more pronounced at the edges.
Just like granite, marble is another natural stone countertop material known for its classic and luxurious look. Every sheet is unique and looks different from others. They also come in various natural colors and patterns.
Although marble is commonly used indoors in high-end kitchens, it may not be perfect for outdoor use. And this is mainly because of its porous nature, which makes it susceptible to etching from acidic foods and drinks. The stains left behind can be very hard to remove.
In other words, using marble countertops may require a lot of maintenance to keep them looking new. This mainly involves sealing it regularly.
That said, marble looks beautiful as it ages and weathers; this itself can help reduce the appearance of stains.
Unfortunately, the material is not resistant to scratching and chipping.
If you intend to use marble outdoors, make sure you go for a honed or polished finish. This will make the surface less porous, which reduces etching. I will also recommend choosing matte color as they’re better at hiding stains.
Like other natural stones, marble is quite durable and will last for many years if properly maintained. However, it can be pretty expensive and usually require professional installation.
Tile is a good choice for an outdoor kitchen countertop and provides a wide range of styles to choose from. It is budget-friendly and doesn’t require an expert for installation. If you’re experienced with DIY projects, I bet you can get the job done.
Tile also comes in various shapes and sizes, ranging from the classic squares we are familiar with to stylish hexagons and subway tiles. For a simple modern touch, keep it simple and smooth, or you can use patterns to obtain a more eclectic appearance. If you desire a traditional feel, then go with a natural stone design.
Interestingly, tile is highly resistant to the elements and will last for a very long time if properly cared for. However, it has a great risk of cracking, especially if you live in a colder region. This can incur additional costs for replacement, not to mention the challenge of finding an exact match.
In terms of maintenance, all tile countertops have a common issue, and that is grout discoloration. You can avoid this by choosing a darker colored grout such as black or grey.
Tile is often installed outdoors with a waterproof broad.
Porcelain countertops are thought to be better than ceramic tiles for outdoor use because they are denser, more durable, and don’t fade under the sun.
They are available in virtually any color you can imagine and can be made to look like other types of natural stone.
Also, porcelain is non-porous, low maintenance, and can withstand heat and chilly conditions. It doesn’t require sealing and won’t stain or etch. However, it can be scratched by ceramic knives, so you need to be careful when using those. The material can chip when subjected to heavy objects, but this rarely happens.
Overall, I will say porcelain is a “win-win” material for outdoor installation. It is hard to go wrong with it!
When it comes to durability, concrete is a top-dog. As long as you seal it during installation and regularly afterward, you can expect it to last a lifetime. Sealing is necessary to prevent bacteria growth, cracking, and stains, as the material is porous.
Concrete is also very versatile. The cast can be customized into many shapes, making it easy to fit into the exact dimensions in your outdoor kitchen space. You can even stain it to any color and adorn it with stones and tiles.
Also, concrete is more affordable than granite, but you will need someone experienced to handle the installation. This is important to prevent cracking and ensure the material is sealed correctly.
It is worth noting that the color of concrete can fade over time when exposed to sunlight. But this can be avoided by placing the countertop under a shade or opting for concrete with natural earth tone colors.
Overall, a concrete kitchen countertop isn’t a bad idea, especially if you’re out for anything rustic or utilitarian. It is also easy to clean and maintain.
Soapstone is another natural stone that makes an excellent choice for an outdoor countertop. Unlike granite, it doesn’t require sealing against stains. This makes it easier to maintain.
To clean the countertop, all you need is water and mild soap. You can also apply mineral oil on regular occasions for additional protection and to give it a dark and beautiful shine.
Soapstone is non-porous, incredibly dense, yet soft. This is why sealing is not necessary.
Although the material is dark, it will darken more if you fail to clean it regularly. It can also get nicked and scratched by sharp objects. Though you can easily buff this out using sandpaper. Like granite, soapstone is heat-resistant. So don’t be afraid to place your hot pot or pans on it.
When it comes to aesthetics, wood is a saver. Who doesn’t admire the rustic look, especially when used for an outdoor countertop?
But together with the high reward also comes high risk. Wood is inherently fragile and can be hard to maintain whether it’s used indoors or outdoors.
In fact, the maintenance requirement is intensified when it’s used in an outdoor setting. This is because here, it is subjected to sunlight, rain, snow, and other elements. For many people, the pristine, rustic look will be worth the extra effort.
You will need to coat the surface with special oil and varnish regularly. This will help to prevent mildew growth and rot and ensure it doesn’t soak up water. You will also need to sand regularly and coat with varnish to keep it looking fresh and sharp.
Although stainless steel countertops are not common outdoors, they are still worth considering if the conditions are right. If you’re not going to install it under a shade or cover, then you probably shouldn’t use stainless steel. This is because the material can get extremely hot and reflective when directly exposed to the sun.
Also, stainless steel can be quite expensive to install, as it needs to be fabricated and installed by a professional. So do keep that in mind if you’re going for it. Also, make sure it’s insulated to reduce its noise.
On the plus side, stainless steel blends elegantly with other outdoor appliances and has low maintenance and easy cleanup. It works best for those who prefer sleek and minimalist designs.
