Shelf Paper / Shelf Liner Should I use it? Are you?

11 years ago

It's finally time to start putting things into my new cabinets. YIPPEE! The shelves (uppers) are painted wood, and the drawers/ pantry roll outs are ....hummm maybe laminated wood? They are wood colored but kind of glossy.

My mom offered to come over and help me organize (I'm quite pregnant and a bit overwhelmed with everything) and was horrified to find out that I did not intend to use shelf paper/liner.

To me shelf paper is something that you did in 1980 and I'm not surprised that my 60 yr old mom wants me to use it. But I just can't imagine using it myself on my brand new cabinets. It just seems like an extra layer of crumb catcher. If I had horrible cabinets, then I would see the point.

Am I wrong?

I don't want to use cushy cupboards, because I would have to order it online and wait forever for it to arrive. Any brands from Bed Bath Beyond, Linens and Things that I should check out?

Comments (44)

  • mitchdesj

    I am using Contact brand non adhesive ribbed vinyl , it's clear plastic, it says Simple Elegance on the roll; it muffles the sound when you put something down and I've had drops of soy sauce, oil, etc... sit on the shelves and stain. Also sometimes the dishes you are storing have some water on it from the dishwasher, the shelf paper does protects your wood interiors but it's not absolutely essential.

    You could put some down only in the places where you'll have bottled liquids stored, such as under the sink and certain cupboard doors where you'll have oils and such.

  • morton5

    I would use shelf paper everywhere, save perhaps for little-used cupboards. Otherwise your new cabinet interiors will get scratched up and gummed up over time.

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  • sue4993

    I'm part of your mother's generation and use shelf liner everywhere. I can't imagine putting anything on my beautiful new shelves without protecting them. I use the rubbery mesh stuff that I found at Walmart. Made by Duck I believe. It keeps things stable as well as protecting the shelves.

  • lagrant

    Like mitchdesj, I used the ribbed Simple Elegance stuff - purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond - in every one of my cabinets and drawers. It comes in clear and white, depending on your needs and cabinet color. I did not want anything that had the potential of getting sticky over time. I can lift them out and wipe them down if needed. The ribbing allows for air to circulate, too. I know many people here have also used Cushy Cupboards (I think that is what they are called) and swear by them.

  • natesgramma

    In her day they used shelf paper that was sticky and horrible to ever remove. I think it's great that she's going to help you (congrats on the baby) but just be sure to get something easy to remove.

  • bluekitobsessed

    Both Bed Bath & Beyond and Target carry a Cushy Cupboards knockoff. They have different names, and one is sold in 5' rolls and the other in 10' rolls, but they are both made by the same company, IIRC Kittredge in La Mirada, CA. I used it for most, but not all, of my drawers.

    In my pantry I put down clear vinyl, which I bought from JoAnn of all places, at the recommendation of a GW'r. So far it's worked much better than shelving paper -- it clings without adhesive so it's easy to reposition as needed. You can get it in varying weights/thicknesses. It's also a lot easier to clean than anything with ribs or mesh.

  • dkass

    We just finished our kitchen on Wed and I immediately went out and bought the same Simple Elegance clear liner at Publix. I didn't want to put my dishes, glasses and especially olive oils, etc. in the cabs without lining them. My husband didn't think it was necessary but I do!

  • debs3

    I like shelf paper; easier to change the liner than to scrub kitchen grim away. I am planning to use freezer paper. Has anyone else done that. Is it a good or bad idea? I have a combination of painted (glass door cabinets) and finished plywood shelves. Thank you.

  • sara_the_brit_z6_ct

    I must be the odd one out. No shelf paper. Although I do have the Ikea drawer liner stuff in the drawers.

  • raehelen

    I held off for a while, cuz I just loved my new maple shelves, and really didn't want to hide them! But then I found the clear vinyl ribbed liner (rib very slight and goes on bottom, so no problem with getting gunked up)at Linens N Things (even used a coupon printed off the computer). I put it in my pots and pans drawers and under the sink. May eventually put it on the pantry pullout shelves that have peanut butter/honey, etc.So, best of both worlds, wood protected, but still visible!

