The Complete Guide to Lining Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

If your kitchen cabinets and drawers are looking a bit tired and worn, lining them with new material is an easy and affordable way to give them a fresh look and help protect their surfaces. Lining cabinets and drawers provides a smooth, uniform finish that prevents spills, stains, and scratches. It also makes cleaning a breeze since you can simply wipe down the liner material. Well-lined cabinets can help organize all your dishes, food items, and cooking gadgets by keeping them from sliding around when you open and close drawers and doors.

In this complete guide, we’ll walk through all the steps and considerations for lining your kitchen cabinets and drawers. We’ll cover how to measure your cabinets, the different types of liners to choose from, how to prepare your cabinets for installation, and how to get a smooth, wrinkle-free application. We’ll also overview the benefits well-lined cabinets can provide. Let’s get started!

Take Measurements Before Lining Cabinets

The first step is to carefully measure the dimensions of your cabinet shelves and drawers so you can purchase liner material sized correctly. For cabinet shelves, you’ll want to measure the front, sides, back, and bottom of each area you intend to line. Take your time and record the measurements. Be sure to measure drawers along the bottom and sides as well. It’s a good idea to add an extra inch or two to your measurements to have some overlap for trimming.

Use a tape measure and pencil to mark the dimensions. Having accurate measurements of your unique cabinet spaces will ensure no wasted material and a perfect fit when installing the liners. The right tools for the job include:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Cabinet liner material (see next section)

Prepare Cabinets and Drawers for Liner Installation

Before applying any liner material, do some prep work to ensure it adheres properly. First, remove everything from your cabinets and drawers. Thoroughly wipe down all interior surfaces with a grease-cutting cleaner or mild soap and water solution.

Make sure you eliminate any built up grease or grime so the liner will stick. Allow all surfaces to fully dry. Use caulk to fill any cracks, holes, or imperfections for the smoothest finish. The cleaner and more flawless your cabinet interiors, the better your liner will apply.

Types of Liners for Cabinets and Drawers

Now that measurements are taken and cabinet interiors prepped, it’s time to explore liner options. There are a variety of materials to suit different needs and preferences:

Contact Paper

Contact paper offers a self-adhesive lining that easily sticks to cabinet surfaces. It comes in a roll that you cut to size. Many contact paper options feature a white paper backing with decorative laminate tops like faux woodgrain, marble, or granite patterns. The smoothed, sealed surface creates a uniform look and provides protection.

how to line kitchen cabinets


  • Self-adhesive and easy to install
  • Available in numerous colors and patterns
  • Gives a seamless, finished look


  • Prone to bubbling if improperly installed
  • Patterns can sometimes look fake up close

Peel-and-Stick Vinyl

These vinyl cabinet liners come in pre-cut sheets or rolls with a self-adhesive backing like a giant sticker. They easily adhere to cabinet surfaces without liquid adhesives. Many feature decorative patterns and textures to disguise existing wear.


  • Extremely easy “peel-and-stick” application
  • Made from durable and flexible vinyl
  • Provides seamless protection


  • Prone to curling up at edges over time
  • Not as thick and durable as other options


Natural cork liner provides a cushioned, protective surface. It absorbs impacts that can damage more fragile dishware and glassware in cabinets. Sheets easily fit to drawer dimensions.


  • Naturally moisture and stain resistant
  • Provides padded protection for dishes/glasses
  • Eco-friendly material


  • Shows dirt, stains, and wear over time
  • Can be expensive
  • Not seamless like other options

Custom Cabinet Paper

Some companies sell liner paper specifically designed for kitchen cabinets. These are typically a coated paper material measured and cut to fit your exact cabinet dimensions. The custom sizing ensures a perfect fit.


  • Tailored specifically to your cabinet sizes
  • Oil/grease resistant
  • Easy to wipe down
  • No trimming required


  • More expensive than DIY roll options
  • Limited colors and patterns

Special Liners for Under the Kitchen Sink

The area under the kitchen sink requires liner materials designed to stand up to moisture and prevent leaks. Options made of PVC and polypropylene plastic are waterproof and resistant to mold and mildew growth. They catch leaks and drips from damaged pipes. Look for under-sink liners with non-slip surfaces that provide traction.

These liners are also easy to install around existing plumbing. Cut liner pieces to fit around and between pipes for full coverage. Under-sink liners prevent water damage and make cleaning gunk and grime out of the cabinet a simpler task.

How to Install Peel-and-Stick Liners

Peel-and-stick vinyl offers one of the easiest liner installations. Here are the steps:

  1. Measure cabinet surface and cut liner to desired size allowing for some overlap.
  2. Thoroughly clean cabinet interior before application.
  3. Peel off liner backing and position vinyl sticker in place.
  4. Firmly smooth and press liner to adhere it to cabinet surface.
  5. Use a plastic scraper or credit card to smooth any bubbles or wrinkles.
  6. Trim excess liner material along edges with utility knife.

The self-adhesive backing sticks quickly and easily. Smoothing the material as you go helps the liner set flat and even. A razor trims off any overlapping edges for a perfect custom fit.

Getting a Smooth Contact Paper Application

Applying contact paper liner takes more care and patience for a flawless finish:

  1. Work slowly to position contact paper and avoid bubbles under the surface.
  2. Starting from the middle, use your hands to smooth paper outward, pressing firmly.
  3. Use a plastic scraper or credit card to press out any remaining wrinkles or bubbles.
  4. Do not overstretch the contact paper as this can cause it to detach.
  5. Use a sharp razor to neatly trim excess liner along the edges.

The key is working incrementally while carefully smoothing. Take your time and check for wrinkles before moving on. The contact paper should set flat and tight for a seamless look.

Caring for Your New Liners

Liner maintenance helps your kitchen protection last. Follow these tips:

  • Clean cabinet liner surfaces with mild soap and water only.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that could scratch.
  • If liner edges detach, use small amounts of adhesive to re-stick.
  • Replace liner completely when excessively worn.

Most cabinet liners are fairly durable with proper care. But replacing liner material as it wears ensures your cabinets stay protected and organized.

Liner MaterialDurabilityEase of Cleaning
Contact PaperMedium durabilityEasy to wipe clean
Peel-and-Stick VinylLow-medium durabilityEasy to wipe clean
CorkMedium-high durabilityAbsorbs stains but naturally antimicrobial
Custom Cabinet PaperMedium-high durabilityGrease/liquid resistant for easy cleaning

Lining your kitchen cabinets and drawers offers many advantages beyond just a fresh look:

  • Protects cabinet surfaces from spills, grease, and scratches
  • Provides an easy-to-clean and uniform finish
  • Items stay neatly in place instead of sliding around
  • Opportunity to add color/patterns to dull old cabinetry
  • Affordable compared to cabinet replacement
  • Easier and quicker than painting cabinets
  • Creates a more organized, optimized kitchen

With the help of this guide, you should feel confident to tackle lining your kitchen cabinets and drawers. Take accurate measurements, properly prepare your cabinets, select the ideal liner materials for your needs, and carefully install for smooth, wrinkle-free results. Maintain liners as needed.

Protecting your cabinets also protects your sanity from the effects of wear and tear. No more chipping laminate or mystery stains and crumbs lurking out of sight. Just wipeable, organized perfection. Line those cabinets and drawers to get the most function and beauty from your kitchen!

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