Outdoor Countertop Materials: Which Type Is Right for You?

outdoor countertop materials hero

An outdoor kitchen design includes many different elements, not least of which is the countertop.

The grill is often the focal point of an outdoor kitchen. Because the countertops significantly affect the overall aesthetic of an outdoor cooking space and provide some of its structural makeup, they can also be the centre of attention.

Indoor kitchen countertops offer plenty of different materials and designs to choose from and so do their outdoor counterparts (excuse the unintentional pun).

With so many outdoor countertop materials to choose from, it can get overwhelming trying to choose the best one for your backyard.

Some material types require a lot less maintenance than others. Maybe you have a specific look in mind that only one or two countertop materials can provide. Budget limitations will also naturally affect your range of choices, as prices can vary widely from one type of material to another.

This article will provide some clarity about what the numerous types of outdoor countertop materials offer. Keep reading to learn more about which countertop types are worth buying, which ones you should think twice about choosing, and the types to steer clear of.

Why your outdoor countertop material is so important

Perhaps the hardest working part of a backyard kitchen is the countertop, even moreso than the grill. A backyard food preparation work surface deals with all sorts of things that test its durability. That includes everything from encountering spills and food and drink stains, to handling hot temperatures, to having sharp cutting tools being used on it.

The functionality of countertops doesn’t stop there if you have a larger outdoor kitchen design that incorporates a bar and dining space. The countertops in a multi-functional outdoor living space are a magnet for activity. They’ll be used to dine on, mix drinks, as a resting spot for drinks, and even just as a surface for people to lean on while conversing with others.

Outdoor countertops don’t only need to be strong enough to handle the rigorous use that’s demanded from them, they need to contend with the harsh Canadian weather, too.

As important as the looks of any countertop are, durability has to be an even bigger priority with outdoor countertops.

With that in mind, here are the features and qualities (excluding looks) to prioritize for the outdoor countertops you buy:

  • overall weatherproofing performance
  • ease of maintenance
  • high-strength construction
  • abrasion and impact resistance
  • non-porous
  • UV-resistance
  • colour stability (meaning how effectively the colours are retained)
  • resistance to high temperatures
outdoor countertop

As important as an outdoor countertop’s looks are, it matters even more how well it stands up in an exterior setting.

The best outdoor countertop materials

It only makes sense to start our look at outdoor countertop materials with the most popular types that you’re most likely to find in any backyard with an outdoor kitchen.

There is no shortage of great countertop options to choose from. Here are the best countertop materials for outdoor usage, in no particular order.

Granite

One of the most popular outdoor countertop materials is granite, which has an appealing combination of durability, looks, and fairly easy maintenance.

Granite countertops come in many different colours and finishes. This gives homeowners more options to create a dynamic, unique outdoor kitchen design.

The toughness of granite lets it stand up well in an outdoor setting. It can tolerate high temperatures and resists scratching, abrasions, and stains. With an effective seal, granite surfaces won’t fade from prolonged sun exposure and will last longer.

Most outdoor granite countertops need to be resealed periodically (typically once a year) to maintain a non-porous surface that protects against stains, mould, and mildew. Higher grade granite surfaces have a higher density, which makes them less porous. That means they can go longer without needing to be resealed.

Granite does have one drawback – its cost. It is on the more expensive side compared to other outdoor countertop materials.

Dekton

Dekton is a relative newcomer to the outdoor countertop market. It’s manufactured by Cosentino, who are renowned for their technologically advanced, high-performance surfaces, including brands like Silestone and Sensa.

While Dekton may not have the countertop name recognition of granite, concrete, or porcelain, it’s well worth a look. The high-tech Sinterized Particle Technology process Dekton is made with produces ultra-compact surfaces made from a combination of porcelain, quartz, and glass.

Because a Dekton slab is so dense, it can be fabricated into countertops much thinner than what other stone materials offer. Dekton’s ample design versatility extends to its many pattern and colour options, which allows for a vast array of aesthetic possibilities.

Dekton’s extremely durable, innovative design is tailor-made for use outdoors. Here are a few more benefits it offers:

  • highly UV-resistant to maintain the countertop’s colour
  • completely stain-proof and resistant to abrasions and scratches
  • exceptional thermal expansion properties that are ideal for Ontario’s climate
  • the low-maintenance, non-porous surface never needs sealing and can be easily cleaned
  • competitively priced with other natural stone countertop materials
  • withstands high temperatures without burning or cracking
dekton countertop

Dekton countertops are extremely durable and offer a wealth of colours and patterns to create a beautiful design that stands out.

Soapstone

One of the biggest selling points for soapstone countertops is that they’re non-porous, which makes them well-suited for the outdoors.

Soapstone countertops are very dense and don’t require any sealing, although liquids can darken the surface if they’re not regularly cleaned with water and soap. An occasional application of mineral oil helps protect the surface and maintain its shine.

As well as soapstone can endure outside and withstand high temperatures, it is a soft material. That makes it more susceptible to scratches and abrasions, which may be a concern for those who anticipate using their outdoor kitchen a lot.

Soapstone is a dark natural material. This limits your range of colour choices to darker shades. Those darker colours become a notable factor for an outdoor countertop because they can become uncomfortably hot in direct sunlight.

If you are considering soapstone outdoor countertops or dark countertops made from another material, prioritize keeping them shaded with an overhead covering.

Concrete

Concrete outdoor countertops are quite trendy right now and it’s not hard to understand why. Because these countertops are produced by pouring a cement mix instead of installing a manufactured slab, an abundant number of design options open up.

Unique countertop shapes that most other materials can’t produce without costing significantly more (if they can be made at all) are possible with concrete. Moulded features like a sink cutout can be crafted by a skilled tradesperson to add even more of a custom look and specialized functionality to the countertop.

You’re not limited to the dull grey look of concrete, either. Concrete countertops can be stained virtually any colour and can also have artistic effects added for more visual appeal.

Considering that concrete is one of the strongest building materials, it’s not surprising that when installed and maintained properly, outdoor concrete countertops can last a long time.

Some ambitious people have had success DIYing concrete countertops for their outdoor kitchens. We’d advise against this unless you’re proficient in moulded concrete applications, however. You don’t want to be one of those DIY novices who have had the unfortunate experience of seeing their concrete countertop project fail when the supporting base collapsed from the weight of the poured concrete!

Another reason to think twice about DIYing a concrete countertop is that a poor installation job can lead to all sorts of headaches, especially cracking.

There are three other notable drawbacks of choosing concrete as an outdoor countertop material:

  • because concrete is very porous, it needs to be resealed annually to prevent cracking and damage from stains and mould
  • concrete countertops that aren’t protected from direct sunlight can lose their colour and start to yellow over time
  • intricate countertop designs can be expensive to mould and install

A gorgeous countertop like the one pictured here becomes the focal point of an outdoor kitchen and living space.

Quartzite

It may be pricier than other types of countertops because it’s made with a rarer natural material, but quartzite is an intriguing choice for a few reasons.

The beauty of quartzite is undeniable, highlighted by the material’s colourful hues and an elegant look that often gets confused with marble.

Quartzite, which is not the same as quartz (the former is a natural stone and the latter is an engineered product), is very durable. It’s harder than granite and although quartzite is porous, one of these countertops will last for many years as long as it gets resealed once a year.

