Remove Old Contact Paper

Follow these tips for super tough removal jobs.

First, you will need some tools:

  • Putty Knife
  • Hair dryer or heat gun
  • Adhesive Remover (such as 3M Adhesive Remover or Krud Kutter [sold at Home Depot])
  • Cloth rag or paper towel

New shelf paper will not adhere correctly if there is anything between it and the surface. This includes dirt, crumbs, oil deposits, surface imperfections and old shelf paper or bits of adhesive that may have been stuck with 1960s-era atomic-bond strength glue.

Old paper can turn brittle which makes it really tough to remove. Heating the paper first will soften both the paper and the adhesive. This may prevent tearing and allow the adhesive to release more easily than it does at room temperature.

Warm a corner with the hair dryer (30-60 seconds on HIGH) and then gently lift the corner with a putty knife. Pull up a small section. Peel the paper back with a 180-degree orientation (this puts the least stress on the paper so it is less likely to tear).

old paper diag.tiff

Warm about a 1-foot square area and pull back the paper from the heated area. Lift as much paper as you can and repeat the process until the shelf is clean. Any remaining fragments can be removed with a putty knife, but be careful to avoid gouging the surface.

Clean any remaining adhesive patches with adhesive remover such as rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) or denatured alcohol (available in the cleaning section at most hardware stores).  Use a damp rag or paper towel to wipe up any remaining paper shreds and adhesive.