I recommend building a pergola over it as a covering.
Copper might be worth considering if you have existing copper elements in your backyard. It has a high-end luster that requires little maintenance and easily blends into any outdoor living space. Over time, it can develop a patina look, especially when not polished on a regular basis.
Luckily, copper is non-porous, which makes cleaning easy. It also possesses antibacterial qualities.
As with other metals, copper can get pretty hot when exposed to direct sunlight for a long time. It also happens to be one of the most expensive countertop materials out there.
Slate might not be a popular countertop material, but it’s still a potential candidate for an outdoor kitchen.
Your success with slate highly depends on your ability to select a high-quality material, as no two slates are exactly alike.
High-quality slate materials are denser, harder, and more durable. Unlike granite, they don’t need to be sealed regularly and can withstand hard use, stains, and scratches.
On the reverse, low-quality slate slabs are more porous and thus need to be sealed at least once a year to prevent staining. They require routine cleaning and are vulnerable to different kinds of damage, including cracks, scratches, and stains. Just like soapstone, you can remove scratches with sandpaper.
Be mindful of the color, as darker slate will get hot in direct sunlight.
You may already be familiar with quartz, which happens to be a very popular option for indoor countertops. Unfortunately, quartz is not suitable for outdoor use as the resin can easily turn yellow when exposed to the weather for a long time.
Quartzite is an alternative that can work well outdoors. It looks just like marble and offers some of the good qualities of granite. Thus, unlike quartz, it won’t fade when subjected to the sun.
However, it can’t withstand high temperatures, which is something granite is known for. So it’s better not to place a hot pan or pot directly on the surface. Instead, use a trivet or potholder.
Also, cleaning should be done hastily with soap and water to avoid getting it stained. Quartzite should be sealed yearly to maintain its durability.
Laminate is an “entry-level” material with a low price tag. So it’s a common choice for homeowners on a tight budget. While it works well indoors, it is not recommended for outdoor kitchens.
This is because even though the laminate surface is durable and easy to clean, the particleboard cannot withstand the harsh conditions outside. Specifically, continuous exposure to humidity, heat, and moisture will cause it to warp or rot. These conditions are not prevalent indoors, which is why laminate countertops are commonly used indoors.
So my advice to you is to leave laminate indoors and look for other outdoor-friendly countertop materials that will hold up well to sun and rain and other outdoor elements.
Tips for choosing the best outdoor countertop
Before putting out your money for any countertop material, here are some factors you need to consider.
This one is no brainer. Your countertop is most likely going to hold the largest surface area in your outdoor kitchen, so you want it to look as good as possible. Here, you want to consider the pattern, style, and general outlook.
Ideally, you want a design that will blend with all the other elements around, such as the floor, cooking appliances, and so on.
You want to choose a countertop surface that is not too reflective when exposed to direct sunlight. Or else, it would be difficult to use the countertop at certain times of the day because of what the light does to the eyes.
Also, the material shouldn’t get too hot either due to sunlight or the heat from your stove. The last thing you want is to get burned on your countertop.
Color is another thing to look at when choosing an outdoor countertop. This is important because color doesn’t only influence the overall look of the kitchen but also the amount of heat the surface will retain.
A lighter-colored countertop wouldn’t be as hot as a darker-colored countertop when subjected to the same amount of heat.
In the same manner, darker color shades create a bolder and more sophisticated look, while soft, lighter colors tend to appear more relaxing.
If you care about your countertop getting stained, then you need to pay attention to porosity. Staining is a common problem with porous countertop materials.
If you end up choosing a porous material, make sure you go for something darker, as this will conceal the spots and marks.
This one is quite obvious. If you’re choosing a countertop for outdoor use, then it should be able to withstand the elements. It should survive the rain, sun, and snow without getting damaged.
Finally, the size of your pocket will also play a role in determining which countertop you end up installing.
Materials like marble and copper can be quite expensive, while porcelain, tile, and quartzite might be more affordable.
What is the most low-maintenance countertop?
For the most low maintenance outdoor countertop, I have to give it to porcelain.
Unlike other stone materials, porcelain doesn’t require sealing and won’t etch or stain.
As earlier indicated, cleaning is pretty simple and straightforward. Just wipe with clean water and mild soap. You can also oil it from time to time to maintain its shine.
What is the most durable and stain-resistant countertop?
Quartz is generally considered the most durable material for indoor countertops, but for outdoors, that feat goes to granite. Granite is beautiful and durable and offers a lot of unique patterns and colors that do not fade in sunlight or heat. And with properly sealing, you can make it stain-resistant.
What is the most stain-resistant countertop?
Slate doesn’t need to be sealed to make it stain-resistant. So we can comfortably say slate is the better choice for the most stain-resistant material for outdoor countertops. But unlike granite, it can scratch easily.
By now, I’m guessing you’ve chosen a suitable countertop material for your needs. It is now time to begin your backyard makeover.
Besides being made for outdoor use, you also want a countertop material that will work for your design.
If you follow the tips above, I have no doubt your outdoor kitchen will become a cooking haven where everyone will love hanging around.
Let me know if you have any more questions about what is the best outdoor countertop material.