The material can withstand hot temperatures from the sun and retains its colours nicely. Quartzite performs less effectively compared to other materials when it comes in contact with high heat, such as setting a hot pot down on the surface. Quartzite does scratch a little easier as well.

Porcelain

Another in-demand countertop material is porcelain. It has most of the attributes of a high-quality outdoor countertop:

  • very durable
  • excellent UV resistance and colour stability
  • high heat resistance
  • non-porous
  • low-maintenance
  • excellent stain, cracking, and scratch resistance (except from ceramic blades)

Because it’s man-made, porcelain slabs can be manufactured in a wide range of colours, finishes, and patterns. That makes them capable of exhibiting the kinds of attractive characteristics and patterns that natural stone produces.

Porcelain is one of the most hygienic types of countertop material, so food prep can occur right on its surface safely. That’s worth noting for anyone with a busy outdoor kitchen.

Adding another tick in the “pros” column for porcelain is the fact that it’s priced very reasonably compared to most other popular outdoor countertop materials.

Slate

Slate can be a finicky material to choose for an outdoor countertop because its quality tends to be more inconsistent. You really need to pay close attention to what the quality is of the slate the countertops are made with, as it can vary widely.

Lower-quality slate is less durable and less dense. Remember, less density means the material is more porous and more prone to staining, scratching, cracking, and abrasions. As with any non-porous countertop material, regular sealing applications will protect the surface and extend the countertop’s life.

Higher-quality slate provides better strength and durability and requires less maintenance (like resealing) because it’s denser and less porous. Slate is a softer stone, so extra care is needed to prevent the surface from getting scratched and chipped. The material also has a high resistance to heat.

outdoor living space

A multi-level countertop design adds visual appeal and zones that separate the work and dining areas.

Glass

If you’re looking for something different from the popular look of stone for your outdoor countertops, glass is worth considering.

Because we instantly associate glass with fragility, some might be surprised that it’s a viable option as an outdoor countertop material. Keep in mind that a glass countertop can be manufactured to be several inches thick.

Although glass is more breakable than any of the other outdoor countertop materials we’ve covered and scratches a little easier, it’s still well-suited for use outside. It’s non-porous, very hygienic, won’t get damaged from prolonged sun exposure, extremely easy to clean, and modestly priced.

Acidic drinks and foods can stain regular glass countertop surfaces easily. You can avoid this worry by buying higher-quality white glass countertops.

A major benefit of glass countertops is the high level of design customization they have. Here are some examples of the unique design options glass offers:

  • available in many different shapes and sizes
  • lots of colour options
  • add patterns and textures
  • embed stones, shells, or other materials
  • incorporate dynamic LED backlighting (a guaranteed conversation starter!)

Think twice about buying one of these countertops

Now let’s look at three countertop materials that present a few more questions than the above materials about their viability for outdoor use.

Marble

This one might be a tad controversial, but while researching this article, we found that marble outdoor countertops were less favoured by design professionals.

Although marble is certainly aesthetically pleasing and durable, concerns came up more than once from them about marble’s resiliency in colder climates. A honed or tumbled finish is strongly recommended over a polished finish for a marble surface, which won’t wear well over time.

Marble is porous and a softer stone, so more care needs to be taken to prevent stains and scratches. Like several other countertop materials, regular surface resealing will protect your investment.

Wood

If you’re partial to the natural, rustic look of wood as a countertop material, it will come at the cost of more maintenance.

That means putting in time every year to preserve the surface by sanding, oiling, and sealing it. For some folks, that may be a deal-breaker. After all, an outdoor living space is supposed to be for relaxation, not creating extra work projects.

Because wood surfaces are more vulnerable to the elements, make sure they’re protected by an overhead covering.

Stainless steel

The biggest drawback of having stainless steel countertops is they don’t play well with the sun. Unless they’re in a shaded area, outdoor stainless steel countertops will get very hot and cause a blinding glare.

Stainless steel is fairly durable and low-maintenance. However, it is more prone to denting and is typically on the higher end in terms of cost.

If you can live with these shortcomings, stainless steel is still a solid choice, especially if you’re aiming for a sleek outdoor kitchen aesthetic.

open outdoor living space

Whichever type of outdoor countertop you choose, keeping it below an overhead covering will protect both it and your investment.

Avoid these outdoor countertop materials

There are three countertop materials you should steer clear of altogether when your outdoor kitchen design is being put together.

Tile

Ceramic, porcelain, and stone tile countertops are one of the cheaper options and offer a wealth of design possibilities. Unfortunately, tile is not a good choice for cold climates.

Even in ideal temperatures, tile can break, chip, and crack easily. That becomes a much bigger issue when the tile resides outdoors and has to deal with the elements, especially freeze-thaw cycles. The countertop’s colours will fade much quicker compared to most other countertop materials, too.

Another major issue with tile countertops is their grout. We all know how fun it is trying to keep the grout in our bathrooms and kitchens clean. You can imagine how much more of a challenge this is when the grout is outside.

Even with a grout sealer and if the countertop is in a covered space, it’s still a lot of extra work to keep the grout clean and stain-free. And on top of this, grout applied outdoors is a lot more vulnerable to cracking.

Quartz

Quartz is another popular material for indoor countertops that doesn’t hold up well in most outdoor climates. The exception would be a climate that’s dryer and has consistent, moderate temperatures. Even then, outdoor quartz countertops need to be located in a well-sheltered area.

Although quartz may be non-porous, the resin it’s made with will yellow from the sun. Extreme cold and hot temperatures, as well as humidity and moisture, will cause quartz countertops to warp and deteriorate faster than most other materials.

Laminate

When anyone pricing outdoor countertop materials takes a look at laminate, it quickly stands out as one of the lowest-priced options. Laminate is also likely the worst choice for an outdoor countertop.

The structural integrity of this type of countertop will reveal its shortcomings relatively quickly because low-quality particle board is used beneath the laminate.  That makes the material vulnerable to moisture and humidity, with issues involving mould, rot, and warping sure to follow.

Get the best outdoor countertop for your kitchen

Now you can make a more informed decision about which outdoor countertop material to use for your outdoor kitchen.

Outeriors will work with you on a customized design to make your outdoor kitchen and living space the heart of your home this summer, featuring a high-quality Dekton countertop.

Schedule a free design consultation with us to start planning your dream outdoor living space.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also:

Backyard Spring Cleaning: Top 10 Tasks to Tackle


Spring is in the air. That means it’s not just the nicer weather that is finally coming – all of those home spring cleaning tasks are as well.

While spring cleaning is typically associated with organizing and sprucing up the inside of a home, there’s still plenty of essential work to be done in the backyard, too. Several months of the harsh Canadian winter does tend to take a bit of a toll on the exterior space of our homes.

The average home property presents a sizable amount of backyard spring cleaning work to be done. Everything from the lawn to the gardens to your grill will need some TLC.

8 benefits of backyard spring cleaning

The pandemic has made us reflect on how our homes are designed and how we use them. Homeowners have never appreciated being able to use their backyards more, than right now.

