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Can You Put Contact Paper on Wood? Will Wood Be Ruined?

Using contact paper is a great way of redecorating an old space to bring some changes in life. Contact papers come with beautiful patterns and designs. Some replicate the textures of wood, marble, granite, and even leather.

When it comes to using contact paper, the options are countless. But before you plan on using contact paper on a surface, you must know if it’s really okay to use and whether you can remove it later or not.

Can you put contact paper on wood?

You can put contact paper on wood. But since wood is porous and contact paper has a strong inherent adhesive on its back, it will be hard to remove the contact paper once you stick it on wood. You may still be able to remove it but some of the sticky adhesives will remain on the wood.

Let’s find out if you can put contact paper on different wooden surfaces and if you can remove it later successfully when you want to.

Wood cabinets:

You can put contact paper on wood cabinets. It’s better to use contact papers with patterns or colors for cabinets and shelves that go well with the color and structure of the space.

Wood paneling:

You can put contact paper on wood paneling but it’s going to be a very tough job. Since there are lots of gaps and curves, it is not easy to fill in all the gaps properly with contact papers.

Wood furniture:

You can put contact paper on furniture made of wood but it is recommended to do this only for furniture that is in urgent need of redoing. Install contact papers on wooden furniture only when you are ready to change them permanently.

Painted wood:

You may be able to put contact paper on painted wood but since painted wood can’t be sanded down, it will be tough to stick the paper properly. 

You may need to use stronger adhesives but then there’s no going back once you install the contact paper on painted wood.

Wood box:

You may be able to install contact paper on a wood box. But since there are lots of edges and ridges, it is going to be a rough job. Also, you might have to use a strong adhesive to stop the contact paper from peeling off.

Wood floors:

You can put contact paper on wood floors but keep in mind that it is going to be a permanent change. Even if you manage to remove the papers later, they are most likely to leave a lot of adhesives behind which will ruin the wood.

Does contact paper stick on wood?

Contact paper sticks on wood but it can be a bit tough compared to other surfaces. Also, you may need stronger adhesive to make contact paper stick to the wood properly and tightly. Also, it is a must that you clean the wood well and sand it before putting it on the contact paper.

Cleaning and sanding will provide a clean and smooth surface for the contact paper. The paper will stick well this way and you will get better results. But do keep in mind that this may cause a permanent change since you are using extra-strong adhesives.

How do you install contact paper on wood?

If you want to decorate your place with contact papers, you must follow the preparatory and application procedures perfectly for the best result.

Measure and cut the contact paper:

First, prepare the contact paper according to the needs of the surface you’re willing to cover. Take measurements of the width and length of the surface and transfer those measurements to the back of the contact paper. 

Now use a suitable pair of scissors to cut according to the exact measurements.

Clean the surface:

It is imperative that you put contact paper on a squeaky clean surface. The wooden surface needs to be cleaned thoroughly possibly with soap and water before you start applying any contact paper.

Cabinets and furniture in a kitchen are likely to be full of grease and debris. Cleaning such areas may need a proper scrubbing before you can apply the paper. Since contact papers are self-adhesive, it becomes easier when you apply them on a clean canvas. 

Make sure that the surface dries properly after cleaning.

Sand the surface:

Since contact papers are quite thin, they can’t sit properly on an uneven surface. Wooden surfaces can be bumpy or contain ridges. So it is better to sand the surface preferably with sandpaper to sand down any bumps or unevenness for a smooth application.

Install contact paper:

Now it’s time to install the contact paper on the clean surface. Carefully peel off the backing and place the paper tightly over the surface. Use a roller to release any trapped air bubbles. 

You can also use a rag to wipe down the area to make sure that the contact paper is installed properly.

Does contact paper ruin wood?

Contact paper does not ruin wood but once you stick it on wood, you wouldn’t be able to remove it without ruining the wood. Wood is a porous surface and the adhesives that come with contact paper are very strong. You will need powerful removers to get rid of the adhesives that are damaging to wood.

Contact paper can cause permanent changes to wood. You can not remove it completely without leaving something behind. It either doesn’t remove at all or remove in parts. And it leaves a sticky residue behind that stays forever. 

No sanding or scraping can fully remove the lumps and even if you paint over it, it won’t look as good as before.

The only way to get rid of the contact paper adhesive is by applying chemical removers that ruin porous surfaces like wood. Hence you should put contact paper on wood only when you are sure about a permanent change. Cause there’s no going back without damaging the wood.

Will contact paper mess up wood cabinets? Does removable contact paper ruin wood?

While contact papers can act as a great protective barrier for your kitchen wood cabinets and shelves, they are not easy to remove. Also, after a long time of use, the paper can start peeling off from the corners leaving a sticky residue behind.

Removable contact paper can ruin wood as well. Since you will still need to use a strong adhesive so the paper sticks well, it is bound to leave some residues behind once you remove it. 

You may be able to mitigate the damage if the wood is well varnished and by using a good remover.

Does contact paper leave residue on wood?

Contact paper leaves residue on wood most of the time. Since wood is porous, it is not easy to stick contact paper on wood hence strong adhesives are used. Also, contact paper comes with adhesives on the back part used for sticking the paper to the surface. 

The adhesive is heavy and sticky and hard to get rid of.

Removing the contact paper from wood is a time-consuming and stressful job and even if you do manage to remove the paper, it leaves a strong residue behind. 

You can use an adhesive remover to get rid of the residue and if the wood is well varnished you may be able to do this will less damage.

What can I use instead of contact paper on wood?

While contact paper is a mess-free way of rejuvenating an old interior, there are other ways of decorating a place. Check out the following things that you can use instead of contact paper on wood.


You can use wallpapers instead of contact paper. Wallpapers are available in different colors and textures. They are easier to match with the interior and hues of your place.

You can just cut wallpaper according to your need and wet it a little before applying. This way it will get to stick with its adhesive. But wallpapers are expensive compared to contact papers.

HaokHome 93042 Peel and Stick Wallpaper Green/White Eucalyptus Leaf Floral Wall Mural Home Nursery Boho Decor 17.7in x 9.8ft

Construction paper:

Construction paper can be a good option to use instead of contact paper. Installing construction paper can be a little harder since it does not come with built-in adhesives. You can use a glue stick or a hot glue machine to stick the paper to the wooden surface.

Tru-Ray Construction Paper P103031, 10 Classic Colors, 9


Foil is a great alternative to contact paper. Similar to construction paper, foil can be attached to wooden surfaces with a light glue stick, fabric glue, or hot glue using a glue machine.

Final Thoughts

You can put contact paper on wood to redecorate or change the appearance of your place. Using contact paper is a cheap way of bringing some changes in life but removing them can be damaging to a porous surface like wood. So make sure that you are ready for the permanent change before installing it.