When we moved in, the inside of the kitchen cabinets was covered in a brown plaid contact paper. I picked up a clean white contact paper to put over it, but then quickly realized the previous design showed through, so I set to work tearing it out.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I have found six different types of contact paper in the kitchen, with most cabinets covered in four to five layers of it. The bottom layer was a small red checked pattern, and there was no way it was coming off.
It appears as thought the cabinets originally were painted yellow, and then the red checked contact paper was applied and became one with the board. After that, the cabinets were painted white, and layer after frustrating layer of contact paper was applied.
I brought an entire shelf into K&K True Value in Bettendorf after spending an afternoon tearing, scraping and even sanding away at the contact paper to no avail.
The staff in the paint department wasn't exactly sure what would get it off, an admission that demonstrates why I love that hardware store. The staff, which I've found to be very knowledgeable and helpful with most projects, is also willing to admit when they don't know the answer to a question instead of sending you away with a product that may or may not be what you need for the job.
My customer service representative pulled two products off the shelf to see whether either would loosen the adhesive. One product made for wallpaper didn't work, but De-Solv-It did the job.
It still took plenty of elbow grease, but the organic solvent loosened the contact paper just enough to get it off with a heavy-duty putty knife.
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Somewhere in the middle of tearing out the layers, I decided I couldn't in good conscience put more contact paper on the cabinets after spending so much time and effort getting it off in the first place. So K&K sent me home with primer and CabinetCoat White Trim and Cabinet Enamel, which I was told would make my cabinets look like they had come straight from the factory. At more than $40 a gallon, it wasn't cheap, but the product did what it claimed.
On the can of primer was the claim that it would stick to any surface without sanding. That included my hair. I looked like I had gone prematurely gray after my ponytail brushed over a wet section when I stuck my head in the cabinet to paint behind a corner.
I washed my hair several times, but I couldn't get it all out. Thankfully, I had a haircut scheduled a few days after the incident and my stylist picked out the remaining splotches. She also recommended I wear a shower cap for the application of the second coat of paint that evening.
Before painting, I also filled in all the cracks in the wood with Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty (recommended by my father) so the end result would look like one smooth board.
The entire project took about two weeks to complete, with my husband and I both working on it in our spare time between packing and moving, but I'm very happy with the end result. The inside of the cabinets looks so bright and clean that I think it definitely was worth all the effort and extra expense.
I've also found at least two more contact paper designs in two hall closets. But I'll save those shelves for a rainy day.