An island skin is a material that is used to cover the substrate of a kitchen island. There are multiple ways to construct a kitchen island, but the most cost effective method is to utilize base cabinets from the same manufacturer that made the rest of the run. This ensures that doors, overlay and face frames will be identical to the installed cabinetry in the space. The challenge that this plan presents is the exposure of the backside of the base cabinetry, which is typically made from a manufactured wood and not intended to be seen. To conceal the substrate, a layer of material known as a skin is attached.
Island skins are offered in a variety of materials. Sometimes materials like copper or stainless steel can be used to support the overall aesthetic of the kitchen. Others may choose to use a skin that is made from a thin sheet of the same wood that the cabinetry faces, doors and drawers are made from. This technique gives the illusion of solid hardwood without the cost. There are also vinyl and laminate skins that can be used though contractors will typically discourage this due to the size of the visual reference this creates which can lower the perceived level of quality of the cabinetry for the entire room.