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I want to specify the style of table borders (formal vs. default) in a LyX .layout file. How can I do that?

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Currently, this is not possible. I opened a Feature Request at LyX at lyx.org/trac/ticket/8360 – andreas-h Oct 7 '12 at 12:47

This is at the moment not possible, but a feature request has been posted at LyX.org:

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yes, I know, I filed it ;-) – andreas-h Jan 8 '13 at 17:59
@andreas-h Of course, I know. I posted this answer during our last "Answer the unanswered" session in the chat (meta post here). That's why I made it community wiki, which means I won't get any reputation for it (I basically copied you comment anyway ...). I should perhaps have posted a comment asking you to post an answer instead, sorry about that. – Torbjørn T. Jan 8 '13 at 18:13

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