Demolition Basics

by Carmen Corbin on February 26, 2012

It’s usually best to let bygones be bygones, but if you still have some pent up anger left for the kid that always gave you wedgies in middle school, or the annoying co-worker that won’t stop smacking her gum, then you might be able to channel those emotions into a useful task – remodeling demolition!   

There’s nothing like having a little fun while saving money on home improvement.  If you’re planning to renovate a kitchen, remove a wall or redo the bathroom, you can often do the demolition (in full or in part) by yourself, which will cut down on the amount of labor the contractor has to do.  But first let’s go over some basics and safety tips.

Basic Tools and Supplies

Safety:  Your first order of business is protecting yourself.  You’ll be making quite a mess, so safety goggles, a dusk mask or respirator and work gloves are essential.  Also be sure to wear a good pair of work boots – nails will go right through the sole of a tennis shoe, and if you drop something heavy on your feet while wearing flip-flops, you may end up with a broken toe.

Tools:  Sledgehammers, claw hammers, crowbars and pry bars are all great for tearing out walls and trim.  A flashlight will be helpful too to check inside wall cavities.  Use a reciprocating saw to trim up the edges.  If you are removing a tile floor, rent a power floor scraper to get the job done faster.  For carpeting, a sharp utility knife will help you score out small sections for easier removal.

Wall Removal

Once you have determined a wall is not load bearing (consult with a contractor or engineer), turn off the power and seal off the room with plastic to prevent dust from going into other rooms.  Before you go wacking away at the wall (don’t worry, that’ll come later!), carefully remove a small portion of each section to check for unforeseen obstacles like air ducts and electrical wiring.  If you encounter unexpected difficulties, call a home improvement contractor to come check it out.

If you’re removing any tile walls in the bathroom or kitchen, be sure to protect other surfaces like sinks and bathtubs.  You also might want to consider refinishing tubs and tiles instead of removing them (consult a bathtub refinishing professional for more information).

Demolition can be a lot of hard work, so go to bed early and skip the cooking.  Now is a great time to order pizza and then get a good night’s sleep so you’re ready to finish the job in the morning.

For more information on doing your own full or partial demolition, visit www.diynetwork.com or contact your local home improvement contractor.

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