  • bodiCA

    I too use freezer paper, and have for years. Cost is very low, easy to toss and refresh often, sealed so oils and leaks won't soak through and things slide on it with ease. The grippy type I like for glasses and such that I do not want to slide or move at all. I love perfumed drawer liner, but it has gotten so expensive I've used freezer paper to save money, Freezer paper is also great for the refrigerator to use under items and line the meat and veg drawers, much easier and faster to replace following an accidental leak than scrubbing those awkward drawers (which should be designed to fit/sterilize in the dishwasher!).

  • ma-bookreader

    The heavier weight ribbed shelf paper can be purchased at Costco. Much cheaper than at BB&Y or Linens'n'Things if you need more than one roll.
    I like it very much but right now I only have it on some of my shelves. I"ve been debating is I should put it everywhere.

  • ssjm

    I put the clear ribbed liner (from Walmart) in my pot and utensil drawers, but not on any of the shelves where I keep dishes/glassware/mugs. For messy things like oils, syrups, honey etc. I put them all in those clear plastic shoe boxes that you can get at Target for 99 cents each. I did the same for the cleaning products that I keep under the sink.

  • Jim Peschke

    I haven't used it so far and I wasn't planning on it, but now you all have me worried. I grew up with shelf paper and I've used it in my previous two kitchens, but I always hated it. I've used the high adhesive kind. It's hard to get straight, and stick down without wrinkles plus it always ends up looking ugly to me. I've used the low adhesive kind. It's easier to stick down and move, but it still looks ugly and it's still a pain to cut all that "paper" to the different sizes and overlap or not overlap, etc. I've used no adhesive kinds that curl up or rip as you move things in or around. I've hated all of them, but they were a necessary evil because the cabinets were unfinished plywood. My new cabinets are a smooth, finished maple whatever it is, which is better than any shelf paper imaginable and looks great! Are you seriously telling me I have to cover that up? Yes, a long term leak will ruin anything, but short term leaks just wipe away don't they? Well, for now I remain (apparently in the minority) in the no shelf paper camp.

    - Jim

  • rosalita

    Good post! I've already put down the cushy cupboard knock off from Walmart and Target but love the heavy clear plastic idea for certain places. Never even thought to put something down in the fridge drawers! For my family, life is a contact sport, so I have the liner down to keep my dishes and glassware from chipping. I definitely wanted it in my drawers where I keep pots and pans to deaden the noise and it does a good job there - no slipping and banging when I put pans away.

  • mountainbasketmaker

    I ordered Cushy Cupboards and it doesn't take forever to arrive. I live in the east and it ships from out west and I got it in only a couple of days. Even when I ran a little short and had to order one more roll, it came very fast. I really like it in my shelves and it's wonderful to line drawers.

  • debs3

    I am glad to hear the freezer paper works well. Thank you. Never thought about using it in the refrigerator drawers; I am going to try that too. I have always used a piece of aluminum foil under the oils and it works great for me.

  • gbsim1

    Another vote with Mom for shelf paper of some kind. Kitchen, bathroom, laundry room; every cabinet and drawer I have has some kind of liner paper.

    You never know when something is going to leak, drip or stain. Drawers with pots, spatulas, cooking implements will get awfully banged up and grimy. I don't use the heated dry cycle of the dw so sometimes even my clean dishes can have drips on them. Can't even imagine not having it under the sink!

    I've actually never heard of Cushy Cupboards (I love GW.... learn so many new things!!) I'm going to be looking into that.... could someone describe it.

  • sue_ct

    I tried the cushy cupboards and like it for items that aren't heavy. Heavy canned goods like canned tomatoes sink down into it and leave indentations. I use the ribbed under plates and glasses because it allows a few drops of water that could be left to drain out and protects the wood. I don't use anything with adhesive, and any slight curl goes away after the liner has weight on it for a little while, and if it was really a problem for some reason you always put a little thumb tack in the very corner where it wouldn't be seen.

    I love the idea of using something in my refrigerator drawers, never thought of that. Thanks.


