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How to Tear Down a Shed

How to Tear Down a Shed

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Got a rickety, old shed taking up space in your backyard? Want to get rid of it, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Any type of demolition work can seem scary at first. Have no fear! This step by step guide will will in your efforts!

If this sounds like you, don’t worry. According to Brandon Gaille, the waste industry in the United States is a $75 billion industry. Essentially what this means is that you are not alone in your shed demolition project.

No shed is made to last forever. Every new shed withers, and eventually they all have to be taken down. If your shed has fallen apart, or if your needs have simply outgrown, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to demolish a shed.

How Tricky is Shed Removal?

As long as you follow the proper procedures and precaution, shed removal isn’t a difficult task. It requires time, care, and a little bit of money, but it is something that most people can do on their own.

Before embarking on your shed demolition project, make sure you check with your local authorities. Every city has different ordinances, but some require the proper permitting whenever a structure is built, renovated, or demolished.

If you have a little extra cash to spare, some might consider hiring a shed demolition company. However, according to RKS, the national average cost of doing so ranges from $650 - $2,100, so be prepared. If you’re not willing to pay this much, you can tear down your shed yourself for roughly $200.

Tools Needed

If you have decided that you’re willing to get your hands dirty — and save what is in your wallet — then you are going to need some basic tools and safety equipment.

To conduct a shed demolition safely and efficiently, you will need the following tools:

• Ladder

• Pliers

• Electric Screwdriver

• Flat Head Screwdriver

• Adjustable wrench

• Sledgehammer

• Claw Hammer

• Hammer

• Chisel

• Crowbar

• Extra 2x4s (optional)

• Roofing shovel (optional)

• Reciprocating saw (optional)

To ensure your own safety, you will need the following safety equipment:

• Hard hat

• Goggles

• Heavy-duty gloves

• Heavy-Duty Work Boots

• Long sleeve shirt and pants

How to Tear Down a Shed

Like we mentioned, tearing down your shed isn’t as hard as it seems. All you have to do is follow these simple steps:

An infographic detailing how to tear down a shed.
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1. Make a Plan

The first step to a successful shed demolition is coming up with a plan.

As we mentioned, you need to check if your city requires a permit for your demolition project. If so, you are then going to have to obtain it.

Then, you will need a plan for disposing of the large pile of debris you are no doubt going to be left with.

2. Empty the Shed

Sure, this seems like a no-brainer, but an empty shed absolutely makes the process much easier. Go ahead and toss anything you don't need, making sure to keep salvageable materials.

If you find any hazardous waste materials — things like asbestos, aerosols, flammables, chemical liquids, batteries, etc. — that you wish to dispose of, set them aside. These types of materials can have detrimental environmental (and health) effects if improperly disposed of, so make sure to contact local authorities to learn how to best dispose of them in your area.

Once you start removing things from your shed and disassembling, anything can become hazardous. Make sure you are wearing the proper safety equipment and taking precaution.

3. Remove Doors and Windows

The next phase in your shed demolition process is to remove all windows and doors. You should also remove any wall hangings, fixtures, or shelving systems.

To unhinge your shed’s doors, simply use a screwdriver to pop them off their hinges. Or you could remove the hinges entirely by taking out the screws.

To remove the shed’s windows, use your hammer, chisel, and screwdriver to get rid of any caulking that might be around the window frames. Then, pry out the nails or screws that are holding the window in place and slide the glass out.

Removing doors and windows is key in preventing injury down the line. Therefore, take the time to make sure that it is done properly.

4. Remove the Roof

In any demolition project, you are supposed to work from the roof downwards. As I am sure you have probably guessed, tearing down a shed is no different. As you begin disassembling your shed, the structure becomes more and more unstable. Therefore, safe demolitions require you to start from the top.

To remove a shingled roof, start at the roof’s peak and gently lift off the shingles using a hammer and pry bar or a roofing shovel. Make sure to keep your dumpster rental nearby, as we recommend disposing of the shingles as you go.

