How to Upgrade a Builder Grade Kitchen Island

10 Materials
1 Day

The builder-grade island. You can't complain because you are lucky enough to have an island, but overall the design is pretty blah. On top of that, the flat paint finish on the island is a magnet for jean stains and scuffs, so it never really looks clean. You don't want to change the structural elements of the island, but you're looking for something more practical (and pretty). Phew, you're in the right place!

P.S. If you want more ideas on how to update a builder-grade home on a budget, check out our other DIY projects.


  • Hacksaw
  • Nail gun
  • Optional: miter saw with fine tooth saw blade

Shopping List:

  • 120+ grit sandpaper
  • Wood putty
  • Caulk
  • Liquid Nails
  • 2- 3/4" 8ft pine corner moulding
  • 4 - 1/4" x 3/4" x 8ft pine screen bead
  • Paint (we used Sherwin Williams Extra White in semi-gloss)
  • White chalk
  • Painters tape
  • 1.5" nails

STEP 1: Sketch out your design using chalk and tape.

STEP 2: Sand all of your boards.

STEP 3: Cut your pine corner moulding to to the appropriate size using a miter saw with a fine tooth saw blade. If you do not have a fine tooth saw blade, you can cut them using a hacksaw. The size will be the distance between the top of your bottom trim and the bottom of your top trim.

STEP 4: Attach your corner mouldings using liquid nails. You can use painters tape to "clamp" the moulding until the glue dries.

STEP 5: Next, cut any pieces that span fully from bottom trim to top trim.

STEP 6: Remove the tape and attach your full length boards to your island using nails.

STEP 7: Next, let's move on to the perpendicular boards. You can use a pencil to "cut" your tape to the exact length that you need your boards to be. Use your hacksaw to cut your boards. Attach your boards using nails. 

STEP 8: Continue cutting your tape, cutting your boards, and attaching them until your design is complete. 

STEP 9: Once all of your boards are secure, fill all of the nail holes and seams between boards with wood putty. Once the wood putty is dry, sand off the excess using 120 grit sandpaper. 

STEP 10: Caulk every place that the boards meet the wall. 

STEP 11: Once the caulk dries, it's time to paint!

For more details and DIY tips, please visit the full blog at

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Did you also paint your cabinets?

  • Larry Pettijohn
    on Nov 26, 2019

    Nice about continuing it in a couple of more places to tie it in with the rest of the kitchen...maybe scaled down on the false "drawer" front right under the stove top and maybe on the "blank panel" between the upper cabinet and the ovens

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