Are you looking for an affordable way to give your kitchen cabinets a fresh new look without the hassle and expense of a full kitchen remodel? Covering existing cabinets with vinyl paper, also known as adhesive-backed vinyl or contact paper, offers an easy DIY solution to update dated or worn kitchen cabinets.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the complete process of using vinyl paper to cover kitchen cabinet surfaces, doors, and fronts. Read on to learn everything you need to know!
Overview of Covering Cabinets With Vinyl Paper
Vinyl paper, often referred to by brand names like Contact Paper or Con-Tact Paper, is a flexible, self-adhesive covering material perfect for giving kitchen components a quick makeover. It comes in a wide variety of patterns, textures, and colors to suit any design scheme. The waterproof and stain-resistant vinyl surface makes it ideal for high-traffic areas like kitchens.
Covering existing cabinet boxes, doors, frames, and fronts with vinyl paper allows you to change the look of your kitchen without undertaking a full replacement. It can cover surface damage, outdated colors, or worn areas. And it offers a budget-friendly alternative to refacing or new cabinets, costing a fraction of the price.
The process involves carefully measuring surfaces, cutting out sections of vinyl paper to size, removing cabinet doors and hardware, and using tools to adhere the vinyl smoothly and wrinkle-free. While it does take some time and patience, using vinyl paper requires no special skills. And it can transform the look of tired cabinets in just a weekend.
Benefits of Using Vinyl Paper for a Kitchen Cabinet Makeover
- Cost Savings – Vinyl paper cabinet makeovers cost a few hundred dollars rather than the thousands a full replacement would run.
- Quick Update – Transform the look in just 2-3 days rather than living through weeks of renovation chaos.
- Easy Installation – No need to remove, replace, or refinish existing cabinets.
- Customization – Choose from hundreds of vinyl patterns, textures, and colors.
- Protects Cabinets – Helps preserve cabinets from additional wear and tear.
- Longevity – Quality vinyl paper can last 5-10 years with proper care and cleaning.
Now that you know the basics of using vinyl paper for a kitchen makeover, let’s go over what supplies you’ll need and how to get started.
Gather these essential tools and materials before starting your project:
- Vinyl paper – Also called adhesive-backed vinyl or contact paper. Choose qty based on measurements.
- Tape measure – For precise sizing of cabinet surfaces to cut vinyl.
- Utility knife – For accurate cuts through vinyl. Change blade often.
- Level – Ensure doors and fronts are properly aligned.
- Painter’s tape
- Squeegee – Plastic applicator to adhere vinyl smoothly.
- Spray bottle – For repositioning and adjusting vinyl pieces.
- Paper towels – For wiping away excess moisture.
- Replacement cabinet hardware – Knobs, pulls for updated look.
Make sure to get high quality, thick vinyl paper designed specifically for kitchen cabinets rather than thin paper-based contact paper prone to early wear and tear. Also referred to as heat-activated vinyl due to one-step adhesive activation under heat, quality vinyl paper should have a minimum 10-year warranty for durability.
How to Cover Kitchen Cabinets with Vinyl Paper – Step-by-Step
With all your materials and replacement hardware on hand, you’re ready to tackle the vinyl paper installation process. Follow these key steps:
Step 1: Remove Cabinet Doors and Hardware
The first step is to remove all existing cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware to gain full access to frame fronts and side surfaces.
- Label each door and drawer for easy reinstallation in original positions.
- Carefully detach hinges and existing hardware with a screwdriver. Set screws aside.
- Remove doors and drawers. Set aside protected surface down.
With all doors, drawers, and hardware detached you can now measure all exposed cabinet surfaces accurately.
Step 2: Thoroughly Clean All Surfaces
Ensure all cabinet surfaces – sides, frames, fronts, doors are wiped clean before applying vinyl paper.
- Wash surfaces with mild soap and water mixture.
- Rinse away all soap residues. Wipe completely dry with lint-free cloth.
Thorough cleaning removes all dirt, grease, and debris that could impede vinyl adhesion or cause bubbles beneath the surface.
