A few nights ago we officially finished the demolition portion of our bathroom, so I wanted to share some of my tips for demoing safely. Even if you are going to hire a contractor for most of the work, you can save yourself a lot of money by doing the demo yourself. Here are 5 tips we followed to ensure a seamless (notice I didn’t say effortless) demo.
1. Skip the sledge hammer.
Seriously, these things do far more harm than they do good. The key to good demolition is take down exactly as much as is necessary and NO MORE. We recommend a sturdy hammer and a flat bar as your tools of choice.
2. Take out anything you are reusing first.
May sound like an obvious point, but take a few moments to consider everything you will reuse. Have you removed the trim? Is there another use for scrap wood? We are reusing our vanity doors as access panels for behind the showers in our home. What can you reuse or resell?
3. Where will the trash go?
See what services your city offers and figure out before the demo how you’ll get rid of the trash. Here in Springdale, AR the city will pick up construction waste or yard waste twice a year! How awesome is that? And if you stack it real nice they might take more than the 1 square yard they officially say they take! See if your town offers a similar service. If not, another affordable option is to use a truck or trailer to bring it to a dump. If you don’t have access to these Lowe’s and Home Depot offer a construction bag for around $100 including drop off and pick up. Just be sure to explore your options and make sure that the trash fits inside the limits of the dump service you’re using.
4. Be Intentional with the process.
Now you’re all ready to go to town right? If you have watched any DIY shows on TV your plan should be to do the opposite. Try to disassemble each piece one at a time. Think about how it was installed, and try to do the reverse. Not only is this the safest way, it is also the easiest and least messy way.
5. Use caution with water!
Plumbing was the greatest struggle in our renovation. Just turning off the water was not enough. If you are demoing near plumbing be sure to check if local shut offs are still working. Due to the pressure some of these may leak when closed, even though there are no leaks normally. Also empty any receptacles of water (like the toilet). Unless you want to use a turkey baster to get all the water out of the toilet like we did, take the toilet out before the shower so you can put the toilet directly in it to let it drain. Once the water main is shut off, run a faucet in your house to relieve pressure.
Use the overflow valve on the water heater to remove the last bit of pressure. This tip alone could have saved me 4 hours. Without doing this you may have water slowly leaking out of open pipes like we did.
Anyone can tear something up. Just be sure all your plans to put it back together are in place before your start so you don’t have an demo-ed room for months on end!