Best Outdoor Kitchen Countertops for Hot Climate

by Sophia
(Centreville, VA)


We are trying to decide on the outdoor kitchen countertop material most appropriate for our climate and budget. Our outdoor kitchen plans call for a location situated directly off of our brick patio and will be in direct southwestern exposure. We live in Northern Virginia.

I have done extensive reading on the various products, and even though we love granite, the idea that you can "fry an egg" on granite that has been exposed to direct sunlight is a no brainer decision. We have discussed putting up a pergola, but that is not in our budget this year. I have looked at hard travertine and am looking into porcelain tile.

Please give me your expert advise. Frustrated in Centreville, VA. Thank you.


True, granite countertops exposed all day to 90 degree sun will get very hot, but so will any other type of stone or tile you would consider using... hot enough that you don't want to rest an arm on it.

I didn't mean to single out granite in this regard. The idea is that you really want something to shade the cook and the counter if you live in a hot climate.

Travertine and porcelain may even be worse than granite since they are more dense than granite and typically have a higher "thermal mass," which is the ability to absorb and transfer heat.

Plus, travertine will etch with all the ketchup, mustard and other "sauces."

My opinion: a light-colored, polished granite is still your best bet. This will reflect most of the heat, of course it will be very bright too.

Another option: Install any color you want, but also get a large portable umbrella that has an off-set base to cover the outdoor kitchen area. That's the kind without a middle pole.

Or configure your outdoor kitchen countertop design with a hole somewhere appropriate where you can put any standard umbrella.

Put this up in the morning and you won't have any problems with the granite getting too hot. And I'm sure you can design it so the whole thing still looks cool.

I think the umbrella is a far better idea than trying to find some material that stays cool enough to touch in constant direct sun...(I can't think of any material that would even come close)

In a few years, you'll have saved enough for a pergola and have the best countertops too.

Who knows... maybe the umbrella works out great and you use the pergola money to redo the bathroom instead!

I'll be curious... use the comment link below and let us know what you decide. And send a picture when you're done!

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Offsest Umbrella or Table type
by: BT

Hello, building a 10 foot wide granite outdoor bar in NJ. Question is should I get a 11 foot cantilever umbrella to put on one side or a 11 footer that will be put in a 1 and 1/2 inch wide hole in center of the granite?

The cantilever will give me more walking room on the side of the bar, may even eliminate one bar stool spot, giving me only space for five bar stools instead of six.

Will the central umbrella cause damage to granite in the event there is an unexpected storm and umbrella is open and it is pulled out? We do close umbrella when not in use, but would appreciate any input. Thanks!!

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

I prefer the cantilevered umbrella idea mainly because it eliminates a hole in the granite that could allow rain to go into the cabinets or base and end up causing rot and damage, etc.

But this depends entirely on the design. If the above scenario would not occur, then maybe the hole is a better option since it allows for a 6th bar stool.

It is a must to secure the umbrella at the base and around the hole. An 11-foot umbrella is heavy and wind catching it could generate a lot of force.

Stress from the umbrella pole onto the granite during a windy day could cause chips or a crack. Any hole in the granite makes it weaker in that area.

The granite countertop underneath should be well-supported around the hole and if you could fashion some type of rubber or plastic insert for the hole, that would probably help some.

Great Minds Think Alike!
by: Ryan

Granite overall is the best kitchen countertop period. For indoor kitchens, quartz countertops like Silestone are as good as granite, but the colored dyes in quartz will fade outdoors.

Granite is the way to go for outdoor kitchen countertops. It's more durable and easier to maintain than any surface. You'd almost have to try to damage it.

Plus, you have more colors and patterns to choose from than any other countertop material.

Don't do slate. Slate can be durable, but it etches like marble and sometimes slate can be brittle, prone to scratching and chipping.

Slate on a floor is fine, but no good for kitchen / outdoor kitchen countertops.

If you use two 9 ft. or 10 ft. umbrellas in each corner, you'll have plenty of shade. Just ensure the area around the holes in the granite are well-supported. Stress in that area could crack the granite if the umbrellas move around a lot or under force from the wind.

I'd suggest somehow making the umbrella support that will be under the countertop (i.e. what the pole rests on or the base it hooks into) adjustable in height, so you can accommodate different umbrella designs.

Of course, you can always cut the umbrella post to size as well. You'll want to have some sort of anchor though to keep the wind from taking the umbrellas.

And I'd suggest you have the umbrellas raised a bit higher than they might be on a regular table, which is usually about 6 feet.

I'd construct the whole deal so the umbrellas are about 8ft off the ground. This will increase the shaded area and improve air circulation, so the cook and guests aren't standing in a cloud of smoke trapped in a low umbrella.

You won't believe this......
by: Anonymous

Unbelievable! My husband and I had already decided that we were going to include 2 holes for umbrellas in the plans for our outdoor kitchen since we couldn't afford a pergola right now.

We will be building a u-shape, 20 ft long by 5 ft on each end. The 20 feet will cover one side of our patio (37 ft. x 20 ft.).

So, you feel that a granite countertop will be better than a slate (copper/red color)?

We were planning on stucco for the base of the unit to match the exterior wall and a darker countertop to match our herringbone patterned brick patio.

I would love to read your comments......

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