Updating your bathroom doesn’t have to be expensive to make an impact. See how I used contact paper update our bathroom in less than an hour!
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We recently updated the bathroom on our main level by painting the walls and cabinet, framing the mirror, installing a new custom towel rack with hooks and covering our old linoleum with peel and stick vinyl flooring. While we were at it, we picked up a roll of contact paper from the store and covered the inside of the drawers and underneath the cabinet with it. It is a little thing that I thing really brought our whole updated bathroom together and it only cost $5 for the roll, plus we have some left over for other projects.
If you’ve never worked with vinyl or contact paper, you might be a little nervous to try it. But I’m here to tell you that contact paper is pretty forgiving! I’m going to share the steps I took to add contact paper to the drawers and under the cabinet in our bathroom so you can see how easy it is.
First, I pulled the drawers out of the cabinet and cleaned them out with a wipe so there wasn’t any dust or anything to prevent me from getting a smooth finish when I laid the contact paper down. Make sure to let them dry out since this will also help the contact paper stick better.
Next, grab a measuring tape or ruler and measure the inside dimensions of the drawers since this is where you’ll be putting the contact paper. Our drawers are 9.5″ x 16″. I use a quilting ruler all the time for both craft projects and home improvement projects which works great because it is 24″ long!
Open up your contact paper and turn it over so you can see the back. All the contact paper I’ve worked with has a grid on the back with 1×1 inch squares which makes it really easy to measure and cut straight lines. Even with the grid on the back, I still like to use my ruler and a pencil to draw the lines. Once you’ve measured out the right size, cut it out and lay it inside your drawer to make sure it fits. Make any necessary trims and then check it again.
When you’re sure it’s right, pull one corner of the backing off the contact paper. (I like to start on the short side since it’s easier to manage.) Pull it down about 1″ all the way across and then fold it over. Line up the edge of the contact paper with the front end of the drawer and lightly press down to hold it in place. Then push the rest of the contact paper down into the drawer to make sure it’s going to go in straight. It might take a few tries to get it right, but making sure it’s right before you pull off the rest of the contact paper will save you from having to start over.
When it’s all lined up, press the sticky edge you started with down more firmly and to remove any bubbles. I like to use a little vinyl application tool I use for my vinyl crafting projects, but something small and stiff like a credit card will work too. Grab onto the backing and start pulling it off slowly, pressing the contact paper down as you go. I found it was easiest to do it when I pulled the backing towards me and scraped the contact paper down towards me as well. When you get to the end, go back over the contact paper with your tool (or credit card) and press it down again to remove any additional bubbles.
Now, put your drawer back in the cabinet, finish the other drawers and admire your pretty update!
If you are planning on putting contact paper down on a bigger area, like under the sink, here are a few tips to consider:
Make sure that the pattern is going in the same direction for both the drawers and under the sink. This was important for us since we used a really obvious pattern, but if the pattern you use is random or looks the same from either direction, then obviously it won’t matter.
Measure carefully. Under our sink, we have a couple of drains we had to put the contact paper around. We measured the length of the cabinet first and cut the contact paper. Then we measured the depth to see where we needed to cut the holes in the contact paper. A straight cut from the back of the contact paper to where the hole needed to be helped me install the contact paper in one big piece.
Work in sections. Just like with the drawers, you will want to remove just a little bit of the backing and tack it down on one end to make sure you’ve got it in the right place. Use the same technique as with the drawers to press the contact paper down and remove any bubbles. When I got to the section with the holes, I ripped off the backing I’d already pulled off so it wasn’t as bulky and lifted up the backing near the holes only and pressed it down. You might need an extra hand to do this part. Again, when everything is down, press your vinyl application tool (or credit card) from the inside to the outside to remove any remaining bubbles.
Lastly, consider using a foam brush to apply a little bit of white glue or mod podge on the edge of the contact paper where it meets the cabinet. It dries clear so you won’t be able to see it! While the contact paper is sticky, this will help prevent any lifting that could happen over time (or by little fingers).
And that’s it! I hope this tutorial helped you feel confident in applying contact paper to update your bathroom or other areas of your home that need a little extra love. If you have any questions about my instructions, please feel free to leave me a comment below and I will be happy to help!
What area of your home could use a little contact paper update?