From Selection to Maintenance, 4 Steps to Long-Lasting Outdoor Kitchen Countertops
It’s officially summer and time to get your outdoor space in great shape. If you’re planning an outdoor kitchen remodel or addition, follow these steps to help guide you through the process.
Outdoor kitchen step #1: Select the right stone
Selecting the ideal stone for an outdoor kitchen requires some special considerations regarding stone durability and maintenance. Your stone countertops will have to stand up to the summer heat and harsh winter elements. , which is why we recommend choosing a hard, durable stone like granite or quartzite.
These natural stones will stand the test of time. Both stones are created in the earth under extreme heat and pressure and are hard as rock. Their natural properties allow them to easily weather hot or cold climates without fading. Both granite and quartzite are highly resistant to chips, scratches and etches so they can reliably endure outdoor conditions. Granite and quartzite do need to be sealed. Once sealed, granite and quartzite should be resistant to mold and mildew.
Because of durability concerns, marble and quartz are not recommended for outdoor applications. Marble is a softer stone than granite and quartzite and is prone to etching and staining. In an outdoor setting, marble will become easily damaged by the elements. Manufactured materials like quartz are great indoors, but they are held together by binding chemicals. These binding chemicals, including resins, can fade or discolor in direct sunlight. These stones make beautiful additions to the inside of the home, but do not have the same properties as granite and quartzite to endure outdoor conditions.
Stones are measured on a 1-10 hardness scale called the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The softest material on the scale is talc which rates a 1 and the hardest is diamond, which rates a 10. Granite is composed of quartz, which rates a 7, and a few slightly softer materials (feldspar and mica). Granite rates a 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale.
Quartzite is similar to granite but it contains a much larger percentage of quartz. So quartzite is slightly harder than granite and rates a 7 on the Mohs scale. Quartzite contains visible quartz crystals that make quartzite sparkle in the sunlight and looks stunning in outdoor spaces.
Granite and quartzite come in a wide variety of color, texture and pattern choices including:
White Ice granite and Sea Pearl quartzite are lovely compliments to cool color schemes that include blues and greens. They are great poolside or seaside stone choices. If your view includes sailboats in the harbor, then cool natural stones will harmonize beautifully.
Crema Bordeaux granite and Dolce Vita quartzite have golden and copper tones that make them ideal with woodsy settings, warm woods like cedar, and fixtures and lighting in copper. They glow beautifully at night near fireplaces or fire pits.
Outdoor kitchen planning step #2: The templating process
Before your stone fabricator takes measurements for your countertop template, = you’ll need to have all your other outdoor components selected. To make an exact template they will need to see and measure your grill, cooktop and sink. These items don’t have to be installed, just on site. Fabricators will usually take your existing sink and any other large plumbing fixtures to their factory or warehouse for measurements. Cuts can be made for minor items like faucets on the day of installation and are not needed to begin templating.
After the templating process is complete, the stone fabrication process begins. Your fabricator will take all of your exact measures back to the factory and begin creating your new countertops.
Outdoor kitchen planning step #3: Installation day
Before installation, any existing countertops will need to be removed completely and your kitchen cleared of anything and everything that might interfere with installation. This is typically not a service the stone fabricator will include. Only your cabinets should be visible. Depending on the size of your outdoor kitchen, patio or bar area, the installation process may take between one to four hours.
Another important step to note: plumbing should be completed after your countertops are installed. After installation, a plumber can come in and make the water connection available to any outdoor faucets or sinks.
Outdoor kitchen planning step #4: Care and maintenance for your new outdoor countertops
Now that your dream outdoor space has been created, you’ll want to ensure it lasts a lifetime. For maintaining outdoor countertops, here are special considerations to keep in mind:
Sealing: While sealing is highly recommended for all natural stone, it is especially important for outdoor surfaces. After installation, your stone fabricator will seal your countertops, however, periodic sealing is recommended. The time between sealing depends on the stone and its usage. The more porous a stone is, the more periodic sealing you’ll need.
Avoid physical stresses: Protect your new countertops from chipping and etching by ensuring the proper measures are taken during countertop use. When using cutlery, it’s important to have butcher blocks in place and never cut directly onto the stone’s surface. If you store supplies in high outdoor shelves, pot racks or cupboards, be aware of heavy items that could fall and damage them.
Avoid extreme heat: Almost any stone surface can crack when exposed to extreme heat. Use heat-resistant protection when placing hot objects on this surface. Use a trivet or silicon pad to protect your countertops.
Avoid long-term exposure to the cold: If you live in an area that receives harsh winters, we recommend covering your countertops during the winter months. Elements from the outdoors may damage your countertops over time so it best to add a protective barrier.
Academy Marble & Granite can help
Academy Marble & Granite has a large selection of granite and quartzite slabs. We encourage you to come in and visit our showrooms in Rye, NY and Bethel, CT to select your countertops for your outdoor kitchen remodel or addition.