How to Cover the Sides of a Kitchen Island

Kitchen islands are functional areas to prepare and cook food and entertain friends and family. These gathering spaces are often one of the focal points of a large kitchen space, so their design is an important element in the overall look and feel of the kitchen area. There are many simple ways to enhance kitchen islands, such as adding decorative trim or wooden embellishments to the cabinets. To create an interesting side treatment, adding beadboard---a thin tongue and groove type of paneling---is a way to enhance the appearance of an island as well. The result is a cottage-style decorative touch with maximum visual appeal.

Cover the sides of a kitchen island like this with a beadboard treatment.
  1. Bring the kitchen beadboard paneling inside. Because wood beadboard paneling has a tendency to shrink and expand due to temperature changes in the environment, allow the wood to acclimate by bringing it indoors for a few days before cutting it.

  2. Measure the sides of the kitchen island. Measure the size, including the height and width, of the areas on the sides of the island by using a tape measure.

  3. Cut the beadboard. Using a pencil and yardstick, mark the exact height and width side measurements of the kitchen island on the back of the beadboard and cut the pieces out with a miter saw.

  4. Apply glue to the back of the beadboard. Use carpenter's glue on the back of each kitchen island piece by applying the glue in a horizontal manner in long lines to the back of the kitchen beadboard. Line the pieces up on the sides of the island and press firmly into place.

  5. Pound nails into the kitchen beadboard pieces. Hammer finishing nails into the tongue areas of the beadboard approximately every 6 to 8 inches to further secure the kitchen island treatment. Sink the nails using a hammer and nail punch and fill the sunken areas with nail putty and sand with sandpaper for a smooth finish.

  6. Cut dowel rods for the corners. To finish off the corners of the island in a professional-looking manner, cut four dowel rods the length of the sides of the kitchen island and apply a stream of carpenter's glue to the backs. Line the dowels up to cover the corner areas where the beadboard meets the fronts and backs of the island and press firmly in place. Apply one dowel to each corner.

  7. Apply a coat of primer. Prepare the kitchen beadboard for a finish coat of paint, by applying a water-based, stain-killing primer to the side pieces in a color to match the island. Use a foam brush to fill in the grooved areas easily and allow to dry thoroughly.

  8. Paint the kitchen island beadboard. Paint the primed beadboard side pieces with a water-based paint color that matches the island front and back areas. Apply two coats of paint, using long, vertical strokes and allow to dry.

  9. Add a coat of polyurethane. To protect the finish of the kitchen island beadboard, paint several coats of water-based polyurethane over the final coat of paint for a durable and beautiful kitchen island treatment with cottage-style charm.


  • Paint in a well-ventilated area to reduce inhalation of paint fumes.

About the Author

Based in upstate New York, Amy Mosher has been writing interior design and lifestyle articles since 2005. She is a prolific professional blogger, designer, artist and writer for various websites. She holds a bachelor's degree from Mansfield University and is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design.