Although deck demolition requires substantial physical labour, many builders look forward to the opportunity to vent their frustrations through smashing, pulling and prying. Unfortunately, if you don't use the right tools, planks and rails won't budge and the entire demolition process becomes a source, rather than a release, of frustration. With an understanding of the best tools to demolish a wood deck, you can quickly disassemble and destroy your old deck and make way for the new.
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Crowbar, Pry Bar and Cat's Claw
The most common hand tools used to demolish decks are wrecking bar tools. Builders commonly use three types of wrecking bars to demolish a deck: the crowbar, the pry bar and the cat's claw. The three types of bar share the same general form but vary according to size, design details and application. Typically, all of the types of wrecking bars have one straight end and one hooked end. Both ends of the bar slip between two connected objects, such as a deck plank and a deck beam and pry or twist to loosen the objects.
Stretching from 3 to 5 feet or more in length, the crow bar is the largest of the three types and typically has a rod-shaped body. Two- to 3-feet long, the pry bar is the medium-size bar of the three types and typically has a flat body. The cat's claw has a rod-shaped body like the crowbar but is usually only a foot long.
While each tool performs the same general prying and pulling tasks, the crow bar applies to heavy prying of large deck lumber. The pry bar and cat's claw usually remove individual nails or small deck lumber.
Originally designed for demolition, the reciprocal saw's sharp-toothed blade rapidly saws back and forth. The average reciprocal saw consists of three basic parts: a pistol-grip handle, an oblong body that serves as an electric motor housing and a blade protruding from the body's tip. A pull of the tool's trigger causes the blade to reciprocate as the builder forces the sawing blade through building materials. Regarding deck demolition, one of the reciprocal saw's most useful characteristics is its ability to cut through both wood and metal with the same blade. Although reciprocal saw blades are changeable, special demolition blades are adapted to cut through all types of materials. During a deck demolition, nearly anything that you can't pry loose with a bar, you can cut with a reciprocal saw. Also, reciprocal saws are generally lightweight and easy to manoeuvre, so you can easily drag them beneath a deck and around the entire perimeter.
Many builders construct decks with screws because of the screw's numerous advantages over the nail. In the case of demolition, screws are a mixed blessing; they're nearly impossible to pry loose with bars but nearly effortless to remove with a power drill. The average, handheld power drill is all you'll need to remove deck screws. However, you must check the deck screw's "drive" before you begin. Drive refers to the type of slot in the screw's head, such as the cross-shaped Phillips or the simple, straight flathead. Deck screws frequently have unusual types of drive, such as square drive and star-shaped drive. As long as you have the right screwdriver bits, removing screws from a deck is simple.
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