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How to Install a Kitchen Island with Quartz Top and Built-In Storage

A new counter/cabinet unit serves as a study space, storage center, family computer station and dining area.

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Step 1: Follow These Demolition Tips

This makeover project calls for the removal of the old kitchen table and demolition of a half-wall room divider. Because the room divider is a not a load-bearing structure, it can be removed without problem.
- Check for wires and cables that may run behind the paneling or drywall before beginning demolition.
- Goggles and gloves are recommended for any demolition.
- A drop cloth on the floor around the demo area ensures that most of our pieces will be easy to remove.
- A reciprocating saw is the best tool for cutting out studs.
Once demolition is complete, work can begin on constructing the elements of the table and storage elements. The plans for this design call for four basic parts:
1. Base cabinet (30" tall, 36" wide, 24" deep)
2. Upper cabinet (46" tall, 36" wide, 24" deep)
3. Under counter support frame with built-in drawers (9-1/2" tall, 27" wide, 60" long)
4. Custom-cut countertop

Step 2: Assemble the Under-Counter Support Frame

Begin by creating the under-counter support frame. The support frame doubles as a platform to hold the quartz tabletop and as a housing for drawers. It's a shallow rectangular box made from 3/4" birch plywood. Cut a piece of plywood to the desired table-top dimension. On the underside of the piece, attach birch strips that will serve as both support framework and as drawer runners. Attach the strips using wood glue, then flip the assembly over and secure the strips with nails from the opposite side (Image 1).

Once the drawer runners have been secured, attach the drawer glides (Image 2). Drawer glides come in varying lengths and are sold in pairs — a right and left glide. They attach with brackets and screws, which are typically included with the kit. There are two pieces to each drawer glide: one that attaches to the frame and one to the drawer.

Step 3: Assemble the Bottom of the Support Frame

After the drawer glides are secured in place, add another piece of 3/4" birch plywood to form the bottom of the support frame. The bottom of the base is 4 inches shorter in length than the table platform so that there is a lip available for attaching to the support frame. Lay the bottom piece in place, secure it with glue and nails, then follow up with 2" screws for added stability since this frame will support the heavy quartz tabletop.

Step 4: Attach the Hardware

Once the bottom is secured, attach the hardware for the two table legs to the underside of the base. Pre-manufactured table legs are available from home improvement stores along with the necessary hardware for installation. Once the hardware is attached, the table legs screw into place. The table legs will support one end of the countertop, while the other is supported by the base cabinet.

Step 5: Attach the Base Cabinet to the Wall

To begin installation for these three pieces, position and attach the base cabinet to the wall, securing it with screws into the wall studs behind. It's helpful to mark both the cabinet and the wall, indicating the location of the studs, to make alignment easier as you attach the cabinet. If the cabinet is not level, use shims to achieve a level surface.

Important:Never simply anchor cabinets into drywall. They must be anchored to the wood studs underneath.

Once the base cabinet is secured to the wall, attach a ledger board along the wall on either side, and at the height of the top of the base cabinet. When attaching the ledger board, make certain that it is level, and be sure to anchor into the wall studs.

Align the support frame, with legs attached, with the base cabinet, making certain that the 4" overhang rests securely on the base cabinet (Image 1). Next, add a single piece of 3/4" plywood, cut to form the top of the "T" that will help support the granite tabletop. The T-piece rests on top of the base cabinet and ledger board, and is secured with screws to top of the base cabinet. This piece serves both to level the base cabinet with the "peninsula" section of the kitchen island and provide support for the portion of the granite countertop that's adjacent to the wall.

Step 6: Install the Quartz Countertop

With the support structure secured, the quartz countertop pieces can be installed. The custom quartz pieces were ordered two weeks in advance, and were pre-cut following exact dimensions for what's needed for this design. Before securing the countertop pieces to the wood base, conduct a dry fit to double-check that the pieces line up properly and are of the right dimensions. Use caution when pushing the individual pieces together to avoid chipping the edges or corners.

Important: Stone countertop pieces are extremely heavy. Use caution when carrying them. Carrying large pieces requires two people, and the pieces should be carried vertically to avoid possible stress cracks.

Step 7: Secure the Wood with Adhesive

With the dry-fit complete, secure the pieces to the wood surface using water-based construction adhesive. Apply the adhesive to the wooden support surface and position the counter in place piece by piece. Use only adhesives designed for use with stone countertops. Avoid using oil-based adhesive, as the oils can absorb into the stone and cause discoloration.

Step 8: Position the Upper Cabinet

Once all the quartz pieces are in place, and final adjustments have been made, position the upper cabinet on top of the countertop directly above the base cabinet to complete the assembly (Image 1). The upper cabinet provides plenty of general storage, handy shelving for small kitchen items and, in this case, also the family computer. Since it's a separate unit, this piece can be removed later should extra counter space be needed.