Do you love the look of a marble-topped table…but not the price? You might be interested in this super-simple concept of marble contact paper. You can stick it to virtually any clean, dry, and flat surface to achieve the luxe look of marble without having to fork out the cash. It’s a perfect solution to breathe new life into an old or generic piece of furniture, particularly table tops. (You can also find other great ideas for using marble contact paper here.)
A DIY project like this comes in handy when your nightstand situation is bordering on (or plunged into altogether) the realm of horrific. It stands to reason that if the nightstand’s top looked sophisticated, it would be much easier to keep the nightstand itself organized and clear, too. Marble contact paper is your ticket to a beautiful new nightstand (along with brass pull rings, of course).
Note: Even (especially?) if your surface is water-damaged, covering it with marble contact paper will add a beautiful finish while hiding the imperfection. The same is true for minor stains and scratches; as long as the surface is mostly flat, this treatment will improve its look.
Truthfully, you could probably figure this project out yourself, but here are some tips and tricks that I learned along the way to shorten your learning curve in working with marble contact paper.
DIY Level: Beginner
- Nightstand or other furniture with flat surface to be “marbled”
- Marble contact paper
- Brass pull rings (optional)
- Credit card, scissors, and cleaning wipes (not shown)
Begin by carefully wiping your piece of furniture clean and free of dust. Let it dry thoroughly, because contact paper won’t stick if it’s even slightly damp.
You could use a measuring tape to determine the length of marble contact paper that you’ll need; I chose to simply hold-measure. Fold the front edge of your contact paper under the front lip of your nightstand top (hereafter referred to as “table top”) so that the very edge of the contact paper touches the front face of your nightstand, underneath the lip. Unroll the contact paper and fold under in the same way at the back of your nightstand. Mark the place you need to cut the back with your fingernail.
Cut the contact paper following the grid lines on the back of the paper.
Lay your paper on your table top again and measure the same way, this time measuring for the width. Cut along the width line.
With your table top surface completely clean and dry and your marble contact paper cut to size, you’re ready to start your “install.” Unroll and unpeel 4”-6” of the front end of your contact paper, center it width-wise, and tuck and stick it to the underside of the front lip of your table top. Tip: Tack the paper down with your fingertips to hold it in place, then run your fingers from the center out toward the corners (still on the underside of the front lip) to really press it securely down.
Fold the contact paper up and over the front lip. Tip: Always pull your contact paper taut, but take care to not pull it so hard that you stretch it.
Press down in the center of the front edge of your table top, then work your fingers toward the corners, pressing the paper onto each plane firmly. In other words, for this front edge, you would seal the bottom of the lip, then the bottom bevel (if applicable), then the front/main face of the edge, then the top bevel (again, if applicable), then move onto the top surface of the table top.
After you’ve securely stuck the marble contact paper to each plane of the front edge, it’s time to cover the top surface. But you don’t just want to unpeel the whole thing and toss it down on top. That would result in bubbles and maybe rips. To securely and cleanly “install” your marble top, unroll 6”-8” at a time. Use your fingers or a vinyl smoothing tool (or a credit card) and press in a line down the center of that 6”-8” strip. Then, working from this smooth center line, smooth the contact paper outward toward the edge. Do one side, then the opposite side.
Finish each 6”-8” section completely – no bubbles or creases – before unrolling more of your contact paper and doing the next 6”-8” stretch. Tip: If you come across a bubble that your smoothing tool can’t get out, you can carefully try to unpeel that part of the contact paper. This is risky, though, as the contact paper could stretch or tear, depending on how securely fastened the surrounding few inches already are. Attach the end of the contact paper to the back of your table top, following the instructions for the front lip in reverse order.
Now it’s time for corners. Tip: The two most critical aspects of this project’s success are (1) the smoothness of the top surface, and (2) the crispness of the corners. For this reason, you might find it helpful to practice on the back corner that will be less visible than the front corners.
Move to the front (or back) of your table top. You will now want to make a cut from the front (or back) contact paper edge that leaves about 1/2″ of contact paper PAST the side edge of your table top. Cut only as deep as the front (or back) edge of the table top lip.
Now move to the side of your table top. Carefully snip your contact paper to align precisely with the front edge of your table top. Make the snip past your first cut, all the way to the table top’s actual corner.
From the side, snip the bottom corner “fold” in your contact paperperpendicular to the side of your table top. Make the slit go all the way to the table top’s actual corner. In this corner, now, you should have two parallel slits in your contact paper at the exact corners.
No you’ll need to fold-and-press each part. Begin with the bottom flap; fold it up crisply and press it flat. Then do the same with the front flap; fold it backward, making sure there are no bubbles anywhere, and press it flat.
You can fold the front flap down at this point, too, if you’d like, and “tack” it firmly into place with your thumb. OR you could repeat all the corner cutting steps on the back (or front) corner of that same side so that you’ll have the entire top flap to fold down securely at the same time.
When both corners are complete and you’ve folded the flap down over the side lip edge (and underneath it), use your vinyl smoothing tool to really secure the marble contact paper. Remember to start in the center and work downward and outward, focusing on one plane at a time (e.g., the bevel, the flat edge, the underside).
Hooray! Crisp corners. Tip: If your table top does have beveled edges, do not run your vinyl smoothing tool over any edge-corners, as in, where one surface meets up with the beveled edge. This can cut and/or crinkle your contact paper. Use your vinyl smoothing tool ONLY for flat surfaces, not their corners. Instead, use your fingers for the corners when necessary.
Repeat these corner steps for the other side of your table top. I hope you’re already in love with the look.
Now, you might be done with your nightstand upgrade (or whatever piece of furniture you’ve chosen to upgrade with your marble contact paper). If you want to do one more simple step that matches the elegance of the marble top, though, it’s time to swap out your hardware. Line up then screw in your new hardware.
If you find that your hardware screw is too long for your drawer board, simply add enough washers to make up the difference. I had to add four to each pull ring, but it will keep the hardware nice and snug.
Congratulations! Just a few simple steps later, you have transformed your furniture piece into something special.
Of course, this project isn’t recommended for a surface that will see a lot of wet and/or heavy, scraping use. It looks great, but it is only marble contact paper, after all.
That’s why it’s a perfect way to upgrade a nightstand.
And when your bedroom is small, and the nightstand must be squeezed in anyway, it’s a great way to help it hold its own, style-wise.
If you’ve smoothed it perfectly, the surface will be glossy and smooth and chic.
No one will probably mistake it for real marble, if they look closely. Because marble. But it’s awfully close.
And marble contact paper is a wonderful, inexpensive way to make your marble-loving heart soar. We certainly hope you enjoy your new sophisticated nightstand upgrade! (Do you like the stenciled pillow? Learn how to make one for yourself or for someone else).