Outdoor kitchens have become a popular addition to many homes, offering a unique way to entertain and enjoy the great outdoors while cooking. When designing an outdoor kitchen, one of the key considerations is the choice of materials, particularly for countertops. In this blog, we’ll explore the best types of stone for outdoor kitchen countertops, considering factors like durability, aesthetics, and maintenance. Since this article is rather extensive, if you want to get to the basic run-down of which materials are suitable for exterior applications and which ones aren’t, click here to get to the verdict.
In a general sense, granite is a top choice for outdoor kitchen countertops due to its durability and natural beauty. It can withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for areas near grills or stoves. Granite is also resistant to UV rays, ensuring that its color doesn’t fade over time. However, it requires sealing to prevent staining and to maintain its lustrous appearance.
Let’s explore the various benefits of choosing granite for outdoor countertops
Granite is known for its toughness, making it highly resistant to scratches and able to withstand considerable wear and tear.
It can tolerate high temperatures, which is ideal for outdoor settings where cooking and grilling are frequent.
Quality granite is typically resistant to UV rays, helping it maintain its color and integrity in sunlight.
It requires minimal upkeep, usually just needing sealing upon installation and then periodically afterward.
Let’s now look at some of the cons of using granite in your outdoor kitchen.
Periodic Sealing Required
To maintain its resistance to stains and weather elements, granite needs to be sealed initially and then resealed over time.
Limited Color Fade Resistance
Although generally UV resistant, some colors or types of granite may fade or change over time when exposed to constant sunlight.
Susceptibility to Extreme Weather
In areas with severe weather conditions, like freeze-thaw cycles, granite can sometimes suffer from weathering or cracking over extended periods.
Source: Allied. Granite outdoor kitchen with multiple grills and appliances and a backyard pool.
Good Vs. Bad Granites for Outdoor Use
Often when people talk about stones for outdoor use, granite is always generalized as “good.” But in fact, specific granite slabs, like Titanium and White Ice, have different compositions and therefore different abilities of being used outdoors. This is mainly due to a slab’s iron composition. Every granite has an amount of iron, regardless of how low or high the amount is. The less iron there is in a slab, the less possibility there is of your outdoor kitchen counters getting rust stains. So, let’s look at some specific slabs that are for outdoor use and others that are not recommended to use outside.
Granites Adequate for Outdoors
Certain granite slabs work well in outdoor settings while others aren’t as well-suited. Let’s take a look at the ones that stand out for their exceptional performance.
Titanium Granite is renowned for its durability as it resists scratches and stains effectively. It also withstands weather conditions like temperature changes and UV exposure. This makes it a practical choice for outdoor kitchens and accent features, combining resilience with aesthetic appeal.
Steel Gray Granite is known for its subtle, consistent gray color, marked by small flecks of lighter and darker grays. It’s highly durable and resistant to wear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas, both indoors and outdoors. Its weather-resistant qualities make it a popular choice for outdoor countertops and landscaping features.
Gray Misty granite is highly valued for outdoor kitchens due to its exceptional durability and resistance to weather elements, ensuring a long-lasting, beautiful surface. Its unique grey tones and white streaks and veins also add a touch of sophistication and natural beauty to outdoor cooking spaces, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.
Jurassic Black Granite is distinguished by its deep, rich black hue, interspersed with subtle white veining that adds a touch of elegance. This granite is highly durable and resistant to wear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas and a variety of applications, including luxurious indoor spaces and outdoor settings. Its striking appearance provides a sophisticated and contemporary aesthetic for any design project.
Granites Unsuitable for Outdoor Use
Let’s now look at some of the granite slabs that aren’t recommended to be used for outdoor kitchen countertops.
White Ice granite, known for its sophisticated white and gray veining, brings elegance to interiors. However, it’s less ideal for outdoor kitchens due to its vulnerability to stains and weathering. Regular maintenance is needed to preserve its pristine appearance even indoors.
Delicatus granite, while visually stunning with its intricate white, black, and gold patterns, is not the most practical choice for outdoor kitchens. Its complex patterning demands frequent and meticulous maintenance to combat outdoor wear and staining. It’s generally advisable to opt for a more resilient stone in such exposed environments.
Blanc du Blanc
Blanc de Blanc granite, with its alluring white background and subtle veining, exudes sophistication but is less suited for outdoor kitchens. Its light coloring and delicate patterns are prone to showing stains and wear in outdoor conditions. For durability in such settings, we recommend a more robust stone.
