Wallpaper makes for a durable and striking shelf liner.

How to Use Wallpaper as Shelf Paper

by Amanda Bell

Shelf liners serve a relatively utilitarian purpose: They make cleaning significantly easier. Yet when you use wallpaper in lieu of standard shelf paper, it can take a dramatic turn for the decorative. Available in infinitely more patterns and colors than traditional products, wallpaper is thicker and more durable as well. Use an old roll that you have at home, buy a remnant from a hardware store, or have fun with a wallpaper sample book: The possibilities are endless.

Empty your cabinet shelves. Peel away the existing liner, if applicable. Clean each shelf with mild detergent, water and a clean rag. Use a scrub brush to remove adhesive residue and then keep the cabinet doors open and let the shelves dry completely.

Measure the width and depth of the first shelf. For a precise fit, measure around the edge of the door when open if it goes into the cabinet, and cut the shelf liner so that it fits around this. It is easiest, and fastest, to simply measure starting from the edge of the door to the back of the shelf and cutting a square or rectangular piece to this size.

Unroll the netted rubber liner and lay it flat on a table. With a straightedge or measuring tape, measure out the width of the shelf on the liner and make a small snip with a pair of scissors. Repeat this with the depth measurement and then cut the liner to fit the shelf.

Draw an outline of the shelf on the back of the wallpaper using a pencil and straightedge. Cut the wallpaper to size with a pair of scissors, or fold the wallpaper along the line and then run a utility knife down the fold to cut it to size.

Place the rubber liner on the shelf. Trim it, if necessary, using a utility knife, being careful not to cut into the shelf or cabinet. Even with the most accurate measurements, some shelves can be slightly deeper or wider at certain points.

Lay the trimmed wallpaper shelf liner on top of the rubber liner. Trim this with a utility knife if necessary. For a crisp cut, use a straightedge to push the wallpaper into the corner, creating a crease, and then cut along the fold.

Repeat this process with each additional shelf, measuring each one individually. Just as a shelf may be wider at one point than it is at another, even two shelves that look the same size can be slightly different. Measuring individually will give you the best fit.

Skip the rubber liner and use double-sided tape to secure the wallpaper to the shelf. This is especially beneficial for shelves within kids' reach; even with no-slip rubber liner underneath, a small child putting his own cups and bowls away can cause the liner to shift and the wallpaper to crease or bend.

Install your new shelf liner without tape or rubber liner if you’re using a very thick piece of wallpaper. Oftentimes, the weight of the product will keep it in place.

Items you will need

  • Detergent
  • Rags
  • Scrub brush
  • Measuring tape
  • Rubber shelf liner
  • Straightedge
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Double-sided tape (optional)


  • Take your project a step further and run the wallpaper up the back end of the shelf, securing it with double-sided tape or decoupage medium. This adds a decorative touch to open shelving and a fun surprise when the cabinet is opened.

About the Author

Amanda Bell spent six years working as an interior designer and project coordinator before becoming a professional writer in 2010. She has published thousands of articles for various websites and clients, specializing in home renovation, DIY projects, gardening and travel. Bell studied English composition and literature at the University of Boston and the University of Maryland.

Photo Credits

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