Do Kitchen Islands Have Toe Kicks? Read Before Installing An Island!

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Last updated on March 4th, 2024 at 01:20 pm

Wondering if kitchen islands are supposed to have toe kicks? Well, look no further because I have your answer!

Kitchen islands should have toe kicks on the side with drawers or doors to provide ample room for feet to fit underneath the cabinet. The toe kick helps prevent the cabinet base from being kicked and scuffed and helps you stand closer to the counter which removes pressure from the lower back while working.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get into the important details of kitchen island toe kicks – specifically, what they are, why your island should have them, which side(s) should have them, and how you finish them.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Navigation: Kitchen Island Toe Kicks

  1. What Is A Kitchen Island Toe Kick?
  2. Why Should You Have A Toe Kick On A Kitchen Island?
  3. Which Side(s) Should The Toe Kick Be On A Kitchen Island?
  4. How Do You Finish A Kitchen Island Toe Kick?
  5. Other FAQs About Kitchen Island Toe Kicks
  6. Final Thoughts

What Is A Kitchen Island Toe Kick?

The toe kick on any base cabinet, including cabinets that make up a kitchen island, is a space underneath the cabinet that lets your feet fit underneath the cabinet while you stand next to it.

Typical kitchen island toe kicks are 3 inches high and 3-1/2 to 4 inches deep.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - what is a kitchen island toe kick
This is a toe kick!

For kitchen islands, toe kicks are usually found only on one side of the island. This is because most kitchen islands are made up of several base cabinets.

Base cabinets have the toe kick on the same side as the drawers or cabinet doors since the backside is often pushed up against a wall and does not require anyone to walk up to it and work next to it.

On an island, however, a person can potentially stand on all sides. Most islands have seating on the opposite side, so no toe kick is required since the countertop will create the space for someone to sit comfortably at it.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - no toe kick on sides with seating
A countertop overhang prevents you from standing directly next to the cabinets, so no toe kick is necessary on those sides.

Also, the sides of a kitchen island typically do not have a toe kick because standard cabinets do not have one built into the side. So a toe kick is only necessary on the main “working” side of a kitchen island.

Why Should You Have A Toe Kick On A Kitchen Island?

Toe kicks on any cabinet, including kitchen islands, are important so that you can comfortably stand or work next to the cabinet without kicking the base of the cabinet as you walk up.

The next time you walk up to a kitchen cabinet, pay attention to the way your feet easily fit underneath the front of the cabinet so that you can stand closer to the countertop.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - why should you have a toe kick on a kitchen island
Your feet fit nicely under the cabinets with a toe kick. (P.S. say hi to one of my kitties – Dashy Boy!)

Then take a tiny step back to see what it would be like if your foot could not fit under that gap. A little more uncomfortable to work on a task, right?

You might specifically notice the slight pressure put on your back by standing slightly farther away from the countertop. This gap helps to take pressure off of your back because you can avoid hunching over to be closer to your task on the countertop.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - harder to reach across without toe kick
It would be harder to comfortably stand next to the island without a toe kick on the main side!

Without that space underneath the cabinet, you would have to lean a little bit farther to work over the countertop, you’d have a harder time reaching across the countertop, and the bottom of the cabinet would see a little bit more damage over time from it accidentally being kicked repeatedly.

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There is no difference with the base cabinets that make up your kitchen island. For maximum comfort, a toe kick on the working side of a kitchen island is essential.

Which Side(s) Should The Toe Kick Be On A Kitchen Island?

Toe kicks are typically only on one side of a kitchen island. The toe kick should be on the side of the cabinet that has drawers and/or doors.

This is because the side with drawers and/or doors is often the side that kitchen work is completed on while standing. So a toe kick makes sense here.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - toe kick on side of drawers doors
The cabinet doors on a kitchen island usually face the main “working area” of a kitchen so you can access them quickly and easily.

On the sides of the kitchen island that has seating, no toe kick is required because the countertop overhang provides ample space for your feet to fit under when you stand next to it.

Also, the countertop overhang should provide enough space for your legs to fit under comfortably as you sit as well. This overhang is typically 10-12 inches while a traditional toe kick is only 3-1/2 to 4 inches.

On that side, it is typical for the cabinets to go straight to the floor to give a finished look.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - no toe kick on sides
On the left and backside of the island, we have an overhang so no toe kick is necessary. On the right side, not much work is done there so no toe kick is necessary there either.

In addition, it is not necessary for a toe kick to be on the side of an island cabinet where there are no drawers or doors. Most base cabinets do not have toe kicks built into that side, and that side is not used as frequently since there are no doors or drawers.

So you don’t have to worry about a toe kick not being on this side of the island. Just finish it off with a pretty trim, and you’ll be good to go.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - finish toe kick outside corners with trim
Trim adds a custom touch while also finishing the back of your kitchen island.

How Do You Finish A Kitchen Island Toe Kick?

Luckily, most base kitchen cabinets (even custom-built ones) come with toe kicks built-in on one side. So odds are, any base cabinet you buy will likely have this part built into one side for you already.

