How to Line Drawers and Cabinets with Shelf Liners

Choose the right liner and you'll never regret taking a few minutes to protect your shelves, your drawers and your stuff.

Next Project

An hour or less




Installing clear plastic, nonsticky shelf and drawer liner is a quick, inexpensive project with multiple benefits.

Why bother with shelf covers?

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It’s worth it.

Here’s why it’s worth it to line drawers and shelves before loading them up:

  • Even if you scrub it, the shelf or drawer surface could still be sticky, rough or just plain gross.
  • If the surface is in great shape, a plastic shelf liner helps keep it that way. For example, protect your new portable kitchen island’s drawers from your pointy cooking utensils.
  • If you don’t like the sound of things rattling around in your drawers, liner dampens the noise.
  • On wire shelving, a liner keeps small items from falling through to who knows where.
  • Shelf covers takes minutes to install and every time you put your clean towels on the shelf or stick your veggie peeler in the drawer, you’ll thank yourself.

We recommend clear plastic liner (sold at IKEA, home centers and discount stores). Why? The self-adhesive stuff is nasty to remove and can leave residue on the surface when you remove the plastic shelf liner. Spongy, no-slip liner is another option, but it usually has little spaces (holes) in it, which means crumbs and dirt will end up on the surface beneath. Also, it’s not always no-slip—it can bunch up and shift when you put items in or when you take items out. And it’s not as easy to keep clean.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Something to measure with (ruler or tape measure)
  • Something to mark with (pencil or pen)
  • Straightedge (ruler or other straight edge, like a piece of cardboard)
  • Liner
  • Scissors (if you have an off-set handle scissors, use that)
  • Reusable mounting putty (made by Scotch, Elmer’s, Dap and others), optional

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1

It’s easy to add shelf covers!

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Here’s what to do

  1. Measure the surface. You want the liner to cover the entire surface with no big gaps at the edges.
  2. Mark the dimensions and cutting lines.
  3. Cut the shelf lining.
  4. If you want to make sure the plastic shelf liner doesn’t slip, put a little blob of reusable mounting putty in each corner.
  5. Load up your shelves and drawers!
Step 2

Drawer dividers

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Keep things organized

Dividers are essential to organized drawers. These quick-to-make custom dividers work great in a dresser, bathroom vanity or any kitchen drawers.

Step 3

Handy Hint

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Fast and cheap liners

For a quick, inexpensive liner for dresser drawers, buy a roll of heavy-weight wrapping paper and use it to line the drawers. Get a cheerful design and you’ll smile every time you grab a pair of socks!