Enjoying your backyard doesn’t come without a lot of effort, however. Spring is a time of renewal and the best time to get a yard in shape so you can get the most out of it throughout the rest of the year.

woman doing backyard spring cleaning work

If you’re struggling to get inspired about starting that backyard spring cleaning work, consider these eight benefits of doing it:

  1. Having a nicer backyard means you’ll be more likely to be drawn outside to enjoy it. 
  2. The early spring temperatures are more comfortable to work in. You won’t be sweating buckets in May and June doing neglected yard chores.
  3. Connecting with nature by getting some fresh air and sunshine is good for your mental health. A pre-pandemic survey by Coleman Canada found that 29% of Canadians spend less than 30 minutes per week outside.
  4. Backyard spring cleaning work is great exercise.
  5. Completing the work in spring to get your backyard summer-ready means you can enjoy the space more during the best weather of the year.
  6. Yardwork provides a good opportunity for family bonding and gets kids off their numerous screens (at least for a little while).
  7. Being proactive in the spring with the maintenance and care of your lawn, gardens, and other types of foliage keeps them healthier.
  8. There are fewer bugs to be annoyed by!

Get spring off to a positive and productive start. Whether you’re doing your own yard work or hiring a pro for the job, be sure to include these ten essential tasks on your backyard spring cleaning checklist.

1. Clean up any backyard debris

The first step in refreshing a backyard’s appearance is to clean up all of the debris that has accumulated over the winter.

Rake and pick up any dog waste, broken branches, leaves, wind-blown garbage, and other types of debris that ended up on your lawn, deck or patio, and walkways. Do the same with any loose debris in your gardens (we’ll come back to them later).

The sooner that this initial cleanup step is done, the sooner you’ll be able to:

  • start restoring the various areas of your yard
  • give your lawn and gardens more direct sunlight
  • better assess what backyard areas will require some extra attention

2. Start restoring your lawn

grass in backyard

One of the top priorities on a backyard spring cleaning checklist will be getting your lawn looking not just presentable but lush and colourful.

Nothing impacts backyard curb appeal like the appearance of a lawn. A beautifully manicured lawn with a consistent green colour is an instant eye-pleaser, whereas a dried-out lawn with brown and yellow patches is just an eyesore.

Winters are rough on lawns, especially if too many leaves are left on the grass. An excess of leaves on a lawn over the winter can damage the grass by blocking the sun, matting it down, and creating mould and fungal diseases. That’s why you’ll want to remove those leaves as soon as you can come springtime.

On the other hand, leaving some mulched leaves on a lawn over the winter can be beneficial by covering up root systems, adding nutrients, and reducing weed growth.

Snow mould is another potential lawn issue you might have to deal with in the spring. It’s a fungus that leaves white, pink, or grey patches on lawns, typically in locations that get heavy snowfalls. Scotts, the leading maker of lawn care products, explains more about why snow mould occurs on lawns and how to treat it and prevent it.

FYI: dog poop is not a fertilizer

There’s a common misconception that dog poop left on lawns helps to fertilize the grass. In fact, dog poop kills grass if it sits on a lawn for too long and it also contains bacteria and parasites. Try not to wait until the spring to clean up dog waste in your yard. Cleaning up the dog poop every week or two throughout the winter will leave less of a cleaning mess in the spring. Your lawn will appreciate it, too.

Dog urine causes lawn burn over time, which can be difficult to combat since dogs like to do their business in the same area. Treating grass damaged from pet waste involves replacing sections of sod altogether or trying to grow new grass by using a combination of soil, fertilizer, and grass seed.

To help get your entire lawn looking its best, use fertilizer and grass seed, as well as aerating and dethatching your grass. Don’t mow your lawn too short, either. That impedes the root growth of the grass and can cause more weeds to appear. Scotts says to “only cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time, even if this means you have to mow again after several days”.

3. Get your gardens ready

Getting flower and vegetable gardens ready for the spring planting season is another big task for most homeowners.

Since we’ve already cleaned up any wind-blown debris that ended up in them, now it’s time to remove any dead growth in the gardens. This will not only improve the appearance of your gardens, it also creates more room for new growth and removes potentially problematic funguses and diseases.

Perennials should be pruned and trimmed back to make way for new growth. Some compost can be spread around them to aid the soil with root growth. If you’re using chemical fertilizers in the garden, don’t stray from the manufacturer’s application instructions. Overfertilizing can burn or kill plants.

Using mulch in gardens preserves the soil’s moisture and also reduces weed growth. For the best results, it needs to be replaced every spring, however. Remove the old much and put down new mulch after your planting is completed.

With the gardens now ready for the growing season, turn your attention to your pots and planter containers. Clear out any dead plants from last year, empty the old soil, and give the containers a cleaning so they’re ready for new residents when warmer temperatures allow for planting.

4. Clean your grill

There are plenty of benefits of using your grill during the winter, but some people don’t enjoy cold-weather cooking and store their grill away in the fall.

Whether you’re in the latter camp and didn’t give the grill a good cleaning before storing it or your grill was used throughout the winter, now’s the time to give it a spring cleaning. A clean, well-maintained grill will:

  • be safer to use
  • produce better cooking results
  • function more reliably
  • last longer

Disconnect the gas line (which you should also inspect) and remove parts like the rotisserie rod, grill grates, drip trays, and warming racks. Soak them in warm water with some dish detergent for a while before using a degreaser and scrubber to remove the rest of the dried grease and food remnants. Rinse the degreaser off thoroughly before putting the parts back.

Scrub the entire grill interior using warm water with a little dish detergent. Don‘t forget to clean the burners and flavourizer bars. Avoid using grill scrubbing brushes with wire bristles because the bristles can break off and end up in your food. 

Using a cleaning product for the exterior of the grill will make it look nicer and help protect its finish.  Once your grill cleanup work is all done, run the appliance at a high temperature for 15-20 minutes to burn off any residual degreaser and soap.

Another option to get your grill ready for the spring and summer is to hire a professional grill cleaner. They’ll come to your home and clean your grill and give it a tune-up. 

Why not expand your outdoor cooking space?

outdoor kitchen in backyard

Most outdoor cooking spaces take up the amount of space of a homeowner’s small grill. If your family enjoys barbecued food, why not make your outdoor cooking space bigger?

A professionally designed outdoor kitchen provides additional cooking space for your home.  You can have it fully outfitted with a built-in grill, appliances, countertops, a sink, and cabinetry for all your storage needs. Or, if you prefer, you can have a smaller outdoor kitchen space installed that will still be a major upgrade over a standalone grill.

Outdoor living space upgrades are one of the most popular types of home renovation projects over the last couple of years. You can complement an outdoor kitchen with a dining area and living room. This allows you to expand your home’s livable space and enjoy your backyard more

5. Clean your outdoor furniture

Next on our backyard spring cleaning checklist is getting your outdoor furniture ready. Even high-quality outdoor furniture needs some occasional maintenance.

After getting your furniture out of the garage or a shed (or removing their covers if the furniture stayed on a deck or patio during the winter), take stock of what shape everything is in.

Wood furniture requires the most upkeep. It can be cleaned with a wood cleaner and soft brush. If it needs more than a cleaning, restore its appearance with a treatment of oil or stain.

Soap and water and a light scrubber or rag should take care of cleaning up any dirt and grime on plastic, aluminum, and wrought iron furniture. Use touch-up paint to make plastic furniture with faded paint look new again. Rust on wrought iron furniture can be sanded off and then repaint the sanded areas.

