To cover the substrate of a kitchen island, an island skin material is used. One cost-effective method of constructing a kitchen island is to use base cabinets from the same manufacturer that made the rest of the cabinetry in the kitchen. This ensures that the doors, overlays, and face frames are identical to the installed cabinetry in the space. However, the backside of the base cabinetry is often made from manufactured wood and not intended to be seen, which presents a challenge. To conceal the substrate, a layer of material known as an island skin is attached.

Island skins are available in a variety of materials. Some homeowners may choose to use materials like copper or stainless steel to complement the overall aesthetic of the kitchen. Others may opt for a skin made from a thin sheet of the same wood used for the cabinetry’s faces, doors, and drawers, creating the illusion of solid hardwood without the cost. While vinyl and laminate skins can be used, contractors may discourage their use due to the visual reference they create, which can lower the perceived quality of the cabinetry in the entire room.