How to Remove Formica Backsplash

A formica backsplash can be a stylish and practical addition to any kitchen. Made from a durable plastic laminate material, formica backsplashes resist stains, moisture, and heat. However, over time, formica can become outdated, damaged, or you may just be ready for a change. Removing a formica backsplash is a big project but can be accomplished with some time and effort. Here is a detailed guide on how to remove a formica backsplash in your kitchen.

Assessing the Formica Backsplash

Before removing your formica backsplash, take some time to assess its current condition.

  • Carefully inspect the formica for any cracks, peeling edges, or areas of damage. Make note of any problem spots.
  • Determine if the formica is firmly attached to the wall or pulling away in areas. Try gently pulling at the edges to test the strength of the adhesive.
  • Check for moisture damage like bubbling or discoloration which can indicate leaks or water infiltration behind the backsplash.
  • Assess if you want to remove the entire formica backsplash or just part of it. This will impact your removal process.

Thoroughly inspecting the backsplash first allows you to understand what kind of condition it is in and how difficult removal may be. This will also help you determine the best techniques and tools for taking it down.

Gather the Proper Materials

Removing a formica backsplash requires having the right tools and supplies on hand. Gather these materials before starting demo work:

  • Pry bar: A pry bar is essential for loosening the formica from the wall. Opt for one with a flattened tip to prevent damaging the wall surface.
  • Utility knife: Use a sharp utility knife to score cut lines in the backsplash to make removal easier.
  • Heat gun: A heat gun softens the adhesive behind the formica for simpler removal.
  • Paint scraper: Scrapers help pry up formica pieces once adhesive is loosened. Get a rigid one for more leverage.
  • Goggles and gloves: Wear protective goggles and thick work gloves for safety when demoing.
  • Drop cloths: Have drop cloths on hand to protect floors and surfaces from debris.
  • Garbage bags: You’ll need plenty of bags for all the formica pieces and adhesive residue you’ll remove.
  • Adhesive remover: Adhesive remover solutions help clean off any leftover sticky residue after removal.

Having the right demolition tools for taking down the formica backsplash makes the whole process much more efficient and safe.

Prepare the Work Area

To get started removing the formica backsplash, you first need to set up a safe workspace.

  • Clear out the area directly in front of the backsplash of any items or appliances. This creates open space to work.
  • Protect nearby surfaces like countertops with drop cloths.
  • Have a stepladder handy to reach any high areas of the backsplash.
  • Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows and turning on exhaust fans. This is crucial when using a heat gun which can generate fumes.
  • Turn off electricity running to outlets or light switches covered by the backsplash. Shut off the main water supply as well in case any pipes are behind the formica.

Preparing the workspace helps you safely and efficiently demolish the formica backsplash without damaging surrounding kitchen surfaces.

Cut and Remove the Formica in Sections

With your tools gathered and workspace prepped, it’s time to start removing the formica backsplash. The key is to take it down in small, manageable sections.

Score the Formica

Use a sharp utility knife to score cut lines through the finish layer of the formica:

  • Make straight cuts in a grid pattern to section the backsplash into pieces 6-12 inches wide.
  • Don’t cut too deeply, just enough to penetrate the top layer of the laminate.
  • Take care when scoring near electrical outlets – avoid wires.

Scoring creates perforated lines in the formica so it can be removed in individual pieces instead of whole sheets.

Loosen the Formica

Once scoring cuts are made, the next step is loosening the formica pieces from the adhesive:

  • Use a heat gun to warm the formica, which softens the adhesive underneath. Apply heat evenly across each section, moving the gun slowly back and forth.
  • Then, insert a pry bar under each cut edge, working it back and forth to lift that section.
  • You can also use a paint scraper to wedge under the formica and pry upwards.
  • Work in stages, using gradual pressure with the pry bar to slowly pull the formica away from the wall as the adhesive releases.

Taking your time loosening each piece prevents ripping off chunks of drywall or tile underneath. Patience is key.

Remove and Dispose of the Pieces

After loosening a whole section, you can now fully remove it:

  • Once it pulls freely from the wall, carefully maneuver the formica piece down and off the surface. Watch for any nails or screws.
  • Immediately place removed pieces into garbage bags for quick cleanup.
  • Use a putty knife or adhesive remover to clean off any remaining adhesive residue left on the wall.
  • Take down additional sections methodically across the backsplash until it is fully demoed.

Safely removing and containing the formica debris streamlines the entire backsplash removal process without leaving a big mess.