Colonial White granite, known for its creamy base and gray and burgundy speckles, offers a timeless appeal. However, its lighter tones and intricate patterns may not fare well in outdoor kitchens, being prone to visible staining and weathering. A sturdier, less maintenance-intensive option might be more suitable for outdoor use.
Quartzite is an extremely hard and durable natural stone. The stone itself is also resistant to UV rays, scratches, chipping, and etching. However, most quartzites are sealed with a resin or epoxy that are used to strengthen and protect them. This is an issue outdoors because the resin coatings applied on quartzites are not UV-stable, meaning that it could break down and cause the quartzite to crack over time. For this reason, quartzites are generally not recommended, contrary to popular belief on the internet. Mogastone has been in business for over 20 years, and it’s our mission to give you the most quality, long-lasting countertops we can. This is why we don’t recommend most quartzites outdoors.
While the majority of quartzites can’t be used outside, there are a few more durable examples that may be suitable for outdoor kitchens if given the proper maintenance. This maintenance refers to applying a UV-protective seal on your counters and even covering them to guard the resin and epoxy. Let’s first look at the more durable examples, and then we’ll explore some of the pros and cons if you still choose to incorporate quartzite in your outdoor kitchen.
Quartzites for Outdoors
If you still want to use quartzite for your outdoor kitchen, there are a few types that may be fine to use if you are willing to maintain them. Stronger quartzites are the option to go with if you still want quartzite outdoor kitchen countertops. Here are two examples of quartzites on the stronger side of the spectrum.
Taj Mahal quartzite is known for its robustness, making it a viable choice for outdoor use. Its nature makes it more resistant to wear and environmental elements than many other quartzites. Though it has some resin coating like other quartzites, its durability gives less of a chance of it breaking over time. However, to ensure longevity, remember to provide maintenance, such as regular sealing and protection from too much UV exposure.
Cristallo Romano quartzite has a high crystal composition and dense structure. Its tightly packed mineral composition makes it resistant to many environmental elements. However, as many quartzites have a resin coating, it’s important to consider protective measures against UV exposure and regular maintenance to preserve its resilience and beauty in outdoor environments.
Let’s go ahead and discuss some of the pros and cons of choosing to use quartzite outside. First let’s dive into the advantages of using quartzite for your outdoor countertops.
Quartzite is extremely hard and durable, making it resistant to scratches and able to withstand heavy use.
It having the ability to withstand high temperatures makes it well-suited for outdoor kitchens where frequent grilling and cooking activities take place.
Quartzite offers a unique and elegant appearance with a wide variety of patterns and colors, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces.
It’s also less porous than some other natural stones, making it more resistant to staining and bacteria growth.
Now let’s examine some of the downsides of using quartzite.
While it’s less porous, some quartzites may still require periodic sealing to maintain their resistance to stains and weather elements.
Exposure to sunlight and varying weather conditions can lead to the breakdown of the resin, resulting in cracks developing in the countertops.
Under severe weather conditions, particularly in regions experiencing freeze-thaw cycles, quartzite, despite its durability, might still be prone to weather-related wear or surface deterioration over time.
Source: Primestones. Taj Mahal quartzite outdoor kitchen.
Marble is an exquisite natural stone that comes in a host of styles and colors. This, coupled with marble’s resistance to heat and naturally cool surface, would make a beautiful addition to your outdoor kitchen. However, there are many characteristics of marble, such as its softness, susceptibility to staining and etching, and other factors, that make it another material we wouldn’t recommend for outdoor use. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of using marble in your outdoor kitchen.
First, let’s review the advantages of using marble outdoors.
Marble offers a luxurious and elegant look, enhancing the overall aesthetic of an outdoor kitchen. Its unique veining and array of colors can create a stunning visual impact.
Though less resistant in comparison to other natural stones, marble is naturally heat resistant, making it a suitable material for areas around grills and stoves. It won’t burn or catch fire, which is an important safety aspect in a kitchen setting.
Marble remains cool to the touch, which is beneficial in hot weather. This feature can be especially advantageous for baking or preparing foods that require a cooler surface.
Now let’s explore the disadvantages of using this material outdoors.
Marble is sensitive to weather elements. It can be damaged by acidic rain, and repeated freeze-thaw cycles can cause cracking and erosion over time.
Staining and Porosity
Being a porous material, marble is prone to staining. Outdoor elements like barbecue grease, wine, and other staining agents can easily penetrate the surface if it’s not properly sealed.
Marble requires regular maintenance to preserve its appearance. This includes periodic sealing to protect against stains and damage, as well as regular cleaning to prevent buildup of outdoor dirt and debris.
