Doesn't Anyone Know What Contact Paper Is?

January 20, 2021

Disclosure
Contact paper has been around forever and it's an awesome way to update, decorate, protect surfaces and organize in your home. But putting it down can be tough.

Here's what it is and how to apply it with perfect results every time.

Putting Down Contact Paper in a drawer

Baking has become a huge pastime around here over the last several months.

My daughter, bored and tired of the hours spent in her online classes, was looking for something fun to do and cupcakes seemed to be the answer.

It's been wonderful having fresh baked treats, from cakes and cookies to fruit filled crepes, constantly at the ready.

Especially since everything's been made from scratch. I've always been a boxed baker.

However. One day my daughter said, Mom...why do these silicone spatulas have this icky dust on them?

Ick was right.

Dusty Spatula in utensil drawer

When most people see pictures of my kitchen, they assume that it's relatively new. Fresh, clean and in great shape.

And it is. Mostly.

But it's not new.

We added this room way back in 2002. The cabinets look new because they're good quality and we take care of them.

We touch up the chipped paint, wipe down the insides and outsides often. And clean the hardware.

However. The two silverware drawers are a different story.

The flatware sets themselves, are organized in plastic trays. The miscellaneous serving spoons and utensils are not.

I guess 20 years of wet hands and not fully dry items from the dishwasher being tossed in there, damaged the bottom of the drawers. And they were flaking off into a dusty mess that was clinging to the rubbery surfaces. 

Not good.

My solution was an easy one...and common sense to me...I grabbed one of my many rolls of contact paper and got to work.

Three rolls of checked and floral contact paper

Now. I have to be honest. This, like the garment bag trick I shared last week, were not on my original list of things to share with you for the month.

I figured both of these ideas were common knowledge. Very basic, boring and not necessarily helpful or inspiring. Which is always my goal.

Especially the contact paper. Everyone lines their drawers with it.

Or so I thought.

But the response to my garment bag post was overwhelming. So I reconsidered the contact paper. 

Especially since I've been on the help boards at Hometalk and have seen people asking, over and over again, how to protect their drawers. Or how to get liner to stick to the drawer and not slip. Or how to line old furniture drawers.

And every time I've said, Try contact paper, people have replied with, Contact what??

So clearly, I'm either very old -since when I was young contact paper was everywhere - or way behind the times, because I still use it. Actually, both of those just mean I'm old.

Anyway. It was then that I decided to share the process for all those that haven't seen it before. You're welcome.

How To Line A Drawer With Contact Paper


First, let's answer the basic questions.

What is contact paper?
Well, technically Contact Paper is brand name, but it's become synonymous with the product...which is a sticky backed vinyl paper that you can use to cover surfaces.

How is it different than shelf liner? Shelf liner comes in a lot of different forms, but generally it's either a rubbery material that's supposed to grip the cabinet or drawer. There's also very lovely paper that is sold as shelf liner and that also just fits in the space, but without adhesive.

This is shelf liner in Red Gingham. Not contact paper. 

Besides shelf lining what else can you do with contact paper? The simple answer is lots! I've seen people cover furniture, transform countertops and backsplashes, use it in arts and craft projects. A simple Google search will give you tons of ideas.

How do you remove contact paper? Normally, I just peel my contact paper up when I want to replace it. However, if it is too sticky and won't come up in one piece, try heating the surface with a hairdryer. I haven't tried it, but I know others who swear by the method. 

But back to the drawers...

To start this process, you get to have some fun and pick a pretty paper.

Years ago you could just pop into a drug or hardware store and grab a roll. Today, it's harder to track down. I've found that the online selection is best.

Here are a few of my favorites:

When your paper arrives, empty your drawers. Mine were a disastrous jumble.

Next, wipe them down with a damp paper towel to remove any and all dirt and dust. Anything left on the surface will cause a less than perfect - bumpy and wrinkled - application.

Old Worn Kitchen Utensil Drawers

My drawer was in really bad shape, even though I wipe it out very often, the paint and varnish was literally chipping off. Cleary this task was long overdue.

When clean and dry, I rolled the paper out in the drawer to measure it.

Putting Down Contact Paper in a drawer

Then I cut it, with scissors, about an inch bigger than the actual drawer. This makes it easier to trim and get a straight edge later. 

Cutting Contact Paper

Peeling the backing away from the vinyl patterned side is the hardest part. Silly, but true. If anyone has a tip, to do it without damaging that crisp corner, I'm all ears.

Peeling Backing From the corner of Contact Paper

I only remove it a little, then I push the sticky paper into the corner of drawer, peeling the backing away as I move my hand over the top, smoothing it down as I go.

To make sure it's totally flat, no bubbles or wrinkles, I take a credit card and swipe it over the entire surface. I use it to push any air trapped underneath, by swiping the card toward the sides.