Step 3: Measure Cabinet Surfaces
Work on one cabinet surface at a time taking precise measurements to customize vinyl paper pieces.
- Measure height and width of cabinet side surfaces.
- Measure height and width of cabinet door/drawer fronts individually.
- Add 1-2 inches on all sides to account for wrapping around edges.
- Write measurements for each cabinet component.
Be extremely precise with measurements to avoid having to re-cut or reapply vinyl pieces later. Having written sizes for each surface will make cutting vinyl quicker.
Step 4: Cut Vinyl Paper Pieces to Size
Use measurements to accurately size vinyl pieces for each cabinet surface with a utility knife and metal ruler.
- Align metal ruler on vinyl paper roll according to measurements.
- Press knife firmly against edge of ruler. Slowly cut through vinyl surface.
- Repeat to cut vinyl segments for every cabinet door, drawer, frame, and side.
Check each piece against its corresponding cabinet area to confirm sizing is accurate with seam allowance. Set pieces aside and move onto next area. Frequently change utility knife blade for easiest cuts.
Step 5: Cover Cabinet Boxes and Frames
With all vinyl pieces cut-to-size, begin with cabinet box sides and work outward to doors/drawers.
- Peel back 1-2 inches of paper backing to expose adhesive.
- Press exposed adhesive to cabinet edge. Smooth into place with squeegee.
- Slowly peel back remaining paper, softly adhering vinyl to surface. Smooth with squeegee as you go.
- Use spray bottle to reposition if needed. Wipe away excess moisture before final press.
Take your time, working in sections to apply the vinyl smoothly without bubbles or creases. Use painter’s tape for straight edges along top and bottom.
Step 6: Adhere Vinyl to Doors and Drawer Fronts
Apply cut-to-size vinyl pieces to detached cabinet doors and drawer fronts similarly:
- Peel back paper backing bit by bit to expose adhesive surface.
- Starting at corner edge, adhere vinyl and use squeegee to smooth it on as you peel off backing.
- Spray water under vinyl to lift and reposition if necessary.
Make sure vinyl edges meet cleanly at corners and allow 1-2 inch wrap around the sides. Take doors and drawers to use spray adhesive for easier wrapping application on the underside edges.
Step 7: Reattach Doors, Drawers, and Hardware
Once vinyl application is complete, reattach cabinet components.
- Reattach door hinges and drawer glide hardware with original screws. Ensure alignment is even.
- Screw any replacement cabinet hardware like knobs or pulls into place.
- Reinsert drawers and doors gently to keep fresh vinyl from tearing.
Check that each piece operates smoothly and closes flush against frames. Finally, stand back and admire your like-new kitchen cabinets!
Caring for Vinyl Covered Kitchen Cabinets
Quality vinyl paper is durable and made to last up to 10 years. But following proper care guidelines will maximize longevity and keep your covered cabinets looking fresh.
- Clean surfaces with mild soap and water only. Avoid harsh cleaners.
- Immediately wipe up spills, splatters, or water to avoid behind-surface damage.
- Hand wash only. Vinyl covering is not heat or moisture resistant enough for the dishwasher.
- Avoid nicking, scraping, or puncturing the vinyl surface to prevent tears or peeling up.
- Check for lifted edges or bubbles, using adhesive remover to gently reapply if needed.
- Contact the vinyl brand’s customer service for repair recommendations if surface tears do occur.
- Plan to replace or recover cabinets after approximately 10 years depending on condition.
Adhering to vinyl paper care guidelines will help your makeover investment maintain its just-installed look for years before needing refresh.
Transform Your Kitchen Without Replacing Cabinets
We hope this guide gives you all the details needed to successfully apply vinyl paper for a kitchen cabinet makeover. Taking your time with careful surface prep, measurements, and vinyl application allows even first-timers to achieve seamless, long-lasting results.
In just a weekend, you can transform the look of your kitchen with custom colors and patterns while avoiding the cost and work of new cabinets. So gather your supplies and vinyl paper choices to get started on your makeover journey. Those outdated oak cabinets will look fresh in no time!
Opting for a full kitchen remodel? Contact Pinnacle Building Group today!