What should I use to line my cabinet shelves?

Updated February 21, 2017

Shelf liners keep your kitchen cabinets clean while ensuring that your dishes and other contents stay put. You can use new vinyl adhesive backed shelf paper, or you can recycle other clean materials to line your shelves. Double-sided sticky tape can help hold these liner materials in place on the shelves. Shelf liners can also keep your cabinet's contents from smelling like new varnish or paint while protecting the finish on the shelves.

Vinyl Paper

Vinyl paper with an adhesive backing gives you a waterproof surface on which to set glasses and dishes. The adhesive is exposed by bending back one corner of the paper and pulling off the paper backing. Vinyl paper comes in convenient rolls that you can cut to fit the length of your shelves. Some vinyl papers even have a ruler printed on the adhesive paper backing to make measuring easier.


Cork sheet shelf liners protects your shelves and its contents, providing an absorbent liner that cushions breakable contents. You can find cork sheets with and without an adhesive backing. A craft knife can score the cork so that you can bend and break the sheet to fit your cabinet shelf. Cork sheets with adhesive backing are less likely to crumble. Be sure that any dishes you place on the shelf are dry, as cork can absorb water and form mould.

Wall Paper

Some wall papers come with an adhesive backing, also with a printed ruler for easy measuring. Wall papers that are vinyl based or whose surfaces are sealed with a thin film of plastic can make very durable shelf liners. You can line the shelf with one pattern of wall paper, while using a contrasting wallpaper pattern for each shelf edge. Use a wallpaper with adhesive backing, as wallpaper glue is messy and may make liner removal difficult.

Ribbed Silicone

Silicone shelf ribbed liners also come in pre-measured rolls. The sticky pliability of the silicone means that you do not need an adhesive backing or double-sided sticky tape because the weight of the shelf contents keeps the liner in place. Just remove the contents of the shelves when needed, pull up the liner and shake it out. You can even submerge these shelf liners in water to wash off sticky messes such as honey or jam.

Oil Cloth

Old table cloths are often made out of oil cloth because it is water resistant, durable and easy to clean. Lay your shelf out on the oil cloth and trace around it with a pencil. Once you have cut out the liner, flip it over so that the backing is face up on a flat surface. Apply double-sided sticky tape every two inches. Pick up the liner and press the backing into place on the shelf.

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About the Author

Mary McNally has been writing and editing for over 13 years, including publications at Cornell University Press, Larson Publications and College Athletic Magazines. McNally also wrote and edited career and computer materials for Stanford University and Ithaca College. She holds a master's degree in career development from John F. Kennedy University and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in counseling.