How to make a cheap kitchen island

A kitchen island has many benefits as it provides extra preparation room for cooking, storage and even a space for dining if you choose. However, if it is I poorly planned it will be a nuisance rather than a plus. You must look at the space you have before deciding to build or buy an island. An island must have 3ft to 4ft clearance space around it so that you can move freely. Make sure that you can open drawers, cupboards, and oven doors comfortably around it as well. See 5 design tips for an efficient kitchen. We chose to do a wooden frame instead of concrete so the island can be movable.

1. Buy frame materials

We bought these at the local hardware:

1.5 inch screws
One 12ft length of 2”x4” wood
Two 12ft length of 1”x3” wood
One 12ft length of 1”x4” wood
One sheet of 1.5” ply

2. Choose island size

I decided on a 5’x3’ island because it left 3′-4’ on the sides. I am a bit taller than average so my island may be a little higher than standard. Pretend to cut vegetables or roll out a roti in the air and see what island height suits you best.


3. Cut wood

We cut the wood with a saw for our frame to 28″x48″ rectangles although we want a 36″x60″ island. Do not cut the wood the exact length of the island that you want. You need to cut it shorter to account for the overhang. I strongly suggest having an overhang and not building the counter flush to the sides of the island because it will be easier for clean-up after preparing food. Screw the pieces together using a screwdriver. Cut the ply for the island table top to fit flush on the frame. The top is next to the frame in the photo below:


4. Install countertop

You can buy a countertop to fit on the frame. However countertops are really expensive depending on the material and patterns. As a cheaper option, I chose three 36″‘x18″ thick Italian Porcelain tiles. I have cream porcelain tiles on my countertops so I chose the same for my island. However, if you want your island to be in the focal point of your kitchen as it in the centre you can choose a differently coloured tile. Also, if you are on a strict budget you can get really cheap ceramic tiles.

A wooden frame tends to flex as opposed to a concrete, so we used Multibond to act like thinset to glue the tiles. I bought the Multibond in the local hardware. You simply take the paste and dump in on the surface, then take a notched trowel and spread it evenly. Avoid touching the Multibond. It burnt my fingertips! When it is evenly spread, carefully take the tile and rest it on the Multibond in the place you want it and press down. The edges will ooze the excess Multibond when you press down so take a tool and clean it up like in the third photo below:




The thick porcelain tiles has sharp edges so we needed to put a border. We sanded down a piece of wood and varnished it. My husband screwed it to the island frame so it will protect us from the sharp tile edge.


5. Add storage space

To maximise your storage space you can add drawers and cupboards to the island. My husband builds them so I will do another post on how he does that job. I decided to only put storage on one side and probably two bar stools on the other in the future because my husband’s niece likes to be in the kitchen and watch us cook.


6. Varnish

I varnished the wood on the island with dark oak stain.


7. Screw on the handles

These handles are modern and fashionable right now and I bought them for cheap in a hardware. If you are interested in finding out where I bought them feel free to message me.


8. Admire

When you are finished screwing on the handles, step back and admire your hard work 🙂


Share your thoughts!