Wicker furniture can be cleaned with a water and soap mix and brush as well. Afterwards, rinse off the furniture with a low-pressure hose. It’s a good idea to hose down your wicker furniture at least once a month between the spring and fall.

Don’t forget your outdoor cushions

Some outdoor cushion covers are machine washable. Run them through the washing machine on a low cycle with mild detergent.

For cushions that can’t be machine washed, clean them with some warm water, a mild detergent, and a cloth or sponge before rinsing them off.

If you need to replace some outdoor furniture or buy new pieces or cushions, remember that the demand for outdoor furniture goes up as the temperature goes up. If you wait too long into the summer, you’ll have fewer buying options and anything you are buying or ordering may be backordered.

6. Clean and repair your deck and fence

person staining fence

Sweep off your deck so you can give it a good wash after being pelted for the last few months with snow and rain. If you have a raised deck, check that all of the railings are sturdy.

To clean a wood deck, first, rinse it off with a hose and then use a handled deck scrub brush along with a deck cleaning product to remove dirt, stains, and any mould. Remember to scrub with the grain of the wood and then rinse the deck with a hose or pressure washer.

Replace any rotting or heavily split deck boards if needed. Wood decks typically need to be treated every 1-3 years with a stain, sealer, or stain/sealer product. Composite decking is much more low-maintenance than wood but does cost more.

Wood fences should be cleaned every spring. At the very minimum, use a hose or power washer to remove any dirt. A deeper cleaning with a scrub brush and cleaner is ideal to remove stains, mould, and mildew. Wood fences need to be stained and sealed approximately every 2-5 years, depending on the type of wood.

7. Clean your patio stones and walkways

Patios and walkways built with the most common types of stone-based products (like concrete, paver stones, flagstone, cut stone, and clay brick) are relatively low-maintenance.

A little bit of spring cleaning attention should be all the work that your backyard’s stone surfaces need until the late fall, other than an occasional quick sweep or hosing off.

See if any of the stones are damaged badly enough that they should be replaced. Remove any weeds growing around and between the stones by hand, making sure you’re pulling them out by the roots.

To clean most underfoot hardscape surfaces, using a hose or pressure washer along with dish soap and a scrubber should suffice. To remove tougher stains, mildew, and algae, a stone cleaner can be used.

For any of your backyard spring cleaning tasks, be mindful of using eco-friendly cleaning products. Cleaners are available that don’t contain chemicals that can damage anything growing in your yard and be harmful to people, pets, and local wildlife.

8. Prune your trees, shrubs, bushes, and hedges

tree being pruned

Tending to your shrubs, trees, hedges, and bushes in the spring doesn’t only help breathe new life into your backyard, it keeps them healthy and stimulates their growth.

After removing any winter protection netting and wrapping they have, remove any dead limbs. Dead branches are unsightly, a falling hazard, and make plants susceptible to diseases that can spread throughout the organism.

The amount of pruning work you’ll be doing in early spring depends on the types of vegetation you have. Some types of vegetation (like birch and maple trees) should be pruned in early spring.

With other types of plants (such as lilacs and forsythia shrubs), it’s best to wait until mid-to-late April to give them a pruning.

9. Clean your gutters and downspouts

Cleaning out your home’s gutters and downspouts is another important spring cleaning job. Sure, it may not produce the kind of eye-catching results you’ll appreciate when you’re outside. It’s still an essential task that shouldn’t be ignored, though, especially since spring is Ontario’s rainiest season.

Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause water damage to the roof, siding, and foundation of a house. Attached patios and decks can get damaged as well.

Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year – in the spring and fall. Since they were last (hopefully) cleaned in the autumn, leaves, shingle grit, and other debris will have accumulated in them.

Leaf/gutter guards will significantly help keep your gutters from getting blocked. They’re not a catch-all solution (pun intended) to keeping gutters debris-free, however.

Downspouts should ideally be drained a minimum of five feet away from a house. If needed, use downspout extensions to ensure that rainwater is draining far enough from your h0me’s foundation.

10. Organize your garage and shed

yard tools on garage wall

The final thing to include on your backyard spring cleaning checklist is getting your garage and shed organized.

Assess which yard and gardening tools and powered yard equipment will get you through another year and which items are ready to retire. Do the same with your hoses, hose attachments, and sprinklers.

Give all of your landscaping tools a good cleaning and organize them so they each have a home, which makes it easier to find them and put them away.

If you need help getting your garage organized, Garage Living has great storage and organization solutions that you’ll find invaluable.

Get your outdoor living space project started

All of this backyard spring cleaning work will be worth it as you get to appreciate and spend time in a nicer backyard for the months to come.

Why not maximize your enjoyment outside with an outdoor living space that brings an exciting new look and level of functionality to your backyard?

From design to installation, Outeriors takes care of everything with your outdoor living space project. Schedule a free design consultation with us today to get started on your backyard’s transformation.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also:

9 Winter Grilling Tips To Enjoy Your Barbecue Year-round

Outdoor grill with snow on it

One of the things some Canadians most look forward to in the spring is firing up their slumbering grill for the first time since the fall.

For many Canadians, however, barbecue season doesn’t stop when the snow starts falling – it’s all year long.

A Weber survey found that 43% of Canadians grill year-round. An older Ipsos-Reid poll produced similar results, finding that 39% of us partake in winter grilling.

The appeal of enjoying flame-cooked food that is fresh off the grill is strong. It must be to get anyone to abandon the stove in their perfectly warm house and go stand in front of a grill when it’s -20 degrees and there’s a foot of snow on the ground!

Barbecue year-round with these winter grilling tips

As cold as our winters can be, we’re surprised more Canadians don’t treat themselves during the season to the taste of delicious grilled food that doesn’t come in take-out containers.

There is simply no substitute for the taste of hot-off-the-grill, home-cooked food. And for some of us, a meal grilled in the winter tastes that much nicer knowing it required a little more work and perseverance to get the job done.

It doesn’t require too much more of an effort to use the grill during inclement weather, however. Try these winter grilling tips to satisfy your appetite for freshly grilled food, even when the weather won’t cooperate.

winter grilling tips

1. Dress for warmth and practicality

Canadians don’t need a reminder to bundle up when they’re going out into the frigid winter weather.

Along with dressing in layers, covering your head, and wearing the rest of your winter attire, there are a few other things to consider when you’re cold-weather grilling.

If you’re wearing a scarf, ensure it’s tied around your neck and not dangling, which could become a fire hazard. Also, don’t use thick winter gloves that make it harder to work the grill and carry things. Get some heat-resistant grilling gloves that are lightweight and designed for warmth.

Because you’ll be going in and out of the house a few times to do your cooking, try to choose a jacket and footwear that are easy to put on and take off.

A hot, grilled meal is reward enough for your efforts. And if you need any additional motivation to fire up the grill when it’s freezing outside, remember this: at least there isn’t a single annoying bug to contend with!

2. Keep the grill close

Having a barbecue that is easily accessible is an important part of winter grilling. Remember, the closer a grill is to the indoors, the more inclined you’ll be to use it in the winter.

