Quick & Easy DIY Kitchen Countertops & Backsplash Makeover

by Alana
5 Materials
2 Hours

As some of you may have learned from my previous post, I am a renter! The house that my boyfriend and I live in was built sometime in the 1970s. Now if you visited our apartment, this would be VERY apparent to you due to the fact that our kitchen floor is SUPER 70s as well as our, what Kohler calls "New Orleans Blue" bathroom! Now, I'm all about the disco era! I love me some Donna Summer! But I can't say I love the 1970s choices for countertops. I'm not sure who built this house, but they didn't have much of an eye for design. As you'll see in the pictures below, our actual countertops and backsplash are laminate. A yucky, tan marbled, laminate. And as you'll also see below, our floors are super detailed with a burgundy-ish color being the main color in the tiles. How exactly does that go with tan countertops? I'll never know.  So, when we initially saw this apartment, my wheels started turning! I loved the apartment as a whole, but I just needed to figure out a way to make it my own! My good friend, Amazon, always comes through for me!

Here's how to achieve this simple, inexpensive and renter-friendly update!

For the countertops:

Make sure before purchasing your contact paper rolls that you know what size they are and what size you'll need to cover your countertops! Simply take measurements of the area(s) you intend to place the contact paper!

  1. You'll first need to make sure you wipe the countertops down! I used a multi-surface cleaner like Mrs. Meyer's to clean them. Make sure there's no crumbs or anything of the sort otherwise you won't achieve a smooth finish!
  2. Unroll your contact paper and be sure you line up the edge against the back edge of your counter, where it meets the wall/backsplash. Then, peel the backing of the paper back a couple inches. I'd say peel back about 5-6 inches. You'll want to work slowly, that way you get a nice seamless, smooth finish! You can bend the contact paper over the sides of the countertop if you'd like (and if your contact paper is big enough to do so!) Otherwise, you can do like I did and just cover the flat surface then go in afterwards with the excess, trimmed off pieces and cover the sides of the countertops.
  3. Slowly start smoothing out the paper. You can use your hand but you'll also need a credit card to smooth out any lumps or bumps! As you start smoothing, you can then start to roll out more of the paper, but continue smoothing as you do so! You can trim any excess pieces with a craft knife (highly recommended!) or a razor blade.
  4. Repeat these steps for each section of your countertops! Depending on how much counter area you have to cover, you may be able to use one roll. In my case, I used a roll and a half. One whole roll was used to cover the counter portion where the sink is. When it came to cutting around my sink - I had the paper smoothed out just up to the sink. I then cut a smaller-than-the-sink-hole so that I was able to smooth out the paper around the perimeter of the sink. Once I had the perimeter of the sink covered, I was able to go in and trim the excess pieces. I was able to smooth out the rest of the paper once the sink was cut out. I then continued to roll out and smooth out the rest of the contact paper up to inner corner of my countertops.

The paper will overlap, usually in the inner corner portion of the countertops. In my case, this was OK as I placed my microwave in the corner, so any seams in that area are not visible!

For the backsplash:

Now this part is a little easier than the countertops! If you're able to put a puzzle together, than you can totally put up a faux backsplash! It's helpful that these sheets of "tile" are super pliable and you're able to adjust them if need be.

  1. This particular pack of "tile" sheets that I purchased from Amazon came with 10, 12x12 sheets. You will need to measure out your backsplash so that you can get an idea of how many packs you'll need. I actually don't think I measured my backsplash. I winged it and just purchased two packs, thinking it should be enough. But I did end up having to purchase a third! (SUPER thankful for Amazon Prime!) Depending on how much backsplash area you have in your kitchen, you could get away with one or two packs. My kitchen is L-shaped, so I needed that third pack!
  2. This is the easy part - you'll need to peel off the backing and the clear front of the "tile" sheet. Place the edge of it against the edge of your backsplash. Again, if you end up placing it slightly crooked, you can easily peel it off and try again. Run your hand over it to be sure it's flat and smoothed. Once the first piece is on, it's pretty simple from there. You just need to "puzzle piece" the rest of the sheets. (Also really helpful, there's instructions on the back of the package!) You can use a razor blade to trim off any excess pieces.
Rolled out contact paper
Smooth out the paper with a credit card
Close Up of Countertops

The contact paper counter tops are super easy to maintain too! They're wipeable and I've had them on my counters for just about a years time and I haven't experienced any type of lifting! They look just as great as when I put it on!

Some tips to keep your countertops looking great!:

  1. Definitely do not put anything hot on the the countertops! The heat could burn the paper and it will create bubbling!
  2. I also try not to use anything on them that will stain the white paper (i.e., tomato sauce)
  3. & lastly, definitely make sure you own a cutting board! You don't want to cut anything on the paper as you'll leave cut marks from the knife!
12x12 Tile Sheets
"Tile" sheets before they're put together
"Puzzle Piece" them together
Backsplash Done
Completed Look

Make sure you cut out the "tile" for your outlets! I took off the outlet plates to place my "tiles." I then just cut the pieces that overlapped the outlet hole.

Kitchen Before
Kitchen After
Kitchen Before

Ignore the mess!

Kitchen After

All in all, there are some parts of the backsplash and countertops that aren't "perfect," if I'm being honest. But it was more about the aesthetic to me! And I'm MUCH happier being in my kitchen!

Resources for this project:
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3 of 4 questions
  • Debbie G Debbie G on Oct 22, 2020

    Such a pretty look. We bought a house recently. In th sink area there are the Sheets of tiny tiles. It is really not pretty. I wondered if we could retire over the existing tile. Not looking forward to trying to remove what is there!

  • LJ Ligon LJ Ligon on Jan 09, 2021

    I love your changes! How did you handle seams in the contact paper? The cupboards look lighter, was this from cleaning them? If so, what product did you use? Also, did you replace the hardwear (handles / hinges) or just clean them? Looks wonderful!!

  • Mary Mary on Jan 09, 2021

    How do you cut the back splash tile to meet in the corner?

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2 of 14 comments
  • Cinzia Farley Cinzia Farley on Oct 22, 2020

    I love this and I also dig the floors. I have used contact paper in all the homes my ex and I have rented. That was in Italy. Now I own my home and ditched the husband. I still use contact paper for numbers of projects In my house. It's budget friendly. I think your kitchen looks awesome. Good Job!!!!

  • Pineapple Pineapple on Jan 10, 2021

    Looks fantastic. I wonder if the backsplash tiles can be put right over my old tiles.