You’re finally taking on that deck renovation project, so it’s time to start ripping out those old boards. You want to use the most efficient method possible, so you’re going to need the best deck board removal tool you can find.
Below, we’ll review the best deck wreckers on the market, so you can make short work of those old boards. Our selections include everything from standard pry bars to deck wrecker to pneumatic nail pullers. Regardless of which tool you choose, those old deck boards won’t stand a chance.
At a Glance: My Choices for Best Deck Board Removal Tool:
- Duckbill Deck Wrecker
- Crescent Indexing Deck Removal Bull Bar
- GreenTek Demo-Dek Deck Removal Tool
- Angel Guard Deck Demon
- Pallet Buster Deck Wrecker Tool
Other Good Choices:
- Estwing Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PRO
- Gutster 60-inch Demolition Bar
- Honey Badger HB40 Demolition Fork
- Dasco Pro 645-0 Demo Hawg Wrecking Bar
- Crescent Black DB18X Indexing Flat Prybar
- Types of Deck Board Removal Tools
- Best Deck Board Removal Tool Reviews
- 1. Duckbill Deck Wrecker
- 2. Crescent 44” Indexing Deck Removal Bull Bar
- 3. GreenTek Demo-Dek Deck Removal Tool
- 4. Angel Guard Deck Demon
- 5. Pallet Buster Deck Wrecker Tool
- 6. Estwing Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PRO
- 7. Gutster 60” Demolition Bar
- 8. HONEY BADGER HB40 Demolition Fork
- 9. Dasco Pro 645-0 Demo Hawg Wrecking Bar
- 10. Crescent Brand BLACK DB18X 18 Indexing Flat Prybar
- Bonus – Nail Removers
- What Is a Deck Wrecker?
- How to Properly Use a Deck Wrecker
- What to Consider When Buying?
Types of Deck Board Removal Tools
Deck Wrecker – A deck wrecker is specially designed to remove deck boards. It features two imposing metal tines affixed to a long pole and, unlike other tools on this list, is only designed for one purpose: tearing up deck boards.
Also known as a crowbar, a wrecking bar is a J-shaped bar that slides between boards, allowing you to pry them apart. They feature a hooked side and a flat side, both of which can be used to engage the deck boards.
As wrecking bars are shorter than deck wreckers, you’ll have to get on your knees to use them. A shorter length also means more physical effort is required to remove boards. Wrecking bars are one of the cheaper options on this list and also can be used for a variety of other demolition-related applications.
A demolition fork comprises four iron tines (giving the tool its fork shape) attached to a long handle. The tines are far enough apart to allow them to fit around joists and under deck boards similarly to a deck wrecker.
As with a deck wrecker, a demolition fork provides plenty of leverage for pulling up stubborn boards and is operated while standing up. Demolition forks are among the most expensive options on this list; however, they can be used in various demolition applications, including tile removal.
Pry bars are similar to wrecking bars. They feature a tapered hooked end and straight end. Unlike a wrecking bar, pry bars are made of flat metal. While this makes them harder to grip firmly, it does allow the ends to more easily be hammered into the gap between the decking and joists.
Like wrecking bars, most pry bars are relatively short, so they require you to get on your hands and knees to use them. They also don’t offer the same leverage as demolition forks or deck wreckers.
Best Deck Board Removal Tool Reviews
Below we’ll review the best deck wrecking tools you can buy for the job. While each will do the job, consider which features will work best for your situation and whether you want to invest in a tool specialized for wrecking decks or one you can use in a variety of demolition efforts.
1. Duckbill Deck Wrecker
For big deck wrecking jobs, you need a heavy-duty tool like Duckbill deck wrecker from New Jersey-based tool company Forrest Manufacturing.
The Duckbill features the same effective two-tine design used by most deck wreckers. Unlike standard wrecking bars, this tool doesn’t require you to create a gap between the decking and joists. It uses a gap that already exists. Simply straddle the tines around the joist, slide them under the board, and pull back on the handle.
The long handle, coupled with a standing operating position, allows you to create considerably more power than conventional pry bars. So much so that you may even employ your child to pull a few boards for you. And not only is it effective against nails, it’s even powerful enough to pull out deck boards held down with screws.
