How to Demolish a Building

Demolishing a building is not as easy as filmmakers lead you to believe. Rather, it takes careful and detailed planning to safely bring down a multi-story structure. Executing a demolition should be left to the experts but for those inquiring minds out there who want to know, here is how it is done.

Things You'll Need

  • Experienced demolition company
  • Explosives
  • Blasting caps
  • Cord
  • Fuse
  • Evacuation plan
  • Designated emergency area
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Sledge hammer
  • Steel cutters

Prepare the Site

    Advise utility providers about the demolition and request that all services be turned off, including water. If electricity and water are needed for demolishing the building they should be moved to another location until the job is completed.

    Survey the premises for anything considered hazardous, flammable or potentially explosive and safely remove it from the site. If asbestos is found, follow proper disposal procedures. Clear the structure of any debris.

    Assemble the necessary safety equipment, including respirators, face masks, safety goggles and ear plugs.

    Set up a make-shift emergency area that is equipped to handle minor injuries. Personnel certified in first aid training or a member of the American Red Cross should be stationed on site, along with a first aid kit.

    Establish a fire plan that includes procedures for exiting the building in case of an emergency.

    Clear all access ways, especially those leading to fire hydrants.

    Notify the public when the building will be demolished and ensure their safety by setting up barricades around the site.

Demolish the Building

    Remove any non-load-bearing walls and soften the supporting columns. Place the explosives within the columns.

    Use dynamite to blast concrete and a stronger material for steel. Control the way the building falls by where the explosives are placed. Load them throughout the structure and set them so that each section topples into the building's center.

    Use a blasting cap (connect a minute amount of explosive material to a fuse) to set off the explosives. Generally, the fuse is a long cord that contains the explosive. Lighting one of the ends causes the material to burn at an even speed until the flame reaches the detonator and ignites the principal charge.

    Perform a test detonation to ensure the proper amounts of explosives are being used.

    Clear the building and the immediate area and be sure observers are out of harm's way.

    Set off the explosives by holding down the "Charge" button until the detonator control machine is charged. Hold down the "Fire" button to distribute the charge and touch off the blasting caps.

    Assess the scene and verify that all of the explosives ignited. Safely dispose of any that did not.

    Begin cleanup.


    • When demolishing a building safety comes first. Check your local laws regarding demolition and adhere to applicable OSHA regulations.


    • Contact numbers for medical personnel, hospitals and emergency services must be posted in case of serious injury. Only trained blasters should handle explosives.

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