Whether you're remodeling your kitchen, your basement, a bathroom, or your whole house—there's more to demolition than meets the eye.
The best way to ensure a smooth DIY demolition project is to know what to expect.
Our tips will help ensure you're prepared.
1. Be Prepared for the Mess
Demolition is a messy job and will uncover evidence of pet stains, rodents/insects, and of course, dust and debris—all of this adds up to one dirty job, so be prepared with a dumpster.
Dumpsters are a perfect catchall for any trash and debris you come across during the process.
If you really want to save money—and help out others and the environment while you’re at it—then consider re-using, re-purposing, or selling whenever possible.
Crown molding, wood flooring, and cabinets are excellent examples of things you may no longer want, but someone else may love to take off your hands.
Before the heavy-duty work begins, make a mental note of any standout items you think you’ll want to re-use/re-purpose, donate, or sell.
Similarly, if you have a fire pit, consider having a “burn” pile for the things that are safe to burn.
Once the work gets started, you’ll have an easy way to organize the mess, and you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be able to re-use, donate, or sell.
This will help contribute to a smooth and easy demo project.
2. Plan Your Attack
The order in which you perform demo hugely impacts your productivity, so think through your plan of attack before getting started.
Some aspects of demo will take longer than others, and should be accommodated accordingly.
For example, it’s always best to remove any carpeting first. This makes sweeping up nails and dust easier.
Also, because cabinets take awhile to build, existing cabinets should be removed early on so the new ones can be measured and assembled.
3. Gather Your Tools First
Some tools are just plain invaluable when it comes to demolition, and they should be collected before demo starts to make things easy.
The fewer trips you have to make to the home improvement store, the better.
Even more, you’ll want to keep all your tools in one easy-to-access location; and always put them back after using them so you’re never left searching like a chicken with its head cut off.
Here is a list of some of the most useful tools for a demolition project:
- contractor grade trash bags (home depot)
- good work gloves
- lightweight hammer
- utility knife + replacement blades
- electric drill & bits
- spray bottle (for wallpaper removal)
- bucket (plumbing mishaps)
- broom and dustpan
- shop vac (one with a filter that can suck up drywall dust)
- flat head screwdriver
- protective goggles & masks
4. Be Safe
Demolition isn’t as straightforward as swinging a sledgehammer. There are electrical lines, water lines, loadbearing walls, and other things you will need to be careful to avoid.
Not only can haphazard demo lead to serious injury, but it can also add up to you paying much more than you bargained for.
- Before You Start DIY Interior Demolition, Don't Forget to Do This...
- The Homeowner's Guide to Interior Demolition
- Asbestos: Everything a Homeowner Needs to Know
5. Don't Be Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty
Now, with safety in mind (and an idea of what’s behind your walls), don’t hesitate to use a little elbow grease.
You can be a lot rougher than you think. The main things you really don’t want to damage are plumbing, load-bearing walls, and anything you plan on keeping (e.g. drywall, bath tub, etc.).
Learn more: Wall Demolition Tips for the DIY Homeowner
6. Ask for Help
Demolition doesn't have to be a drag, and some people might relish the opportunity to swing a sledgehammer and take out some frustrations.
Don’t be shy—ask friends or family to pitch in with some of the work in exchange for plenty of food and drinks (and lots of appreciation).
7. If You Can't Handle the "Destruction," Hire It Out
It can be overwhelming to see a mess in several rooms of your house, especially when you're living in-house during the demolition work.
So, if you stress out over messiness and dust, it's probably best to let the pros handle the job.
They’ll be able to handle the work faster than you could, and they'll handle the cleanup for you.
Money Saving Tip: Some demolition contractors also do remodeling work, and hiring the same person to do all the work is a great way to save some money.