All you need to do to finish these toe kicks is install a finishing panel overtop after you’ve secured the cabinets into place.

Level Of DifficultyTime To Complete
Easy30 Minutes
Material ListTool List
Toe kick finishing panel (matching cabinet color)Miter saw or circular saw
Loctite Power Grab adhesive

Step One: Install Base Cabinets

The first step to finishing a toe kick on a kitchen island is to install the base cabinets and secure them to the ground. If you haven’t installed your kitchen island yet, then you need to check out my article on how to make a kitchen island out of base cabinets.

It will walk you through step-by-step how to secure the cabinets to the ground so that they’re locked together and the toe kick can be finished as we will discuss in the next step.

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Step Two: Glue The Finishing Panel To The Face Of The Toe Kick

After the kitchen island cabinets are installed, secured to the ground, and to each other, it is time to cut and attach the toe kick finishing panel.

Most kitchen cabinets have a pre-cut finishing panel that is the perfect height and color for your cabinets. All you have to do from here is measure the length of your toe kick and cut the finishing panel to fully cover the toe kick.

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - how do you finish a kitchen island toe kick
Here is the toe kick panel cut and glued in place!

A miter saw works best for this cut, but a circular saw can easily be used as well. After you’ve cut the finishing panel to size and test the fit to make sure it covered the toe kick area fully, it’s time to attach it.

To attach the panel, simply apply Loctite Power Grab adhesive to the backside of that panel and firmly press it into place.

I personally love to use Loctite (found at Amazon) because it grabs onto whatever you’re gluing and holds it in place immediately. That’s much easier than using a runny wood glue that lets the glued item slide off immediately without extra support and lets the glue run down the project.

Even with Loctite, though, we want to add a little extra support to help the panel stay firmly in place while it dries. So just slide something with some weight on both ends and in the middle of the panel while it dries to help hold it in place.

That’s it! Your toe kick will be finished.

How To Finish The Toe Kick Outside Corner On A Kitchen Island

I do have to throw out one more step to help you finish up your kitchen island because it drove me nuts that you could see the cut edges after installing the back panel and toe kick panel.

To hide those ugly cut edges on the toe kick outside corners, you can finish them out with this beautiful and cheap custom trim trick that I wrote a full tutorial on here.

It can be accomplished for less than $15 and really does make a huge difference to the final outcome!

Other FAQs About Kitchen Island Toe Kicks

Now that we’ve discussed the why behind toe kicks on kitchen islands, let’s cover a few more questions you might have to help you along your DIY journey!

Is A Toe Kick Necessary?

Toe kicks are necessary to protect the base of the cabinet and make it more comfortable to stand next to or work on the countertop. With ample room for your feet within the toe kick, the cabinet base won’t be kicked or scuffed. Also, being able to stand closer to the counter puts less pressure on your back.

What Color Should A Toe Kick Be?

Toe kicks should match the color of your cabinets to make them blend in. Most cabinets have toe kick finishing panels that can be bought and installed to make the toe kick match seamlessly with the rest of the cabinets. If the cabinets are painted or stained, paint or stain the toe kick the same color.

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Final Thoughts On Kitchen Island Toe Kicks

There you have it! Everything you need to know about kitchen island toe kicks including how to finish them and potentially build them yourself.

I’m sure toe kicks were initially an afterthought for you when you decided to build a new kitchen island (as it was for me), but the little details in this area really make a difference in the overall look of your island!

Hopefully, you’ve got a better idea of what you need to do next to finish building your kitchen island.

Catch you in my next post!

The Best Kitchen Tools & Products I’ve Used

Ravinte Cabinet Handle Installation Template (For Doors & Drawers)

This is my all-time favorite handle installation template because it has two templates (one for drawers and one for doors) with multiple pull sizes & knob placements! These templates make installing cabinet handles a breeze because you always know your handles will be installed in the same spot on all of your drawers and doors. The kit also comes with a drill bit so you can guarantee you’re using the correct size. I used this template on my entire kitchen and both bathrooms to cut the installation time in half. You can find this hardware template here on Amazon.

Franklin Brass 5-1/16 Inch (128mm) Center Bar Pull (Stainless Steel)

If you want to immediately modernize your kitchen island, then these cabinet pulls are a must. They are heavy-duty feeling, durable, easy to install, and are a large size for a great price. We put these pulls on all of our kitchen and island doors and drawers along with our bathroom doors and drawers. You can find these gorgeous cabinet pulls here on Amazon.

P.S. Use the hardware installation template I mentioned above to install these new pulls in record time!

do kitchen islands have toe kicks - is a toe kick necessary
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By Christine

Christine is a blogger and DIYer who tackles home renovation and decorating projects alongside her husband, Adam, for their personal residence and rental properties. Although she successfully tackles large renovation projects to avoid expensive contractor fees and bring her vision to life now, her path to success was not easy.

Go here to read her story,  From a Clueless First-Time Homebuyer To A Confident DIYer Creating Her Dream Home One Project At A Time.

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