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Erin Loechner

I'm currently in the throes of a passionate love affair with my new fixer-upper in the Midwest. Although my husband and I have been hard at work planning, designing and contracting the home (we purchased the 3200 square foot ranch in November), we've just officially arrived into demolition territory this week.

Now, I've worked on a house or two in my day and I know that, under normal circumstances, there's nothing more exciting than taking a sledgehamer to an unnecessary wall in order to brighten a space. But this house? This house has more drywall than my patience allows. The process has been slow-going to say the least.

After we determined which walls were load-bearing and which were safe to demolish, turned off the electrical breaker and removed baseboards and trim, we set out to tear down those walls. Although our demolition area was plaster-free and fairly easy to work with, the task was much harder than I anticipated.

Up until now, my idea of demolition was to aimlessly attack random parts of a wall with blunt, heavy objects. But it turns out there is a right way to demo. My husband -- who's more experienced than me in the demolition department -- offered some advice the first few days of our drywall project. And although I hate to admit it, his advice was really solid.

When removing drywall on both sides of a wall, he said, the trick is to demolish one wall and then use your hands to push the remaining drywall out through the other side. Not only do your muscles get relief from experiencing a different range of motion, but, scientifically, pushing is much easier than pulling. And after putting his theory to the test, my demo time dropped from 45 minutes per wall to 20 -- and with much less effort.

Another trick I learned? Ditch the heavy tools. When demolishing the right way, a few select tools will do the trick just fine. I worked best using just a hammer, crowbar and my own two hands. By using the hammer to bust just one hole into the drywall and then pulling remaining pieces loose with my hands, the resulting drywall chunks were much bigger and easier to manage (thus, easier to clean up).

Lastly, remember that even if you can't see it, drywall dust goes everywhere. We like to use a mold remediation mask because nothing gets through to your lungs and you don't have to fuss with a pair of fogging safety glasses.

Never again will I blindly take a sledgehammer to the wall. Proper demolition requires strategy, patience -- and, of course, a handy pair of work gloves.

  • Mike Keliher

    But the sledgehammer technique is so much fun!

  • 1 Comments / 1 Pages

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