When planning and budgeting for your outdoor kitchen, countertops can be a difficult process. There are several differing opinions on what is best, so it can be challenging to figure out how to proceed. Luckily for you, our experts can tell you everything you need to know about outdoor countertops. Read on to learn overlooked details that make or break countertop installations.

Questions to Ask When Choosing Outdoor Kitchen Countertops

Any outdoor kitchen countertop will significantly impact the overall style and aesthetic of the installation. It’ll face ample use and abuse as well as exposure to the elements, so you’ll want a surface that reflects well on first impressions. Some materials are better than others for keeping down harsh, blinding glares and displacing heat rather than absorbing it, which is a nice touch to have on a hot summer day. Choosing the right countertop for your outdoor kitchen should take a lot of forethought.

Popular Outdoor Kitchen Countertop Materials

Want to learn more about outdoor kitchen surfaces? We consulted outdoor kitchen designers, professional contractors, and industry leaders to compare notes. Here are our findings, broken down for your convenience. Read further for details on the most popular countertop materials.

Granite countertop color example

Granite Countertops

  • Large variety of colors and finishes
  • Popular choice and very easy to maintain
  • Withstands extreme heat and sun
  • Resists stains, mold, mildew with proper sealant
  • Go for a lighter color if you don’t have proper shading
Quartzite countertop color sample

Quartzite Countertops

  • Shares some of the same qualities as granite and looks like marble
  • Will not fade in sunlight and cleans easily with soap and water
  • Seal once a year to extend durability
  • Cannot survive high temperatures from hot pots and pans.
  • Vulnerable to sharp objects and staining
Soapstone countertop color sample

Soapstone Countertops

  • Dark, beautiful natural stone
  • Very dense and non-porous material
  • Highly heat resistant and weatherproof
  • Easy to maintain with just soap and water
  • Weak to scratches and nicks, but can be buffed with sandpaper
Marble countertop color sample

Marble Countertops

  • Beautiful abstract patterns
  • Highly durable stone in general
  • Acidic food and drinks will etch and stain
  • Frequent rain and wind can wash away etches
  • Maintain with regular sealing
Porcelain countertop color sample

Porcelain Countertops

  • Available in almost any color and finish
  • Can mimic and outperform natural stone
  • Handles temperature extremes quite well
  • Low maintenance, non-porous, etch-resistant
  • Vulnerable to hard impacts and chipping
Concrete countertop color sample

Concrete Countertops

  • Custom pour shapes, can be an inexpensive DIY
  • Sturdy, colorable material with durability
  • Easy to clean and keep up
  • Porous stone is weak against stains and bacteria
  • Possibly prone to cracking if not properly sealed
Wood countertop color sample

Wood Countertops

  • Rich, delightful, unique character built over time
  • Varnishes and finishes make or break the weather seal
  • Can swell if not protected against heat.
  • Reapply finish often to maintain vivid colors
  • If built and protected right, likely to last many years
Ceramic countertop color sample

Ceramic Tile

  • Wide selection of stone types and finishes
  • Much cheaper than a full slab of natural stone
  • Heavier on maintenance to keep looking pristine
  • Grout lines can build up grime and must be sealed
  • Consider appropriate stone types for your climate
White glass color sample

White Glass

  • Extremely smooth and shiny pure white
  • Super durable and resists chips and scratches
  • Won't etch from acids or burn/scorch from pans
  • Stainproof with no sealing needed for carefree cleaning
  • High expense, no custom textures or patterns

Estimated Costs of Outdoor Kitchen Countertops

While countertop materials vary wildly in expense based on location and availability, we can give you a rough estimate of what to expect with different materials. The following represents our best reasonable averages from various quality suppliers and industry authorities. Note that material quality also plays a large part, as the higher end of the scale is usually the result of premium sourcing.

