A Guide to the Different Types of Demolition Methods

In many instances, the demolition process is necessary before construction can occur. However, demolition is not a one-size-fits-all process — depending on the existing structure and its site, workers must decide which kind of demolition best suits the situation. Various processes make up each type of demolition, so it is crucial to understand what they involve and when they are used.

Discover more information about several demolition methods below.

1. Explosive Demolition

Typically, workers use explosive demolitions to bring down large, tall structures, such as bridges and skyscrapers. It tends to be the best course of action to safely demolish potentially hazardous buildings, like cooling towers. This kind of demolition is highly specialized, as it requires the careful placement and timing of explosives to achieve the desired results.

A controlled building implosion begins with extensive site preparation, which can take several months to complete based on the structure. This stage involves securing the site, establishing locations for explosives and taking other precautions to ensure the structure will collapse as desired during the demolition. Once the site is thoroughly prepared, the surrounding area will be secured to ensure the safety of local individuals, wildlife and nearby structures.

When it is time for the demolition to occur, experts place the explosives accordingly, setting them off in a controlled manner to gradually weaken the building until it collapses under its own weight. The explosives crews use in controlled building implosions include nitroglycerin, dynamite or a similar explosive. Overall, explosive demolitions are rare occurrences.

2. Selective Demolition

Rather than demolishing an entire structure, selective demolition involves the demolition of a certain section of a building. Generally, workers use selective demolition in cases where they only wish to rebuild one part of a building, such as a spot in an older building that has not held up like the rest of the structure. Other times, workers may be limited in what they are permitted to demolish, making selective demolition the lone option.

Like other kinds of demolition, selective demolition requires extensive surveying and planning to ensure the team’s demolition plan is precise. This kind of demolition also requires workers to cut and cap the building, meaning they bring in professionals to shut down plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems. Often, selective demolition occurs in operational buildings, so it is essential to take certain safety precautions.

Then, the team will establish an egress path — the main benefit of selective demolition is the opportunity to recycle and reuse whatever materials the workers remove from the structure. From that point, experts can begin work on the demolition. This process includes removing all materials until just the basic supports remain, leaving behind a structure ready for remodeling.

3. Interior Demolition

Today, “gutting” a home is a popular way to reference what is essentially interior demolition. This type of demolition requires workers to remove various interior elements of a building while maintaining the exterior structure. Often, a team will remove walls, partitions, flooring, ceilings and other non-structural elements. This process can take one to several days, based on the project’s scale.

Because interior demolition occurs in operational buildings, experts must secure the structure’s plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems. Additionally, workers will manage any furniture, appliances and similar objects prior to the demolition. Like with any type of demolition, removal of any hazardous materials such as asbestos is a necessary precursor.

The kind of equipment used for interior demolition includes demolition robots and skid steer loaders, though crews can use handheld tools such as sledgehammers to knock down certain elements. There are many reasons to pursue an interior demolition for a project — maybe you want to transition the space to serve a new purpose or simply expand the open area inside of a building. In any case, it can be the best course of action when you want to preserve the “bones” of a structure.

4. Total Demolition

Total Demolition

A total demolition occurs when experts demolish an entire building or site. For example, a team may demolish an old high school to build a new one on the same site, or workers might demolish an office park to build housing in the same location. Essentially, the idea is to remove the existing structure to use the site for another purpose.

This kind of demolition mainly happens through one method, mechanical demolition, which uses hydraulic excavators and special attachments to remove the building’s structural elements. Further, crews may use torch cutting or cold cutting to remove piping and other objects. Because controlled building implosions are rare, it is unlikely that explosives are used for total demolitions, though it can happen.

5. Dismantling

When the goal is to repurpose materials for future use, experts will dismantle a structure. While demolition contractors will completely demolish materials in many projects, dismantling contractors preserve certain elements to be recycled or repurposed. In some cases, dismantling is necessary to replace a structure’s components with new versions or remove hazardous materials.

Rather than use more destructive tools, workers use cranes to carefully lower materials from the building to the ground, keeping them in proper condition. Compared to other approaches to demolition, dismantling is the most sustainable and safest way to demolish a building. Also called “unbuilding,” dismantling allows for the reuse of building materials, protects the surrounding environment and provides new building sites upon completion. 

Choose GSD Companies for Demolition and Dismantling Services

Choose GSD Companies for Demolition and Dismantling Services

Whether you are tearing out the inside of a building to create more space or taking down a structure to build a new one in its place, demolition is a highly technical process that requires expert planning, supervision and execution. Therefore, it is crucial to work with the right demolition contractor for the job. GSD Companies can help.

For more than 35 years, GSD Companies has provided demolition, dismantling, environmental remediation, asset recovery and industrial metals recycling services. As a national industrial turnkey service contractor, we can provide you with expert demolition services for your industrial structure. GSD Companies prioritizes safety above all else, so you can rest assured that our team will get the job done correctly while taking every precaution.

GSD Companies serves a variety of industries, including but not limited to gas, oil, agriculture, metals and power. Explore our project portfolio to see examples of how we have helped clients across the country. If you are interested in our demolition services, please contact us today to learn more or get started.