Contact Paper Countertops Full Tutorial And 18 Month Review
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Today I’m sharing my contact paper countertop installation tutorial and review. I’ve had these for 18 months and I have a ton of information to share with you guys! I’m sharing my in-depth tutorial along with how they’ve held up and what I wish I would’ve known 1 1/2 years ago.
I had a hard time finding tutorials that met the needs of my kitchen when I started this journey nearly 2 years ago. I took the information I had and, along with some trial and error, finally came up with solutions for my problems.
I’ll show you guys everything I know including how to wrap rounded corners, install around the sink or stove and how to get flawless counters without bubbles every single time
By the end you’ll be ready to tackle your own contact paper countertops and backsplash!
Here’s the full YouTube tutorial and 18 month update if you’d like to check that out as well.
List Of Supplies Needed For DIY Contact Paper Countertops
DC Fix marble contact paper
exact-o knife w/ extra blades
cleaner (I use 50/50 vinegar water)
Contact Paper Countertops: The Full Tutorial
There’s a lot of information to share with you guys in this post. I’m going to kick it off with the tutorial, which is broken down in to several sections and covers literally everything you’ll ever need to know to install your own countertops.
At the end of the tutorial I’ll share my 18 month update, which you don’t want to miss! The countertops have held up great (with the exception of a few mistakes I made, and I will tell you what those were).
Let’s jump in to it!
Prepping The Countertops
Before getting started, you want to make sure you have your area prepped.
Remove any silicone or caulking you have around your sink, stove or back of your countertop.
Thoroughly clean your surface and make sure not to leave anything stuck to the countertop. I like to use a 50/50 vinegar water solution but anything will work.
Once it’s clean, dry the countertop completely.
Contact Paper Application
When installing your contact paper you want the seams to be as invisible as possible. Running the paper from side to side creates one long seam all the way down your countertop, which doesn’t look good in the end.
To avoid that, I would suggest always running the paper from the backsplash down towards the counters edge. You’ll still have seams, but they’ll be less noticeable and easier to blend.
Lay your contact paper downside up so you can see the grid. Put the edge on the back of the counter, leaving an extra 1/4″ overhang on that corner.
Roll the paper down over the front edge of the counter. Add 1/2″ or so from where the bottom edge is. That’s where you’ll want to cut the paper.
Lay your paper right side up where you’re going to install it.
Peel up the first few inches of the backing.
Line your paper up with the back corner. leave about a 1/4″ overlap on the back corner.
Use your fingers to stick the paper down in to the corner.
hold on to the backing with one hand, and the spatula with your other. Using your spatula, slowly smooth the paper out on to the countertop. Work from the back corner towards the front.
As you get that first area smoothed out, you can pull the backing a little at a time with your one hand, while continuing to smooth it out with the other.
If you get any bubbles in your contact paper, gently pull up the area that’s affected.
Use your spatula to smooth that area back out.
After you’ve gotten a section installed and you move to the next section, you’ll want to lay the contact paper facing up first before flipping it over and cutting it to size.
This way you can make sure the pattern lines up well enough. At that point you can decide if you need to make any adjustments to the placement before moving on.
Securing Contact Paper At The Front Edge Of The Counter
Once you’ve gotten to the edge of your counter, pull the contact paper tightly over the corner.
Using your spatula, smooth the paper in a downward motion across the face of the countertop.
Tuck the paper under the lip of the countertop.
Using your handheld stapler, secure the contact paper to the underside of your countertop edge.
If you have solid stone counters instead of laminate with the wood exposed underneath you won’t need to staple the paper.
If you still want to secure it you could run a bead of silicone along the underside of the counter edge to seal the edge of the contact paper.
This would still be easily removed and wouldn’t cause any damage to the original surface.
Getting Clean Lines At The Back Corner Of The Countertop
There are a couple ways to do this, depending on the type of countertops you have.
If you have edge strips, take your spatula and push the contact paper underneath the strip.
Take your exact-o knife and push it in underneath the edge strip.
