Contact Paper on Tables Tutorial

July 10, 2012

Contact Paper on Tables Tutorial

July 10, 2012
Hello! I’ve had some requests in the past for more information on applying contact paper to tables and/or desks. Because you all know I’m nuts about covering my tables!! I’ve been doing it for years and it completely transforms the classroom–especially if you have older, mismatching tables.
After years of blue, then shades of blue, then black, I finally found this gray textured-looking paper last year and fell in love. It makes my old wooden tables look so matchy and new! And it really brightens up the whole room.
So I tried to put together a few photos and a VERY small video to explain more. My bff-teacher-sister Melissa helped me. Since she’s the one who does this. As in ALL of my tables and my lone two desks, while I frantically hot glue everything in the room, ha!
The first step my sister does is to line the contact paper up on the table…leaving some excess hanging off of the edge, like so:
(This is to keep it from falling off and rolling back up at you when applying)

The actual putting-on of the paper is probably best shown in video, so we have a little one for you here:

After that (and some intermittent moments of swearing) the edges are tucked under and taped off with electrical tape. We have found that the wider electrical tape works best, with just a bit showing towards the top (so the kids don’t pull at it) and most of it tucked underneath…
(My grandfather (rest his soul) loved to use Scotch tape–anything could be fixed with it. I think that’s where I got my obsession with contact paper and electrical tape.)
Anyhow, that’s the bulk of what my poor sis did today. I love her! What would we do without our precious family members that we drag to our classrooms??
I was a busy girl too, I swear. I must have burned myself 93,000 times on the glue gun (another obsession) and hung up a bunch of signs and borders around the room and set up some of the library…here’s a little proof that I did some work too:

I have more to show you, but that will have to wait until tomorrow, I am TIRED! Thanks for reading (and watching!) my friends. πŸ™‚


  • Miss Nelson July 10, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I'm loving the pop of color and of course the black, white, and gray. I wish my sister knew how to apply contact paper. You are LUCKY! I really want to do this but I'm scared mine will be all bubbly. I love your gray.

    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      Thanks Miss Nelson!! Even if there are bubbles, they come out with the wear and tear from the kids. Plus you can use a pushpin to pop them and squish them down.

  • Ximena July 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Hi, I wanted to know where do you buy your contact paper. I love how your tables look!! Keep posting pictures.

    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Ximena! It's a local shop we have. Thanks for the nice comment, I will be sure to post more πŸ™‚

  • Laurie July 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Wow, looking good!!


    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks so much Laurie πŸ™‚

  • Carol Cobb July 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Your tables do look great with the contact paper on them. Do you put name tags on them? I am trying to make up my mind about how I want to do tabletop nametags next year.
    Mrs. Cobb's Kinder Sprouts

    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      I honestly didn't last year…I'm working on some different ones this year that are smaller-scale than the store bought ones (to save space and since my students are older). Thank you for the kind words!

    • Carol Cobb July 10, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      How do you attach them to minimize destruction? lol

    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      The name tags? I put velcro on them usually, so we can change seat easily and we do a lot of modeling about taking care of them πŸ™‚

  • Courtney Bartlett July 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Great idea Kristen! I have never thought of doing that. I am going to have to invest in some contact paper to cover up my nasty counters and my reading table. I love how your bulletin board looks. Your signs really pop on that black background.

    Swimming into Second

    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:16 pm

      Thanks Courtney!! πŸ™‚

  • kimcollatos July 10, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    That looks AWESOME! I love the idea πŸ™‚

    Question- I love your specials label. Would it be possible to get one for Guidance? I didn't see it in the free set. πŸ™‚

    Again…I just love your stuff. You are amazing!

    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Thank you very much!! I do have a guidance one, but it's part of my Schedule Signs in my TN shop–I'm sorry it's not available in the free set!

