It’s outdoor kitchen season!
Here in Winnipeg, the outdoor (and outdoor kitchen) season is short and making sure you get the most of it helps get us through those long cold winters. When the sun is out, getting outside is priority one!
It’s a well known fact that food prepared outside just tastes better, and enjoying it in the fresh air with good people makes for some incredible summer memories.
Whether your set-up is a picnic blanket and a basket of goodies, or a full-on Texas BBQ with all the fixings, having the tools to cook outside is an investment in summertime. An outdoor kitchen extends your living space, increases the value of your home and provides a beautiful area for cooking and entertaining.
If you have a smaller house with a yard, having an outdoor kitchen can be a welcome addition to your home, providing more options for cooking and food prep, at least for the warmer months. That said, there’s no reason you can’t use an outdoor kitchen in the winter too! While you wouldn’t be able to use a sink or refrigerator during a Winnipeg winter, having a flat surface beside your BBQ is invaluable if you’ve ever tried to balance a tray of meat and your barbecue sauce on a snowbank as you load up the grill.
Calling all canners, gardeners, or batch cookers: It’s often pretty inconvenient that the harvest bounties come in during the heat of the summer. Processing and preserving is a hot and steamy job, and washing all that fresh produce can get messy indoors. Having an outside prep and cooking space means you can keep all that heat, moisture, and dirt out of the house and help out your struggling air-conditioner. Batch cooking and meal-prep outside is another great way to use an outdoor kitchen. Cook up food for the week or the freezer on a sunny breezy day and retreat to a nice cool (and clean) kitchen when you’re done.
We’ve been building outdoor kitchens increasingly often as they have surged in popularity, so we’ve got a few tips to help as you plan out your dream space. Some might be things you’ve thought of, but some might come as a surprise, but in our experience they’re a good place to start.
While quartz is beautiful and durable, it’s not the best choice for an outdoor kitchen. Because of the resins and pigments used to manufacture quartz surfaces, the probability is very high that it will yellow in the sun. While we can’t tell you how long that will take, in our experience it can happen in as little as 6 months. It may last a few years, but we’ve never had an outdoor quartz countertop that hasn’t yellowed with time. If you’re investing in solid stone countertops, we want to make sure it’ll last (and that you’ll be happy with it) as long as possible.
Granite is your friend
Granite is a natural stone and has spent most of its life living in the elements. There’s not much mother nature can hurl at granite that will harm it. In a place like Winnipeg that has large temperature fluctuations between summer and winter, granite is an excellent durable choice. It’s also heat and scratch resistant and easy to maintain. The only issue we’ve noticed with outdoor granite is that some darker colours can fade in the sun, so if you want your granite to last, we advise choosing lighter colours.
Dark-coloured stone gets hot
This may seem obvious, but dark coloured stone heats up quickly in the sun and holds that heat for quite a while. A dark countertop in a sunny place on a hot day would be uncomfortable to touch or lean on and won’t be a great place to set down your ice-cold cocktail or bowl of ice cream. While they look sharp, either save the dark countertops for a spot that doesn’t get any sun, or skip them altogether and find a lighter colour.
Be smart about your layout and use
While stone surfaces are extremely durable, they can chip or crack. (We did some tests on this, check out our durability blog post). The most vulnerable spot on stone countertops are the cut edges where a direct hit could cause a chip. Chips can be filled, but doing what you can to prevent them in the first place will make your life a little easier. While your indoor countertops are pretty secure inside your home, outdoor kitchens can be exposed to some additional hazards. Think about how you are going to use your outdoor kitchen and how protected it will be from things that may drop on it (think falling tree branches). If you’re installing a sink, maybe consider a drop-in one that protects the edge a bit better than an undermount sink.
Remember to give yourself a bit of extra clearance to account for seasonally shifting ground and the expansion and contraction that happens as the temperatures change. (We can help with that too).
Also, stone surfaces might seem like a great work surface for construction projects, but you might want to keep those heavy tools on a concrete surface. Hammering anything on a stone countertop is generally a bad idea.
Find a dealer who will be honest about their stone
Not all stone is created equally. We know our stone, and want to help you find the right one for your project. We’re always available to answer questions, make suggestions and give you all the nitty-gritty details to ensure you won’t be second-guessing your choice down the line. Making the sale is important to us, but not if it comes with an unhappy customer, so we’ll do everything we can to be honest and transparent and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Hopefully this was interesting and informative, and helped inspire you on your outdoor kitchen journey. If you have any questions, or need help finding the right stone, contact us! We’ll be happy to help!