10 Tried-and-True Demolition Tools Every DIY Remodeler Should Know
Having these hard-working tools on hand will prove invaluable during your next DIY demolition project.
Whether you’re gutting a 1970s-style bathroom, converting the kitchen and living room into an open floor plan, or embarking on any other remodeling projects, you’re likely going to have to tear a few things apart to get the job done.
Demolition can involve bashing through walls, ripping up old flooring, or even cutting through corroded metal plumbing. Since you won’t be doing any of those things with your bare hands, you’re going to need a good set of demo tools. Ahead, learn about some of the best teardown tools for remodeling.
Before you can bring in the new, you’ve got to pull out the old. Few tools are better suited for smashing apart the latter than a good sledgehammer. With a forged, heat-treated steel end that includes a wedged side and flat side, this 16-pounder from Fiskars is adept at taking down walls and pounding through concrete. Its IsoCore Shock Control System reduces by half the amount of impact shock transferred to the operator versus sledgehammers with wooden handles.
2. Reciprocating Saw
Fitted with the right blade, a reciprocating saw can cut through virtually any material, be it wood, iron, plaster, plastic, or stone. This versatile cutting ability makes it the ideal power tool for almost any home improvement project that calls for demolition. Powered by an 18-volt battery, this reciprocating saw from Makita can deliver up to 2,800 strokes of cutting power per minute yet weighs just over 8 pounds. And, with its tool-less blade change system, it won’t slow you down while you work.
3. Pry Bar
Whether it’s laying tile or hanging drywall, home improvement projects often involve attaching materials to other materials. When it’s time to remodel, the best option for undoing those connections is a double-headed crowbar or pry bar, which is adept at separating everything from drywall and framing to tile and concrete. The key to using a pry bar is finding that angle for maximum leverage between the two pieces that need separating. With a pivoting head that locks into 15 different positions, this 30-inch demolition bar from Crescent allows you to do just that.
4. Demolition Hammer
This power demolition tool uses the same principles as a jackhammer in a smaller size that’s suitable for DIYers. It uses a motor to create a hammering action that drives its chisel-shaped head into concrete, brick, and other masonry. It’s ideal for breaking through concrete walls or even removing old tile. With a light weight and features that include padded ergonomic handles and variable speed settings, this Bosch demolition hammer is ideal for home improvement projects.
Demolition often involves removing old fasteners. Most demo bars have nail removers that will take care of intact nails, but what do you do when you encounter a nail with a sheared-off head or screws that can’t be pried out? A good pair of locking pliers will hold onto nail shafts or screw heads, gripping them tightly so you can pull them out or unscrew them. With its jagged teeth, this set of Irwin locking pliers bites deeply into screw heads or nail shafts for maximum grip. The longer handle and curved head provide ample leverage for pulling nails out of wood.
6. Nail Puller
While a pair of pliers or a pry bar can remove old fasteners, it’s best to employ the services of a good nail puller if your demoing job involves removing a lot of stubborn nails. These specialty tools have pincer-style heads specially designed to grip nails that are flush with the material’s surface and provide ample leverage for maximum pulling power. With its L-shaped design and curved jaws, this Crescent nail puller is one of your best options for pulling out those hard-to-grip nail heads.
7. Tin Snips
Though not a requirement for all demolition jobs, if you need to cut through metal sheeting, then you need a pair of tin snips. These tools are ideal for cutting away old ductwork if you’re remodeling your HVAC system or chewing through metal wire lath when removing an old plaster wall. This pair of Irwin tin snips is capable of cutting through 24-gauge rolled steel or 26-gauge stainless steel.
While a sledgehammer may do more damage with each swing, a standard hammer allows for a more surgical strike. Its lighter weight and compact size allow you to remove smaller sections of drywall without causing the collateral damage that comes with a sledgehammer. Once the drywall is gone, flip the hammer over to remove any remaining nails with its claw side. With a grip designed to reduce impact vibration and a lightweight aluminum body, this Estwing framing hammer is ideal for light demolition.
9. Demo Fork
If your remodeling jobs involve ripping up old flooring or removing rotting deck boards, you (and your back) need a demo fork. These specialized tools are made from steel and feature long handles with a forked end that allow you to produce the massive amount of torque needed to pry free boards nailed into framing or subfloor while remaining in a back-friendly standing position. With its four-tine design and 40-inch length, the Honey Badger demo fork produces ample power for floor-wrecking jobs.
10. Oscillating Multi-tool
With its numerous blade options and small size, this Swiss army knife of power tools is ideal for demolition efforts that demand control and detail. Use a hacksaw blade to slice off a protruding nail, switch to a grinding blade to cut through an old galvanized pipe, or equip the tool with a Sheetrock blade to cut out small sections of drywall. An oscillating tool makes it easy to remove a variety of materials without causing damage to the areas around it. With its 52 pieces and high 3-amp power output, Porter Cable’s oscillating tool can handle a variety of demolition jobs.
The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on 2/28/22.