Chemical and UV Sensitivity
Continuous exposure to sunlight can lead to discoloration of the marble surface. Additionally, it can react with chemicals and pollutants in the air, leading to faster deterioration.
While marble is durable, it’s not as scratch-resistant as some other materials. Utensils, cookware, and other kitchen activities can leave marks on the surface over time.
Source: San Marcos Marble & Tile. Outdoor kitchen with Fantasy Brown marble countertops.
Quartz is an extremely durable material that comes in a variety of colors and styles that even imitate marble slabs. They are also relatively heat-resistant, and maintenance is a breeze. While quartz holds these excellent qualities, it has others that prevent it from being a material suitable for exterior applications. For example, when left for long periods of time in sunlight, quartz fades and yellows. Also, quartz doesn’t fare well in extreme temperatures. Let’s take a deeper look at the pros and cons of using quartz in an exterior setting.
First, we’ll examine the advangtages of using quartz outside.
Quartz is known for its durability and strength, making it resistant to scratches and chips. This robustness is beneficial in an outdoor kitchen where the surface may face heavy use.
Unlike natural stone, quartz doesn’t require sealing and is easier to maintain. It’s non-porous, meaning it resists staining and doesn’t harbor bacteria or viruses, which is ideal for food preparation areas.
Quartz comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, allowing for versatile design options to match any outdoor decor style. It can mimic the look of natural stone while offering more uniformity in appearance.
Let’s also review the disadvantages of using quartz for outdoor applications.
Quartz is not as heat-resistant as natural stone. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, such as hot pots or direct sunlight, can cause damage or discoloration, which is a concern in outdoor kitchens.
Limited Weather Resistance
While some quartz is UV resistant, it is generally not as weather-resistant as other outdoor materials. It can be affected by extreme temperatures and may not be the best choice in areas with severe weather conditions.
Expansion and Contraction
Quartz can expand and contract with temperature changes, which might lead to cracking or warping in some outdoor environments.
Source: Caesarstone. Outdoor kitchen with 515 Palm Shade Caesarstone quartz countertops.
Soapstone is highly durable and non-porous, making it resistant to stains and bacterial growth, and it doesn’t require sealing. It excels in outdoor environments due to its ability to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations without cracking. The material offers a unique aesthetic with a natural, evolving patina, adding character to outdoor kitchen spaces. Maintenance is straightforward, involving simple cleaning and optional enhancement with mineral oil.
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of using soapstone for outdoor countertops.
Soapstone is naturally non-porous, making it resistant to stains, bacteria, and chemicals.
Soapstone can withstand high temperatures; this makes it ideal for outdoor kitchens with grills and stoves.
Soapstone is easy to clean and maintain; it doesn’t require sealing like other natural stones.
This stone offers a unique, soft look with natural veining, adding charm to outdoor settings.
Now, let’s shift our focus to the potential drawbacks of soapstone when used in outdoor countertop applications.
Susceptibility to Scratching
Soapstone is softer than granite or quartzite, making it more prone to scratches and nicks.
Limited Color Options
It’s primarily available in shades of gray and black, limiting design choices.
Soapstone tends to retain heat, which could be a concern in very hot climates.
Source: Marble Granite World. Soapstone outdoor kitchen countertops.
Soapstone is among the more acceptable stones for outdoor kitchens. In fact, it is nearly a perfect stone for outdoors. Besides the fact that some types of soapstone scratch easily, the benefits outweigh the cost and limited color availability. The heat retention is put as a con, but in reality, the fact that it keeps its heat can even be a good, especially after and while cooking in colder temperatures. The only other potential “downside” is the fact that Soapstone occasionally needs to be oiled. This is not difficult at all, however. Here at Mogastone, we sell three types of Soapstone. These are Marine Black, Black Soapstone, and White Soapstone.
Source: The Boston Globe. Soapstone countertops with blueish-green cabinets.
Dolomite is rather a mixture of quartzite and marble. Therefore, it has characteristics of both. Dolomite is relatively heat, stain, and crack resistant. It is also moderately durable, and it comes in many unique designs and patterns. However, as it is in like nature with marble, it also isn’t really suitable for outdoor applications. This is due to its lack of ability to excel in harsh weather, its porosity, maintenance requirements, and other factors. Let’s look at these factors deeper through an analysis of dolomite’s pros and cons.
First, let’s review the pros of using dolomite outside.
Dolomite is harder and more durable than marble, making it less prone to scratching and chipping. This toughness is beneficial in outdoor settings where the surface might be subject to wear and tear.
