Maintaining Outdoor Granite Countertops


QUESTION:

I have installed granite countertops in our outdoor kitchen.

They look great, but I want to know what I need to do to keep them looking great for years to come.

I am getting varying cleaning and maintenance information from the stores and websites.

ANSWER:

First, test the granite countertop to see if it needs to be sealed.

Sealing outdoor counter tops isn't as necessary since sun and rain will work to eliminate any stains that do occur.

Many argue that you should just leave stone alone when outdoors or in a wet environment. Often that is good advice, but applies mainly to ground tile.

So, perform the test. If the surface is rather absorbent, then apply an impregnating sealer to help prevent stains from wine, mustard, bbq sauce and other backyard vittles. If it's only moderately absorbent... then maybe you don't worry about it.

If you need to seal, I recommend these marble and granite sealers.

For general cleaning, you can just hose off or wipe off with water and then use Granite Countertop & Marble Cleaning spray to remove surface gunk and grime.

You may also consider periodically (4-5 times a year) using Topical Polish/Shine Enhancer to give a little added protection to the polished finish.

Easy really. For more stone care info on general do's and don'ts check out our granite maintenance pages.

It's a good idea to cover your countertops and outdoor kitchen appliances too during winter months, if the patio is not already under a roof. Not critical, but helpful.

This will provide protection against, snow, ice, wind and water. Weather will wear down the surface finish in time and you may have to have the countertops re-polished.

This will take many years with granite countertops, but other materials like marble will wear quickly.

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Is Granite Best For Outdoor Kitchen Countertop

by Gary
(Missouri)

QUESTION(s): I'm planning an outdoor kitchen. We live in Missouri and the countertop will be exposed to the sun from 9am until 3pm.

We'll be adding a hole for an umbrella to cover at least part of the counter top. We are considering a tan/light brown granite.

Is granite the best option for the countertop? What should I expect as far as countertop temperature and outdoor kitchen countertop maintenance issues?

The kitchen will have a refrigerator, under-mount sink, natural gas grill and 2 burner side unit. I am assuming I will need access doors for under the sink area, but I'm not sure what storage options I will need under the grill and side burner (i.e. drawers and/or shelves behind doors)... any suggestions?

ANSWER:



Granite is overall your best bet when considering outdoor kitchen countertop maintenance. Granite will hold up better than other materials to use and abuse by you and the weather with minimal maintenance.

Having said that, it must be noted that not all stones sold as granite (some 2000+ stones) are actually "granite" and not all granites perform alike.

Practically speaking, this simply means that in geological terms, there are many types of stone with similar enough properties to granite that they are commercially sold as "granite," so you'll want to test a sample of the countertop slab you like (see link in above question) to be sure that it is not too absorbent or reactive to acids (very rare).

Cosmetically speaking some "granites" may weather a bit more than others.... meaning the shiny polish may get worn away some over time (many years) and the granite color will become a bit more dull. Don't worry... this not a big maintenance issue and...

This is not the same as quartz countertops, where prolonged exposure to sunlight turns the colored pigment yellow.

Intense polishing by friction and abrasion is what brings out the color in granite and natural stone and... sealing or chemical applications have nothing to do with it.

Applying a sealer on an outdoor kitchen countertop is often not needed. Many granites simply do not need sealing since they are naturally dense and stain-resistant.

But often it is best to not seal stone in a wet environment. Mainly this applies to flooring or tile decking... stone installed on the ground... but can be considered for you outdoor countertops as well.

Stone does best when left to "breath", so sealing an outdoor ground tile could be very bad for the tile causing it to decompose. A counter top will have an exposed undersurface, so trapping water is typically not an issue.

For outdoor kitchen countertop maintenance a sealer can be as much benefit as indoors to help prevent stains, however, the outdoor top has the advantage that rain and sun have a way of eliminating stains over time.

So, sealing outdoor counters isn't quite as important as indoors, but it's still a good idea and if you choose to do so we recommend using the advanced SenGuard granite sealer.

Choosing a lighter, earth tone color is smart for an outdoor patio kitchen. It blends well and you won't notice as much if the polish wears and the color is not as intense.

A color-enhancer can be applied (to a honed or worn surface) to give that "wet look," but outdoors that will wear off quick.

