Extending your living space into your backyard is an excellent way to transform a property into a home. If you plan to add a kitchen-like space on your patio, complete with sink or stovetop, you’ll need to make sure you choose the right outdoor countertop material to complement it.
What Countertop Material Is Best for Outdoor Use?
The outdoor countertop material you choose plays the biggest role in how long the countertops hold up. With that in mind, the decision is not one to make lightly. While considering things like appearance and installation ease, the most important determining factor should be durability under outdoor conditions. With that in mind, natural stone, concrete, or tile will be your best bet.
Granite is a commonly commonly used outdoor countertop material. It has many qualities in its favor, including impressive durability in both wet and hot conditions. From heavy to snowfall to perpetual UV exposure, granite can take it. Though granite does have to be sealed regularly, once it has been, it is highly resistant to stains, mildew, and mold. This makes it an ideal outdoor countertop material if you plan to have barbecues with grease and ketchup.
Soapstone provides another option for outdoor countertops. Though the color choices are limited to grays and blacks, it too is very hardy. It holds up well under heat, so even if a hot pan is accidently placed without a pot holder, the stone won’t suffer. Like granite, it is also stain resistant. Unlike granite, soapstone is nonporous, so it does not have to be sealed regularly. Soapstone also holds up well under acidic conditions. You can cut your limes or tomatoes right on the countertop without having to worry about etching the stone.
Marble, on the other hand, isn’t a great outdoor countertop material, though with some determination and elbow grease it can be made to work. It too has to be sealed upon installation and regularly afterwards. Otherwise it begins to look dingy. For a marble-like appearance that fares better in outdoor environments, take a look at quartzite. Quartzite has a composition and characteristics similar to granite.
When you think of concrete, you very likely think of driveways or sidewalks. While concrete is often used in such capacities, it can also be used as an outdoor countertop material. Unlike natural stone, concrete is poured, providing homeowners with incredible flexibility for their countertops’ thickness, width, and overall shape. Concrete countertops tend to look clean and contemporary, so if that is the kind of atmosphere you want to create on your patio, they may be a good fit.
One thing to be wary of is that concrete can crack if the installation is not performed correctly. This is true even if the material is reinforced with tensile steel. You can avoid this issue by entrusting the installation to an experienced team. A good installer will handle the process with finesse and care and is likely to have an array of custom color options to choose from.
Tile is the quirkiest outdoor countertop material on our list. It is also probably the most diverse. Tile can be arranged in unlimited designs and patterns in any color under the sun. It can even be cut to look like other countertop materials. It is a good choice for those who prefer to manage installation on their own.
On the other hand, tile presents some challenges when installed in an outdoor setting. Grout, even sealed grout, stains pretty easily, though you can mask this by choosing a darker variety. If you live in a place (like Utah) where the temperature dips below freezing, the free-thaw cycle can cause grout and tiles to shift or even crack. Mitigate this issue by using porcelain or another freeze-proof tile instead of ceramic and by installing a waterproof board for your counters’ base.
Outdoor Countertop Materials to Avoid
As we’ve touched on the materials that make good outdoor countertops, we should probably hint at what to avoid. For all its similarity in name to quartzite, quartz is not a good material for external countertops. Quartz is a manmade material, and the resins in it tend to turn yellow under UV exposure, altering the color of the entire countertop.
Quartz and other manufactured countertops, like those made of recycled glass, usually contain pigments that are only intended for indoor use, so they also generally fade (or completely change) after too many sunny days. Laminate, though it is an effective and inexpensive indoor countertop material, is made of particleboard, meaning that it warps and rots in conditions that are warm and wet.
Caring for Outdoor Countertops
No matter what outdoor countertop material you decide to use, some level of care will be required to keep them looking nice. This starts at installation. Don’t skimp on the material you choose, for inferior craftsmanship is significantly more obvious in outdoor conditions, and poor quality materials will deteriorate quickly. Regular cleaning is a must, especially after a party or an especially dusty or windy day. Attend to routine sealing as necessary, and generally treat your countertops well.