How to Tear Down Drywall

Drywall takes less effort to tear down than it takes to install.

It's a sheet of baked gypsum sandwiched between two pieces of rigid paper. When struck with blunt force, drywall breaks into pieces. Drywall screws hold the edges of the sheets of drywall to the subwall framing. These don't need to be removed before the drywall can be torn down--wait until the demolition is complete.

Cut the seams in all the corners of the room with a utility knife. These corners include the wall and ceiling corners. This will cut the tape that holds the pieces of drywall together in there corners. It will reduce tearing walls that you don't want to tear down.

Lay dropcloths over the floor to protect it from falling debris. Drape pieces of plastic over entryways that you want to protect from dust. Use masking tape to hold up the plastic.

Remove all electric outlet and light switch plates with a Phillips or flat-head screwdriver. Remove any light fixtures or hardware that might impede the drywall removal process.

Set up an A-frame ladder in one corner of the room.

Climb the ladder and strike the center of a piece of drywall with a short-handled sledgehammer. Pop a hole in the drywall big enough to get a pry bar into.

Slide the angled end of a pry bar into the hole and pull down on the drywall until it breaks away from the ceiling. Continue this hole-making and prying process until all pieces of the sheet of drywall are torn down.

Remove the screws that held the sheet of drywall to the ceiling joists with an electric screw gun. Use a Phillips screwdriver bit.

Move to the next sheet of drywall and repeat the removal process. Continue this process until all sheets have been torn down. Remove the sheets of drywall from the walls in the same way the ceiling sheets were torn down.

Things You Will Need

  • Utility knife
  • Dropcloths
  • Plastic
  • Masking tape
  • Phillips or flat-head screwdriver
  • A-frame ladder
  • Short-handled sledgehammer
  • Pry bar
  • Electric screw gun
  • Phillips screwdriver bit

Tips

  • If the room has crown molding, baseboard or chair rails, pry these off before tearing down the drywall.
  • Wear a dust mask, safety glasses, ear plugs and a hardhat. These items will help protect you during the demolition process.