With a head made of forged steel, you can expect this deck wrecker to endure a lot of abuse. Despite all these pros, the Duckbill Deck Wrecker isn’t for everyone.
While its price tag and specialty purpose (it’s only designed for ripping up deck boards) do not make this an attractive option if you’re only repairing a few old boards, it’s a must-have tool if you’re doing a large deck renovation or are a pro who does this sort of thing for a living.
- Rips out boards with relative ease
- Can remove screwed down boards
- Easy to engage with no hammering required
- A tool designed for one purpose
2. Crescent 44” Indexing Deck Removal Bull Bar
By making a few innovative additions to the standard deck wrecker design, Crescent has created Indexing Deck Removal Bull Bar that’s a bit more versatile than others in its class.
At first glance, the design is pretty standard. The Bull Bar features two tines that straddle the joists and fit under the deck boards. A long bar provides plenty of leverage for pulling deck boards.
This doesn’t differ much from the standard deck wrecker design. What is different is the pivot joint, which allows you to change the angle of the handle in relation to the head. This allows for more versatility and power.
Raise the angle of the bar to create an L-shaped angle and more leverage. Lower the angle to engage a neighboring joist as a fulcrum. Create an acute angle for pulling the handle in the opposite direction, altering the direction of the force on the board to one side.
There are also features you won’t find on other wreckers. Grippers are molded into the tines to prevent slipping, and a patented nail puller is integrated into the head.
The Bull Bar is also made of durable materials. Both the handle and head are made of steel. Just keep in mind that, like other deck wreckers, the Bull Bar is pricey for a tool you’ll only use for removing deck boards.
- Pivoting joint offers versatility
- Durable steel construction
- Integrated nail puller
- Heavier than most deck wreckers
3. GreenTek Demo-Dek Deck Removal Tool
Perhaps first impressions really aren’t everything. At first glance, the GreenTek Demo-Dek removal tool doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. It looks sort of old fashioned and its wood construction and its small metal clip doesn’t appear to be particularly strong. Don’t be fooled.
What this deck removal tool lacks in style, it makes up for inability. The metal bracket is designed to fit snugly over a standard-sized decking board. Once you have a board in its grasp, pull back on the substantial wooden handle to rip the board free.
The power comes from its grip and design. This deck demo tool is a good example of the old saying, “work smarter, not harder.” By designing a shape specifically to fit deck boards, the Demo Dek tool grips each board securely, eliminating the slippage problem that comes into play with other deck wrecking tools.
The bracket also positions the pry bar in the optimal place on the board to maximize leverage. It’s even powerful enough to remove deck boards held down by screws.
With a heat-treated alloy steel lifter and integrated nail puller, the Demo-Dek is a durable tool that doesn’t weigh a lot. It’s just 7.6lbs.
- Lightweight (weighs less than 8 lbs.)
- Innovative design prevents slipping
- Integrate nail puller
- A one-purpose tool
4. Angel Guard Deck Demon
Angel Guard goes with two traits that make its Deck Demon an attractive deck wrecking tool: durability and versatility. There aren’t many bells and whistles on the Deck Demon, but what it does have is pretty formidable.
Like other deck wreckers, the demon takes a dual tine approach. The Demon’s tines are curved and, with its claw-shaped ends, mimics the look of a pry bar.This versatility allows you to attack those boards in a few different ways. Straddle the joists and pull boards free like a traditional deck wrecker or engage the board ends by driving one tine into the gap and using the other for leverage. The Demon is also packed with plenty of torque thanks to its 45-inch handle.
The Demon is also durable. It’s all-steel construction and the steel-reinforced cuff around the joint between the handle and tines make it clear that this isn’t a deck wrecking tool that will break any time soon.
And, whereas most deck wrecking tools can be a bit cost-prohibitive, the Demon is more affordable and can be used in more applications, including removing old roofing.
- Durable steel construction
- Versatile design
- Less expensive than other deck wreckers
- Integrated nail pullers
- Not quite as powerful as other decking wreckers
- Heavier than other wreckers
5. Pallet Buster Deck Wrecker Tool
The Pallet Buster goes with the idea that thicker steel is better with its take on the deck wrecker tool. Pallet Buster has much in common with other deck wreckers. It features the two prongs, which are designed to straddle the joists. Unlike other deck wreckers, Pallet Buster’s tines are rectangular and do not taper at the ends.