Repair and Prepare the Wall for New Backsplash

With the formica backsplash totally removed, examine the exposed wall for any damage that needs repair:

  • Use joint compound to patch holes, cracks, or uneven spots so the surface is completely smooth. Allow patches to dry fully.
  • Sand down any bumps or rough adhesive residue for an even finish. Wipe away all dust.
  • Prime and paint the walls with an appropriate primer and latex paint suited for kitchen use.
  • Check for any plumbing or electrical issues behind the wall which should be addressed before installing the new backsplash.

Properly repairing and preparing the wall creates an ideal surface for installing your fresh, new backsplash design.

Dispose of Debris Safely

Once the formica backsplash demo is complete, you need to properly contain and dispose of the waste:

  • Place all formica pieces, adhesive scraps, tools, and protective coverings used during removal into heavy duty garbage bags.
  • Seal bags fully and transport to a dumpster or arrange a special debris pick up with your local waste company.
  • Wear gloves when handling waste and avoid breathing any dust from debris.
  • Dispose of any liquids used like adhesive remover properly as well. Never pour them down drains.

Safely containing and disposing of construction debris keeps your work site clean while protecting the environment.

Hire a Professional for Asbestos Abatement

Here’s one very important safety note about removing formica backsplash: If your formica contains asbestos, you should not attempt removal yourself. Asbestos is hazardous if its fibers become airborne.

Instead, you must hire certified asbestos abatement professionals for safe removal and disposal. They will come prepared with proper safety gear, containment protocols, specialized tools, and disposal procedures.

Don’t take risks trying to remove asbestos yourself – leave it to the experienced experts. Hire pros like a local licensed demolition contractor for worry-free formica backsplash removal.

FAQs About Removing Formica Backsplash

Removing a formica backsplash in your kitchen is a big project that likely raises many questions. Here are helpful answers to some frequently asked questions about taking out a formica backsplash:

Is it Hard to Remove Formica Backsplash?

Removing formica backsplash can be challenging but it’s very doable with the right tools and techniques. The key steps of scoring cuts, heating to loosen adhesive, and slowly prying it off in sections make the process much more manageable. Just be sure to work carefully and deliberately. Rushing increases your chance of damaging the wall.

How Do I Soften Formica Backsplash Adhesive?

A heat gun is the most effective tool for softening the adhesive behind formica backsplash for removal. Simply heat the formica slowly and evenly across each section until the adhesive becomes pliable enough for the formica to be pried off cleanly. Avoid any open flames which can scorch or burn the materials.

What Chemical Removes Formica Backsplash?

Standard adhesive remover solutions available at hardware stores can assist in removing any leftover sticky residue after taking down the formica backsplash. Always follow product instructions closely and never mix chemical solutions together as this can create toxic fumes. Wear gloves and proper ventilation is crucial when using chemical removers.

Can I Put New Backsplash Over Existing Formica?

It’s not recommended to install new backsplash tile or panels directly over existing formica. The formica likely won’t provide a smooth, secure surface for the new backsplash to adhere properly. Taking the time to fully remove the formica and prep the wall will help ensure your new backsplash lasts for many years.

Is Formica Expensive to Remove Professionally?

Hiring contractors to remove and dispose of formica backsplash typically costs $3-$6 per square foot depending on labor rates in your area. So for a 10 foot by 5 foot backsplash, expect to pay $150 to $300 for professional removal. The investment is often worthwhile to ensure proper asbestos abatement if needed and avoid disposal headaches.

Is it Worth Removing Formica Backsplash?

If your formica backsplash is outdated, damaged, or you’re simply ready for a new look, removing it is likely worth your while. Taking out the formica fully lets you install fresh backsplash materials like tile, marble, or stone that can significantly update your kitchen’s style. Just be prepared for the time commitment and physical labor involved in removal.

Removing Formica Backsplash – In Closing

After learning how to fully remove a formica backsplash, you can feel ready to tackle this project and reinvigorate your kitchen with beautiful new finishes. With the right prep work, tools, and safety gear, removing formica backsplash is an achievable process for any motivated DIYer. Just focus on working methodically section-by-section.

Keep in mind proper debris containment and disposal procedures as well. And if any asbestos is discovered, immediately stop work and call in professional abatement experts. With some perseverance and patience, you can successfully transform your kitchen by removing outdated or damaged formica backsplash.

Steps to Remove Formica Backsplash

  • Inspect formica for any damage or moisture issues
  • Gather needed tools like pry bar, heat gun, gloves, and drop cloths
  • Prep the workspace by turning off electricity and clearing area
  • Score cut lines into formica with utility knife in a grid pattern
  • Use heat gun to warm and soften adhesive behind formica
  • Insert pry bar under cut edges and slowly pull formica off wall
  • Dispose of debris safely by containing pieces in bags
  • Repair and smooth wall surface in preparation for new backsplash
  • Never attempt removal if formica contains asbestos – hire abatement pros