  • Buehl

    I've been avidly reading everyone's replies. I bought a roll of the stuff from Target (Duck/Henckels, though) and until today wasn't sure I'd use it. But after reading so many pros for them, I went ahead and lined my 6" filler pullouts with them today. Right now, the pullouts have the greatest risk for oil/spice stains.

    I'll tackle the rest of the cabinets over time (and when I get all my shelves...still missing 4!). I may even put them on my pantry shelves, but not sure about that.

    The suggestion to put them in the crisper & meat drawers was intriguing....I've always put several layers of paper towels in those drawers. I'll have to think about it...the advantage of paper towels is that you just throw them out when they get old/dirty. W/liners I'll either have to wash them or buy new. (Hmmmm....probably "greener" to use the liner and then wash it when needed.)

    Cushy Cupboards...

  • ccc123

    Vinyl shelf liners release chemicals known as phthalates which can interfere with the normal functioning of hormones.

    But there are lots of creative alternatives.

    Available on Net Flix is the movie "Blue Vinyl". Fun to watch & very interesting.

    The EWG website, below, has helpful info about vinyl; teflon pans; & cosmetics.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Environnmental Working Group

  • ysop1016

    We had Plexiglas cut to fit all of our cabs. It is a breeze to maintain and almost invisible.

  • dab07

    ccc123, thanks for mentioning that. This is something I've become concerned about.

  • budgeteer_s

    Today the workers are demo'ing the kitchen, so I have free time to read through the forum. Luv it, so much to learn! During the demo out came the liners I used in the pantry 20 years ago. I bought the cheapest peel-N-stick vinyl floor tiles, and without peeling off the adhesive laid down the tiles in the pantry shelves. I used the same for the larger bottom cabinet shelves as well as where the oil & sauces are. It served me well and I may very well do the same again when new cabs are in.

  • gailjo_hotmail_com

    There are many of us crafters out her looking for solid colored contact paper. The only kind we can find is for the criket machine and it is a little expensive for craft work. Thank you

  • LAvocado_sbcglobal_net

    My mother bought shelf paper that was made of actual paper, fairly thin. When she cleaned the shelves, she would through away the old shelf paper and replace it. Does anyone do anything like this anymore?

  • gr8daygw

    We never used shelf paper because I always heard it had a glue like backing and that roaches seemed to think the glue was a sort of delicacy here in the South. Also, nightmare to ever take off, but now they have the vinyl kind and so I did go out and get some for my newly painted bathroom cabs just because I could see the damage in there when I unloaded them for the painters to paint. I thought I would give shelf paper a second chance or should I say shelf vinyl. Only because I didn't know they had it in vinyl now until I read this thread!! I got the Real Simple Solutions from Bed, Bath and Beyond it came in gray, bronze or clear vinyl.

  • Buehl


    Chic Shelf Paper - this is not the place for you to self-promote. This is a site for helping people remodel/build kitchens. While self-promotion may be OK on other Houzz-specific sites, it is neither welcome nor acceptable on the GW sites.

    In addition, by bumping up a thread that's over 6 years old, you have knocked someone off the first page who needs help TODAY - not 6.5 years ago and obviously does not need your input now.

    I am reporting you as Spam.

  • javiwa

    That was fast, buehl -- looks like GW/Houzz already removed it. Did you click that little flag, too (which is what I do), or does typing SPAM work more quickly?

  • zorroslw1

    I have never understood the concept of covering up something to keep it from being scratched or worn. Covering it up to keep it looking new is pointless when it will never be seen....

  • Buehl

    I did both!

    Let's let this thread quietly pass off the first page.... :-)

  • zorroslw1


    I did not see the spam report until after I posted. I don't always check the date, shame on me, I will after this. Good for you Buehl.

  • texasgal47

    Another odd man out here as well, with no shelf paper. I'm in mom's age range and had always used shelf paper until I installed factory built cabinets in my new kitchen. The cabinet interiors seem to have a protective coating of some type of clear finish. I'm of the daughter's mindset. Why add another layer of something to clean when you already have an interior that's lovely and is easy to wipe down?

