How to Apply Contact Paper to Cabinet Doors

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Using contact paper to decorate cabinet doors is a cheap alternative to other, more expensive redecoration methods. Contact paper is also easier to clean and maintain, making it an optimal choice for kitchen and bathroom cabinets that must frequently be wiped down. Applying contact paper to cabinet doors is moderately easy, provided that you take your time and prepare the cabinet door surfaces properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Contact paper
  • Mild cleanser
  • 2 rags or towels
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Wood putty or filler

Prepare Cabinet Doors

  • Remove cabinet doors from cabinets. This will make it easier to clean and prepare the door for paper application.

  • Remove the door handles and hinges from the doors and set aside. If you are painting or refinishing the handles and hinges, do so before applying the contact paper to the cabinet doors so they are ready when you are done.

  • Clean the cabinet doors to remove any dirt, debris or oils that are on the door. Use a mild cleanser that will not damage the surface of the door. Allow the doors to dry thoroughly.

  • Fill in dents or holes in the door using a wood filler or putty. Do not fill in the holes for the cabinet handles or hinges. Allow the filler or putty to cure.

  • Sand the cabinet door surface so that it is smooth and even. Use medium grain sandpaper with 80 to120 grit to sand out imperfections in the surface. Follow up with fine grain sandpaper with 150 to 180 grit to finish the surface.

  • Wipe cabinets with a damp rag to remove any dust left behind from sanding.

Apply Contact Paper

  • Measure and cut contact paper to fit on each cabinet door. Remember to cut the paper so that it will cover the entire surface including door edges.

  • Peel approximately one-inch of the contact paper backing down to give you a working edge to start with. Apply this working edge to the top of the cabinet door using a clean, dry rag to press paper firmly against the surface.

  • Work the paper down the door by slowly peeling the backing down inch by inch, pressing the revealed sticky backing to the door surface until the entire piece of contact paper is adhered to the door.

  • Rub the entire cabinet door surface with the dry rag to firmly attach it to the door.

  • Rub your finger over the door surface to find the location of the door handle holes. Poke through the contact paper with a small-tipped screwdriver to reveal the screw hole. Reattach handles and hinges to the door and reinstall onto the cabinet.

Tips & Warnings

  • If air bubbles occur in the contact paper, use a small pin or needle to poke a hole into the paper. Using your dry rag, rub around the edges of the hole to remove air from the pocket. When using patterned contact paper, pay attention when cutting paper to ensure the pattern will run in the same direction for each door.
  • Do not apply contact paper to dirty cabinet doors. Dirt and oils may prevent the paper from sticking properly and cause peeling. Once contact paper is applied, do not use harsh chemicals to clean the cabinet doors, as they can damage the paper and cause it to peel or melt.

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