Your Place: Saving Formica wall may not be worth the effort

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Q: I have Formica on my kitchen walls ó in an arched doorway, on both of the doorway walls. However, one of these has curved from buckling, and Iím afraid to take it off the wall and try to get it to lay flat again without it cracking.

They do not make this pattern of Formica anymore, and itís the same pattern that is also on my kitchen countertop, so you see why Iím desperate to try to save it.

Is there anything I can do to save this piece of Formica? It measures 75 inches tall by 13 inches wide.

A: Everything I have seen online involves repairing Formica countertops, and you can Google it yourself to see the variety of recommendations.

At, you can observe the installation of Formica walls, which might give you an idea of how yours were done.

I have also read a number of essays on the Internet about preservation, and it seems the consensus is that Formica walls date from a period of home building ó post World War II until the early 1960s ó when they were in vogue.

These essays suggest that when it comes to preservation, we pick our battles, and that this might be one that you should not be fighting.

As someone who spent a considerable period of my life trying to preserve what I could of older houses that I owned, I am uneasy about suggesting that there comes a time when you should consider doing something other than trying to rescue what isnít worth saving.

For example, given a choice of preserving a plaster ceiling or replacing it with drywall, I chose to preserve or, when that was impossible, to replace it with new plaster.

The fact that the Internet is offering us access to so much information (be careful how and what you use of that information, though) and that I cannot find anything that directly addresses your situation likely means that preserving 50- or 60-year-old Formica walls just isnít being done.

Could I be wrong? Sure.

On the other hand, I know what people want when they buy a house, and Formica walls arenít high on the list.

If at all.