    Ugh, caught again by another old post.

  • bodiCA

    I still like to use freezer paper for shelves, drawers, baskets, knooks and crannies, and places not removable to clean. Such a delight to recognize old friends and familiar names from GW! bodica here, hi!

  • squirrellvn

    I went to Costco and got cheap rolls of non adhesive clear liners. 18"x15' then ordered on amazon a roll of 30"x50'. Went to kinkos to use their huge paper cutter (for free!) and minutes later had all my shelf liners cut!

  • sweetsarahbeth

    I know this was brought up by spam and all that, but I have to say, it was very interesting to read and something I never would have thought to search for!

  • IdaClaire

    I'm glad this came up too. We are moving to our new home next week and among the countless things I've got to do as soon as we get there is line my shelves and drawers. I would never have thought of going to Kinko's to use their paper cutter, but that's a great idea. There's one right across the street from my office and I just may ask them to let me use theirs. Thanks!

  • raebutt

    squirrevellvn: I have always lined my shelves as we have rented or bought old houses! My shelf paper is never cut evenly! How and what do I do at Kinkos to get my shelf paper cut evenly? Or is this just a large paper cutter?

  • artemis_ma

    Hmm, I hadn't thought about this in my new build, which will have nice wood cabinets, unlike the cheapo wood ones here. Currently there's white contact paper down, some of it coming up in corners, and some of it with bubble patches. I believe I will find a non-adhering clear material to use, thanks for some suggestions above. Drawers/cabinets that won't be used often I'll probably forgo the treatment.

    Mother was a big one with the contact paper -- she used floral patterns and everything.

  • disaster

    My mother in law uses cheap wall paper. I have only used it in the linen closet so I cant say how well it works. I have used the thicker cushy padded liners (sorry for the terrible description) in the glass and dish cabinets. It does its job but I dont like how the plates dont slide in and out:(

  • Rafael Rodriguez

    i use 1/8" glass. it's inexpensive, easy to clean and neat. i've been doing this for yrs., especially in a few rentals that we have and our rental cabinets look and feel great. occassinally, the glass breaks but it's so inexpensive that the ongoing good condition of the cabinets outweighs the cost. and, when i want to get a little creative, i put funny or inspriational posters underneath the glass. FYI - Lowes sells and cuts the glass very inexpensively

  • fantasticphyllis

    I have to agree with my son OCD!! I don't know who would look into my cupboards...If they didn't like it..Tough You Know What

  • Margaret Aurand

    Rueben mentions crooked cuts. For me, the answer is a T-square, which you can buy where they sell art supplies. The 36" long T-square is the most useful. I just line the "T" part up with the side of the paper, and draw my square line with a sharpie.

    I just put new cabinets during the remodel of my family home. I got molded (?) glass panels with a striking bamboo design in the upper cabinets. I saw light coming through one cabinet door before they were installed and thought the glass was even more beautiful with light behind it. I had low profile, strip LED lights installed in the top of each cabinet. But when I p

    ut the supplied wood shelves in, the shelves below were very dark. So I ordered some 3/8" thick plexiglas cut to size. I bought the clear shelf liner with the little grooves. Since it is clear, the light goes right through the shelves and the cabinets and glass look beautiful.

    I used the rubbery mesh liner for the bottom shelves. I'm having trouble, too. They bunch up and get out of place when I move anything. That's why I got onto this thread--to see if there's a good way to hold the stuff in place.

  • Mittens Cat

    Freezer paper? Say what? I'm in my mid 50s and this is the first I've heard of it. (I am using sheets of wax paper on my new pantry shelves while trying to decide on the more permanent solution.) I'm looking for shelf paper to cover MDF shelves in bedroom closets and kitchen pantry. The MDF came unsealed (mistake!). I've now put 8-10 coasts of SafeCoat (very low VOC) sealer on them, and my arm is about to fall off.

    Regarding an earlier comment about environmental concerns, I read that EVA (used in IKEA's Variera drawer mats) is supposedly biodegradable (at some point), so at least it's better than PVC.

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