After the shingles are removed, use the pry bar to pull off the roof boards and sheathing. Then, you are free to pry apart the roof’s rafters using a hammer and crowbar. Keep in mind that you will probably have to remove rusty nails or screws beforehand.

If your rafters are stuck, or they just aren’t coming apart easily, use the reciprocating saw to separate the rafters from where they connect to the walls. Then, toss all your debris.

If you're working on metal sheds, you can begin by removing all nails or screws. Just like with a shingled roof, you should start at the peak and work your way down. Then, if there are rafters, you can start prying them apart with your hammer. (Again, if the rafters aren’t coming apart easily, feel free to use your reciprocating saw.)

5. Dismantle the Shed Walls

After you have successfully removed your shed’s roof, it is time to dismantle the walls. Keep in mind that dismantling a wall causes the remaining ones to become more and more unstable. For safety purposes, it is best to have a friend, neighbor, or family member help you stabilize the wall as you work.

Always start with the wall that once had the door in it, as this one is going to be the least structurally sound. If you want to save (or recycle) the siding, use your hammer to pry it apart from the shed. Then, knock the siding from the inside until it comes loose.

To dismantle wooden walls, remove any floor connections using your pliers and adjustable wrench. If you’re having a hard time doing so, go ahead and use your reciprocating saw.

Then, remove the shed frame to the other walls. Once the wall is disconnected, you are free to gently knock the frame down. Be careful of how much pressure you use, as you don’t want to fall with it. Repeat for the remaining walls, and make sure to continue throwing debris into your dumpster.

If your shed has metal walls, carefully remove the wall and floor connections using your pliers and adjustable wrench. Then, use your sledgehammer to knock the wall outwards. Just like the wooden shed, repeat this process for the remaining walls.

6. Demolish the Shed Floor

Now that your walls are down, all that is left to demolish is the shed base. If your shed has wood flooring, use your crowbar or other flooring tool to pry up the planks. Your reciprocating saw can speed up the process, as long as you feel comfortable using it.

Once your flooring is removed, check and see if there are any ground fasteners remaining. If so, remove and toss them. If your shed’s floor is merely a concrete slab, you can reuse or recycle it. Removing a floor in your shed depends on what material the flooring is made of. This should be mapped out before the dismantling process.

Debris Disposal

Once you’ve successfully demolished your shed, you will be left with piles of shed materials and debris to dispose of. If you have been throwing debris away as you work, then your piles should be relatively small. If you haven’t, then you have quite a bit of cleaning up to do.

Here are some ways to get rid of debris caused by your demolition:

An infographic on debris disposal when tearing down a shed.
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A. Dumpster Rental

As we mentioned, a dumpster rental is going to be the easiest way of getting rid of demolition debris. Dumpsters tend to be cost-effective than traditional junk haulers. Also, dumpsters give contractors and residential projects warriors the ability to work at their own pace during the allotted rental periods.

Rather than rush your cleanup to keep to a hauler's timeframe, you can clean as you go.

B. Junk Removal Company

If you don’t feel like dealing with the clean-up yourself, you can hire a junk removal company. However, although this method is easier, it comes with a price!

Hiring a junk removal company is going to be more expensive than renting your own roll off dumpster, and they won’t be able to haul as much debris. So, take those factors into account when making your final decision.

C. Check Your Local Trash Service

Although this is less common, it might be worth contacting your local trash service to see if they will haul any of your demolition debris.

D. Haul it Yourself

If you are careful and organized when removing debris, there might be some demolition waste that you can haul yourself. For example, siding, wood, or metal sheets could all fit in the bed of a pickup truck, and you can drive it over to the local landfill yourself.

Final Thoughts

Tearing down a shed doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, most folks can do it themselves following a few simple steps. Consider your budget for potential disposal/removal costs, as well as your building materials. You can also consider what to do in place of your old shed, such as garden building or maybe a new fire pit. With enough planning, shed removal can be accomplished in no time!

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