One of the most exciting aspects to building your outdoor kitchen, besides selecting the grill of your dreams, is choosing a beautiful outdoor countertop. Choosing a countertop will be based on a variety of factors. Here are a few things to consider as you're deciding what is right for your outdoor kitchen: climate, materials, color, size, and budget.
The most important thing when coming up with your best countertop ideas for a DIY outdoor kitchen is to select a material suitable for your climate. Depending on where you live, climate will dictate what type of countertop you can install. As an example, the rocky mountain region and northeast get a tremendous amount of snow and ice. As temperatures fluctuate, ice and snow will melt, get into cracks, freeze and expand, and destroy certain materials like grout. In these areas we typically like to see granite or stained concrete countertops. In other areas like the southwest and warm coastal areas you have a wider range of materials to choose from, and it’s quite common to install a tile countertop.
There are many types of materials to choose from when building your DIY outdoor kitchen countertops, and even more color and texture variations. However, there are three time-tested categories to choose from for the best material for your outdoor countertop: stone, concrete, and tile. Here are the benefits to each, and in order of our personal favorites.
Granite, quartz, travertine, and onyx are some of the most beautiful stone available, and they come in hundreds of unique colors and patterns. Plus, they hold up extremely well in all climates because of their durability. Stone will handle excessive heat and cold, can be scratch and stain resistant if sealed, and is relatively low maintenance. By far, a granite slab is the most popular choice for an outdoor kitchen. We've seen more quartz countertops but it is still relatively new to the outdoor space. Caesarstone just launched their line of outdoor quartz countertops with some beautiful colors.
Featured here is a granite countertop from our curated collection called Jet Mist. Note the beautiful veins that run through the granite countertop. It's a dark outdoor countertop that has veins of white and gray running throughout the slab countertop. We love pairing this with our Carbon Honed Stone.
Another new trend in the stone world is “engineered stone" or "man made stone" In this process the manufacturer takes quartz crystals and bonds them together using resin. The main benefit we see from engineered stone vs natural stone is a more brilliant pattern or color. However, while this material is more stain resistant, the resin is also more susceptible to changes in temperature. Both engineered stone and natural stone cost roughly the same per square foot. An example of a man made stone is a Dekton countertop. The major benefit of Dekton countertops is the wide variety of amazing colors and patterns that they offer. These countertops can be quite expensive and require a special installation.
Concrete: Another option is a formed concrete countertop. This option is extremely appealing because it has very similar properties to stone – it’s extremely strong and durable, handles heat and cold vey well, and requires little maintenance. An advantage that concrete offers is that it can be stained, thereby creating almost any color imaginable. While the concrete is setting you can also add a pattern, round or texturize the edges, and fill the seams so it looks like one solid piece. Furthermore, concrete can be formed into any size or shape, which makes a custom countertop easier to install for a DIY outdoor kitchen.
Tile: Historically one of the best countertop ideas for finishing a DIY outdoor kitchen countertop is tile. Tile is generally lighter and cheaper than stone and concrete, yet still has great properties like its tolerance for heat. However, as we alluded to earlier, tile doesn’t hold up well in areas with lots of snow and ice because the moisture will seep into the grout and then expand.
Furthermore, overtime tile tends to lose some of its original “pop.” If you decide to install a tile countertop on your DIY outdoor kitchen, it’s usually a good idea to also get something to cover it with when not in use.
Similar to choosing the best grill for your needs, when selecting the best countertop size for your DIY outdoor kitchen you need to ask yourself two questions: 1) how many people do you typically cook for? 2) will you be using the countertop as a table for snacks and drinks – in addition to food prep and cooking?
Be sure to have at least 24” on either side of your grill for food preparation and plating. In addition to this, you’ll want an additional 24-36” of linear countertop space per person you intend to have seated at your DIY outdoor kitchen island. If you have the room, a little extra countertop space is always valuable.
Determining what a DIY outdoor kitchen countertop will cost is the easy part. Below is a quick guide to give a ballpark idea. If you need a more concrete number (pun intended), feel free to call one of our designers.
Once you start to get a feel for what is appealing, you can visit granite yards to look at full slabs or view pictures online from the stone manufacturers or even request samples of the materials you like. The downside to samples is that they're always super tiny, usually 4" x 4" squares which make it very difficult to envision what the outdoor countertop looks like. Because we know this is an extremely important decision, Grillnetics has invested time into taking excellent, realistic photos of the granite countertops that we offer. We worked with the granite supplier and took pictures of the full slabs so you can see all the variations that exist in a granite slab.
Pictured here is Andino White granite, one of our most popular countertops from our collection.
Our team of designers has curated a special collection of granite countertops. View them here.
Regardless of the countertop you choose for your DIY outdoor kitchen, remember that they all require some maintenance. Installers recommend sealing your countertop annually to ensure a stain resistant finish and to remove any tarnish.
If you have other questions on how to select the right grill, which cabinet system to use, latest design trends for finishing your cabinet system, or how the outdoor kitchen should “flow,” our design experts are here to help. We also provide a free 3D rendering and CAD drawing, with a complete list of building materials and step-by-step instructions, as well as on-going support for customers.
If you're looking for a finished island, get started by taking a look at our finished outdoor kitchen island solutions, or get started with a complimentary outdoor kitchen design.