If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, you might be wondering:
Is building a cooktop into the kitchen island a good idea?
This guide breaks down the pros and cons of putting a cooktop on your kitchen island. I cover all aspects of this option, including how it impacts safety, ventilation, cleanup, lifestyle, price, and more.
Use the links below to navigate the guide:
- Pros of a Kitchen Island Cooktop
- Cons of a Kitchen Island Cooktop
- What Kitchen Design Experts Say
- Bottom Line: Is a Kitchen Island Cooktop a Good Idea?
A kitchen island cooktop can be convenient, stylish, and efficient. But is it right for you?
These are the top advantages of kitchen island cooktops.
Every inch of counter space is valuable. Removing a cooktop frees up space around the perimeter of your kitchen for displaying small appliances or decor.
The average cooktop ranges between 30 and 36 inches long. To put it in perspective, you could fit a 12-inch cutting board, a Vitamix blender, and a KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer in that space.
If you’re a fan of open concept living, having your cooktop on the island gives you a better view while you cook. It makes it more welcoming for conversations — you won’t have to have your back to your guests if you are trying to cook and entertain at the same time.
Since counter cooktops and slide-in ranges are close to walls and cabinets, food and grease can splash, making cleaning difficult. Food can get lodged in backsplashes, caked under cabinets, and even drip down walls in areas you can’t reach without removing your range.
An island cooktop offers a more effortless cleaning experience. Plus, there are no hard-to-reach areas where grime can build up.
Additionally, putting the cooktop in the island lends itself well to the kitchen triangle, also referred to as the working triangle or the golden triangle. If you’re unfamiliar, the kitchen triangle is the design theory that states the sink, cooktop, and refrigerator should be positioned in a triangle, with each leg between four and nine feet apart.
This layout allows you to access the three most essential functions of your kitchen (the sink, cooktop, and refrigerator) quickly and easily. When the sink is on the island, the cooktop and refrigerator should be positioned behind the island, creating a triangle.
A counter cooktop usually has light from the vent hood or microwave above it, but those lights aren’t nearly as bright as the lighting fixtures in your kitchen. Since kitchen island cooktops are out in the open, you benefit from brighter overhead lights.
Despite the advantages, kitchen island cooktops have several downsides. Here’s why building a cooktop into your kitchen island is a bad idea.
If you’re not careful, a cooktop on a kitchen island can be dangerous. Since the kitchen island is usually a gathering place, you risk someone getting too close to the cooktop and possibly burned.
With a gas range, paper from homework or books could easily catch fire if you study or read casually at your kitchen island.
And, if hot liquids or oil splash, it could hurt anyone sitting near the cooktop. Consider leaving space around your cooktop as a safety zone — at least 18 inches on the sides and in front.
Since the standard cooktop is 36 inches by 30 inches and you need extra space to keep people safe, the cooktop plus safety area will occupy a total of 72 inches by 48 inches of your island. That won’t leave much room for seating, displaying appetizers, doing homework, or conversation areas.
So, consider how you’d like to use your island to ensure an island cooktop will fit your lifestyle.
Kitchen island cooktops limit what materials you can use for your countertops. The material needs to be safe to use around heat. Plus, local building codes might prohibit the placement of wood surfaces near cooktops.
You’ll also need to consider how the material will handle repeated oil and liquid spatter. Heat can cause permanent damage to materials like quartz because the resins within the slab can melt. Therefore, repeated exposure to hot liquids and oils or placing a hot pan on it could cause an issue, structurally or cosmetically.
No matter where your cooktop is placed, you’ll need proper ventilation. With a cooktop built into your kitchen island, you’ll need overhead or downdraft ventilation.
Overhead ventilation can be an eyesore. It can also break up the flow of an open concept kitchen because it hangs low in the center of your kitchen.
Downdraft ventilation can be a more visually pleasing choice. There are even options that retract when not in use.
However, downdraft vents have drawbacks. They often cannot capture the amount of steam and smoke an overhead vent can because they’re only on one side of the cooktop. And the most effective ones are expensive and require multiple downdraft vents around the cooktop.
Additionally, if you frequently make meals with a lot of steam, condensation could form on the ceiling over your island, causing staining and paint to peel over time.