Ideally, you want the appliance to be located as close to the house as possible so you don’t have to break out the snow shovel to get to it. Not too close, though – always keep a grill at least 10 feet from your house and any wooden fixtures.

Having some type of overhead covering is also recommended for year-round grill use. When it’s warm, a covering will protect you from the rain and hot sun, as well as give you more privacy. And in the winter, a grill that is located in a covered, more controlled environment will be much easier to use. Being exposed to less moisture will extend the life of the grill as well.

If your built-in grill or movable grill can’t be located closer to the house and does require some snow shovelling to get to, keep a couple of things in mind:

  • be careful using a metal snow shovel around your grill so you don’t dent it (a plastic shovel is safer to use)
  • sand, salt, and ice melting products will damage patio and pathway stones, wood and composite decks, and grills

Be sure to move grills with wheels before the snow starts falling. And never use any type of grill in the garage during bad weather, even with the doors open. It’s a fire and carbon monoxide hazard.

Outdoor grill in cabinetry with snow on ground in winter

Keep your grill located as close to your house as possible to avoid having to get out the snow shovel to access it. Shovelling the driveway is enough work as it is.

3. Have sufficient outdoor lighting

The short days and long nights of winter will make good lighting around your outdoor cooking space essential.

Having sufficient lighting for your winter grilling tasks makes it safer to navigate around the backyard and to get a good look at how the food you’re cooking is progressing. You don’t want to tie up one of your free hands with a flashlight or your phone with its flashlight turned on.

If your backyard lighting isn’t up to snuff, buy an all-weather lamp or install a permanently mounted light fixture by the grill. Even a small clamp or clip-on grilling light will help while cooking.

Some premium grills come with useful features like under-the-lid lighting and backlit knobs that are very useful for cooking after dark.

4. Use a good grill

Speaking of premium grills, let’s get into why they’re worth the investment, especially for winter cooking.

A grill’s cooking efficiency is even more important when it’s cold outside and getting your food cooked just right is more of a challenge.

Premium grills cook your food more evenly and have useful features like zone heating that allows for variable cooking temperatures on your grill surface. A feature like this is quite handy when two or three different types of food need to cook at different temperatures.

High-quality grills function more reliably as well. They’ll start when they should, provide accurate temperature readings, and are made with better parts and materials than cheap grills. Inexpensive grills are constructed with low-quality metals that rust faster and don’t retain heat as well as premium grills, which increases the amount of time it takes to heat up the appliance and do your cooking.

You’ll appreciate all of these premium grill benefits because you can get your cooking work done faster so you can get back inside to the warmth of your home and start dining.

5. Grill “smarter”

Another benefit of cooking with a luxury grill is the smart features some of them offer. Models like the built-in Lynx Professional Smart Grill deliver a 21st-century outdoor cooking experience with high-tech features such as:

  • the MyChef™ automated cooking system that cooks at precise temperatures for the optimal amount of time
  • responsive grill controls that can be activated with voice commands or a smart device
  • alerts sent to your smart device informing you that the grill is heated up to the desired temperature, that it’s time to flip your food, and when your food is done cooking

If your grill lacks any smart features, get a smart meat thermometer. These great, inexpensive devices involve inserting a probe into the meat on a grill so the internal temperature can be monitored. The cooking progress is monitored via a smartphone app that alerts you when the temperature is higher or lower than needed.

Making use of this smart grill tech gets you closer to producing perfect cooking results every time. You’ll also have to spend a little less time out in the cold keeping an eye on your grill.

Lynx Professional Smart Series grill

Smart grills have handy high-tech features that eliminate the guesswork of cooking at the right temperatures. They also let you spend less time in front of the grill and more time in your warm house while cooking.

6. Adjust your grilling routine for the winter

Your regular summer grilling routine will need a few adjustments for the wintertime. Let’s start with heating up the appliance. Factor in some extra time to get the grill heated up to the cooking temperature you want.

Even when it’s hot outside, opening the grill lid too much will add to your cooking time. Needless to say, it’s even more important to keep the grill cover closed as much as possible in the winter so less heat will be lost.

Remember that a grill will use more propane or natural gas in the winter as it works harder to retain heat and take longer to heat up. If you have a propane grill, plan accordingly and have an extra tank on hand (which is a good idea no matter what time of the year it is).

Now let’s talk about some good winter grilling practices for handling your food. Don’t move your uncooked food outside until it’s ready to go on the grill. When the food is done cooking, put it into a heated container (preferably a type that retains heat more effectively like ceramic) and get it inside pronto. You don’t want to create any extra work by having to reheat the food.

Any grill is easier to clean when it’s still warm or hot. Once your cooked food is moved inside, scrape off your grates before they cool off and things like meat residue, grease, marinade, and barbecue sauce harden.

7. Leave the new grilling recipes for the summer

Sub-freezing weather is not the time to be experimenting with complicated new grilling recipes.

Keep the menu simple with grilling staples like steak, sausage, burgers, chicken, hot dogs, and vegetables that can be cooked in aluminum foil or a pan.

Sticking with what you know and choosing fast cooking, low-maintenance foods will help you keep the grill lid closed more and lessen your time spent outside.

steak and sausage on grill

Keep your winter grilling menu simple and leave the new recipes for warmer weather.

8. Prep for your winter grilling in the fall

The fall is the best time to give grills a thorough cleaning after their heaviest period of use during the spring and summer. Taking the time to do some grill maintenance is much more important if you plan to do some winter grilling.

Grills that aren’t cleaned often enough will build up bacteria from the leftover grease and food remnants.

Disassemble as many parts as possible to make cleaning easier, including the grill grates, warming racks, and rotisserie rod. Leave the drip trays in place until you’re done cleaning the grill interior. Let the removed parts soak in warm water and some dish detergent for a short period to loosen some of the caked-on grill gunk.

In the meantime, give the grill interior a good scrubbing with some warm water, dish detergent, and a grill brush. Make sure the flavourizer bars and burners are properly cleaned off.

Use a degreaser or grill cleaning product and a brush or scrubbing tool to clean each part that was removed. Rinse and dry them off before putting them back in the grill.

Look for a product specifically meant for use on a grill exterior to clean it and protect its finish. Finally, lightly apply a coating of vegetable, peanut, or canola oil on your cast-iron grates and run the grill on high for 30 minutes. Seasoning grill grates helps prevent them from rusting and food from sticking to them.

9. Cover up

covered grillBy the time your meal has been eaten, the grill will have cooled off enough to be covered. Spending just a few seconds to cover a grill every time after using it will protect it from corrosion and prolong its life.

Covering the grill also makes it easier to get started the next time you’re ready to cook outdoors again.

The inside of the cover must be dry before putting it over a grill. If the interior of the cover is damp, the moisture can get trapped and cause the grill to rust quicker.

If your grill needs a replacement cover, spend a little more on a high-quality cover that is made with a durable material that won’t fade and has vents with good airflow to let out moisture. Also, be sure that the cover fits your grill snugly.

With the right approach, it’s always grilling season!

Follow these winter grilling tips and you can enjoy the benefits of using your barbecue at any time of the year.

Let Outeriors help get your backyard ready for winter grilling use and a lot more functionality when the weather warms up. Our outdoor kitchen and living space designs will maximize your family’s enjoyment of your backyard. The high-quality products we use are built to withstand the Canadian winter (and look great while doing so).

