The best demolition tools depend on the size and nature of the job.
If you are just taking fixtures off the walls, or removing adhesive from a floor surface for example, hand held light demolition tools will do.
Bigger tasks like mass tile removal, concrete breaking and knocking down partitions, will require heavy duty power tools in many instances.
Below we’ve listed 14 of the best demolition tools for both light and heavy tasks
Best Demolition Tools: For Light, & Heavy Demolition
Remember, demolition can create a lot of dust, debris and mess.
Make sure to put down drop sheets on the floor, tape up and protect surrounding wall areas, and have a shop vac handy for cleaning up dust.
A small bin, wheelbarrow, or skip can help you get rid of small and big debris.
Screwdrivers can be good for two things.
Firstly, they can be used for their intended use which would be to loosen mainly Phillips head and slot head screws.
If you need to remove some type of fixture or object that is screwed to a wall or surface – a screwdriver will do this. We particularly like magnetic screwdrivers, because who likes chasing loose screws around the floor when you drop them?
Secondly, screwdrivers can be used as a sharp/pointed object, to penetrate through small areas of drywall for example.
2. Claw Hammer
Claw hammers have a blunt hammer side, and a claw side.
The blunt side can be used to break off, or knock free light materials – like drywall, soft tiles and some types of wood, among other materials and objects.
They are also handy for using the claw end to pull free nails holding down sheets.
3. Chisel or Scraper
A good complement to a claw hammer.
Chisels are fantastic for getting under, or in between almost all materials apart from steel.
You can use a chisel to lift tiles for example, or get in between brick mortar joints.
Scrapers are great for removing adhesive on a concrete surface, or for removing paint and other surface treatments.
4. Pliers with nipping function
Pliers are very versatile if you get them with the nipping function at the base of the jaws.
You can use the plier jaws to pull, twist and break nails and other fixings.
The nippers can be used to snip thin gauge steel like wire fencing, or thin nails.
5. Dremel Rotary Tool
This is where we get into the first of the light demolition power tools.
The Dremel rotary tool is a finishing tool for very light detail demolition, with only up to 1.8 Amps in their most powerful rotary tool – the Dremel 4300.
However, a Dremel can take a range of bits and attachments for demolition activities such as cutting, grinding and sanding.
There are electric Dremel tools, or tradesmen who move around a lot might find the cordless Dremel 8220 useful for small cutting and grinding tasks like shearing bolts, nails and screws for example.
6. Die Grinder
A die grinder sits somewhere in between a Dremel and an angle grinder in terms of power, size and capabilities.
Like the Dremel – it basically takes a range of discs, blades and other accessories to perform a wide variety of tasks. But, they usually come in at somewhere between 4 to 7 Amps for the mid sized models (compared to the Dremel’s 1.8).
Cutting various materials like steel, wood and plastic, grinding steel and taking the surface of different materials – the die grinder can do it.
7. Oscillating Tool
The oscillating tool is another multi-tool, and has a range of functions like both the Dremel and Die Grinder.
They are good if you want to saw, sand, rasp, grind, scrape or cut whilst taking apart or demolishing a project.
Oscillating tools are particularly good for working on an angle, and they operate with a side to side movement, as opposed to the rotary action of the Dremel and die grinders.
Now the fun begins…
Crowbars can be used to:
Pull up nails with the hooked end
Pry apart two surfaces or materials with either end
Penetrate softer materials with the straight end (such as drywall)
Crowbars also go by a lot of other names such as a pry bar, a jimmy, wrecking bars and more.
A similar tool some people use to a crow bar is a san angelo bar.
Sledgehammers are good for one thing – swinging into and breaking objects and surfaces
Drywall, tiles, brick, concrete and just about any small-medium area of material can be blown apart with a sledgehammer in a matter of minutes.
Sledgehammers can be very hard on the hands and bones – so consider a power tool for demolishing larger areas of hard materials.
10. Rotary Hammer
The first of the heavy demolition power tools.
As a comparison…
A rotary hammer has around 2.5 ft-lbs impact energy, a demolition hammer around 10 ft-lbs, and jack hammers have anywhere between 30-60 ft-lbs.
Power rotary hammers are much lighter than the bigger power tools, which means better control for the smaller areas.
They accept various attachments, such as chisels and points which can be used for breaking, lifting, scraping, digging/landscaping and more.
11. Demolition Hammer
Read our guide on demolition hammers here.
A demolition hammer is held by the user, and used mainly horizontally – compared to a jackhammer which usually rests its weight on the ground, and is operated vertically.
Demolition hammers can be used for a range of tasks like chipping and breaking concrete, lifting tiles, demolition concrete and brick walls, and digging/landscaping (when equipped with a spade attachment).
Read about 15 different demolition hammer and jackhammer bits here.
Jackhammers are the biggest and baddest power tools on this list.
As mentioned above, they can deliver anywhere from 30-60 ft-lbs of impact energy for the mid to bigger sized models.
Jackhammers are used to break and demolish the hardest materials and largest surface areas.
You can get jackhammer pavement breakers, which are good for breaking pavement, sidewalks and roads.
Read a guide on the best jackhammers here.
13. Angle Grinder
We needed a powerful demolition tool that could both cut and grind.
That tool is the angle grinder.
Angle grinders come standard as 4.5 inch diameter disc models, but also come in huge 7 and 9 inch diameter disc models.
These bigger models come with over 5 horsepower in some models – that’s a lot of model for cutting and grinding metal and other tough surfaces.
When cutting, they generally will not provide a precise cut like a circular saw.
14. Circular Saw
The circular saw will give you a powerful and precise cut (compared to the angle grinder) on both hard and soft materials – metal, PVC pipes, concrete, bricks and more.
If you’re looking for serious cutting power, it might be worth looking into a cut off saw.
NOTE: Remember, demolition can be a very dangerous process if you don’t do it correctly.
Always put together a Safe Work plan before you commence demolition – consult a professional if necessary.
Some other things to keep in mind are:
Check with your local council to get approvals where necessary, and to make sure what you’re doing is legal
Call in professionals when you think you’re dealing with asbestos
Never tough structural beams or supports – call in professionals if this is a problem
Only demolish on your own private land
Wear the appropriate PPE – safety glasses, hardhat, steel cap boots, dust mask, hearing protection, gloves, long sleeves and pants, high vis clothing etc.
Put up hazard signage where necessary and restrict access to the area