This makes the tool stronger (the metal is thick from base to tip). You feel like you have something substantial to pull at the boards with these meaty hooks. But, it also limits the Pallet Buster’s versatility. You can’t work these boxy tines in between the decking and joists very easily. This limits you to using it around the joists.
This design might in part be because the Pallet Buster’s primary role is to, well, bust pallets as opposed to wreck decks. That said, The Pallet Buster does handle deck wrecking duties well thanks to its heavy-duty steel construction.
All that thick steel does, of course, make it heavier. At nearly 13 lbs, it weighs almost twice as much as other deck wreckers on this list. And with its box-shaped tines, the three-piece pole is both a pro and a con. Disassembling the pole helps with storage; however, it also makes the handle less rigid than other deck demo tools, which isn’t the feel you want for something you’re putting all your weight on.
- Sold steel construction
- Creates a lot of leverage
- Strong tines
- Limited versatility
6. Estwing Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PROWhen it comes to prying up deck boards, the more length you have to work with, the better. Estwing applies this principle to its Estwing Gooseneck wrecking bar by making it considerably longer than your standard pry bar at 36”.
It gives you significantly more leverage than your average-lengthed pry bar and allows you to use it in a more upright position. While not as long as a wrecking bar, the Gooseneck is long enough to keep you off your knees.
Aside from length, it retains the typical wrecking bar shape with a hooked end and a nearly straight end. This gives it some versatility, allowing you to attack those decking boards from a variety of angles. Both ends are flat in shape and taper to pointed ends, making it easier to create a gap between joists and boards.And, both ends are forked for nail removal with the tapered end including an integrated nail remover. Although the lack of a handle makes this bar a little harsher on the hands to use, it’s single-piece steel construction adds durability. This bar isn’t going to break.
And while it has the length of a deck wrecker, it’s still a wrecking bar, which means you’ll need to use it with a hammer. This can be awkward given its size. With the Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PRO, you get a wrecking bar at a deck wrecker length but a pry bar price.
- Length adds leverage
- Strong single-piece steel construction
- Length can make it hard to work with
- No handle for gripping
7. Gutster 60” Demolition BarGutster makes some innovative design choices with its deck wrecking tool, adding versatility that makes its steep price tag a little more palatable.
The business end of the Gutster offers an interesting variance on the deck wrecker design. It still features the characteristic two tines of a deck wrecker that allow it to straddle deck joists. It’s the shape of the tines that makes this deck wrecker versatile.
They consist of two flat pieces of steel married to two vertical pieces of steel. This allows two things to happen. The flat tines can easily slide under deck boards. With their angular ends, the vertical pieces act as wedges, spreading material apart when the Gutster is engaged.The design innovations don’t stop there. The Gustster features two black steel pieces that look like large washers bolted to each side. They act as fulcrums, adding leverage power to the Gutster.
This deck board puller is also designed with smaller tines on the rear that dig in when the Gutster is engaged, preventing it from sliding.
Gutster’s manufacturers say its design makes the tool applicable in a wide variety of demolition jobs. The Gutster’s aesthetics are also notable. With its dayglo orange color, you won’t need to worry about tripping over the Gutster or misplacing it in the shed.
- Versatile design
- Steel Construction
- Powerful tines
- More expensive than other wreckers
- Heavier than other options
8. HONEY BADGER HB40 Demolition Fork
Demolition forks are designed on a more-tines-the-better philosophy. Similar to a deck wrecker but with twice the tines, the Honey Badger HB40 Demolition Fork offers versatility that those similarly priced demolition tools designed for decks only don’t offer.
Like deck wreckers, Honey Badger’s tines will straddle deck joists, allowing you to pry up decking boards. They also taper to a point, making it easy to get the tines into gaps between boards.These extra tines mean the Honey Badger engages more surface area than a two-tined deck wrecker. This can be good and bad. The additional tines add power. Depending on the condition of the board, this can feel like biting off more than you can chew as you’ll need to generate more force to pry more board.
The Honey Badger’s wide profile also means it may not fit into smaller nooks and crannies. That said, the extra tines do add versatility to this wrecker. The Honey Badger is designed to handle a broad range of demolition jobs including subfloors, drywall, and flooring, making its large price tag a little more palatable.
