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Who wants to cook indoors, in a hot kitchen, during the humidity of summer in Niagara?

Nobody, that’s who.

Most families make do on hot days with salads and barbecued something – like burgers, chicken or fish. At Tree Amigos, we even love barbecued pizza!

It’s a regular occurrence now, to hear a client say: “We’d like to incorporate an outdoor kitchen space into our backyard redesign.”

People love their outdoor spaces, and for those who live to entertain, an outdoor kitchen just makes sense: That’s where your guests are, so you want to be right there with them – not stuck in the kitchen, away from the conversation.

An outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a folding table and cooler next to your barbecue, where you can store all the supplies you’ll need for your meal, or it can turn into something unique.

Tree Amigos’ design experts have planned both the simple and more unique outdoor kitchens, with clients requesting everything from running water; counter space for food prep; a built-in gas-powered barbecue and oven; cabinet-protected mini refrigerator and beverage cooler; storage space for tools and even lighting.

Our teams have had requests for stone facing on cabinet space; for electrical access built into walls and protected from weather; for overhead lighting; for greenery and screening for privacy, and for all manner of overhead protection, from pergolas to retractable awnings. One of the more common requests, though, is for countertop material suitable for withstanding our Canadian winters.

Think sidewalks, driveways and poured foundations: Concrete – but as a countertop material?

Why not?

Since the finished slab is etched and sealed, it’s perfectly durable and able to be used for food preparation.

If you already have a sturdy cabinet made of weather-proof material, but need a countertop you can leave open to the elements, concrete could work for you.

While our Tree Amigos team doesn’t recommend this as a DIY project due to the weight of the slabs, if you already have experience working with concrete, then building a small – say, two feet by three feet – countertop might be possible. Plan for it to take at least a few weekends.

  • First, you’ll need to build a mold for your slab, then encase it in a sturdy, supported frame that will stand up to the weight of the concrete. Remember, you want your countertop to overhang your cabinet by at least one inch, and be at least two inches deep.
  • Seal the inside seams of your mold with silicone so no poured concrete leaks out. Have ready your slab-sized inserts made of galvanized wire, to be embedded in your poured slab. These will add strength to your countertop and keep it from cracking as it cures.
  • Mix your concrete to the approximate consistency of peanut butter, or perhaps a dry cookie dough. Add pigment to your mix if desired. Fill the mold to about a one-inch depth, smoothing with a hand trowel. Insert your galvanized wire, then continue to fill and pack the mold until it is slightly overfilled.
  • To help settle the concrete, run an orbital sander, without a sanding disc, along the sides of the support frame. Vibrations will cause air bubbles to rise to the surface.
  • When the surface has been smoothed and no more air bubbles can be seen, cover the top with a damp sheet or with plastic to protect it from dirt.
  • Allow the countertop to cure for at least a week, perhaps two, before removing support frame and mold. Finish the slab using an orbital sander and different grits of sandpaper, beginning with coarse and ending with the finest grit. You’ll need a respirator for this job!
  • Etch the surface of your slab with a solution made from one ounce of muriatic acid mixed with one gallon of water. Wear gloves, eye protection and your respirator, and open windows for ventilation. Dip a sponge into the acid solution and wipe surface thoroughly. Rinse with cool water and allow the slab to dry completely.
  • Seal the slab using concrete sealant, applied with a sponge, roller  or a brush. Apply coat after coat, until no more sealant is absorbed. Allow to dry completely.
  • Prep your cabinet with a thick bead of silicone caulking, and set your countertop gently in place. Wipe excess caulking away from the underside, outside edges using a damp cloth.

Using such an industrial material for kitchen purposes seems a little odd, but when you think about it, it’s a weather-proof material that can withstand being outdoors all winter. A good wash-down will get your outdoor kitchen ready for use each spring. Not to mention, it’s easy on the budget, too.

Given these benefits, our Tree Amigos design team thinks concrete is perfect for adding flair to your outdoor entertaining space.

Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the indoor kitchen, and join your guests for lively conversation as they admire your new outdoor kitchen work space!

To find out more about our ideas for outdoor kitchen materials, give the Tree Amigos office a call at 905-937-5353. You can email questions to orrequest a quote for services here.

Want to see a gallery of recent Tree Amigos’ projects? Visit the Houzz app and put our name in the search bar. You’ll find photos of our landscaping design; stonework; water features; driveways; decks and much more.