What are Demolition Hammers?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Demolition hammers are tools which are designed to be utilized in demolition. They are typically heavy and powerful so that they can be used to break up a variety of substances, from wooden walls to concrete pads, and they are an important part of the tool arsenal for a construction crew. There are a number of types of demolition hammer on the market, ranging from simple models used in do-it-yourself projects to more heavy-duty versions for industrial demolition.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

The most basic demolition hammer is a standard hammer with an especially large, heavy head and a long handle. The user can generate tremendous force with the long handle, with the head packing a serious punch which can break through a wide variety of materials. When used by someone with skills and the muscles to control it, this type of hammer can break up brick, concrete, and other hard construction materials. The sledgehammer is an example of this type of demolition hammer.

Other demolition hammers utilize electricity to get a bit of extra power, being attached to motors which do the bulk of the work. This type of demolition hammer just needs to be held and manipulated by the user, without the need to exert serious force, although sometimes it can take a surprising amount of force to hold the tool in place. Jackhammers are probably among the most famous of the electric demolition hammers, and there are a variety of specialized models available for construction workers.

Some people refer to demolition hammers as “breakers,” referencing the idea that they are designed to “break up” the materials at a construction site. Breaking is commonly used to take out unwanted walls, structural or otherwise, and to prepare a structure for demolition by weakening its key points so that it can be effectively leveled with a wrecking ball. Demolition hammers are also used to tear up roadways in preparation for roadwork, and to break up foundations, ranging from perimeter foundations to solid slab foundations.

While demolition hammers can look like fun to use to a passerby, the work is grueling, rather dirty, and highly demanding. In order to demolish something safely, workers must move carefully and precisely, and they may work with engineers and demolition experts to confirm that they are taking the safest approach to a demolition project. Failure to observe safety precautions can result in severe injury or death to workers or bystanders.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Has anyone here ever gotten to use a jackhammer? I have always wondered how much strength was actually required to keep it in place. Whenever I see a someone using a jackhammer for road work or construction, it always reminds me of the cartoons where someone hops on and rides it like a pogo stick. Are they really that hard to control?


When we moved into our house, there was an old stone fence in the backyard that we decided needed to be taken out. I tried using a variety of sledgehammers and mallets, but they didn't work as well as I thought they would.

Eventually, I invested in a set of things called cold chisels that cut right through the stone. The whole project took longer than I would have liked, but I think the yard looks much better now.


@Izzy78 - I agree with you about using a hammer to destroy something. Several years ago, my aunt and uncle replaced a cast iron bathtub that they had in their home. Since I thought it would be fun to help bust it and take it to the scrap yard, I volunteered for the job.

I couldn't believe how solid the cast iron was. It took me quite a few days to finally bust the tub into small enough pieces that we could haul it off. I even broke one sledgehammer in the process!


Despite the name, I never really thought of a jackhammer as a real hammer since it uses more of a chisel to break up concrete.

I think my only real experience with a demolition hammer was when we were remodeling our house, I use a small, sledgehammer-looking tool to help tear down part of a wall between our dining room and kitchen. Like the article says, it was much harder and less fun than it seems on TV. I definitely wouldn't want to have to tear down a wall on my own.

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