Installing new countertops, whether in the kitchen or bathroom, can be pricey… and sometimes not an option (in rental homes or apartments). This post will show you how to DIY cheap countertops with contact paper, also known as adhesive film, and make your kitchen look like a million bucks!
DIY CHEAP COUNTERTOPS with CONTACT PAPER
After the reveal of my new kitchen countertops, I received quite a few questions. So I thought I would try to answer the questions in this post, along with sharing a tutorial.
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For more information, see my complete disclosure HERE.
These adhesive film countertops are a perfect solution for those living in rental homes or apartments, or even those who own their home and are simply on a tight budget. This durable contact paper is AMAZING! Because the paper is so thick, it looks like marble and feels like laminate. And, the cost for my counter space was just under $50. Pretty crazy, huh?
Here are more thoughts on living in a small rental home!
Before we get started, let me show you what I started with…
Yep, not bad… but they didn’t make me happy.
So, let me share a perfect, budget-friendly solution to update your countertops that looks like a million bucks! Well, maybe not a million, but I’m sure a lot happier! Here are my DIY countertops with contact paper applied to them.
Trick #1, Sticky Situation
The contact paper is very durable, very thick, and VERY sticky, but pretty easy to work with.
The best trick for working with it is to spray lots of water on the counter before applying the contact paper! Seriously! If I had to do it over, I would even put just a tad bit of liquid dish soap in the water. This enables the paper to be moved around and applied properly. Then, as you smooth the paper down (with a squeegee type tool), the water ‘gushes’ out from under the paper (onto the floor and your clothes, no less) and the paper remains stuck to the counter! Pretty crazy, again, right?!
Even though the contact paper is really sticky, it can be lifted and re-positioned over and over!
Trick #2, I’m Melting!
In order for the adhesive film to fit nicely around the edges and corners, I used trick number 2! Grab your handy-dandy hairdryer!
This film becomes very pliable with just a little bit of heat. When you begin applying heat, you will notice the paper start to soften… after about 10-15 seconds, it almost feels like it’s melting. At this point, you can quickly and gently stretch the paper around the corner first, then the edge. It works just like using shrink wrap! Pretty crazy number THREE!!!
Don’t worry if you make a mistake… you can reheat, lift off, and start over again.
What You Will Need
- Adhesive Film aka Contact Paper (I used the brand Very Berry Sticker because they offered a matte marble finish, which will photograph better. 😉 However, they do offer a gloss finish, too. I’m SUPER happy with this product!)
- Fiskars Comfort Detail Knife or similar type trimming knife (mine was a gift from Haven)
- HDX Reusable Plastic Spreaders (Couldn’t find these online, but these are similar)
- Measuring tape
- Spray bottle with water and a small amount of dish washing liquid (like a drop or two)
- White Plumbers Caulk
- A free morning and/or afternoon 😉
TUTORIAL for DIY CHEAP COUNTERTOPS with CONTACT PAPER
I’m going to make this as simple as I can (because we all could use a little ‘simple’ in our lives, right?) So here you go…
- Clean your countertops with soap and water, making sure to wipe away any little crumbs or debris (you don’t want those little boogers trapped under the paper because they will just look nasty!).
- Make sure you have all the items on your list at your fingertips.
- Measure your countertops and backsplash, adding 4 inches to the length (to ensure you have room for trimming after you have applied the film). This is the length you will cut your adhesive.
- Pull down the paper backing from the adhesive about 6 inches, then fold the paper.
Installing the Contact Paper on the Surface
- Spray your counter with LOTS of (soapy) water…(See Trick #1 above…I’ve read many places where people have done this technique and not one person has had any issues with mildew, etc.)
- Lay down the contact paper, starting at about two inches above the backsplash, and start smoothing it down with your smoothing tool. As you pull away the paper underneath the film, continue smoothing, making sure to work out any bubbles/wrinkles. As you do this, you will notice the water ‘gushing’ out from underneath, and onto your floor and clothes! 😉 (I put a towel on the floor to help catch some of the water.)
- Make sure that as you finish smoothing out the paper, you get it flat and tight along the bends and creases of the backsplash area.
Tricky Installation Areas
Let me apologize here… I didn’t get photos of this part because, well, to be honest, it took all my brain power to install these areas and I forgot to take pics! >.<
- When you get to your edges and corners, use Trick #2 (see above).
- For the sink area, I’ve seen some DIYers lay the piece over the sink, then cut it out. But, that just seemed too precarious for me. So, I measured the sink area and cut-out the size of the sink from the paper before laying it down (I won’t bore you with the details on how to do it, but if you decide to do it this way, take your time and measure and cut well, leaving some ‘wiggle-room’ to cut a nice edge around the sink after you’ve applied the contact paper.) I might even draw the measurements directly on the vinyl side of the paper, and then cut it out, instead of the side where the paper is… (I can’t believe I just thought of this! *facepalm*!)
- After your counters are covered, cut off all your excess at the top of the backsplash, front edges/corners, and around the corners and edges of the sink area with a very sharp razor or exacto-type knife. Mine looked like this after I trimmed it…
- Seal around the edge of the sink and the top edge of the backsplash with caulking for a smooth look. This also helps to keep water from getting under the adhesive film around the sink.
And that’s pretty much it!
Bumps In the Road
When it came to matching the pattern at the seam, you really don’t have to worry about it. You don’t even notice it.
However, for the seam that was in the middle of the counter, I bumped the two pieces right next to each other, and it worked pretty well, but I felt like the seam was a little noticeable (probably no one else would have ever noticed). So I took some caulk and used it to fill in the seam. This not only hid the seam, but it keeps water and other debris from getting into the area. (You can also see the caulking around the edge of the sink in this photo.)
The second seam met at the front and back of the sink, and this time I overlapped the vinyl. It was even less visible than the first. But remember, this was at the edge of the sink. Not sure how easily items would slide over a flat counter area, if the seams were overlapped. I guess this would be a matter of preference!
Reasons for Choosing to DIY Cheap Countertops with Contact Paper
There are a few reasons why I chose to use contact paper (aka adhesive film) for my countertop makeover:
- Using adhesive film was fast and relatively easy… it took one morning/afternoon with several breaks for me to cool down on this hot So. Cal. day.
- Instant results… I didn’t have to wait for curing, drying, etc. Once the film is applied, and you are happy with the results, you are done! They can be used immediately!
- The adhesive film is super durable… According to the research I have done (and from other personal testimonies from people I trust) it won’t scratch, chip or peel.
- It’s removable and replaceable! If by any chance, something happens to it (like a hot pot is put directly on the counter, or someone gashes it with a knife), that piece of the contact paper can be removed and replaced with little time/money/effort (unlike a regular laminate countertop)!
- If I get tired of it, I can change it out for less than $50.
- As I said before, it’s a perfect solution for an apartment or rental home because it’s removable!
So, after having these counters for over a month now, I feel like they are just as durable and user-friendly as the laminate counters that are underneath. They just look a WHOLE LOT PRETTIER! What do you think?
I even added some affordable polished nickel hardware (these are similar to what I used, and even more affordable) to brighten-up the cabinets a bit!
If I can’t paint the cabinets (at least until I get the courage to ask my landlord), this is the next best thing, and I LOVE it!
And one last ‘after’!
Check out the full reveal of my DIY cheap countertops that look expensive HERE!
Now It’s Your Turn
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions! What do you think? Is this something you might think about doing?