How to Remove Formica From Kitchen Cabinets

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Formica is a pressed laminate found in many kitchens and bathrooms. It is a durable surface material, resistant to scratching and heat. Over time, you may decide to replace the Formica for a fresh, new color, or you may decide that you want to change your kitchen for a completely different look. Removing the Formica laminate from kitchen cabinets is an easy process that is labor intensive. The care you take in removing the Formica will depend on whether you plan on re-using it elsewhere. If the laminate will be scrapped, then you don't need to worry about it coming off in parts.

Things You'll Need

  • Glue solvent
  • Putty knife
  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Heat gun
  • Safety goggles
  • Screwdriver
  • Paint brush

Use a screwdriver to remove all hardware from the cabinets from which Formica will be removed. Take all doors off the cabinets so you can work with them on a stable tabletop.

Put on safety goggles and rubber gloves. As you pull laminate away from the cabinet, it can snap and break into pieces. Goggles will protect your eyes. Rubber gloves protect your hands from exposure to the solvent, which can burn your skin. Lacquer thinner is a commonly used solvent.

Paint a layer of solvent along the seam of the Formica. Turn the heat gun on low and position it at the seam to loosen the Formica.

Insert the putty knife into the seam, working your way under the Formica and pulling it away from the underlying base. Work in one movement, avoiding wiggling the putty knife back and forth. This may scratch the underlying surface, which will create more work for you later in refinishing it.

Continue to apply solvent and heat along the area you are working on to dissolve glue and reduce the amount of work you need to perform.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to reuse the Formica for a different project, use small wooden dowels under the areas you have already lifted to create a barrier between the Formica and the underlying wood.

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