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Your guide to pro rental tools for demolition work

Your guide to pro rental tools for demolition work

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Home Newsletter Your guide to pro rental tools for demolition work

Demolition work is dusty, dirty and difficult, but it can be made a whole lot easier if you’ve got the proper tools on hand. While much can be accomplished with a hammer and pry bar, to work quickly, efficiently and safely, you’ll need a few specialized demolition tools.

Before starting your next demolition job, visit a home improvement center and check out the wide variety of demolition tools that are available for rent by the day, week or month. Renting makes sense when you need a specific tool or piece of equipment that you don’t own—and never had any reason to own—or if a demolition tool is in the repair shop or out on another job.
Here’s a small sampling of the many professional-duty demolition tools that are typically available for rent. Before leaving the store, be sure to ask the store associate to explain how to safely operate the tool.

An electric power scraper makes quick work of removing old flooring.

Floor Stripper
Eliminate the tedious, tortuous task of hand scraping old flooring by renting an electric power scraper. This compact, long-handled machine has a powerful motor that’s fitted with a steel blade that vibrates back and forth at ultra-high speed.
Simply press the blade against the edge of the floor and slowly push forward until the blade starts peeling up the flooring. Power floor strippers rent for about $60 per day and can be used to remove vinyl sheets, vinyl tiles, linoleum, wood parquet and even glued-down carpeting and carpet padding.
Caution: Be aware that many flooring products manufactured before 1980 contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. If you suspect the flooring contains asbestos, don’t scrape it up. Stop and call a licensed asbestos abatement company.
When fitted with the appropriate blade, reciprocating saws can cut through virtually any building material.

Portable Power Saws
Demolition work often requires sawing through nail-embedded wood, asphalt roofing, sheet metal, brick, block, concrete and many other surfaces and materials. Fortunately, rental departments carry several types of power saws, including many that are perfect for demo work.
For example, you can rent a reciprocating saw (about $23 per day), circular saw ($21), chainsaw ($56) or concrete saw ($62 per day for gas-powered, $76 for electric). Blades must be purchased separately.
A gas-powered concrete saw quickly slices through the hardest masonry materials.

Rent a demolition hammer to bust up concrete and other hard, solid materials.

Demolition Hammer
An electric demolition hammer works like a mini-jackhammer to break up the hardest, most resilient materials and surfaces. It’s equipped with a hardened-steel bit that quickly and effortlessly blasts through tiled surfaces, poured concrete, brick, stone, glass block and more.
When using a demo hammer, be sure to wear tight-fitting safety goggles as protection against flying chips of debris.
Demolition hammers come in various sizes, but the medium-duty tool shown here rents for about $60 per day.
An electric breaker has the power and speed to bust up masonry surfaces, including poured concrete slabs.

A demo hammer is sufficient for small- to medium-size demolition jobs, but when you need to break apart large concrete slabs, walls or columns, rent a breaker, which is essentially a heavy-duty electric jackhammer. Breakers usually are available in three or four different sizes. The 70-pound breaker shown above rents for less than $90 per day and is equipped with a 15-amp motor that delivers 1,110 rapid-fire blows per minute of high-impact, concrete-cracking energy.
Large Equipment
Most contractors aren’t aware that home improvement centers rent several pieces of heavy equipment, many of which are useful for demo work. Prices and availability vary widely across the country and from store to store, but here are three pieces of equipment that are normally available for rent:

  • Mini-excavator has a hydraulic bucket, blade and compact size for working in the tightest spaces.

    One-ton mini excavator (starting at $250 per day) has a bucket and blade, and smoothly creeps along on two tracks. Its compact size is great for working in the tightest spaces.
  • 1,300-pound lift-capacity backhoe ($300 per day) can be used to tear down and haul away demolition debris.
    19-foot-tall scissor lift ($159 per day) provides a safe, secure way to reach roofs, gable ends and other high places.
  • One-ton mini excavator (starting at $250 per day) has a bucket and blade, and smoothly creeps along on two tracks.
  • 1,300-lb. lift-capacity backhoe ($300 per day) can be used to tear down and haul away demolition debris.
  • 19-ft.-tall scissor lift ($159 per day) provides a safe, secure way to reach roofs, gable ends, and other high places.

Most home-improvement center rental departments also rent various pieces of equipment that aren’t demolition tools, per se, but do come in handy during demolition projects. They include: aluminum ramps, easy-roll dollies, wet/dry vacuums, wheelbarrows, hand trucks, dump trailers and portable propane heaters (demolition jobsites are notoriously cold places during winter).

Rent a wet/dry vacuum to help with the final clean up. This 13-gallon vac has a steel wand, all-terrain wheels and extra-long 25-ft. power cord; it rents for less than $20 per day.

Before writing about home improvement, Joseph Truini worked as a remodeling contractor, cabinet maker and union carpenter. He has written extensively for magazines like Today’s Homeowner, This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He also writes for The Home Depot, who has a wide selection of tools for rent.


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