What are the best countertops for outdoor kitchens?

Image by Jeremy Levine via flickr // Photograhpy by Lance Gerber

An outdoor kitchen is a great way to extend your home’s square footage, but selecting a countertop is one of the most important parts when it comes to planning and designing for an outdoor kitchen. For example, knowing the weather conditions where your project is located is key to the longevity and durability of the countertop to withstand conditions and constant wear-and-tear of kitchen blades.

Investing in an outdoor kitchen is a great way to take advantage of the outdoors while entertaining. It can provide you with a comfortable atmosphere for cooking and socializing with friends and family. In addition to grilling, it can also accommodate appliances such as a refrigerator, ice maker, mobile beverage cart, dishwasher, and more.

To create a functional outdoor kitchen, one must consider the placement of nearby elements in the backyard, such as the pool, a firepit, walkways and/or gardens to see how these elements fit and connect with each other. Bringing the space together creatively and functionally, separate container plants can be planted with herbs nearby to use while cooking in the outdoor kitchen. 

The placement of the outdoor kitchen is always site-specific and plays off of existing structures or mature trees within the field. Ideally, the kitchen should be constructed in a place where the design minimizes site impact while maximizing the outdoor space so you can enjoy socializing with family and friends and still have enough room to cook and clean up.

While an outdoor kitchen is a perfect addition to any backyard and a great place to host parties and barbecues with friends, family and nearby neighbors, the selection of the right countertop is key to the longevity of the structure. One must consider how salt exposure, water, or the sun can be a major factor in the durability of the material. 

How much do outdoor kitchens cost?

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If you’re thinking about installing an outdoor kitchen, there are a few things to consider before committing to the project. For example, putting a sink outside an outdoor kitchen is a popular addition. You can purchase a top-mount sink for around $750, or go with a cheaper alternative like an under-mount sink. Both options require plumbing, water lines, and labor. If you’d like a sink, you can expect to pay another $500-$2000 to install. A natural stone sink can cost up to $60 per square foot.

Adding appliances to your outdoor kitchen, in general, can be an additional expense from initial expectations. Some appliances, such as refrigerators, require power from the breaker box and could cost from $200 to $1000, depending on the brand and model of your kitchen. 

Another common appliance to add to your outdoor kitchen is a stainless steel grill. The costs of these pieces vary, but generally, a stainless steel grill can cost anywhere from $300 to $4000. You should consider your planned usage before choosing a sink or other appliances. Having a sink, refrigerator, and lighting will require a power source while installing a natural gas grill will require natural gas piping.

The final cost depends on the type of structure you’re building. The size of your outdoor kitchen will have a big impact on the cost, as it limits the types of appliances you can put in it. A long, thin, and lightweight structure is more affordable than one with a complicated layout. The length and width of your outdoor kitchen will determine the total price. Whether you choose to go with a satellite or a perimeter kitchen is another important decision, since the design and materials used will determine the final cost.

The materials of an outdoor kitchen depends on the type of paving and structure that surround the area. A custom built structure is the most expensive option, but prefabricated frames can be purchased for a lower price. The construction of a modular prefabricated frame can save money by eliminating additional steps and expenses. Furthermore, the construction process can be more efficient and convenient, allowing you to use your outdoor kitchen for more activities and entertainment. The cost of an outdoor kitchen can vary from $3,000 to hundreds of thousands depending on the complexity.

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How to plan for an outdoor kitchen?

When you’re installing your outdoor kitchen, you should consider the depth of the countertop. This is a crucial consideration if you want the space to be functional. You should consider how you intend to use the countertops. If you’re going to use the area primarily as a cooking area, you should opt for a multi-level countertop. Once you’ve chosen a height for your outdoor kitchen, you can now proceed to install the cabinets.

After deciding on the material for your countertop, you should choose the edge that you’d like. The edge of your countertop is essential and can make or break the overall look. For example, you can choose an ogee edge, a style with arches. Or, you can also use a double-stacked ogee border, which involves two layers of granite to create a beautiful effect. A half bullnose is another great option. This type of edge has a completely rounded edge, which allows for a nice cross section of the stone.

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Once you’ve decided on the materials for your outdoor kitchen, you need to decide on the height of your countertop. A countertop should be at least 36 inches tall. If you are planning to add an outdoor refrigerator, the height should be up to 38 inches. If the countertop is too low, you might want to consider adding a small table to it. All in all, you’ll need to plan for the counter to fit in with your outdoor kitchen.

What are the best countertops for an outdoor kitchen?

