DIY Faux Marble Countertops with Contact Paper
If you don’t love your kitchen counters, but either live in a rental or aren’t currently able to do a serious renovation, then you’re going to love this DIY.
When I moved into my apartment, I was not feeling the countertops. Thanks goodness for Dani, our resident DIY expert, who came up with the brilliant idea to use contact paper to transform the look of our counters.
If you’re looking for a contact paper recommendation, I did some research and found this one on Amazon. It’s a little pricier than the typical but it’s made of vinyl and so it’s much more durable. If you’re a person who cooks a lot, I definitely recommend going with this. I’ve had this paper in my kitchen since January 2018 and it’s held up surprisingly well! I have just a few knicks in the area I work the most, but no lifting or any issues around the sink, and in lower-traffic areas it still looks perfect.
We also used wallpaper to cover my cabinets, so if you’re curious about that you can learn more here.
I recommend starting with the counters first because they make the biggest impact. You’ll notice in the video below and the photos that we used the faux marble contact paper for our backsplash, too.
I feel like I have a brand-new kitchen thanks to the magic of contact paper. It makes such a difference in the way I feel when working in my kitchen every day. Now, the space truly brings me joy.
Check out Dani’s full how-to below, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments or reach out to her directly.
Rubbing Alcohol + Paper Towels
Adhesive/Contact Paper (this is what we used)
Paper + Pencil
Cutting Mat with Gridlines (aka Self-Healing Quilting Mat)
Two Straight-Edge Rulers (recommend a standard Yardstick and a non-slip Quilter’s Ruler)
Smoothing Tool (confirm if its included in your adhesive paper purchase or if you’ll need to order one separately)
Clear Silicone Caulk + Caulk Gun
Step 1: Clear off all surfaces and thoroughly wipe them down with rubbing alcohol.
Step 2: Remove outlet covers so you can trace the outline as close to the electrical socket as possible. This will give you leeway if your surfaces aren’t perfectly straight, and the edges will be hidden behind the outlet cover so you won’t see any gaps.
Step 3: Some adhesive paper brands allow you to order custom measurements. If ordering in bulk or larger stock rolls, as we’ve done in this project, I recommend accurately measuring and pre-cutting sections of adhesive into more manageable sizes. Do not remove the paper backing during this step. I recommend using a cutting mat with gridlines to help line up the paper to the desired measurements. This also gives you a smooth surface to cut on so your edges are clean and you don’t leave track marks on your workspace (not a good look for wood floors).
When drawing my layout and completing my precut sections, I like to number each sheet so that I know which order to work in. If you are working with a single flat surface, I’ve found it helpful to start with sections that are set back and/or non-forward facing. This way you are able to conceal corners and seams by overlapping the paper from front facing sections.
If your surface has an exposed edge, as we have here in our counter space, make sure your depth measurements include the counter thickness and at least half-an-inch to wrap the paper under the surface.
If your project’s surface area has a sink, as ours does, make sure the sink section is its own panel of adhesive paper. Cut yourself extras in case of damage you can easily lift and replace/repair.
BTW: When cutting sections, make sure your rulers are secured (we used masking tape and pressed the ruler down firmly and slowly as we cut) so when you use the straight edge as a guide for your rotary cutter, it does not move.
Step 4: Now that we have identified the order of application for each section, we are ready to begin sticking down the adhesive.
When applying any section, start by peeling back approximately 1-inch of the paper backing and folding it under.
Line up the top edge of your exposed adhesive section with the top of the selected surface and gently press down the adhesive onto the surface. I recommend working top to bottom of vertical surfaces (i.e. walls/backsplashes) and side to side of horizontal surfaces (i.e. counters/tables/shelves).
Slowly pull the paper down from underneath the adhesive and use the smoothing tool as you go to press the adhesive against the surface. Make sure you rub out all air bubbles as you go.
Many times, especially in older New York City area apartments, walls and floors are not perfectly straight. Don’t get frustrated if your adhesive doesn’t line up 100% exact – use the box knife to trim any excess adhesive along the edges of your surface.
Step 5: I like to save the more challenging sections for last. These include areas with rounded corners, direct water sources, etc. In this project, it included the area surrounding the kitchen sink and the bar top counter.
For surfaces that are flat with rounded corners, follow steps 1 through 4 but stop before pressing the adhesive down over the counter edge. Use a blowdryer to heat the unsealed adhesive paper, starting from the center of the rounded edge and gently stretch the paper over the edge and tuck it under the countertop. Make sure you stretch and smooth until all folds in the adhesive have flattened. I use duct tape to secure the wrapped section underneath as I work my way through the rest to avoid pulling it back up if you stretch too hard.
Last and most fun, is the sink area. Take your precut panel. We had the extra challenge where our sink was set below the counter and we could not remove the faucet. We measured the faucet’s circumference, and the faucet’s distance from the edge of the counter and cut a slit in the paper before applying it. For those who just got discouraged by measuring the circumference, don’t you worry! You can cut out a thick piece of paper and wrap it around the faucet, line up the edges, and then remove it and tape it back into the circle shape to use it as a stencil. Once the paper is applied over the sink area, cut out the center of the sink and start applying heat from the blowdryer and wrapping the edges down into the sink. Use the smoothing tool to tuck the heated adhesive into the seam where the sink and counter meet and then use a box knife to trim any excess adhesive.
Step 6: If applying adhesive paper in areas exposed to humidity and water (i.e., kitchen, bathroom, bar, dining table) make sure to always wrap the adhesive under the surface edge and secure it with a heavy duty resistant material like duct tape (if there is no direct adjacent water source) or clear silicone caulk (if it’s a sink or near a dishwasher, shower, toilet or other water source).
We used clear silicone caulk to waterproof the sink area and prevent the paper from peeling up. After you complete Step 5, use the caulk to fill the seam where the sink meets the counter. Ensure you’ve covered every end of adhesive that was tucked under.
We also waterproofed the counter behind the sink area, by filling the seam where the backsplash adhesive met the counter adhesive with the caulk.
Lastly, we painted a thin layer of the caulk under the counter area surrounding the dishwasher.
TIP: When using caulk, always wear disposable gloves and do not set the caulk gun down on any surface where you have applied adhesive. It is a sticky mess! If you do happen to spill a little, wipe it off immediately using a piece of scratch paper.
Step 7: When you think you are done, that just means you are ready for touch-ups. This is best done in bright daylight. Go back through and use a blowdryer to secure/flatten any corners that may have trapped air in and smooth out any remaining air bubbles and creases.
Step 8: Screw your outlet covers back into place, wipe off the entire area with a dry paper towel and then visit sarahashleyspiegel.com to decorate your space!
Dani Marie Glickson
FOUNDER, LVD SpaceS
Dani is the founder of LVD SPACES, a design consulting firm for interior spaces focused on space optimization for residential and commercial property owners and renters. LVD’s mission is to create the most functional, productive and efficient interior environments. LVD serves its clients by creating a proposed room layout with the ideal positioning, dimensions and materials of all necessary furniture and fixtures, and then further by purchasing, coordinating delivery and staging each room. LVD also offers room staging, organization and renovation consulting services.