Start a dialogue with Outeriors about getting your outdoor kitchen project started by scheduling a free design consultation with us.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also:

7 Fall Outdoor Living Ideas To Extend Your Patio Season

Fall Outdoor Living Ideas

As the days of autumn whiz past, there is more urgency to squeeze in just a little more fall outdoor living time on our decks and patios.

It won’t be long before the snow and frigid temperatures make the backyard a recreational no-go zone until next spring.

The enjoyment of spending time in the backyard doesn’t have to come to an end so early into the fall, however.

How to improve your fall outdoor living experience

By making some forward-thinking decisions for an outdoor living space’s design, you can maximize its functionality for use virtually year-round. And by adding some simple fresh design elements, an outdoor living area can be made to feel cozier.

Backyard get-togethers with the family and friends can continue well into the autumn season. Use your outdoor living space as a spot to take a break from doing your fall chores like raking the leaves. Or just curl up beneath a blanket beside the warmth of a fire pit on a crisp fall day with a hot drink and a good book.

If you enjoy the bounty of autumn’s magnificent sights and smells and are looking for ways to extend your patio season, there are plenty of ways to revamp your outdoor living area.

Here are seven tips to improve your fall outdoor living experience.

1. Turn up the heat

An absolute essential to make your fall outdoor living experience more comfortable is a good heating source. When it’s chilly, nothing boosts the cozy feel of a space like adding some warmth to the area, especially if it’s generated by real flames.

Popular product choices to warm up an outdoor living area are fire pits (which also come in table and bowl designs), outdoor fireplaces, chimineas, propane patio heaters, and electrical heating appliances like infrared heaters.

There are numerous advantages of using propane or natural gas to fuel an outdoor fire source instead of wood:

  • propane and natural gas burn much cleaner than wood
  • there‘s no cleanup or maintenance required
  • starting and extinguishing gas-powered fires is instantaneous
  • both gases are cheaper to use than wood
  • there’s no annoying smoke to deal with

You’ll naturally want to locate any heating sources as close to your seating and dining areas as possible.

A high-quality fire pit/table/bowl becomes the centrepiece of an outdoor room. It doesn’t only have a magnet-like effect on everyone because of the heat it provides, they also add ambiance, a sophisticated touch, and visual appeal to an outdoor living space.

Before buying a heating product for your backyard, be sure to check on what your local laws allow for operating open fires. For example, the city of Toronto doesn’t allow residents to operate backyard fires that are fuelled by wood.

fire pit in outdoor living space

A heating source like a fire pit is essential for maximum comfort when using an outdoor living space in the fall.

2. Enjoy fall outdoor entertainment

An outdoor room with the right design can be used to bring the indoors outside and add another dimension to a home’s living space.

When coupled with a reliable heating source to help keep you warm and toasty, an outdoor living room can be used for longer into the year as an entertainment space.

The fall is prime time for North America’s four major professional sports. The NHL and NBA seasons get underway, the NFL is in full swing, and Major League Baseball offers up the excitement of September pennant races and October playoffs.

Why not enjoy your favourite fall sporting events or a family movie night with your friends and family in the comfort of your backyard? An exterior entertainment space with an outdoor TV, a great audio system, and high-quality furniture creates a comfortable extension of your living space.

To boost your comfort level, consider adding thermal outdoor curtains, which can usually be attached fairly easily to an outdoor living area’s overhead covering. They’ll help keep an outdoor living space’s heat in and are useful year-round for privacy, bug control, and blocking out the sun and wind. If you’re using a propane patio heater, just be sure the area has enough ventilation.

3. Keep your outdoor kitchen open longer

There’s no substitute for the unique, savoury taste of food grilled over a flame. It’s not difficult to set up an outdoor kitchen so it can be used well into the fall and beyond. A grilled meal during the winter is a welcome menu option that helps to alleviate those February blahs (use these winter grilling tips).

Any outdoor kitchen needs a good grill, so don’t cut corners when it comes to buying the most essential appliance in an outdoor cooking space.

Invest in a premium grill that provides a headache-free cooking experience. High-quality grills are more reliable and will:

  • start up every time
  • hold steady cooking temperatures
  • cook food more quickly and efficiently than cheap grills
  • allow you to grill foods at different temperatures with variable heating zones
  • offer convenient features like smart tech and under-hood grill task lighting

The damper, colder weather of fall is a good reminder that your outdoor kitchen cabinet and countertop materials need to be of the highest quality to endure through Canada’s ever-changing weather.

Outeriors offers a wide selection of distinctive outdoor kitchen countertops and cabinets in a variety of attractive materials, styles, and colours.

To feel cozier while spending time in your backyard on chillier fall days, set up a hot beverage station in your outdoor kitchen. Beverages like hot apple cider, hot chocolate, wassail, and pumpkin spice latte are perfect for autumn and will warm you up as you extend your fall outdoor living time.

outdoor kitchen and dining area

Design your outdoor kitchen so it’s available for convenient year-round use.

4. Use high-quality outdoor furniture

An outdoor living room’s furniture is another element where investing in higher-quality products will serve you better in the long run.

Winter may be the harshest season of the year, but the fall and spring’s unpredictable weather and constantly fluctuating temperatures will take a toll on outdoor furniture, too, especially cheap furniture.

Spend a little extra to buy high-quality outdoor furniture that has everything you look for when buying indoor furniture, including comfort, visual appeal, and durability. The latter characteristic is a little more important with outdoor furniture, of course.

Prioritize buying outdoor furniture made with weather-resistant materials that will reduce the likelihood of the furniture rusting, developing mould, fading, and warping. These outdoor furniture materials are considered the most durable:

  • powder-coated steel and aluminum
  • wrought iron with a weather-resistant finish
  • hardwoods such as teak, white oak, and eucalyptus
  • polyresin wicker

Weather-resistant cushions are another essential for outdoor furniture. No one likes to sit on a hard surface at any time of the year and especially not when the weather is cooler. Metal furniture materials like wrought iron can feel ice-cold on a chilly day and cushions act as a welcome buffer.

To extend the life of your outdoor furniture, keep them in a covered space to protect them from the elements and cover the furniture pieces up whenever possible.

5. Upgrade your exterior lighting

As the days get shorter, the lights come on earlier. That makes having good lighting extra important for an outdoor living space that will be used during the fall.

Lighting that is dim and harsh can singlehandedly neutralize any of your efforts to make a deck or patio area feel cozier in the autumn with heating and some decorative upgrades. The look and feel of a space is hugely impacted by lighting and simply using more bulbs to brighten an area isn’t a good strategy.

Incandescent and halogen lighting is considered outdated. Even relying solely on LEDs, today’s preferred exterior lighting choice, isn’t enough since there are a variety of bulb styles and colours that produce different results. Lighting also needs to be strategically located.

Consulting with a professional who can help with your outdoor living area’s lighting is a good idea. They’ll know how to achieve the best results so everything is well-lit for functionality and safety. A pro will also know how to effectively highlight the best parts of an outdoor living space and its surrounding landscaping.

-patio and landscape lighting for both functionality and to highlight your outdoor living space and make it feel more inviting and cozy.