If you don’t have proper ventilation, food odors can escape from the kitchen and leave an unpleasant smell throughout your home. Too much smoke in the air can set off smoke alarms and make your fabrics smell.
You might need a device like the Shark Air Purifier 6 to ensure a clean, fresh smell in your home.
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If you eat meals at your island, you might feel pressured to clean up before dining. It’s often hard to enjoy your meal with a messy cooktop right in front of you.
Since there is no backsplash with an island cooktop, oil, sauce, and other liquids can coat the surrounding space, including the floor.
If your cooktop and oven are in separate areas, it can make cooking less efficient. For example, if your recipe requires searing on a stove followed by roasting in an oven, you may have to carry pans across the kitchen.
That can be difficult when pans are heavy, hot, and filled with food or liquids, especially if you have cast iron cookware, a Dutch oven, or a fully-clad skillet.
Suppose you want to add a cooktop to your existing island or install a kitchen island with a built-in cooktop. In that case, you’ll need to have the heating element and ventilation installed professionally.
A project like that could mean running a gas line to the island or installing an electrical outlet with adequate voltage (usually 220-240 volts). You will need electric and gas hookups
if you have a dual fuel cooktop.
Expect to pay anywhere from $50-$100 per hour for an electrician and between $45 and $150 per hour for a gas fitter.
Island cooktops can be incredibly expensive, but pricing varies significantly by brand and model.
Plus, you’ll need to consider installation and maintenance costs. Adding ventilation for an island cooktop alone can run between $500-$2,000.
I contacted several kitchen design companies to get their expert opinion on this topic. I asked each expert the same two questions.
- What are the pros and cons of kitchen island cooktops?
- What are the most important factors to consider?
Signature Kitchens and Baths of Charleston, a full-service design firm specializing in custom cabinetry, appliances, and space planning based in Charleston, South Carolina, said, “The biggest factor to consider is ventilation. When you put the cooktop on the island, you’ll need either a vent hood or downdraft. You will also need to consider seating and how close children or someone working or reading the newspaper could be to the cooking surface (and flames).”
She admitted, “There are many moving parts, and this is not an easy question to answer. Every kitchen layout is different.”
K&N Sales, a high-end appliance retailer in Houston, Texas, said, “Ventilation is key with an island cooktop. You would need a downdraft ventilation system or an overhead hood in the space and the proper ducting to accommodate.”
Kitchens Baths & Beyond, a kitchen remodeling company in South Carolina, said, “Putting the cooktop on the island is okay, but the most preferred placement is against a wall for easier venting. The main concern with the cooktop on the island is venting. If you are on a slab subfloor, you would need to vent through the ceiling (i.e., a ceiling mount hood or vent). If not, you could vent below using a downdraft system, but costs are typically higher for venting with a downdraft.”
Kitchen island cooktops are a stylish choice for a modern kitchen. You’ll free up counter space under your cabinets and enjoy an open concept perfect for entertaining.
With a cooktop on a kitchen island, you won’t have to bend under cabinets or clean grease from the walls, and you’ll benefit from better overhead lighting than a ventilation hood.
The most obvious downside of kitchen island cooktops is safety. Children sitting on the island can reach for a hot pan, oil and hot liquids can splatter where people sit, and papers or books from study sessions can catch fire.
Also, installing and maintaining an island cooktop is expensive. You’ll spend thousands to purchase, run power or gas lines to the cooktop, and install it. The price also includes fees for adding ventilation.
Plus, you must be careful about choosing your counter material. Your dream of having a teak countertop might not happen, especially if local building codes don’t allow wood near a cooktop.
And while there are many other cons to consider, one of the most significant drawbacks is managing the smoke, steam, and food odors if your ventilation system is inadequate.
Bottom line — kitchen island cooktops are not a good idea. The cons outweigh the pros.
While interacting with your guests as you cook sounds appealing, there are safety issues you can’t ignore, especially if you have small children. If you have space to put the cooktop elsewhere, you should.
If you’re still considering putting the cooktop on your island, find out how much it will cost by comparing cooktops prices on Amazon and HomeDepot.com and getting free no-obligation quotes on installation costs from local contractors on HomeAdvisor.com.
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