Cut the contact paper from under the edge strip.
If there’s any remaining hanging over the edge, use your spatula again to push it under the edge strip.
If you don’t have edge strips, you can push the contact paper in to the back corner and cut the paper flush against the back of the counter.
Use silicone or caulking in the best matching color along the back corner to seal it and give it a seamless finish.
If you’re also doing your backsplash, wait to add the caulking until both are done
Installing Contact Paper On The Backsplash
Installing contact paper on the backsplash is the same as on the countertops for the most part.
Measure your contact paper long enough to overlap at the top and bottom. peel back the first couple of inches and stick it down at the top of the backsplash. Leave a little bit of overlap.
Use your spatula to smooth paper down, slowly releasing more paper as you go.
If you’re working on a section underneath the top cabinets, push the paper into the corner at the top of the backsplash. Cut the extra paper off at the corner.
I have edge strips, so I pushed the paper into the edge strips and used my exact-o knife to cut the paper off just as I did at the back edge of the counter.
If you have edge strips, push the paper back behind with your spatula after trimming off the extra paper.
If you don’t have edge strips, use your silicone or caulking where the counter and backsplash meet.
Installing Contact Paper Around Sink
When installing contact paper around the sink, you want to lay the paper down vertically where it will lay over the side of the sink.
After smoothing the paper out on to the counter next to the sink, take your spatula and push the contact paper in to the rim of the sink.
Using your exact-o knife, trim the contact paper to leave a little overhang all around the sink.
Use your spatula and push the paper under the lip of the sink again.
Place your exact-o knife under the lip of the sink, cutting away the contact paper that is still sticking out over the edge of the sink.
Be careful not to cut the contact paper that is visible around the edge of the sink. That is what gives you the seamless finish after you seal it.
Continue to push the paper under the lip then trim off whatever is still hanging over the sink edge.
The method for applying contact paper to the front edge of your sink is the same as a countertop stove, which I’ll cover now.
Installing Contact Paper Around Countertop Stove
Installing contact paper on the sides of the stove is the exact same as the above directions for the sink.
The front of the stove (or sink) is a much smaller space, and easy to tackle. You will measure your contact paper the same way as before.
Lay the paper over the edge of the counter, making sure you leave enough to overlap the edge of the stove and the edge of the counter.
Cut the paper to the length you determinded.
Peel the contact paper completely off of its backing. Line it up with the edge of the stove, making sure it overlaps the edge of the stove just slightly.
Use your fingers to stick the paper down to the counter right at the edge of the stove.
Smooth out the contact paper just as you did on the rest of the countertop.
Work from the back by the stove to the edge of the counter.
Push the contact paper in to the edge of the stove with your spatula.
Just as you did on the sides of the sink, take your exact-o knife and trim off the contact paper where it’s sticking out from the lip of the stove.
Push the paper under the lip of the stove again with your spatula. If there’s any paper still sticking out, trim it off.
You’ll wrap the contact paper around the front edge of the counter just as you did on the rest of the countertop.
At the back of the sink or stove, you will install it the same as on the front.
Take a strip of contact paper in the size determined, peel it completely off of the backing paper and stick it down to the counter.
You’ll want to overlap the back of the stove and trim it under the lip just as you did on the sides and front.
Sealing Around The Sink And Stove
Sealing your contact paper countertops around the sink and stove is probably the most important part of making these last a long time.
You don’t want water getting under the paper.
You can use any colored caulking or silicone, but I prefer clear silicone.
Put your silicone in your caulk gun and run a smooth, straight line all the way around your sink/stove.
You can use your finger to smooth out the appearance of the silicone.
If you see any areas that don’t have enough silicone, add more and smooth it out.
If you get it anywhere you don’t want it, you can wipe it off with a paper towel while it’s wet.
You can also scrape or peel it up after it has dried if you don’t get to it before then.
Installing Contact Paper On Breakfast Bar
For the breakfast bar, you want to measure your contact paper long enough to hang over both sides.
You also want it to hang off of the edge.