With all-steel construction and welds, this is a durable tool that’s surprisingly light. It weighs just 6 lbs.
- Versatile demolition fork for more than just decks
- Four tines offer more power
- Sturdy steel construction
- Large profile can make it awkward to use
9. Dasco Pro 645-0 Demo Hawg Wrecking BarDasco puts a new spin on the wrecking bar design with its Demo Hawg.
The first thing you’ll notice about this imposing-looking fluorescent yellow tool is the shape. One end consists of a fork shape, which mimics other deck wreckers on this list. The other side consists of asymmetrical tines that look like something you might find on a piece of farm equipment.
Dasco calls this the Z claw. While the claw is quite useful for demolishing walls, it’s the fork end that’s going to help you rip up deck boards. Unlike the deck wreckers on this list, the fork is too narrow to straddle the joist. Instead, you’ll need to wedge the tip between the joist and deck, which can be a little tricky as there is no good surface on the Demo Hawg for hammering.
Once you have created a gap, you can take advantage of the Hawg’s 36” length, which generates ample torque for prying boards.
The Z claw side is more of a hindrance for deck board removal jobs as the claws themselves aren’t designed for prying boards but rather for punching through and ripping apart drywall.
They end up being an awkward handle for deck wrecking jobs. This is a minor inconvenience given that many of us would rather spend money on tools we can use in a variety of different jobs than just one.
With its single-piece steel construction, the Demo Hawg is quite durable, and yet, at about 8lbs, still light enough to work with for long demo efforts.
- Powerful and lightweight
- 36” length adds torque
- Useable in a variety of demo projects
- Fork too narrow to straddle joists
- Tined end awkward for deck board removals
10. Crescent Brand BLACK DB18X 18 Indexing Flat Prybar
Crescent offers an innovative take on a standard pry bar with its Black DB18X Indexing Flat Prybar. The Crescent takes the characteristic 90-degree hook shape of a pry bar and adds a handle instead of the flat end we’ve come to expect from conventional bars.
The handle is held to the head with a hinged joint. This joint allows you to adjust the angle of the connection over 180 degrees into 16 lockable positions, allowing you to adjust the pry bar to fit in areas that a normal pry bar cannot.It also allows you to maximize your power, allowing you to pull in situations in which you would normally be forced to push. The Black also is designed with a raised surface on the head to allow for hammering.
Crescent keeps the forked edge nail puller that is standard with pry bars. The Crescent features a substantial grip with thick padding, giving you something much more comfortable to hold onto as you aggressively pushing and pulling.
The Black comes in a variety of lengths, ranging from 16” to 44”, the latter of which puts it on par with the length of deck wreckers. Just keep in mind this wrecking bar does cost significantly more than standard deck wrecking bars.
- Joint connecting head to handle is adjustable more than 180 degrees
- Comfortable grip
- Durable head
- Expensive for a pry bar
- No flat end side
Bonus – Nail Removers
Union Pneumatics UP-AP700 Air Nail RemoverIf you’re buying a pneumatic nailer, it’s because you want to reclaim that deck wood once you’ve finished prying it off the deck. This nail remover works by releasing a powerful punch that hits the nail from the pointy side, blasting it back out the way it came in.
It’s ideal application is for reclaiming those old boards you’ve finished prying off your deck. Union’s powerful nail remover works with 10 to 20 gauge nails with force ranging from 80 to 120 PSI. It will remove nails from both hardwoods and softwoods.
Union Pneumatics adds some nice features to its Air Nail Remover, including a comfortable grip, which is important if you’re planning on a long session of nail punching. It’s also made of lightweight aluminum, which keeps the overall weight at a manageable five pounds.
As this is a pneumatic nailer, you’ll need an air compressor to use this tool. Also, keep in mind that nail removers use a large drive head to remove the nails. The head will leave a divot in the woods about the size of a 16d nail head.
- Lightweight with a comfortable grip
- Affordable compared to other nail removers
- Requires air compressor
- May leave divot marks in the wood
Crescent 11” Nail Puller
Sometimes it’s the simplest tools that are the best choice for getting the job done. This nail puller from Crescent Tools may not have the flash and power of a pneumatic nail remover, but it’s inexpensive and will effectively remove even the most stubborn nails.