Using a credit card to smooth out red checked contact paper in a drawer

Lastly, I pushed the card up to the edge of the drawer and ran a razor blade along it to get that sharp edge and custom fit.

Trimming Contact Liner Paper with a razor blade

When I was done, a few minutes later, I moved onto the other drawer. A quick DIY with fabulous results.

The ick was covered, my utensils would be clean and my little baker was super happy.

Red Gingham Liner Paper in a drawer

Plus, the drawers looked so much better when I opened them.

More color coordinated with the red in the rest of the kitchen, too.



And around here, more red is always better.

Contact Paper Application perfect results every time, hand using credit card to smooth paper

Do you use contact paper?

  1. This is great and it looks so good. I am going to do this to my drawers. Thanks for the links to the pretty contact paper too. I have seen it at the Dollar Store but not in these pretty prints.
    Have a great rest of the week. xoxo

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    1. Thanks Kris! It’s funny. Sometimes I think things are too simple to share, but I guess not. Glad you found some inspiration! ♥️

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  2. You must have been or are a teacher because you give us the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY, explanations!! Very thorough, words and pictures.
    I don't use contact paper because the last time (hundreds of years ago) I flubbed it up major.
    Now... I just might like to try. I think it would be fun to leave the drawers open to show off the contact paper. Company will be impressed, I'm sure!

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    1. Ah, Christine! You've got my number. Actually my undergraduate degree is in communications and my graduate degree is in elementary education and I spend several years in the classroom teaching the littles. It was a wonderful time. I guess you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but... well, you know the rest!

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  3. You always share excellent inspiration Kim... I'm thinking all my kitchen drawers could use a new revamp! I will check out the links you provided, as I have no contact paper on hand. I just love your red plaid! Great tips about cutting a bit excess, and then trimming with the razor blade. Have a blessed and wonderful day!

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    1. Thanks so much, Marilyn! As Christine said, I guess the teacher in me takes over in these posts and all the details just spill out. I hope that the tips prove helpful if you do decide to revamp! Blessings to you!

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  4. I love the red plaid and the credit card tip. Next time I put some down, I'll be trying that!

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    1. That red plaid is my favorite, Mari! It's an addiction for sure. 😉

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  5. I must be old too. I definitely use contact paper a lot. Love the new beautiful patterns, but I have rolls of old ugly ones that I use to make stencils on my cricut.

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    1. Oh...I didn't know you could use it that way, Robin!! I totally need to check out the cricut machines again. They're on my list!! Thanks for the tip.

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  6. Red gingham contact paper coming up!!! I didn't know they still made it! Thank you for that information/link!
    Blessings, J

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    1. Oh J, stick with me, my friend! If it's red, I either have it or know where to find it. 😉

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  7. I lined my drawers with rubber shelf liner & really like how easy it is to take out & clean.

    Walmart carries some really beautiful contact paper & shelf liner. Pioneer Woman has some fun patterns you can buy there.

    When I was in high school I learned how to laminate with clear contact paper. I talk 5 day clubs with kids & I laminated all of my visuals this way. They lasted through decades of use...many I used up through my 30s & into my 40s.

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    1. I haven't been to Walmart in years, Jenny. There isn't one very close by and everything around here seems to be curbside. (I miss browsing!!) However, I can shop Walmart online and I love Pioneer Woman, so I will have to check that out! Thanks for the tip. And oh yes, laminating!! I still do that with the clear rolls sometimes. It still works!!

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  8. Kim, I am partial to gingham and your drawers look great...BUT! I won't be using contact paper ever again! I put it down in drawers and cabinets when we remodeled several years ago. Well, over time (needless to say) it began looking rough so I decided to take it up and replace it. Bad idea!!! It was absolutely awful trying to get that stuff up. It shredded terribly and I spent hours upon hours peeling off little bits at a time. Once I finally got that stuff all up (which seemed like an eternity), I said no way was I going to put contact paper back down. So now I use this non-slip liner stuff without a sticky backing. But like I said, your drawers really do look great!!! I love gingham and red is my favorite color!!!!

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    1. Oh Cheri, that’s so frustrating!! I have to say, I’ve never had that issue. I *think* that’s because all the surfaces in the two houses I’ve owned are old…very old…like almost 100 years old. I believe it sticks better to cleaner, more pristine surfaces. However, I should update my post, because I know that people swear by using a hairdryer to remove it. Full disclosure, I’ve never tried it, but I may soon, because my pantry will be getting an update and the old paper must go. I’ll keep you posted! Oh and by the way, I have seen red gingham non-slip shelf liner!! You know…just in case! 😉

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    2. Kim, I actually used my heat gun that I use in crafts to get up the contact paper. It definitely helped but still was slow going. Oh I'd love to find that red gingham shelf-liner:) I'll have to start looking for it.

