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Painting & Wallpapering/Kitchen Cabinet Shelf Paper -- MAJOR SOS!!


QUESTION: Hi Barbara,

I don't really have a question about wallpapering, but what I'm in dire need of assistance with is with something that seems to me to be similar to it -- self-adhesive kitchen cabinet shelf paper.  I am attempting to cover all my new kitchen cabinets and drawers with the stuff, but am having the WORST TIME EVER doing it!  I either end up with the paper going on crookedly and having to adjust it (fighting the paper's need to stick to something all the way) or end up with a thousand air bubbles no matter how delicately and carefully I've applied the paper, or I'll end up with huge creases, etc.  The measuring and cutting part I think I've gotten down to almost a science, but no matter how many times I've done it the application process ends up becoming THE WORST.  I don't even want to know how I'm going to be able to do the static shelves I won't be able to remove!  Please help me out with this -- any tips and tricks you would be able to impart would be especially appreciated, esp concerning larger surfaces that I've found to be so horrendous it's driving me to tears.



ANSWER: Hi Diane,
I guess I have a question for you: why, if you have new kitchen cabinets, do you want to put an adhesive material on the new shelves? How about a non-adhesive protector product...or nothing? The shelves have a factory finish, right? I'm just wondering what effect the adhesive would have on that.
Anyway, I'd try this: peel and unroll as you go along, using a straight-edge to smooth it down as you go, pressing out the bubbles as you go. Fold it back over on itself to set it up - like the paper-sides together, peel as you go.
THat is hard to describe, you can probably find a visual on you-tube.
Sorry no extreme answers for you!
"good luck,"?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Barbara,

The reason I decided to put shelf paper on all the surfaces is because I retained some of the old/pre-existing cabinets with my kitchen remodel project: those, I simply had refaced.  They had older, stained shelf paper in them, so I decided that because I was going to have to lay on new shelf paper on top of the old one with the refaced cabinets, I might as well put the same shelf paper on/inside all the other other shelves and drawers to match.  I guess I also figured the shelf paper would be a more economical way of protecting the surfaces, even though it's proven to be a huge headache to me to apply it.

I will try to locate some tutorials akin to the application process you indicate in your reply, but I have been trying to "peel and unroll as [I] go along".  What has been the most frustrating to me is when I have to deal with larger surfaces.  If there's an awesome new series of steps I can discover with one of those tutorials, that would be wonderful.



HI Diane,
on a quick google search I just did on your behalf I came upon this:

Then, it came to me:  use smaller pieces ((!) cut the "paper" into sections that are workable. Maybe half size?

Other than that: consider how you will get the stuff off of the shelves when it's worn or you are just tired of it.
Sorry I don't have the ultimate solution - or any, for that matter. If you can remove the shelves of course that makes it a lot easier. Maybe paint them with a high quality finish paint like a high gloss trim finish that you might use on bookcases or other shelving:durable and cleanable.

Good luck with your project.

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Barbara Jacobs


I am able to answer questions about paint color and wall covering selection (interior and exterior, but in this category it's interior)and, in many cases, decorative ("faux") finishing for many types of surfaces. I can also answer some paint product and application questions but am primarily consulting about paint colors.I can also answer questions about Full Spectrum paints.


My experience as a color consultant is broad and includes a wide variety of color issues. Since 1984, I've been helping clients their very best environments using color as the foundation. My experience includes over 20 years in the field of creating and installing fine decorative finishes, and specifying paint colors.

IACC: International Association of Color Consultants/Designers: member since 1996, accredited since 2000. Historic District Commission: Medfield, Massachusetts

Journal of Architectural Coatings (magazine article, print) Design& - blog for this site (current) 2005 – 2008 2005 Boston Women’s Business Jrnl. Subject of interviews and participation in interviews for other publications. Current: my own blog at

Academia di Belle Arti: Florence, Italy BA: University of Minnesota: focus: painting and printmaking University of California, Berkelely: painting department IACC: International Association of Color Consultants/Designers: Accredited member since 2000

Awards and Honors
IACC: international exhibit included four of my color design projects: 2010

Past/Present Clients
Private clients. I prefer not to include names here, but many testimonials are available for viewing at my web site at the "testimonials" page.

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