These nail puller pliers are essentially a standard pair of pliers with a few modifications to improve leverage. A steel head acts a built-in fulcrum, adding leverage to the pliers. At nearly a foot long, the pliers are designed with longer than normal handles, allowing you to create more nail-pulling torque.
Simply grip the nail head and pull back against the metal fulcrum to remove the nail. A rubberized handle allows you to get a firm grip while forged steel construction adds plenty of strength and durability. Unlike a pneumatic nail remover, the Crescent nail puller won’t leave an unsightly divot in your reclaimed wood.
Keep in mind this design won’t work for all nail removals. Since it works by gripping the nail head, this nail puller is only effective for nails that are protruding from the wood. At just a fraction of the cost of a pneumatic nailer and with no air compressor to fuss with, this is a bargain option.
- Inexpensive nail pulling option
- Forged steel for strength and durability
- Extra-long for increased torque
- Won’t work with embedded nail heads
What Is a Deck Wrecker?
Unlike some of the other tools on this list, which are designed for use in various demolition projects, Deck Wreckers have one job: tearing up decking boards. As specialty tools generally are, deck wreckers are the most efficient way to complete this job.
The tool consists of a head that features two metal tines, usually made out of forged steel. The tines are attached to a long wooden or steel handle. Sometimes a nail pulled is integrated into the gap between the tines.
Although such characteristics as the shape of the tines, material used for the handle and handle length vary from one deck wrecker to the next, they all generally follow the same design.
Because this design maximizes leverage and torque, most deck wreckers can pull out boards that are screwed and nailed. Deck wreckers are also much easier on you physically, allowing you to remove many boards.
The downside is, deck wreckers are somewhat expensive. They can cost several times as much as other deck removal tools.
How to Properly Use a Deck Wrecker
Deck wreckers work by engaging the board at the joist. The metal tines should slide under the board you want to remove, straddling the joist. Once the tines are fully engaged with the board, pull back on the handle.
For maximum power, pull near the top of the handle as this will generate the most torque. The board should pull upward, taking the fasteners with it. For longer boards, you may need to alternate between joists to loosen the fasteners enough to pull the whole board free.
It’s important to follow a few safety guidelines when using a deck wrecker.
The use of a deck wrecker involves applying large amounts of force to tools that are made of cast iron or steel. You’ll also be working with old, potentially splintered wood and sharp fasteners that may be rusty and corroded. With this in mind, You need to take safety precautions before you get started.
Heavy gloves to prevent cuts from rusty nails and splintered wood are essential. Gloves will improve your grip on deck wrecking tools, preventing slips that can lead to injury, and protect your hands when it’s time to dispose of the discarded boards.
Given that you’ll be exerting a considerable amount of force on old wood, there’s a good chance that wood bits and even nails may go flying when you pop a board loose. Make sure to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
What to Consider When Buying?
How Big Is Your Job?
If you’re only replacing a few damaged deck boards, then it may not make sense to spend $100 or more on a tool designed solely for deck board removal. There are many other options that are less expensive and can be used for a wide variety of demolition projects.
On the other hand, If you’re removing a lot of deck boards or expect to be doing more than one deck renovation project, it may make sense to invest in a deck wrecker, which will save you time and your back.
It’s also a great option for those who may not be physically capable of removing boards through other methods. Prying loose deck boards is a tough job if all you’re armed with is a crowbar and hammer. Deck wreckers don’t require as much strength and take less of a toll on your body. This may make the extra cost worth it.
Buy a Quality Deck Demolition Tool
A deck wrecker will be pushed, pulled, and jammed into tight places. It will face harsh treatment and should be able to take a beating. Make sure the tool you purchase is made with quality material. Forged steel and stout handles are a must if you want your deck wrecker to hold up.
Check Out the Options
Some deck wreckers offer useful extra features that might appeal to you. For example, if you have a lot of rotted deck boards, you’ll likely end up pulling a lot of nails out of the joists once the rotted boards have been removed. A deck wrecker with an integrated nail puller makes this job much easier.
Removing old deck boards can be an arduous job. Deck wreckers can make your repair project much easier. If a deck wrecker isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of other options that will also get the job done.
I hope the products described in this article help you select the right tool for your deck renovation or repair project. Whichever tool you decide on, make sure to take the proper safety precautions to prevent injury by wearing gloves and safety glasses.