Update Appliances with Stainless Steel Contact Paper

LAST UPDATED: Feb 09, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Oct 30, 2011 | By:

Instantly update your kitchen in under an hour and for around $10! With this simple trick, you can transform your appliances from outdated to modern using stainless steel contact paper. It’s quick, easy, and – the best part – it will make you smile!

A white kitchen with a wood floor and stainless steel appliances.

When we updated our kitchen with a fresh coat of white paint on our wood cabinets, I loved the fresh, light feeling it gave the whole space. What I didn’t love was the black appliances. I thought I could live with them for a year while we saved up to buy new, but they stuck out in my otherwise bright space.

We weren’t in the position to buy new appliances yet, so I put my mind to work on finding a solution that would be inexpensive and easy, but would still look beautiful. Fortunately, I found a simple and reasonable fix – DIY stainless steel appliances!

A white kitchen with a wood floor and black appliances.
BEFORE

This faux stainless steel look didn’t require taking off my appliance fronts or any sneaky painting techniques. It didn’t cost hundreds of dollars, and there was no wait time involved. All it took was a roll of stainless steel contact paper!

What Is Contact Paper?

Yes, you read that right. Contact paper has come a long way from what we remember decades ago. There are designs to fit any style, including faux metals (like I used), natural stones, wood grains, and of course, a variety of patterns and prints in any color you need. There are even textured contact papers with a bit of texture, such as made to look like classic white subway tile for a quick and easy kitchen backsplash.

Contact paper is smooth on one side and adhesive on the other, so it’s made to stick to almost any surface. While it’s not a permanent solution, it is one that can last long enough to get you through to something you like better. It’s being used to make over appliances, countertops, backsplashes, stair risers, and so many more spaces – for stunning results!

The smooth side contact paper is scratch resistant, plus it’s durable enough to handle cleanings. That’s a must in any kitchen! As an added bonus, most stainless steel contact paper options come in a brushed metal finish, so fingerprints won’t show up as much. A light polish from time to time is probably all you’ll need. That’s a win!

A white kitchen with a wood floor and stainless steel dishwasher.

Use Contact Paper to Design a Space You Love

There’s nothing wrong with black appliances. In fact, they’re coming back into style! They’re just not always right in every space. In my all-white kitchen, for instance, the contrast they created made them stand out more than I wanted. That’s the great thing about design – you get to decide what’s right for your home!

A black dishwasher with a DIY stainless steel panel across the front.

With a few dollars, a little time and patience, we transformed our black dishwasher to look like stainless steel. What do you think? Friends and family didn’t even know it wasn’t truly stainless steel until we showed them. Honestly, we were in disbelief that stainless steel contact paper could look so authentic, yet remain easy to clean!

If this faux stainless steel sounds like something you may want to try, read on to see just how easy and doable it really is!

A kitchen with a DIY stainless steel dishwasher.

What You Need to Update Appliances with Stainless Steel Contact Paper

Other than the contact paper, you probably have all of the supplies you’ll need already on hand. This really is a simple DIY project that will make a big impact! Here’s what you’ll need:

It’s easiest to do this project with a partner, so one person can hold the paper while the other smooths it in place. You’ll also need a fair amount of patience to get it just right. It’s not hard, but you don’t want to rush it.

How to DIY Stainless Steel Appliances

  1. Clean your appliance front, making sure it is free from all dust and debris. Dry thoroughly.
  2. Measure the area you wish to cover (including sides of appliance door, if desired). Cut a piece of contact paper 3″ longer than required, on all sides. Note: Contact paper comes with a grid printed on the back side, so it is easy to measure and cut in straight lines.
  3. Open your dishwasher (or other appliance) door and start at the edge.  Line the paper up with the top, peeling only an inch or so of the backing off at a time.  Partner 1: Starting at the top, slowly work your way toward the bottom, pressing the side of the credit card against the paper (like a squeegee). This will eliminate most bubbles. Partner 2: Hold the contact paper slightly angled away from door with a little tension to keep the paper from adhering. If you end up with any large bubbles, pull back and try again.
  4. To wrap around edges (if needed), pull paper taut and adhere in the same manner, using credit card to remove air bubbles and secure adhesive to surface.
  5. Continue until you reach the other side. If there are air bubbles, work them out by pressing against them with the credit card toward the nearest edge.
  6. Once you’re happy with the result, trim off the excess using a straight edge and razor blade.
  7. Run credit card firmly along edges to ensure they’re firmly secured.

Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure surface is smooth and clean before applying paper. Any bump will show through. If there is a scratch in the original door, consider sanding it lightly to remove any protruding edges.
  • Use removeable contact paper. It will still have plenty of adhesion, but it will be easy to remove later on when you’re ready for a change. You’ll be able to pull it off without peeling or leaving a difficult-to-remove sticky residue. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!
  • Cut a piece of paper large enough to ensure that you won’t have any seams on your appliance fronts. If that means buying a larger roll (for a refrigerator, for instance), then buy the larger roll. Don’t be tempted into piecing this project together. The seam will show, no matter how precisely you line up your pieces.
  • If you have a small, stubborn air bubble that you cannot remove despite your best efforts, you can poke a small hole in it with a needle. Use a credit card to smooth the bubble so that the air escapes through the hole. Note that the hole will show and could possibly lead to a worn finish in that area later on (if you’re not careful when cleaning). You choose which bothers you more – the air bubble or the small hole.
  • Note that stainless steel contact paper is not suitable for stovetops where there will be exposure to heat and flames, but it can be used to cover range hoods.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Contact Paper

I was impressed at how easy this dishwasher makeover was to maintain. I really didn’t have to give it any special care to keep it looking like new. Here’s how to take care of your faux stainless steel appliances.

Dip a soft cloth (microfiber works well) in warm water, and wring most of the water out. The cloth should feel just slightly damp. Wipe down the appliance front, then dry with a new cloth. That’s all it takes for most cleaning.

If you want to use a cleaner, you can use an all-purpose cleaner or glass cleaner. Simply dilute some cleaner in warm water, and follow the same method as above. Rinse with a clean, slightly damp rag, then buff dry with a new cloth.

Do not use abrasive cleaners or sponges, or products such as Magic Erasers, since these can scratch and dull the finish.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with the result. No, this faux stainless steel wasn’t a permanent fix. But it was realistic-looking and durable. It provided some needed cohesion to the kitchen, helping it feel more modern. Most importantly, it made me smile and love my home even more.

Do you want to see the full evolution of this home? Don’t miss the complete home tour, filled with more friendly DIY projects. Or go here for a more detailed look at our kitchen renovation on a budget. We loved this home, and I hope it inspires you to go show your home some love!

black dishwasher covered with stainless steel contact paper panel

How to Update Appliances with Stainless Steel Contact Paper

Yield: 1
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Estimated Cost: $12.00 or less

Instantly update your appliances in under an hour for around $10!

Materials

  • Stainless steel contact paper

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Credit card
  • Razor blade
  • Straight edge

Instructions

    1. Clean your appliance front, making sure it is free from all dust and debris. Dry thoroughly.
    2. Measure the area you wish to cover (including sides of appliance door, if desired). Cut a piece of contact paper 3" longer than required, on all sides.
    3. Open your dishwasher (or other appliance) door and start at the edge.  Line the paper up with the top, peeling only an inch or so of the backing off at a time. Partner 1: Starting at the top, slowly work your way toward the bottom, pressing the side of the credit card against the paper (like a squeegee). This will eliminate most bubbles. Partner 2: Hold the contact paper slightly angled away from door with a little tension to keep the paper from adhering. If you end up with any large bubbles, pull back and try again.
    4. To wrap around edges (if needed), pull paper taut and adhere in the same manner, using credit card to remove air bubbles and secure adhesive to surface.
    5. Continue until you reach the other side. If there are air bubbles, work them out by pressing against them with the credit card toward the nearest edge.
    6. Once you're happy with the result, trim off the excess using a straight edge and razor blade.
    7. Run credit card firmly along edges to ensure they're firmly secured.
Disclosure

mini loaves of bread gift wrapped