Like other natural stones, dolomite is heat resistant, which can be an advantage in outdoor kitchens or areas where hot items might be placed.
Dolomite often has a striking appearance, featuring rich veining and a range of colors that can add elegance and a natural look to outdoor spaces.
Resistance to Acidic Substances
Compared to marble, dolomite is more resistant to etching from acidic substances, reducing concerns about spills from things like lemon juice or vinegar in an outdoor kitchen.
Now let’s analyze the cons of using dolomite for outdoor applications.
While less porous than marble, dolomite is still more porous than granite, making it susceptible to staining. It requires sealing and regular maintenance to protect against stains and weather-related damage.
Dolomite can be sensitive to extreme weather conditions. Prolonged exposure to rain, frost, and strong sunlight can lead to deterioration, cracks, or discoloration over time.
To maintain its appearance, dolomite requires regular sealing and cleaning. This upkeep is especially important in outdoor environments where the stone is exposed to more elements.
Limited UV Resistance
Continuous exposure to UV rays can cause some dolomite to fade or discolor over time, especially in darker colors.
Source: Homedit. Dolomite interior kitchen countertops with mitered waterfalls.
Porcelain countertops are an excellent choice for outdoor kitchens due to their outstanding durability and resistance to environmental elements. They are highly resistant to UV rays, ensuring that their color and pattern don’t fade even under constant exposure to sunlight. Porcelain’s low porosity makes it impervious to stains and moisture, which is crucial in outdoor settings where countertops are exposed to various weather conditions. Additionally, porcelain can withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, making it ideal for areas near grills or fire pits. Its lightweight nature compared to natural stone also makes it easier to install and support, offering a practical and stylish solution for outdoor kitchen designs.
Let’s dive now into the advantages of having porcelain outdoor countertops.
Highly resistant to UV rays, preventing color fading from sunlight exposure.
Stain and Moisture Resistance
Its lack of porosity makes it resistant to stains and moisture, making it ideal for outdoor environments.
Porcelain is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, without damage.
Its also available in a wide range of colors and patterns, including designs that mimic natural stone.
Let’s also examine the cons of using porcelain outdoor countertops.
While strong, porcelain can be brittle and may chip or crack upon impact.
Damaged porcelain countertops are difficult to repair, often requiring complete replacement of the affected area.
It can become quite hot under direct sunlight, which might be uncomfortable in very warm climates.
Source: Caesarstone. Outdoor kitchen wrapped with 410 Aluminous Caesarstone porelain.
So, out of these examples shown, which ones are the best for outdoor use? Splitting these materials into categories, we will divide them into 3 different ones: Excellent, Acceptable, and Unsuitable.
In this category, there are three key examples: the naturally durable Soapstone, the versatile and robust Granite, and the modern, high-performance Porcelain.
In regard to its qualities, Soapstone is considered one the best materials for outdoor kitchens due to its resistance to the potential dangers of the natural realm.
Granite is also very durable and heat-resistant, but it does need a bit more protection and care.
Porcelain countertops are an ultra-compact surface known for their exceptional durability, high resistance to heat, scratches, and UV rays, and they come in a variety of finishes and colors.
In this section, there are only two materials that are considered “acceptable.” These are Quartzite and Dolomite.
Quartzite is an extremely durable natural stone that is resistant to heat, cracks, stains, and more, but its resin seals make it a little more risky of an outdoor material.
Dolomite is less durable and resistant to such things as quartzite but more so than marble, making it more of an acceptable material for outdoors than marble if properly maintained.
There are two countertop materials in this final category: Marble and Quartz.
Marble is an exquisite material, but because of its soft nature and inability to handle extreme weather, it isn’t a recommended outdoor kitchen material.
Quartz is a very durable material with virtually no maintenance requirements, but quartz can neither handle extreme weather nor UV rays that can discolor it.
When designing an outdoor kitchen, the choice of varying factors like durability, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal are crucial in deciding your outdoor kitchen countertop material. Granite is a popular choice due to its robustness and low maintenance, although it requires periodic sealing and may have some weather-related limitations. Soapstone and Porcelain also excel, offering exceptional durability and unique aesthetic qualities, with Soapstone being notably eco-friendly and Porcelain highly UV resistant. On the other hand, Quartzite and Dolomite are acceptable but come with considerations like maintenance and weather sensitivity. Marble and Quartz, while beautiful, fall short in outdoor settings due to their sensitivity to weather conditions and maintenance demands. Ultimately, the selection depends on balancing these factors to suit the specific needs and climate of your outdoor kitchen space.