Kitchen Island Guide to Removal and Installation

Whether you make your kitchen island installation a DIY project or simply want to know what’s involved so that you can discuss the work with contractors, this guide provides important information.

kitchen island design

Removing an Existing Kitchen Island

The demolition part is relatively easy, but there are precautions to take if the island has power, water and/or gas to it. These tips for removing a kitchen island will help you do the work effectively and safely.

Islands without power, water or gas are quite easy to remove. You’ll need some or all of the following depending on the island’s construction:

  • Large pry bar (crowbar)
  • Drill or driver
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Gloves and safety glass

Step 1: Remove any drawers or loose shelving from the unit.

Step 2: From underneath, remove screws holding the countertop to the island or holding pieces of the countertop together.

Step 3: Remove the countertop. This might require the use of the pry bar to pry off a glued countertop.

Step 4: Remove fasteners, if any, holding the base of the island to the floor. If it would be easier to remove the island in sections, but it doesn’t come apart easily, employ the reciprocating saw to cut supports.

Step 5: Remove the island base as a whole or in parts. Having help for this phase is a good idea, since the bases are often very heavy.

For islands with electricity, these steps should be taken after the drawers and countertops have been removed. Additional supplies needed are:

  • Screwdriver
  • Wire nuts

Step 1: Turn off the circuit in the panel controlling power to the island. Lock the electrical box while working on the island.

Step 2: Disconnect the wiring from outlets and light switches, and pull the wiring out of the boxes. Place wire nuts on each wire or pairs of same-colored wire.

Step 3: As the island is removed, pull the wiring through the access holes in the island that were created for it. Leave the wiring in place, if the new island will also be wired.

For islands with water, you’ll need a few more things:

  • Pipe wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Large towel

Step 1: Remove the fasteners holding the sink in place. Step 2: Use a wrench to loosen the drain fitting, and remove it.

Step 3: Shut off the hot and cold water valves, and remove the water lines from the bottom of the faucet. Use the towel to catch the water that will be remaining in the water lines.

Step 4: Remove the sink and faucet together or separately.

Step 5: Leave the water lines in place for connection to the new island.

For islands with a gas line, act with extreme caution.

Step 1: Turn off the gas supply to the island.

Step 2: Disconnect the line from all gas appliances.

Step 3: Remove the appliances.

If you’re not comfortable with electricity and gas or don’t have experience working with them, it makes sense to leave the island removal to the kitchen remodeling pros. Removal is a very small part of the total cost of kitchen remodeling, so as a percentage, you’re not saving yourself much money – perhaps a few percent.

Installing a Kitchen Island

There is a sequence of events in a kitchen remodeling project that makes the work go more smoothly for all the contractors – electrician, plumber, floor installer, carpenter, etc. However, there isn’t always exact agreement on the order in which tasks should be accomplished.

As the process relates to the kitchen island, most contractors hold to this sequence:

1st: Rough electrical and plumbing

2nd: Flooring

3rd: Cabinets and island

4th: Countertops

5th: Finish electrical and plumbing

The one exception to this is that a floating hardwood floor should be installed after the cabinets and island to avoid pinning down part of the floor while the rest floats. This could produce buckling and warping of the floor.

When this sequence is followed, the floor installer cuts the flooring to fit around wires, pipes and drains that protrude through the subfloor.

The island starts with installing the base. If you’re using prefabricated cabinets, as most do, the bases will set directly on top of the flooring and be fastened down with screws. If the floor is tile of any kind, pilot holes will need to be drilled through the tiles first to allow the screws to penetrate into the subfloor.