6. Gimme shelter

Another of the essential fall outdoor living ideas to consider is adding an overhead covering for more comfort. A roof extension, covered pergola, gazebo, pavilion, or large awning are the most common solutions for covering an outdoor living space.

An outdoor living space should ideally have some sort of overhead covering to provide protection from the sun and rain during the summer. This is even more important in the fall when the combination of cool temperatures and rain is enough to drive everyone inside.

An overhead covering also prevents snow from covering your outdoor kitchen and living room area. That extends the life of your outdoor living products and allows you to continue using the grill year-round. When the weather won’t cooperate with your cooking plans, you won’t need to get out an umbrella or snow shovel before you fire up the grill.

outdoor living room

Lousy weather won’t limit the functionality of an outdoor living area if it’s got overhead covering.

7. Add cozy fall touches

Cool temperatures make it harder to feel cozy in a space. Along with heating your patio area, add some decorative touches that incorporate fall-themed decor elements to infuse the outdoor living space with a cozier vibe.

It doesn’t take much effort to quickly change the look and feel of a room by getting creative with the décor. This can be done several ways:

  • switching out furniture cushions
  • adding texture and softness to the space with outdoor area rugs, throw pillows, and blankets
  • using fall-inspired colours on your furnishings to set a festive mood
  • adding seasonal accents like a table centrepiece and foliage garland
  • light fall-themed candles to enhance the mood

Upgrade your fall outdoor living experience

There’s no reason any outdoor living space shouldn’t be enjoyed late into the fall, even in Canada!

All of the fall outdoor living ideas we’ve covered aren’t just practical in the autumn – they provide the same comfort benefits for the chillier days in spring when you’re itching to get outdoors after another long winter.

Outeriors provides the total package outdoor living remodel experience. Schedule a free consultation with us to get started on the design for your custom outdoor living space.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also:

7 Benefits of Grilling That Make Us Love Cooking Outdoors

benefits of grilling hero

Grilling is a beloved part of Canadian summers. Cooking and dining outdoors are responsible for some of our most memorable summer experiences.

Any opportunity to get outside and enjoy the precious few months of warm weather we get is an opportunity worth taking. And if enjoying the best weather of the year can be combined with the many benefits of grilling, it’s a win-win.

There’s something about the combination of the outdoors, cold beverages, a hot grill, and good company that never gets old. As chef, restaurateur, and TV personality Bobby Flay says, “Grilling means good times, good friends, and hopefully, great food.”

Being able to grill and eat outdoors provided us with a welcome escape from the inside of our homes during the pandemic and gave us a brief sense of normalcy, even if it was a short trip to the backyard.

10 interesting grilling facts and stats

Before we get into the benefits of grilling, let’s take a look at some revealing facts and stats that show how we use our grills.

  1. 66% of Canadians own an outdoor grill. 
  2. The most popular foods to grill for Canadians are (in order): steak, hamburgers, ribs, sausages and hot dogs, vegetables, fish and seafood, and chicken.
  3. The top reasons given for why people use their grill: flavour (72%), lifestyle (52%), entertainment (40%), convenience (33%), and health (18%).
  4. 22% of Canadian grill owners use the appliance 4-6 times per week during the summer. 27% of Ontarians use their grill that frequently.
  5. 56% of men say they grill year-round, compared to 45% of women.
  6. Corn is the most popular grilled side dish for Canadians, followed by potatoes.
  7. 7% of surveyed Canadians said they cook all of their meals in the summer on the grill. Conversely, 9% of people who own grills never use them.
  8. During the summer, 65% of grill owners clean the appliance after every use. 32% only clean it “a few times”, and 3% never clean their grill (yuck!).
  9. 67% of men surveyed said they were their family’s primary griller. 18% of the women surveyed stated that they were most likely to be in charge of grilling duties in their home.
  10. The most popular day of the year for Canadians to grill is on Canada Day.

*Data taken from surveys, polls, and studies conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, Research Co., Michigan State University, and Applegate. 

man grilling

Two thirds of Canadians own an outdoor grill.

7 benefits of grilling everyone should know

“I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes, that binds us to the best bits of life.” – Jamie Oliver

We couldn’t agree more with the cooking guru. Grilling plays a big role in this concept, which is one of many reasons so many of us enjoy firing up the barbecue so often.

As for that mysterious 9% of grill owners who say they never touch their appliance, all we can say is that it’s their loss!

You’re likely familiar with some of the benefits of grilling. However, you might not know why, for example, food cooked over a flame tastes better compared to other cooking methods. We’ll explain why.

Almost no one (except about 9% of people who own grills, apparently) needs much coaxing to fire up their grills more. When you find out more about the benefits of grilling, however, your chef’s apron will become a staple of your summer wardrobe.

1. Grilling is a healthier way to cook

The world-renowned Mayo Clinic says in this article, “Healthy cooking doesn’t mean that you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in expensive cookware. You can use basic cooking techniques to prepare food in healthy ways.”

The most effective ways to cook healthier food include:

  • grilling
  • boiling
  • steaming
  • baking
  • stir-frying

One of the biggest benefits of grilling is that cooking meat on grates causes a lot of the excess fat to melt and drip off instead of being reabsorbed into the meat, as it would in a pan. The cooked meats still retain their juiciness and all of that extra burned-off fat never enters your body.

Grilling over flames and using high cooking temperatures also reduces the amount of time required to cook food. That helps meats retain important nutrients like thiamine and riboflavin.

The benefits of grilling also extend to another food group – vegetables. Shorter cooking times by grilling helps veggies retain more of their vitamins and minerals, as well as their flavour, colour, and texture.

While traditional vegetable cooking methods like boiling and steaming are relatively healthy, more of the food’s nutrients and some of their flavour get left behind in the water they’ve been cooked in.

Another reason it’s easier to lower your calorie intake by grilling your food is you don’t need to cook as much with butter and oils.

There are a few more things you can do to eat healthier when grilling:

  • spend a little extra to buy organic meats
  • cook leaner cuts of meat like sirloin steak, chicken, pork tenderloin, and extra lean ground beef
  • trim as much visible fat and skin from your meats before grilling them
  • make your own healthier sauces and marinades instead of using store-bought grilling condiments, which are loaded with sugar
grilling chicken and veggies

How fortuitous that the very process of grilling over a grate and allowing fat to drip off results in healthier, tastier meat dishes.

2. You can’t beat the taste of grilled food

“Grilling is the best way to cook, bar none. There is no other cooking technique that gives you this much flavour for your effort.” – Elizabeth Karmel (chef, author, and all-around grilling expert)

This quote highlights another of the main benefits of grilling – it doesn’t require any extra work to produce delicious tasting food. The unique flavour that only comes from grilling is simply inherent to the cooking process.

Why is that the taste of a burger cooked in an oven or on an electric grill inside can’t compare to the taste of a burger cooked on an outdoor grill, though?

A George Foreman electric grill isn’t in the same league as even the cheapest outdoor grill when it comes to the taste test for a few scientific reasons. Here’s a simplified breakdown of “the science of grilling”. It involves three main factors.

Smoke

Most people think the distinct flavour from grilled meats comes from the smoke generated while cooking, but it’s only one part of the equation.

This smoke is created when dripping fat hits the hot briquettes and burner in a gas or propane grill, or charcoal briquettes in a charcoal grill. Other methods can be used to generate smoke while grilling, such as cooking with flavoured wood chunks and chips, as well as smoking pellets.