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    3. Cheri, thanks for the input. As I said, I’ve never had to use the heat, so I’m sure your experience will help others. I also updated the post again, this time adding the red gingham shelf liner link for those that just want to put it down without the stick!! I really appreciate your comments. Thanks so much for coming back!! ❤️

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  9. Yes I know what contact paper is. I did my kitchen drawers a few weeks ago with the the red and white checked paper you just put in your drawers. It makes me happy when I open one of them. I have 8 drawers in my kitchen. All of them have the red and white contact paper. Easy to clean. Looks good too.

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    1. Oh...8 drawers of red checks...how wonderful!! I hadn't really thought about doing all the kitchen drawers, but now I can't stop thinking about it. You've inspired me to go for it!! Guess, I'll need more paper. Thanks so much for sharing today!!

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  10. The red gingham contact paper couldn't be more perfect for your kitchen! I've never had much success not getting air bubbles and wrinkles so your tips are VERY helpful, Kim.

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    1. Thanks Marie! And definitely try the credit card. It works great!

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  11. Contact paper is the best! I used it on the medicine cabinet of this house.

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  12. Another fun post from my friend Kim! We did put contact paper in our drawers when we moved in.. 20 years ago!!! I did have trouble with the air bubbles, your tips are great. We hope to re-do our kitchen in 2021! Crossing my fingers, toes and legs that it will happen.

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    1. I’m crossing my fingers and toes for you, too!! xo

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  13. I need to do this in a few drawers, too! I love opening the drawers and having the surprise of something pretty inside!

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    1. It’s been a bit now since I put it in and I still smile when I go to grab a spoon!!

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  14. I love how pretty your kitchen drawer looks with the red and white contact paper. I haven't used it in years. I just use shelf liner that you just lay down and isn't sticky. Thanks for sharing tips on how to use the contact paper.

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    1. Thanks Julie! I need to use the shelf liner on my lower cabinets, pots and pans. They're in great shape and I'd like to see them stay that way! I hope you have a fabulous weekend!!

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  15. My kitchen cabinets are drawers are the original of the house - 32+ years old. My drawers look much like yours. Instead of contact paper though (and yes, I thought everyone knew what that was!), I lined my drawers and cabinet shelves with the "raised" shelf liner. Cut to fit, no sticky stuff on the back. Stays in place because it's rubbery. I need to clean out my cutlery drawer though - thanks for the reminder!

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    1. I just found some of that in red check, Melanie and I think I'm going to try it on my pot and pan drawers. Those shelves are in much better condition. If I don't have to wrestle with the sticky stuff, why bother! Thanks!

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  16. Hi Kim. You have such pretty patterns. I have used contact paper in the past but, truthfully, I always had such a hard time getting it on right. It was just so frustrating to me. I find that I am not very patient when it comes to doing some things, and some things I am too patient so it take me a very long time to get any thing done. About 20 (at least) years ago when we put down our vinyl kitchen floor, I had enough left over to line all my drawers and shelves. It was easy to cut and measure and it is still there, so it was a good investment in my time..Stay well..xxoJudy

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    1. Judy, I LOVE that idea. How totally charming. I wish we had something as fabulous to use, because I’m sure that this contact paper will not look so pretty in 20 years! Ha!! xxoo

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  17. Kim,
    I know I am much older that you and I have used contact paper all over since I was first married.... One time, I used it to cover my back splash in the Kitchen....I love the red and white checked one and rook a look in my drawers and realized that the contact paper I have in there now is fro the 80's.I think I just may need to re- do my drawers now....Thanks so much for sharing!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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    1. My mom was a huge fan of contact paper and I thought that everyone still used it or at least knew what it was...turns out not so. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who remembers its heyday! Enjoy the weekend!!

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  18. I have that same gingham contact paper in my kitchen cupboards but mine is a lavender-blue shade. I wish I'd read this post before putting it in, it would have been less of a messy job :-) Take good care!
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Oh...lavender- blue sounds lovely, very serene and sweet. And I've seen your work, I bet it looks great!! xxoo

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  19. I haven't used contact paper in years and always made a hot mess of sticking it down. Probably too impatient or something :D I think I might have a roll or two lurking in the craft cupboard too so I'll give it another try. I'm sure your tips will come in very handy too. Thanks Kim. Sometimes the good old fashion way of doing things is still the best.

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    1. I agree. Michelle, sometimes tried and true works best indeed. If you ever decide to try it again, you'll have to let me know if it makes a difference.

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  20. I love the red and white gingham drawer liner. I have that in my kitchen and I love it. I love your idea of using the credit card. I will remember that the next time I put down shelf liner. You always share such wonderful tips. Enjoy your weekend.

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    1. Thanks Teri! My mom taught me that tip. It really does make a big difference. Stay warm this weekend!!

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