That’s where my rounded corners are. I’ll go over those next.
After you’ve gotten your measurements, cut the paper to length.
Here, you want to start at the inner part of the bar and work your way towards the end, doing the edges and corners last.
Lay the contact paper out, with a good couple of inches hanging off of the end of the bar.
Peel up the first few inches of contact paper and stick it down to your countertop.
You’ll smooth out the contact paper the same way here that you did everywhere else. Start in the middle and work your way out towards the sides, making sure to not trap any bubbles in the middle.
You want to take your time and work slower with a larger space like this.
If you slowly release the paper from it’s backing, that’ll make it less likely that you’ll end up with bubbles
When you get to the end of the breakfast bar, if you don’t have rounded corners, you can wrap the edge of the counter the same way you have everywhere else.
If you do have rounded corners, we will go over that now.
Contact Paper Countertops Around Rounded Corners
There are two methods I prefer to use on rounded corners.
I like to use both together for a smoother, seamless finish.
I’ll go over each of those now.
Rounded Corners Method One
Start by smoothing out the contact paper against the flat edges of the counter on all sides. This will help you see exactly where the edge begins to curve.
Find the point on the edge of the counter right before it begins to curve.
Take your exact-o knife and cut a slit in the contact paper from the edge of the counter down.
Cut another slit about 1/2″ over.
Smooth down the flat side next to the slit.
If there’s still any curve underneath that side, cut another slit 1/2″ over.
If it’s perfectly flat, go ahead and staple that side under.
(The edge to the right is missing a large section of laminate. You can tell the contact paper isn’t sticking well on that side, but the staples will hold it in place. It hasn’t been an issue at all)
Take the 1/2″ slits, smooth them out around the edge of the counter and staple them underneath.
These sections are small enough to smooth out with your fingers.
Just make sure you have it tightly wrapped before stapling.
When you get to the end of your rounded corner, hold the side down flat to see if there’s any curve left underneath it.
If there is, cut another slit and staple it under.
Repeat until the entire curve of the corner is wrapped.
Once you’ve wrapped your corner, smooth out the side next to it and secure it underneath the countertop edge right next to the corner.
If you are doing a bar like I did where there’s two corners and the straight edge in between, go ahead and wrap the other corner before securing the entire end of the bar edge.
Rounded Corners Method Two
For the second method, take a strip of contact paper that is wide enough to cover the entire corner.
You also want it tall enough to overlap the top and bottom edge of the counter.
Smooth the strip of contact paper down over the rounded corner with your hand first.
Take your spatula and run it firmly over the corner.
Take your exact-o knife and carefully trim the contact paper that’s sticking out above the countertop edge.
You can always trim off more, so it’s best to trim a little at a time, and keep trimming until it’s pretty much flush with the counter edge.
Be careful not to gouge the contact paper you’ve already installed on the countertop.
Cut slits in the contact paper that’s hanging down from the bottom of the counter edge. Staple them underneath the countertop edge.
Since these slits won’t be visible, they don’t have to be spaced as closely together.
I cut mine about 1″ apart.
You can do either of these methods alone, or combine the two like I did. Sometimes you have to just give it a shot and see what works!
How To Remove And/Or Replace Sections Of Contact Paper
Removing contact paper is as easy as peeling it up. Since I staple it to the underside of the counter edge, I just have to remove the staples or pull the paper until it pops off through the staple.
This section that I replaced to the left of my sink did not have any paper overlapping it from either side.
If you’re replacing a section like this, you just need to peel it up and cut a new piece to fit that spot.
Install as usual.
The area in front of my stove had contact paper overlapping it on both sides, so I couldn’t just peel it up.
For something like this, take your exact-o knife and cut a line right along the seam. Then you can peel up the paper from the cut you just created.
Replace as usual.
Contact Paper Countertop: 18 Month Update And Review
I am impressed with how well these countertops have held up. In all honesty I didn’t think they’d last me this long!
They are so affordable to install that I had initially figured I’d be replacing them within the first year. As time went on and they kept holding up to our abuse, I kept leaving them be.
I’m currently working on drawing up plans to completely remodel our kitchen. I’m thinking I can easily live with these contact paper countertops for another 6 months to a year though before having to take that plunge.
That being said, they are still contact paper and there has been some wear and tear.
We have 5 kids (including our college-aged girl that moved back at the beginning of the pandemic) which makes us a household of 7 people.
It doesn’t matter how hard we try, we just can’t avoid being hard on stuff. The kitchen in particular takes a beating on a daily basis.
Let’s take a look at how it’s all held up.
Around The Stove
There’s an area of contact paper to the left of the stove that hasn’t looked right since I installed it. It was the first section of counter edge that I did and after that, I perfected it. But you can tell I hadn’t yet on that first piece.
If you look closely, you can see that the contact paper isn’t tight around that edge.
This pic is from the day I installed it.
Despite it looking bad to begin with, it hasn’t gotten any worse.
Here’s a look at that same spot 18 months later and it looks the same. All in all, the entire area has held up really well. There are a few little chips in the paper along that front edge but nothing major.
Even the areas that have a chip in it never get worse or pull away from the counter. It stays stuck to the counter underneath it. Water doesn’t get underneath it and it doesn’t peel away. I’m pretty surprised by that actually.
When I did my 6 month update I told you guys about a few tomato-based stains I had on the countertop, one of which was next to the stove.
Surprisingly the stains have completely faded and aren’t visible anymore. I have created a few new stains since then but I’m not worried about it since they seem to fade over time as you continue to clean the surface.
I usually use the vinegar water solution but occasionally I’ll use bleach cleaner if I’m really trying to get a stain off.
High Traffic Area
When we cook we tend to do all of our prep work on this area here to the right of the stove. When setting things out to serve meals they tend to get lined up here as well.
It’s definitely the highest traffic area of the kitchen but I don’t think you would know that just by looking.
The Highest High Traffic Area
There is a problem area though. If you go just a little further to the right you’ll run in to the coffee pot (My Holy Grail) and this might honestly be the highest of the high traffic area.
I never thought about the placement of my coffee pot. It sits under the cabinet, right up against the backsplash. It’s right on top of a seam between two pieces of contact paper.
Every night I pull the coffee pot forward (dragging it over that seam). I add the filter, coffee and water then I set the timer for the next morning. Lastly, I push the coffee pot back up against the backsplash (Once again dragging it over that seam).
In the last month I noticed the edge of that seam was wearing down and I could see small slits in the contact paper. The old countertop is barely showing through those slits.
It took me a bit to figure out what was causing it. One night when I pulled the coffee pot forward it hit me!
At this point I could replace that one section (like I showed you how to do above) but I honestly don’t feel like messing with it since I’m planning on remodeling within the next year anyways.
Kitchen Sink Area
You would think this would be the worst area, right? With all those dishes and all that water?
The only thing I’ve done in this area is replace the silicone around the sink after a year because it looked gross. Other than that, it’s held up great!
No water has gotten under the contact paper, there’s no peeling anywhere at all. It’s pretty amazing how well this area has held up.
This is the least used area of my kitchen (And the first thing to go when we remodel).
I set my groceries on the bar when I get home then sort them out and put them away. Occasionally it becomes the catch-all in the kitchen and piles up with the kids’ things. Other than that, it’s a pretty useless space.
There’s one little stain on the bar and I’m not sure where it came from, but I’m sure it’ll fade over time like the rest of them.
Other than that it pretty much looks the same!
If I could give you one piece of advice it would be to GO FOR IT! Just DON’T put your coffee pot on top of a seam lol.
This has been well worth the small investment and the time spent installing it. My kitchen was horrid before, mainly due to the countertops. They were the grossest colored counters I’ve ever seen.
I couldn’t have lived with this kitchen for this long if I hadn’t made the plunge. It sounds silly but these countertops have been life-changing. I don’t hate my kitchen anymore and I forget now that I ever did!