Smoke functions essentially like a cooking ingredient. As the food absorbs the smoke, new flavours develop to produce that smoky taste.

The Maillard reaction

What do toast, coffee, and grilled meat all have in common? They all derive part of their taste from something called the Maillard reaction. It’s a reaction that occurs when you cook with temperatures in the 280 to 300°F range (138 to 149°C).

Food with amino acids react with the sugar molecules and break down to produce new flavour molecules. This process occurs on the surface of the food and produces that charred brown crust that enhances its taste so much.

Caramelization

A chemical reaction called caramelization plays another role in how grilled meat tastes. Once again, cooking with high heat activates the sugar molecules in food to bring out a sweeter taste.

Caramelization is very similar to the Maillard reaction, except it occurs in foods without protein. Meat has protein, so the caramelization process occurs with the foods you use to cook your meat with, such as sauces, marinades, and rubs.

Grill marks look nice, but don’t add flavour

Since we’re discussing where grilled foods get some of their flavours from, let’s briefly talk about grill marks. Grill marks don’t add flavour to food, despite the prevailing myth that’s out there.

Most people prefer the taste of grilled meat more than meat that is cooked with other methods. The association of seeing meat with grill marks has a powerful effect on us because we instantly make the association the food will taste better.

The association we make is so strong that food manufacturers and fast food chains have capitalized on this by adding artificial grill marks to some of their food products.

I’ve been fooled by this visual trickery for years. It’s only by researching this article that I’ve come to realize that most of the grill marks on the frozen and fast food I’ve bought over the years were nothing more than fake and superficial branding. How disappointing.

steak and vegetables on flaming grill

“The science of grilling” tells us why grilled food has such a distinct, flavourful taste. (Photo by Mustafa Türkeri from Pexels)

3. Grilling gets you outside

“The key to good grilling is to recognize that you are setting yourself up to cook in a whole new environment. This is actually one of the main purposes of grilling – to get yourself outside.” – Barton Seaver (chef, author, and seafood expert)

Canadians don’t need much of an excuse to get outside during the summer. As long as the temperature is at least 15°C, less than 40°C, and it’s not raining cats and dogs, most of us are good to go for some outdoor time.

Another of the big benefits of grilling is that it gets you outside and one of the benefits of being outside is that your body gets vitamin D naturally from the sun. Vitamin D helps the body absorb minerals we get from food like phosphate and calcium, which keep our bones and muscles healthy.

You might be surprised to learn that the quality of air inside most homes is worse than the air quality in most outdoor settings. Spending more time outside is good for our health in the following ways:

  • fresh air has fewer pollutants than indoor air, which boosts the cleansing function of the lungs
  • your body gets more energy from being outside
  • fresh air improves our mood
  • fresh air improves your ability to focus
  • our cells get more oxygen when we’re outside, which helps us digest food better and heal faster
outdoor cooking and dining area

Getting outside more for activities like grilling is good for your health in multiple ways.

4. Grilling outdoors is more convenient

One reason we love grilling so much is that it’s the most convenient way to cook next to using the microwave.

This is the case, at least, if you have a much easier to use gas or propane grill instead of a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills are comparatively harder to light and can take 30-45 minutes before they’re ready to use. Gas and propane grills are ready to cook on in about 10-15 minutes.

The food prep times may be the same as when we cook inside, but it’s the faster cooking times that is the real difference-maker with grills.

Cooking a meal outside when the weather is hot also doesn’t add heat to your interior living space. Even if you have air conditioning, the appliance will have to work harder to keep the house cooler when the oven is running.

One more of the benefits of grilling we love is that cooking right on the grates means there are fewer pots and pans to wash up.

5. Grilling is a great way to socialize

“Grilling takes the formality out of entertaining. Everyone wants to get involved.  I love the culture of grilling. It creates an atmosphere that is festive but casual.” – Bobby Flay

When we celebrate special occasions and holidays during the summer like Canada Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Labour Day, it’s often outside with the grill fired up.

Compared to other cooking methods, grilling is more sociable. At a backyard gathering, people tend to gravitate around the cooking area, which gives anyone operating the grill an opportunity to socialize with their guests. This makes grilling ideal for entertaining at home.

Barbecuing appeals to all of our senses (with the exception of touch), so it’s not surprising that the grill becomes a spot where people congregate. Everyone loves the smell of grilling food, which is accompanied by the sizzling sounds of dripping grease and the satisfying “plop” a juicy burger or steak makes when it’s flipped over.

There’s also the sight of the grill’s flames, the billowing smoke, and the mouth-watering sight of food you can’t wait to devour. And finally, there’s the all-important moment when we finally get to savour the delicious taste of freshly grilled food.

The combination of all of these things ends up making grilling feel a lot less like tedious work, especially if you’re cooking for a large group of people.

people watching man grilling

Grilling appeals to four of the five senses we have, which is why the cooking area tends to become the area people gravitate to at a backyard gathering.

6. You can grill almost anything

Grilling is one of the most versatile cooking methods because almost anything can be cooked on a grill – and we mean anything.

Adventurous and resourceful cooks know that barbecuing staples like meat, seafood, potatoes, and vegetables are a tiny fraction of what you can cook on a grill.

To get you thinking outside the box with your summer menu options, here are some ideas for unconventional things to cook on the grill that will surprise you:

  • bread
  • fruit (pineapple, peaches, and watermelon are particularly tasty)
  • pizza
  • quesadillas
  • rice (try this recipe)
  • eggs and bacon

7. Anyone can cook on a grill

One of the many things that makes grilling so great is that virtually anyone can do it. Cooking on a barbecue is so user-friendly that even someone who is a lost cause around a stove can create delicious grilled foods.

Anyone can toss a stack of burgers or steaks on the grill and all they have to do is make sure the meat isn’t undercooked or too well done (unless the person eating it wants it cooked that way).

Sure, an otherwise bad cook may have a limited repertoire of menu items, but they’re still cooking, right?

Naturally, grilling with high-quality meats and using condiments and spices will produce better results, but that’s fairly easy to do. And if someone isn’t into doing prep work like making their own burgers, there are many great buying options for pre-made burgers at butcher shops or high-quality frozen burger products in food stores.

After a while, any grilling newbie can spread their wings a little. There are an endless amount of burger recipes online worth trying that are well within the skill range of an amateur griller. A cooking novice can even produce tasty results with easy gourmet burger recipes for something like blue cheese burgers (not to be confused with blue cheeseburgers, which you probably shouldn’t eat).

black outdoor grill

Anyone can create delicious dishes on a grill with minimal effort, even if they have no cooking skills whatsoever.

Enjoy the benefits of grilling in the perfect outdoor kitchen

These are just some of the many benefits of grilling.

Is your outdoor cooking space doing all it can to allow you to savour the taste of outdoor grilling as much as you’d like?

Make a great investment in your home, health, and happiness by transforming your backyard into the perfect outdoor kitchen and living space.

Outeriors can handle your complete outdoor kitchen design and installation. We carry the highest-quality grills, countertops, cabinetry, appliances, and fire pits to give your family everything they need to enjoy your backyard more.

Get your project started by scheduling a free design consultation with us.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also: