Whether you rent or own your home, work in an office, or just need better places to put things, shelf liners are very useful for protecting items and the places in which they are stored. Able to be inserted into drawers, cabinets, closets, pantries, or even wire shelves, shelf liners provide a surface that protects the original surfaces from damage and keeps your items clean.
Here we have helped you narrow down the thousands of choices available by reviewing the top 10 shelf liners.
Do I Really Need Shelf Liners?
While shelf liners may not seem necessary they can make cleaning and storage much easier. They also provide a fun way for you to add color and patterns in unexpected places, making a space more of your own.
Here are some of the main advantages:
Protects storage areas and items from damage
Since it’s usually out of sight, we often don’t think about all the damage done to drawers, shelves, and cabinets through ordinary daily use. This can be especially important if you are renting a property and want to avoid any repair fees. Shelf liners also provide a softer, more forgiving surface for the items you are storing, reducing wear and tear.
Keeps things cleaner
Many cabinets and other storage spaces are not designed with cleaning in mind. They can have very hard to reach spots where dust and other debris can accumulate. Shelf liners are designed to be easily cleaned and many can be removed and replaced, making cleaning a snap. And when moving into a new space, shelf liners can give owners peace of mind that items like dishes and glasses are stored on brand new surfaces.
Protects from moisture
Even a little bit of water can damage many storage surfaces, especially wood and laminate, and eventually lead to mold. Shelf liners provide a seal against this water seepage and can be easily removed and dried out.
Prevents shifting items
Many shelf liners have a slightly textured or rubber top which ‘grips’ items and keeps them from sliding. This helps protect your items from scratches and other damage from bumping into each other every time you open a draw or other storage area.
They are stylish
Shelf liners can add flair to otherwise boring shelves and other surfaces. They add a whole new dimension of decorating options and can give users new ways of making a space ‘their own.’
Covers holes in wire shelves
Wire shelves can be great for some items, but pretty useless for others depending on the size of the gaps in the wire. Shelf lines can give you the option to make wire shelves into a solid surface, expanding the types of items that can be stored.
Types of Shelf Liners
There are several different types of shelf liners, each with its own set of characteristics which makes them more suitable for different needs. We’ve outlined these below so that you can decide which works best for your situation.
Foam shelf liners have a texture that prevents slippage. Combined with sponginess, these types of liners are ideal for holding fragile items such as china or easily bruised fruits and vegetables.
Ideal for holding fruit and vegetables in the fridge.
Keeps items in place.
Does not damage the original surface.
Can be shaped with scissors.
Easily washed and dried.
Not as easy to find.
Some options are very cheaply produced.
Foam sheets may be oddly shaped or come in small squares.
Because it is thicker than paper or fabric, these liners are more durable. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns and can be either adhesive or non-adhesive. They can also be used on any type of surface, including wired shelves.
Widely available in a variety of patterns and colors.
Non-adhesive and adhesive options.
Easy to shape with scissors.
Not easy to reuse if adhesive.
Adhesive-backed vinyl can be harder to apply.
Adhesive-backed vinyl may leave a sticky residue when removed from the surface.
Fabric shelf liners are soft, which is a good option for use on surfaces you do not want to scratch. They also won’t leave residue behind. Like vinyl, they come in a huge variety of prints and colors. The downside of fabric is that they are not as durable as other options and do not offer protection against moisture and spills.
Soft texture won’t damage your shelves.
Won’t leave behind sticky residue.
Widely available in a variety of prints and colors.
Washable and easily reused.
Will not absorb much water.
Offer little moisture protection.
If not secured, they can slip and bunch up on the surface.
Since they’re solid and sturdy, this is a great option for open wire shelves. They are also waterproof and easy to clean. Being made of plastic makes them harder to trim to the desired shape and size so we recommend finding one that’s already your desired size.
Strong and sturdy.
Great for open wire shelves.
Easy to clean.
Hard to cut to preferred shape and size.
Not as gentle on delicate items.
How to Choose the Best Shelf Liners
To choose the optimal shelf liner for you specific needs, consider the following characteristics:
Adhesive or Non-adhesive
Shelf liners can come with pre-applied adhesive that allows you to fix it to the surface. They generally work like a big sticker. Adhesive liners tend to be cheaper as well. But they can damage certain surfaces like unfinished wood and cork. They can be hard to remove and can leave behind a sticky film that is hard to clean. Once removed, they usually cannot be reused. Non-adhesive liners have a non-slip texture that generally does a good job of keeping them in place, though not as well as adhesive. They are also slightly thicker, which can offer greater protection.
Picking the right material is a critical step that really depends on how you want to use your liner. Plastic and vinyl are more durable than fabric or foam but may not be as easily shaped and may allow more damage to your surfaces. Foam offers more protection but tears up more easily under heavy use.
The type of shelf or storage surface you have is a key factor on what type of liner you will need. If you have delicate items that need to be secured, a liner with better grip is probably needed. If your surface is exposed to moisture from washed dishes or other kitchen items, you probably want to pick a plastic or vinyl liner that can keep water out. Wire shelves need a liner that will keep items from falling through the holes.
Shelf liners come in a wide variety of prices, usually measured by the square foot. Generally the larger the amount you buy, the lower the cost. However this also depends on the type of material.
Ease of Cleaning
How often a surface needs to be cleaned should be a factor in choosing a liner type. Plastics are the easiest to clean followed by vinyl. Fabrics can usually be washed like clothing and reused. Most foam liners can be hand washed with soap and warm water.
Some liners come scented. These can freshen areas that can become musty or have other odors. However, these scents can also be transferred to food and clothing, or may be irritating to some people.
Shelf liners come in numerous colors and patterns. You can find the right ones to match your decor or use them as accents.
How to remove leftover shelf liner adhesive
When it is time to remove a shelf liner, it is important to first check the manufacturer’s instructions, which may have specific advice on the best method.
If you can’t find specific instructions, or the ones provided don’t work, try this method:
Heat one corner of the adhesive for about a minute using a hair dryer. This warms the adhesive and loosens it.
Slide a putty knife under this loosened corner. Lift and peel the corner until the liner stops lifting off the surface.
Next, spray the adhesive side with warm water, concentrating on the edge of the liner still attached to the surface. Let the water seep under the edge. Pull up more of the liner. You can repeat this step until the entire liner comes off.
If, at any point, the water stops working, heat the edge and repeat.
Once the liner has been removed, use your putty knife to scrape off any residue remaining on the original surface. If this doesn’t remove all the adhesive, use a cloth soaked in adhesive remover and scrub off the remaining sticky residue.
Use soapy water to clean the shelf well before applying a new shelf liner.
How Do You Get a Shelf Liner to Stay In Place?
If it is an adhesive liner, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s non-adhesive, one side is probably non-slip which helps to keep it in place. However, you can also add double sided tape to the drawer or shelf before placing the shelf liner down which will secure it more.
Should You Put Liners in Kitchen Cabinets?
There are no downsides to using liners in your kitchen cabinets and drawers. They keep the existing surfaces clean and free from damage. This is especially true if you don’t fully dry dishes or glasses. Shelf liners can prevent the moisture from damaging your original surfaces. They also make clean up of spills, such as syrup or oil, much easier.
Is Contact Paper the Same As a Shelf Liner?
Contact paper was the ‘original’ shelf liner. People found that by putting down contact paper, they could protect their surfaces. However, much better, dedicated shelf lining products are on the market.
Whether you are looking to line kitchen cabinets, garage storage, dorm room shelves, hall closets, or any other shelving system, we have many versatile and attractive options to choose from.