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Choosing a countertop for an outdoor kitchen is more than just aesthetics. The choice of material is crucial. You should choose a countertop that is durable and aesthetically appealing. For example, a dark stone countertop may not be the best choice in an open sunny area, as it can be very hot and can cause problems in your cooking area. If a dark stone countertop were to be under a shaded structure of some sort, that would be a better choice.

Besides marble, granite and other natural stones are great to use for outdoor kitchens. You can even choose a concrete countertop, which is a very popular option among homeowners. However, these types of material can be expensive and require regular sealing. Additionally, they need to be cleaned frequently, which could make them unsuitable for use outdoors depending on the homeowner’s outdoor cleaning routine and budget for ongoing maintenance.

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Granite

A granite countertop for your outdoor kitchen will add style to your entire space. These remarkably durable surfaces are infinitely stylish and are low-maintenance. And because there are so many beautiful finishes to choose from, you can be sure that your outdoor kitchen will stand out from the rest. You can choose from a range of styles, including a rustic look or a modern look. Below are some ideas for choosing a granite countertop for your outdoor kitchen.

Quartz

Installing a quartz countertop for an outdoor kitchen is the perfect way to bring the convenience of an indoor kitchen outdoors. Because quartzite is a naturally occurring stone, it does not fade in sunlight and is highly resistant to scratches and stains and manufacturers like Caesarstone are leading the industry with new materials. However, if the surface is exposed to extreme sunlight for long periods of time, the surface will begin to deteriorate. To maintain the beauty of your outdoor kitchen for many years, you must seal the countertop annually.

Concrete

A concrete countertop for an outdoor kitchen would make a beautiful addition to your new deck. The process can be challenging, but the results are well worth it. Make sure to seal the surface of the countertop with a waterproof sealant. This will ensure the concrete is easy to clean and maintain. The countertop will survive the coastal climate year-round in South Carolina. Once it dries, it will be ready for use. A concrete countertop can be a great addition to your outdoor kitchen.

Steel

The perfect stainless steel countertop for your outdoor kitchen will make your outdoor space look beautiful and provide a practical work surface to any outdoor design aesthetic. Manufacturers like Danver include stainless cabinetry in their design with matching countertops, making it easy for installation, but this surface has its own pros and cons. Before you choose a steel countertop, consider your overall outdoor kitchen design and climate. This is especially important if you live in a hot climate or have limited shade. You should also consider the amount of time and effort that you are willing to spend maintaining the countertop.

Lapitec

Lapitec sintered stone is a natural, recyclable outdoor kitchen countertop option. Unlike other countertop materials, Lapitec is natural, recyclable, and completely resistant to staining and mold growth. This means it will be easy to clean and maintain. In addition, this sintered natural stone is eco-friendly and contains no resins or petroleum derivatives, making it a safe and durable material that resists heat, scratches, and corrosion, as well as extreme cold and moisture temperatures. You can even cook on it without using a cutting board! This is an incredible addition to your outdoor kitchen if your design criteria prioritizes eco-friendly products.

Soapstone

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance countertop, soapstone is an excellent option for an outdoor kitchen. It is easy to maintain and comes in various colors, but it is a durable material that will withstand harsh elements. Soapstone doesn’t require sealing, so you won’t have to worry about scratches. The only downside to using soapstone is that it can stain when it gets wiped down, but it doesn’t stain the surface.

Glass

Glass is a good choice for outdoor kitchens because they are both UV resistant and low-porosity. These materials also hold up well to heat and stains. In addition, these surfaces can be found on the market and ordered online. You can even find fabricators to install them in your backyard! Just make sure you choose a reliable fabricator! 

Porcelain

While porcelain is said to be one of the best countertop materials for an outdoor kitchen, there are types you should avoid. Stainless steel and some metals are more porous than others, so they are not the best options. They also need to be sealed. The surface is often exposed to harsh weather, so a cover will be a good idea.

Wood

Although wood is a popular choice for countertops for an outdoor kitchen, it is not the most durable option. This type of countertop needs to be treated regularly with food grade oil to protect it from moisture and prevent it from getting cracked. 

Conclusion

Regardless of the material you choose, careful planning and research are the key to a successful and budget-friendly outdoor kitchen. By knowing the layout of the kitchen, contractors and building professionals can immediately gauge an estimated cost of an outdoor kitchen without factoring in the material. 

Asking for alternative pricing on different material countertops is a productive way to review an arrangement of options that are durable for your weather, functional for your needs and can withstand all kinds of wear-and-tear.

Outdoor kitchens are meant to be enjoyed. Creating memories around an outdoor kitchen is possible with less hassle and easy maintenance when you know what you want and what your location requires. 

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