Gut tear-out procedure


Many damaged homes contain valuable historic materials (such as doors, trim, stairs, etc.). These materials are usually of higher quality than what you can buy as a replacement. Try to save historic materials that are in good condition and can have the mold removed. However, remember that it may be cheaper to dispose of building parts that have been damaged by the flood or mold growth.

Remove and dispose of cabinets, shelves, doors and trim

 Remove and dispose of interior doors. Pull cabinets

 Bend over all protruding nails when you remove trim so as not to puncture yourself. Dispose of long boards by laying them on a piece of rope then tying them into a bundle.

Tear down drywall or plaster ceiling

If you cannot see mold growth on either side of the ceiling then the ceiling may be saved. If you plan to tear down the ceiling, work from a ladder almost as tall as ceiling. This stops the ceiling from coming down on top of you. Keep your head above the ceiling surface and push down with a crowbar.

Remove drywall from walls

 Score drywall with a utility knife along the four-foot mark where the top and bottom pieces of drywall were taped together when the wall was built. Then pull out the drywall with the hook of the crowbar.

 Remove drywall in the largest pieces possible to create less dust. Two people can work together to pull sheets from the wall. Once you have opened up an inside wall, push out the drywall into the next room. Remove nails and screws from studs.

Remove plaster from walls

If electricity and reciprocating saw are available, cut through plaster and lath between studs. Using pry bar, pull plaster and lath away from studs. Two people working on either end of cut laths makes this much easier. Before cutting, make sure electricity in the wall is not on.

Use the pry bar to punch through walls and pull lath and plaster down when electricity and saws are not available.

Most of the removed lath should fall on top of the removed plaster. Bundle the lath separately and remove it. Then shovel plaster into large cans for disposal in a dumpster or heavy duty bags for curbside pick up.


Work from a ladder that allows you to have your head above the ceilings and at the same time be standing at least two treads from the top of the ladder. Using a crowbar, push the ceiling down from above. Have a second person with you when you do this work.

Remove insulation

Place insulation in heavy duty trash bags and dispose of it. Remove layers from floor

 Remove tile, vinyl, linoleum and any remaining carpet.

 If there is a sub-floor above the structural floor, remove it.

 Inspect the structural floor. Remove and replace composite board or plywood partition walls to do this work, have this done by a construction professional.


Assume that rigid floor tiles measuring 8” X 8” or 9” X 9” from 1970 or before contain asbestos. Under normal conditions, these tiles should be removed by licensed asbestos workers follow- ing the regulations for asbestos projects. It is a violation to remove these tiles other than as part of an asbestos project. However, if you cannot stop from disturbing these tiles during the interior clean up, you should know that water-soaked tiles will release lower levels of asbestos than dry items.

Source: Manoj Nair

Manoj Nair has been a journalist for nearly 15 years, working for several leading Indian publications The Economic Times, Outlook and Hindustan Times. He is also a guest lecturer at University Arts London and is currently working on the history of Indian rock music to be published by Harper Collins in 2019. He lives and works in Kochi.

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