If this gives you pause, consider that every other surface will have similar or worse cosmetic issues outdoors. This is just nature running its course and it's best to just let it.

Pound for pound, granite is the most durable and best choice for an outdoor kitchen.

Hot Countertop Surface from Sun Exposure

Any surface will get hot when exposed to prolonged, mid-day sun, so it's best to build in some sort of shade... like your umbrella or a pergola that will cover most of the area and not just part of it.

Of course, shade will make it more comfortable while cooking and for you and your guests when eating at the counter top.

Personally, I'd rather build a permanent overhead shade structure rather than put a hole in the granite and a pole in the middle of it all. However, you could get a cantilevered or offset umbrella that would work.

Outdoor Kitchen Storage

I would build in as much space for storage as possible around all the outdoor kitchen appliances.

Under the grill or burners it's nice to have a drawer or two or three to store/warm hamburger and hot dog buns, foods waiting to be grilled, utensils or spices.

Cupboard space is good for storing pots and pans, cutting boards, a trash receptacle, cleaning products, fire extinguisher, etc.

If you want to get real fancy, you can install specially constructed pull outs for trash, ice, paper towels.

There's really no limit. Good luck and have fun. I'm sure you'll enjoy it a lot this summer and for years to come.

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Winter Care for Outdoor Kitchen Countertop

by Paul Gesler
(Bluffton, Ohio)

QUESTION:

I have an outdoor kitchen island. The granite covers the entire island except for the barbeque grill.

The island is 11 feet long by 36 inches wide.

Do I need to protect/cover the countertop during an Ohio winter?

Do I need to protect/cover a stainless steel sink during an Ohio winter?

ANSWER:

Of course, minimizing exposure to rain, snow and weather in general will prolong the life of anything.

Given the length and severity of winters in your area it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a custom cover made that would keep the whole island dry, but natural stone and stainless steel will stand up to the elements without much trouble.

In time (many years) you may notice that the shiny finish on the countertop is getting a bit dull from weather exposure. If this does happen you can have it re-polished or just leave it.

Cycles of freeze/thaw are your biggest trouble maker and you can't do anything about that. It is possible, but not very likely that the granite could develop a crack if you have many cycles of freeze/thaw.

An outdoor sink will expand and contract with temperature, so you may notice some break down in the caulking/sealing around the sink.

Sealing granite countertops outside is not as important (an many granite don't need sealing), but a beneficial if testing shows it's needed.

As noted above, sun and rain work wonders on stains. It's not immediate, but the elements wash and bleach out stains naturally over time.

So... weather will produce signs of wear over time (years), but these are mostly cosmetic issues that won't affect the function or integrity of your outdoor kitchen island.

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Warped Outdoor Kitchen Countertop

by Gina
(Texas)

QUESTION:

I have an outdoor kitchen with 3/4" granite countertops. It is about 7-years old.

The "grout" from the seams wasn't installed properly and the plywood underneath the granite is warped and needs to be replaced.

I have been told that when lifting my granite it may crumble? Is this actually possible?

ANSWER:

Hi Gina, sorry to hear about your outdoor counter top troubles.

Constant exposure to water or trapped water is not good for any material and a difficult maintenance problem to deal with.

It is possible (given enough time) that the cycle of water seeping through the grout, saturating the granite, possibly freezing and thawing could degrade your granite counter.

Is 7 years enough time for this to occur in this case? Who knows...

However, a stone counter top is heaaaa-VY! And it is very rigid, so any weak points could crack just trying to move or lift it. This can happen even when not compromised by water intrusion, etc.

Be sure to handle the granite with care when removing ... nothing is ever absolutely certain.

The original outdoor kitchen countertop installation should have used a marine grade plywood with a waterproof membrane on top of the plywood. Thinset and tile/slab on top of that.

This would effectively seal the plywood and keep moisture out so the plywood would not warp and rot.

For the repair you certainly want to interview the contractor and get detailed answers regarding exactly how the re-installation will be done and what materials will be used to make the structure as water resistant and low maintenance as possible.

Actually, you may not even need the plywood substrate unless installing a tile countertop.

This will depend on the design, strength and support of the cabinets or base, but it is more common to just install a granite countertop right onto the cabinets.

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