What machines are used on a demolition project?

15th March 2022

Every demolition project is completely different, with different requirements depending on factors such as the condition, size, and location of the building being demolished.

One thing all demolition projects have in common is that they often require a long list of specialist equipment to be completed safely. 

Whether the project involves the demolition of a high-rise block of flats or works to a listed building, all demolitions require careful planning and execution. And, when it comes to choosing the right machines to use, the size, environment and location of the structure must always be considered.

Here at Hughes & Salvidge, we carry out demolition work on a wide variety of building structures across several sectors, ranging from chemical plants and airports to tower blocks and schools. We ensure that every possible factor has been considered so that the correct method of demolition and machinery is chosen for the job at hand.

What equipment is used on a demolition site?

A wide variety of equipment is used on a demolition site, including:


Excavators are used for a wide range of demolition tasks and you will find them on the majority of demolition sites. Powerful, robust, and incredibly work efficient. This piece of equipment is used to demolish everything from multi-storey buildings through to small scare projects.

An excavator carries out a building demolition
Building demolition by excavator

Skid Steer Loaders

Incredibly versatile, skid steer loaders are powerful, compact, rigid, and perfect for performing a wide range of tasks on smaller demolition sites, quickly and easily. One of the main benefits of this piece of equipment is that the front bucket of the machine can be replaced with various types of attachments, meaning it’s easy to execute different jobs.

Machinery For Low-Level Demolitions

For houses and other small buildings that are only one or two storeys high, the demolition process is reasonably straightforward. Small buildings can be demolished by hand, although this is not the most time-effective option.

Alternatively, small buildings can be pulled down mechanically with the use of specifically designed demolition excavators. Hydraulic excavators are essentially tracked plants that demolish small buildings. We operate 1-tonne to 100-tonne excavators and the range in both size and function allows the excavators to work on a variety of tasks within various project areas.

Here at Hughes & Salvidge, we use a variety of different attachments to suit the job in question. Another key benefit to using hydraulic excavators for demolition is their ability to perform several different tasks with the use of different attachments such as rotational grapples, pulverisers, steel shears and impact breakers.

Equipment For High Level Demolitions

The use of High Reach excavators is a relatively modern method of demolition and involves the use of a machine with a particularly large boom arm. Designed to reach the upper storeys of multi-storey buildings, these excavators have, in some instances, taken away the need for scaffold and demolishing buildings using mini excavators. Excavators are equipped with different tools such as pulverisers, shears, breakers, and selector grab attachments – each attachment has a function in the work carried out by Hughes & Salvidge. High Reach excavators can be used on various building structures such as steel, concrete and mixed material.

Hughes & Salvidge have a wide range of demolition machinery other than excavators that are used on demolition projects of various sizes, for a number of different functions. These include:

Dust Boss Machines

Used for dust suppression during the demolition process, Dust Boss machines minimise dust pollution in the immediate environment by spraying a fine mist of water onto the demolition.

Dust suppression by Dust Boss

Bobcat Skidsteers

These are used alongside operatives during the initial soft stripping of buildings before structural demolition.

Low Loaders

Transporting large excavators and crushers from site to site.

Low Loader transporting machine to project site

Concrete Crushers

Our sister company, K&B Crushers, operate 10 mobile concrete crushers – the largest fleet in the UK. This plant is used for producing recycled aggregate from demolition brick and concrete arisings. Recyclability on the majority of Hughes & Salvidge projects is above 96%.

HIAB Trucks

These are used to deliver and remove small plant and machinery or other tools and equipment to and from the site.

Roll-On / Roll-Off Wagons

Delivering and collecting various types of waste arising from the works. Generally operated by our sister company Aasvogel.


These are used to remove either uncrushed or crushed masonry/brickwork and concrete.

Tipper transporting materials

Explosive Demolitions

Explosive methods may be chosen when demolishing large structures, bridges and chimney stacks, and is a very quick and effective method of demolition. Using this technique, the main supports of the building are fixed with explosives. In these cases, Hughes and Salvidge use a specialist and certified contractor to carry out the weakening and explosion of the structure and assist in all logistics and setting up of explosive zones.

Once the structures are felled and deemed safe to return to site, plant and machinery go about processing arising materials.

Explosive demolition takes planning and co-operation of all parties and stakeholders, including Councils, Police and other Emergency Services.

Find out more

As an audited member of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors, Hughes and Salvidge can guarantee a well-managed and safe demolition project. If you would like to find out more about our demolition services, or any of our machinery, please contact us for more information.

Note* – Post updated as of March 2022

Article By Nicola Wallace

Nikki has worked at Hughes and Salvidge since 2013, working on some of our biggest tenders and projects for major clients, including Ford, Ineos, Portsmouth City Council, and Shell UK.

More article by Nicola Wallace
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