Building a Kitchen Island

Instructional Steps on How to Build a Kitchen Island

By Mark J. Donovan

If you have a large open kitchen then you may want to consider building a kitchen island. A kitchen island is an extremely useful workspace as it can serve multiple purposes, such as food preparation, and dining. Building a kitchen island is not as difficult a home improvement project as you may think. With two or three kitchen cabinet bases and a kitchen countertop you can quickly build a kitchen island.

When contemplating building a kitchen island first evaluate your kitchen space to determine the size of the kitchen island. A general rule of thumb is to allow approximately 3 feet of space between the kitchen island and the other kitchen cabinets and appliances.

This space is necessary to ensure that you can walk comfortably between the kitchen island and the wall cabinets, as well as have sufficient room to open kitchen cabinet doors, drawers and appliances.

Once you have decided upon a rough size for your kitchen island, cut out a large cardboard template to better assess the size and location of the kitchen island. Once you have determined the best location for the kitchen island using the cardboard template, mark the floor with tape to identify the kitchen island corners.

After you have marked the location of your future kitchen island, you can move on to the next stage in building a kitchen island, buying the kitchen cabinet bases and countertops.

Visit your local home improvement center to buy / order the appropriate number of kitchen cabinet bases and kitchen countertop.

Building Kitchen Island

Position your new kitchen cabinet bases within the tape marks on the kitchen floor.

Kitchen Island

Use a level, clamps, wood shims, a drill gun and screws to fasten the kitchen cabinets together.

It is important to make sure the cabinet bases are level and flush with each other so take your time fastening the cabinet bases together.

To properly fasten the kitchen cabinet bases together, screws should be placed between the adjacent cabinet face frames and properly countersunk. Pilot holes should first be drilled into the side face frames to prevent cracking the cabinet frames when screwing the cabinets together. Also make sure to fasten the back sides of the kitchen cabinets together. Spacers may need to be placed in-between the backs of the kitchen cabinet bases prior to screwing them together.

Since the kitchen cabinet bases will be freestanding the backs of them will need to be covered with paneling to dress them up.

You can either use a pre-manufactured paneling that can be ordered with the kitchen cabinet bases, or use stock paneling material.

Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet

Once the kitchen cabinet bases are securely fastened together you can then dress them up with trim moulding. In addition, fill any finish nail holes associated with fastening the paneling to the kitchen cabinet backs, with a wax or wood filler.

Finally mount the kitchen countertop on top of the kitchen cabinet bases. Secure the kitchen countertop to the kitchen cabinet bases by using liquid nails and screws. A bead of liquid nails should be applied to the tops of the kitchen cabinet bases prior to placing the kitchen countertop on top of them. The screws should then be attached from the underside of the kitchen cabinet bases.

And with the kitchen countertop mounted, your newly built kitchen island is ready for use.


For help on your kitchen remodeling project, see my Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to prospective kitchen remodeling contractors. It also includes a comprehensive kitchen remodeling cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the contractor to include his projected remodeling costs for every phase of the project.

Related Information

Additional Kitchen Remodeling Design Resources


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