Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, but cooking outdoors can be more trouble than it's worth without proper space. If you are tired of juggling bowls and pots on rickety folding tables or cutting up vegetables while balancing a cutting board in your lap, make a weatherproof outdoor countertop. This improvement will make such a difference you'll be itching to get in some backyard cooking all year long.
Nothing beats glass for being waterproof, odor resistant, mildew resistant and easy to clean. Additionally, since the color goes all the way through, nicks and scratches are not as visible as with other countertop materials. Make a mosaic using glass tiles or stained-glass pieces and add beauty to that list as well. For best results, the Glass Tile Store recommends using grouting and tile adhesives specifically formulated for outdoor use when installing glass for your outdoor countertop.
Use leftover ceramic tiles from a bathroom or kitchen remodeling project, or collect broken tiles from construction sites or tile stores --- they will be glad to have you haul them off --- and create a ceramic design for your outdoor countertop. Make a mosaic or just a random "flagstone" effect. Either way, you will combine thriftiness with art to create a practical outdoor work surface.
For true durability, consider concrete for your countertop. It may be poured au naturel for an industrial look, or combined with colorful pigments and polished to a glass-like sheen. Embed bits of glass or pebbles for interesting color and texture, or try pressing leaves into the uncured surface as an impromptu stamp. Concrete is incredibly versatile and practically indestructible. It dulls knives quickly though, so bring your cutting board to do the slicing and dicing. Working with concrete can be messy and a bit difficult, so this is not a project for the faint of heart, but fortunately, the Natural Handyman offers an excellent tutorial for anyone considering this option.
This is a good idea for anyone wanting the weatherproof and stain, odor- and mildew-resistant properties of glass, but with the look of wood. Purchase a single sheet of shatterproof glass slightly larger than the wood countertop. Mount the glass with spacers so it is slightly elevated above the wood to prevent condensation that could deteriorate the wooden surface over time.
For the ultimate in outdoor surfaces that can take the abuse from hot pots, sharp knives and even rain, install a stainless steel countertop. Stainless steel has a lot to offer over other countertop materials, and it is even more durable than concrete, but it is quite pricey. Check around for used countertops from failed restaurants or look to demolition and remodeling projects at restaurant, hospital, lab or hotel locations for unwanted castoffs.
- Photo Credit cooking image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com
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