  • teacherking55 July 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Thank you! Thank you!
    I am going to do this for sure this year!!! This has really helped!!! πŸ™‚

    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Thanks Patty, for all of the sweet comments always πŸ™‚

  • Emily July 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you! So trying this! and random question for you…

    What is the best way you've found to attach all of your labels to your baskets?
    Did I read somewhere that you use a hot glue gun, or am I making that up?
    Thanks for sharing all that you do!


    • Kristen July 10, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Hi Emily! I do use hot glue, for practically everything in class. It works well on the plastic baskets and comes off fairly easy when you are ready for a change. Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

    • Brenda July 11, 2012 at 1:49 am

      OMG, Kristen! I never thought about using hot glue! I'm on that tomorrow! Thanks for the tip!

      Primary Inspired

  • VickyVinas July 11, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I love the idea of covering the tables so they all match. And your classroom decor definitely looks amazing! (at least what I saw so far!) Lucky you that you can go in to your room already. I may not get into mine till two weeks before school starts!

  • Lisa R. July 11, 2012 at 12:11 am

    You read my mind with this Kristen!! I was just thinking about doing this to my tables this year & then here's your post. Thanks for another great tutorial!! πŸ™‚
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  • Mrs. Karod July 11, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Love the contact paper – where did you find it! Do you redo them every year? I guess I'm adding one more thing to my todo list πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the great idea!
    Nicole from Colorfulteaching

  • Ms.M July 11, 2012 at 12:58 am

    You know I always thought you were awesome now your sister is too. Mostly cause she has a fabulous name, but also because she is great at laying down that contact paper. If she is ever in NE she is more than welcomed to visit my classroom. πŸ™‚


  • Mrs. Woodbury July 11, 2012 at 1:12 am

    I love how put together your classroom looks and the contact paper is such a nice touch. I want to try it but I have one concern. Is it easy to remove at the end of the year? My school is very strict about leaving everything just as you found it at the end of the year. Is the contact paper a mess to take off? Can the kids do it? Any advice with that?

    • Kristen July 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Hi Mrs. Woodbury! The kids can help…though some papers are harder to remove than others. It does leave a sticky residue, which can be cleaned with magic erasers or Goo Gone…it does take a lot of work though to clean them.

  • Annie Moffatt July 11, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I just wanted to say that you have a part time job doing professional photography…because your photos are always amazing Kristen!! Love the post too of course. If only I knew this when I was in the classroom!

  • Brenda July 11, 2012 at 1:50 am

    I SO wish I could cover my mis-matchy old tables! Yours always look so awesome!

    Primary Inspired

  • Teacher-ific July 11, 2012 at 1:59 am

    WOW!!! Who knew!? Thanks for sharing! So excited to brighten up my classroom with this. I have wood EVERYWHERE, on my tables and walls, ugh portables! Cant' complain, I love being in a portable πŸ™‚ Thanks again.

  • Leah Mathis July 11, 2012 at 3:27 am

    I absolutely LOVE this idea! I have never thought of this before but will defintely be remembering it. Love your blog and grabbed your button for my own!! Thanks so much.
    Leah @ Learning 4 Keeps

  • Lisa Blair July 11, 2012 at 9:52 am

    My tables are a mish-mash and could really benefit from this. However, my students use dry erase markers on them a lot for their math work. Any idea if you can use dry-erase markers on contact paper?



    • Kristen July 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Lisa, I'm honestly not sure. I think they would work ok, as any errant dry erase markers seems to come off easily on our tables! πŸ™‚

  • AnnFM July 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing your tips to apply contact paper! Here's a QUESTION: do your worksheets stick on the contact paper? I have found that papers electrify with contact paper and become stuck! Does it happen to you as well?


    Miss A.

