Kitchen Cabinet Contact Paper Update

This post may contain links to affiliate websites, such as Amazon and we receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you using these links.

Inside: Transform your kitchen with this easy kitchen cabinet contact paper tutorial!

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know that I live in a rental and I’m constantly on the lookout for projects that are renter-friendly. Projects that won’t damage the walls or my security deposit. Recently, I had the chance to share some of my rental DIY tips over at in their Rent Pretty Series. Today I’ll be sharing one of those projects here for you. Read on to learn how to update your kitchen cabinets without replacing them!

How to Update Cabinets Using Contact Paper

My kitchen is your basic builder grade kitchen. Nothing fancy. Pretty standard (and boring). Take a look. And no, it is not usually clean like that. More often than not, there is a pile of dishes in the sink. I thought I would clean up a little before taking these pictures and I think I took it a bit too far. This looks like we just moved in. We’ve been here over 2 years.  That window needs some serious decoration, amirite?  I’ll save that for later though.

How to Update Cabinets Using Vinyl Paper

I really don’t like the color of my cabinets or the countertops. Until now, I thought that I just had to live with it because a kitchen remodel just isn’t going to fly with the landlord. I needed to figure out a way to update the cabinets without replacing them. Painting the cabinets is out of the question too but covering them with contact paper is not! If you are in search of a way to update cabinets on a budget, this tutorial is for you! So let me show just how I updated my kitchen cabinets with contact paper. 


This post contains affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

White contact paper
Drill (to remove cabinet doors)
Measuring tape
Small ruler
Carpenters square
Razor blade


First, I need to preface these instructions by saying that when adhering kitchen cabinet contact paper to anything, you should always test it out on an inconspicuous area first.  
Next, take off the doors and remove all the dishes.  I separated our dishes into the “nice” stuff and the “not so nice” stuff.  The “not so nice” got stashed away out of sight in the bottom cabinets. The “nice” stuff got displayed in the updated cabinets. If you are also covering your cabinet doors, you don’t have to worry about stashing the not-so-pretty stuff.

For each kitchen cabinet, I measured each surface (outside, inside, top, bottom, and all trim) and cut my contact paper to size. It is good to cut the pieces a bit bigger than you need them because you can always trim off the excess with a razor blade to get a nice clean edge. Place your contact paper onto the cabinet at the top and work your way down. To avoid bubbles, use a small ruler to smooth out the contact paper as you go. 

How to Update Kitchen Cabinets Using Contact Paper


If you have excess contact paper in areas, trim it off with a razor blade. Any excess should be at the bottom of the cabinet.

Kitchen cabinet trasformation


How to update kitchen cabinets without replacing them
Take out the shelves and cover the underside and the front face of each shelf with contact paper. I placed a no-slip liner on top of the shelves so I did not use contact paper on the top.
Once the shelves are out, cover all interior surfaces of the cabinets. For the backs of the kitchen cabinets, you can either use white contact paper or a contrasting color/design. I chose white.
kitchen cabinet tutorial

As you can see below, this is not a perfect method on how to cover kitchen cabinets with contact paper or vinyl paper. There will be some small gaps at the edges because it’s just hard to get the contact paper cut 100% correct. And that’s ok. Once your dishes are back in the cabinets, it will be less noticeable. I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m just trying to make my builder grade cabinets a bit more attractive.

How to Update Kitchen Cabinets Using Contact Paper Tutorial
After you have covered all the kitchen cabinets with the contact paper, re-install your shelves and arrange your pretty dishes!
Update kitchen

This kitchen cabinet contact paper project takes some time and patience but it is not very difficult. It is definitely an improvement from the “before” picture. Let’s take a look at that “before” picture again.

Before How to Update Cabinets Using Contact Paper

And after! Much better! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to update cabinets. 

After kitchen cabinet update

As for the bottom kitchen cabinets (you can see them in the lower left corner), I am planning on skirting them with some pretty fabric. So if you have an outdated kitchen and can’t demo or paint, try contact paper! You’ll get a brand “new” kitchen and you won’t lose your security deposit!

 UPDATE: 2017 

I never got around to skirting the bottom kitchen cabinets with contact paper and since they sat mismatched for a while, I have since removed some of the contact paper from my cabinets.  I removed everything on the outside of the cabinets and left the inside shelves covered. There was some slight damage to areas of the cabinets that were in direct sunlight.  The heat from the sun seemed to “set” the adhesive on the contact paper more than usual and some of the cabinet finish came off when we removed the kitchen cabinet contact paper.  The areas of the cabinets that did not receive full sunlight were fine.  I just want to be honest with you all so make sure to test a spot first. There are other factors that could have contributed to this including the type/brand of contact paper and the quality of our cabinets.



Let me know in the comments what your favorite rental home transformation is!



  1. Looks great Kelly! How do you remove the contact paper when you move out? I must be doing it wrong cuz it always pulls off the finish of stuff when I try to remove it!!!

  2. Brilliant! After reading all kinds of painting tires, this sounds better! We own our mobile home, built in 1971! This sounds perfect for low cost updating! Thanks!

    1. Hi Karen! If your cabinet doors are flat (without molding or detail), you can cover them with the contact paper. I chose to take my doors off because the molding on the doors made it hard to cover.

  3. Hi, such a great post. If my cabinets are not flat rather have some molding but I can’t remove it can I still do the wallpaper?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.