Removing Formica Backsplash

The time has come to remodel your kitchen. You have selected new flooring, countertops and lighting, and you are refinishing the cabinets. The one project you haven't planned for is the removal of the Formica backsplash. Formica, or plastic laminate, is a material often found in older homes, especially in the kitchen. Formica backsplashes are sometimes glued to the drywall but could also be nailed to the wall surface. Removing the backsplash requires patience and the right tools.

Tools Needed

You will need a hammer, crowbar, vise grips, eye goggles, a screwdriver (power or manual), putty knife, nose mask, gloves and a heat gun or hair dryer to start the Formica backsplash removal project. Wear gloves, eye goggles and long sleeves when removing anything containing nails or fasteners.

Removing the Metal Strips and Trim

Remove any metal strips and trim holding the Formica backsplash in place first by hammering a crowbar between the strips and the Formica. Then take some vise grips and grab the Formica by one end and pull it away from the wall's surface. This will help in determining if the material is glued to the drywall, screwed or nailed. If the Formica comes up easy and you don't see any visible nails or screws, the backsplash is glued to the wall. If you start seeing nails or screws, you will need the crowbar to pry the backsplash from the wall. It may take a lot of strength and pull the Formica forcibly from the wall. If the screws are exposed, try to remove them using a power screwdriver or regular screwdriver, and then pull the backsplash up using a crowbar. Keep in mind the backsplash may also be screwed to the countertop.

Removing a Glued Formica Backsplash

If the backsplash is glued to the drywall, use a putty knife heated with a heat gun or hair dryer to remove the material from the wall. Start with one section of the backsplash. Place a heated putty knife under the surface, and pull out forcibly. The glue behind the backsplash will start to loosen. You will have to use a combination of pulling and using the heated knife. Keep drywall damage to a minimum by pulling off large sections of the backsplash instead of small ones. Do not place the heat gun or hair dryer to the Formica itself; this will cause fumes to emit and is a fire hazard. Continue heating and pulling until the Formica backsplash is removed.

Patching/Removing the Drywall

After the Formica backsplash has been removed, the drywall that contained the backsplash will have to be patched with drywall paste or cut out and replaced with some new drywall or similar material. If you plan on installing another backsplash, remove the damaged portion of the drywall and replace with new material. If you plan on painting the former backsplash, patch with drywall paste, sand to make it smooth, then paint the surface.

Nick Davis

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.