    • Kristen July 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Miss A…it's staticy when we are putting on, but once attached to the table it's not at all! πŸ™‚

  • Gladys July 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Loving your classroom, Kristen! Can't wait to see more! πŸ™‚

  • Fluttering Through First Grade July 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    There are certain things that just call to you…This is one of them! Absolutely love this idea! Those tables are super pretty. Adding contact paper tables to our to do list…

    Thanks for the tip!
    Christy & Tammy

  • Lita Lita July 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Your contact covered tables have always been on my to-do list. But I'm not brave enough, you are superlucky with your sister! What a handyfamily! πŸ™‚

  • Jillian Martin July 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Hey there! I'm giving you the versatile blogger award! Head on over to my website to check it out!

    I love how you cover your tables! What a great tutorial! Thanks!


    • Kristen July 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you Jillian, I just stopped by!

  • Cyndi Lacy July 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I'm your newest follower! I can't wait to check out more of your blog!


  • The Schwanti July 12, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Love the specials circles and how they pop on the black background. The contact paper is genius! Last year I trash picked, as all frugal teachers tend to do, and got a metal bookshelf. I covered it with faux-wood contact paper and spray painted the back and sides. It was a whole new shelf. So proud.
    Do you have those specials/clipart available?
    Thanks for sharing! I'm excited to look around on your blog some more.

  • Mrs. Blake July 12, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Beautiful room and clever ideas, as always! Your comment about using velcro to secure nametags to the desks was like the hugest "Ah-HAAAA" I've had in years! I've struggled with the stupid nametags my whole 13 years of teaching- I usually use packing tape to stick them to the desks since 5th graders somehow can't leave them alone, but it creates such a colossal disaster when switching seats, and then at the end of the year to try to get all the gunk off. Velcro. Who knew? I will be singing your praises when I don't have to deal with that nonsense this year! Thanks for the brilliant tip! πŸ™‚

  • Debi July 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    New to your blog and fell in love with your circle designs! I noticed you mentioned they were available for purchase. Where can I go to do that?????

    • Dawn July 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      (Sorry to jump in, but I knew the answer to this one…)

      Debi – Here is her Teachers Notebook store – she has all kinds of amazing products for sale at very reasonable prices. πŸ™‚ Hope that helps!

    • Kristen July 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Thanks so much Dawn!! πŸ™‚

  • Dawn July 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    LOVE this tutorial. Thank you!!

    Quick question – do you hot glue your signs directly to your fabric? If so, does it stick all year? Does it harm the fabric? The glue should peel right off the laminated signs, I'm sure. I'm trying some new things for decor this year and want to do it efficiently, inexpensively, and in a way that looks great, too. πŸ™‚

    • Kristen July 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      Hey again. I did this year, with a tiny bit of glue. I tested a little bit and it seemed to peel off the fabric, so I'm hoping it'll last. It does peel right off laminate and plastic, so I always do this with my containers. Fingers crossed for the fabric!!! πŸ™‚

  • Grade School Giggles July 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Your post with the video was very helpful. I really think I might try it this year.

    ✿Grade School Giggles✿

  • Linda Dalton July 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I love the white/black scheme of your classroom. That's what I have been wanting to do but can't find the material for curtains and chair pockets that I am making.
    2nd Grade Rising Stars

  • Tracey July 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I have wanted to do this since your original post last year. I am moving classrooms and have mis-matched furniture so I think this is my year. I'm having a very hard time committing to a color. Of course I want the exact color you have because I have a visual of what that looks like! I can't find it, and was wondering if you have any suggestions or input on using the solid colors? Is it better to stay "granite" to conceal marks? Go dark or stay light? Any input would really be appreciated!

    • Kristen July 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Tracey! I don't think you can really go wrong with what you choose. I've used a lot of different colors and it's the fact that all the furniture matches that makes a huge impact in the room. I love that lighter granite color and am using again this year because it really brightens up my class. I hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  • Dawn July 19, 2012 at 7:04 am

    I found reasonably priced contact paper in a huge roll at Home Depot in a similar pattern. I tried, and failed miserably! I admire your sister's skill and patience. πŸ™‚ It won't be happening for me, yet. I am out of time! I am keeping this bookmarked for future reference, though…

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