DIY Kitchen Island
How I built my DIY kitchen island tile countertop and the unusual way I decided to create my kitchen work station.
Not wanting the typical kitchen my wife and I wanted to create a new DIY kitchen island in our home using some tiles we had bought previously at garage sales. We like to be different so we decided on landscaping pavers for our main countertop support with a couple shelves under the countertop.
Our design is inspired mostly out of function and a love of things that are not traditional and is the start to our kitchen’s new look. After some discussion we decided to use pavers for the end supports and two wooden shelves in the middle with a tile countertop for the finishing look of the top.
The island in our kitchen is not an original of the previous owner as they just had a table pushed to the wall where we now have the end of our counter. Our kitchen is pretty much square with counters on one side and the stove on another but we did remove a washer and dryer from a niche opposite the stove.
This left us with one more space for a countertop along the same wall as the bathroom which oddly is off of the kitchen which does make things a bit inconvenient. The center of the kitchen is open and we wanted a working counter where we could do things like make pasta and meal preparation with some storage underneath.
The paver bricks we used were from Menards and we simply stacked them and glued them together in an open pattern with a space between each brick on the same level. The first level on top of the wooden base plate has three bricks and the next level has two with the third having three bricks.
This pattern continues upward for 15 layers of pavers to get the countertop up to waist height at about 36 inches which is the height we decided on. We wanted it a bit higher than usual which is a comfortable height for both my wife and I to work on for things like rolling dough and meal prep.
At about eleven inches and another twelve inches above the floor I glued flat plates with screw holes in it for securing the wood shelves. I also glued four of these plates to the very top bricks to hold the top plywood we would use for the countertop which we then glued our tile to.
I used 38 bricks on each end and after allowing the paver glue to dry for a few days I took out the bricks and wood wedges I used to hold the bricks in place during the gluing. I had bricks and wooden wedges under the end bricks so that the half of the bricks that had nothing under them was supported while drying.
Once the main support for the DIY kitchen island was on we decided to put on the wooden shelves and stain them in place because I really did not have a good place to work on them elsewhere. I wanted them to dry after staining and to not have them in the way so I just secured them on the shelf and stained them in place and then coated them three times with a polyurethane clear coat.
Once the shelves were done I moved on to the main countertop with a 3/4 inch of plywood from my favorite home improvement store Menards. I used a precut 2 foot wide piece and cut off about two feet as our countertop is two feet wide and six feet long.
I simply cut the end that was going against the wall and made sure this end was hidden by the wall and the clean cut end was the end in the center of the kitchen. After using the brackets to secure the top plywood to the supports and the wall I was ready to finish the top with tile.
Before I secured the top plywood I did waterproof the plywood with a couple coats of waterproofing to ensure the countertop lasted a good long time. I laid out my tiles in the pattern I wanted and made sure they were going to fit by planning out the top before I bought the materials.
I had several dozen tiles I bought at a garage sale and some more from a relative so I had a good start for my purchases and only need to buy smaller tiles. The pattern for my DIY Kitchen Island depended on the tiles I already had which are 8 inch square and to get a two foot wide counter I added four rows of two inch tiles with two eight inch tiles.
I wanted a nice square counter so I used a precut two foot wide and made my tiles to fit the plywood I bought which turned out nicely. Using a premixed tile adhesive I glued the tiles down onto the plywood by evenly spreading the mortar mix and creating grooves for the best adhesion.
I placed the tiles using spacers but I did not worry about removing the spacers after the mortar dried, I simply pushed them down. Once the mortar dried and the tiles were all in place I then used a colored grout but the grout I used was not as dark as I would have liked.
I bought an off white grout but should have used a darker stained one so that spills like coffee would not show as much so I used a colorant to paint the grout darker. I then sealed the entire grout and tile top using a grout and tile sealer which protects the grout and tile like a waterproofer.
I then used oak trim to finish off the sides of my DIY kitchen island which I sanded and stained lightly then used a polyurethane coating three times just like the pine shelves I used. After the trim dried I nailed and glued it to the sides of the countertop and used a good bisque colored caulk to seal between the tile area and the sides.
When you have a joint like the tile to the wall and the trim you should use a caulk that has a bit of flexibility so that the joint does not crack. I also glued some tiles to the wall and used caulk between them and the wall so cracks would not form when the countertop shifts and moves even though it is secured with L brackets.
Once I had sealed the tile and finished with the wall tiles I was complete and have been using the countertop for a few weeks now. I really enjoy the new countertop and have been very happy with the results along with the two sided storage it offers as well as the nice work surface.
The tile countertop turned out nice and with a few extra dollars from Christmas gifts I have been buying square baskets to use for storage. My wife and I have decided to use baskets to store things like the parts to our food processor while often used ingredients like flour and sugar will also go on the shelves.