1. Do not use wood (fire hazard) or interior galvanized steel studs that are available at the big box stores. Interior galvanized steel studs are too thin and do not have enough galvanization to hold up for exterior use.
2. Purchase 20 gauge, galvanized 60 steel studs commercially. It’s best if you use both stud and track, since the track allows the studs to slip inside for perpendicular assembly.
3. Using screws to attach the stud and track works, but will make the top and sides “lumpy” when you apply the cement board. The finish product will look better if you can rivet or weld the pieces together.
4. Use a square to keep the structure and stainless openings true and remember to cross brace the studs so the structure will remain square.
5. Think about the spacing between items on the top and face so they are symmetrical. The bottom of every opening should be the same distance off the ground.
6. When cutting upright pieces, its best to use a chop saw with “stops” so each piece will be exactly the same height. This will help keep the structure square and level.
7. Most of the stainless appliances have an outside flange (top, bottom and both sides) that is larger than the opening. If you don’t space the openings far enough apart, the items may not install properly if the flanges overlap.
8. When figuring the height of the grill, side burner or beverage center, be sure to take into account the finish material. If you only measure from the outside of the unfinished top, the gap below the grill, side burner or beverage center will be exaggerated.
9. Depending on which grill and doors you selected, the unfinished structure may have to be a minimum of 36” tall. To properly calculate the minimum island height, you need to add up the height of the doors including the top & bottom flange, plus the height of the grill, plus a minimum of 2” for spacing above and below the door flange.
10. The island depth (front to back) can be usually be determined by adding to the depth of the grill plus the “hood throw” (the clearance distance between the back of the grill and the furthest distance the hood reaches when fully opened. The island depth is particularly important when the island backs up against the house or a wall; or if a backsplash or raised bartop will be used behind the grill. Be careful not to make the island depth too shallow resulting in the grill hood only able to partially open.
11. If you use 20 gauge galvanized 60 steel studs, the distance between studs can be 16” apart as they would be when framing a house.
1. There are four cement board options for facing the studs to make the island structure finish ready. Of the four, only one is warranted for exterior use: PermaBase manufactured by National Gypsum. Its available at specialty building material supply stores like Thompson’s.
2. Avoid using Hardibacker. It’s clearly stated right on the label that the material is for interior use only.
3. ¼” thick material is available, but we only recommend using ½” thick material. It will add significantly to the structural integrity of the island.
4. Try to minimize the amount of seams, using larger 4’ x 8’ pieces will add to the structural integrity of the island and also reduce the number of seams that will have to be taped prior to applying stucco.
Leveling & Anchoring
1. You’ll probably notice the ground on which the island sits slopes, often in two directions. Gas appliances operate more efficiently and your island will look better if it’s installed level, not sloping with the ground.
2. Use pieces of PermaBase to shim and level the low sides of the island. This is best done before installing PermaBase on the sides, so the PermaBase sides can run all the way from the top of the island, over the shims to the ground.
3. Once the island is shimmed, level and ready to install the sides, you’ll have to decide if you want to anchor the structure to the ground. Red Heads are a good anchoring device if you elect to do this. However, most islands once finished with the stainless installed are heavy enough not to require anchoring.
1. The countertop should be finish ready after the PermaBase is installed. We recommend using a higher grade thinset, such as Versabond for applying tile, travertine, slate, etc to the counters.
2. Stucco Preparation. Prior to applying the stucco, you will need to tape all the PermaBase seams with drywall net (yellow or white plastic net). Adhere the net to the PermaBase with speedset or thinset using a taping blade as you would with drywall mud. Make sure the taping is applied smoothly since you don’t want to sand the speedset or thinset after it dries.
3. Stucco Application. We use a premixed acrylic product called DryVit for the sides. The product comes in different textures and can be finished smooth, semi-smooth or sanded. It’s possible to either spray or trowel it onto the PermaBase. The product comes in many standard colors but can also be custom colored. The application is quite thin, approximately 1/8” thick.
4. If you are using stone or rock on the sides, you may be able to apply it directly to the PermaBase. If the rock is quite thick, you may have to attach a diamond steel mesh to the sides prior to installing the rock. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
1. Thompson’s Building Materials (714) 637-7373 – PermaBase
2. Cal-Wal (714) 637-3450 – 20 gauge/galvanized 60 steel studs & DryVit stucco
3. Home Depot – self tapping stainless screws for screwing steel studs & track, self taping drywall screws, VersaBond