Estimated Costs of Outdoor Kitchen Countertops

Countertop Material Approx. Cost per Square Foot


Ceramic Tile




Concrete (Contractor)


Concrete (DIY)


Outdoor Kitchen Countertop Materials to Avoid 

Stainless steel countertop color sample

Stainless Steel

While we love stainless steel for appliances and doors, it will not suit you well as a countertop. For starters, it retains heat—something you love in your gas grill, but not so much on your surfaces. It is also extremely reflective, so sunny summer days will be blinding. And finally, it's loud. Every single clatter against its surface demands attention. Trust us: save this for your fixtures.

Quartz countertop color sample


The stunning beauty and elegance of quartz is undeniable. Sadly, it simply can’t hold up to humidity and moisture in the long run. Furthermore, colored quartz resins have a reputation for yellowing under sunlight, giving the otherwise magnificent countertop an increasingly sickly, discolored appearance. Skipping it breaks our hearts, too.

Slate countertop color sample


The trouble with slate is that no two are alike and performance varies wildly. One holds up to staining and hard use; another will stain, scratch, and even crack with ease. Though higher-quality slate can happily last for years, the widespread inconsistency makes for a hard sell.

Solid surface countertop color sample


Commonly named “Corian” for its most popular brand, this acrylic polymer blend makes for interesting features with strong consistency throughout a mold. Unfortunately, it easily dents and scratches, is prone to discoloration, often fades or splotches outdoors, and doesn’t hold up well to heat. Better leave this one back inside.

Butcher block countertop color sample

Butcher Block

Beautiful butcher block countertops make a magnificent visual. They’re also the highest-maintenance surface you could probably pick for an outdoor kitchen. Upkeep is constant with coats of special oils to prevent mildew; and sanding every year. Frankly, the maintenance daunts even the most dedicated among us.

Ipe wood countertop color sample

Ipe Wood/Brazilian Walnut

Ipe wood (or “Brazilian Walnut”) is beautiful, but harmful to the environment. Overharvesting and sustainability problems run rampant, and it’s often illegally sourced overseas. Additionally, it’s extremely hard and dense to cut. Gorgeous or not, many designers and architects won’t work with it.

Common Types of Outdoor Kitchen Countertop Finishes

A “finish” is the last layer of color and texture that gives a surface its end appearance. Finishes and sealants are sometimes the same thing. This end step of the manufacturing process often involves sanding, sealing, and coating—and then your countertop is ready for installation.

Countertop with a reflection showing on the highly polished surface


  • Popular choice that features a mirror-like gloss
  • Brings out the richest colors and patterns of any surface
  • Its less porous edge means it can be easily wiped down
Honed finish example shown on a countertop with vegetable on it


  • Matte finish with a duller appearance than polished leaves a soft feeling that is smooth to the touch
  • Conceals the stone’s natural flaws easier and hides scratches better
  • Darker finishes tend to show fingerprints and smudging and often fade
Leather textured countertop with a bowl of fruit shown


  • Sometimes called a “brushed finish” and named for its distinctly leathery appearance
  • Doesn’t reflect light
  • Naturally stain-resistant and effortlessly disguises blemishes and smudges
Flamed granite counter with blueberries and strawberries on it


  • Exclusive to granite countertops, these create a faded, natural appearance
  • Overall, will be more muted charcoal or tan, but the contrasting colors in grains will pop
  • Rougher surface can be harder to keep clean and some find the texture unpleasant

Final Considerations

Seal Your Countertops Before Installing Storage

For many surfaces, sealant is a necessity, but one thing that it is not good for is stainless steel. Sealant is incredibly corrosive to stainless steel, so we advise sealing your countertop before installing your built-in grill and storage components into your island.

Knives and Countertops are Mortal Enemies

Countertops dull knives and knives will chip, etch, and scratch countertops, so introducing these together is a recipe for disaster. Protect countertops and knives from one another with a quality cutting board to keep both in their best shape.

Our Design Team Works with Contractors (and You!)

Our design team works tirelessly with countless homeowners and contractors, building better backyard kitchens. They are the experts in all things outdoor kitchen—sketches, consultations, and advising—and they’re ready to do it for you. Find out more by checking out Outdoor Kitchen 3D Design Service.

If you have any questions, give our experts a call at (877) 743-2269 to get help planning your perfect backyard.