Best Dumpster Size for Small Demolition Projects

Demolition dumpster

A dumpster is an ideal disposal solution for residential demolition. However, although it is quick and convenient, choosing the right dumpster size can be tricky. If you get a dumpster that's too small, you'll be stuck with extra debris. If you get a dumpster that's too big, it can drive up disposal costs. We’ll help you find that sweet spot.

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A 10 yard dumpster can handle most small demolition projects (e.g., interior wall removal), while others may require a larger 20 yard dumpster (e.g., kitchen and bathroom renovation).

Bagster isn't always the best option for small cleanups

bagster compared to dumpster

The popular Bagster option from Waste Management available at Home Depot and other retailers seems like a great option for small demolition projects. However, this is oftentimes not the case.

Bag-style dumpsters hold up to about 3 cubic yards of debris and material. That’s not very much capacity for jobs such as flooring removal, interior wall demo, or deck removal. Having to purchase two or more Bagsters to complete a job is not a cost-effective or convenient alternative to renting a roll-off dumpster.

Ideal dumpster sizes for small demolition projects

10 yard and 20 yard dumpster dimensions

Dumpsters ranging from 10 to 20 cubic yards will accommodate the vast majority of small demolition projects.

10 yard dumpsters

  • Dimensions: 12 ft. x 8 ft. x 4 ft.
  • Weight capacity: 2 - 3 tons
  • Average cost: $300

20 yard dumpsters

  • Dimensions: 22 ft. x 8 ft. x 4 ft.
  • Weight capacity: 2 - 4 tons
  • Average cost: $380

The above dimensions, weight allowances, and costs may vary. These are national averages based on data collected by

Keep reading to narrow down your dumpster selection,  gain more valuable insights that can reduce costs, and make the dumpster rental process simpler...

Determine an estimated amount of debris

This is the most important step, yet it’s often overlooked. Don’t just guess at dumpster size; plan it out.

Type of debris

What’s the demolition project? Common DIY demolition projects include:

The type of debris you're removing matters just as much as the amount of debris. Whatever your project may be, write down all of the types of debris you’ll be disposing of in the dumpster (e.g., concrete, drywall, brick, wood, carpeting, etc.).

Some dumpster rental companies prefer, or sometimes require, that debris like concrete be separated from other debris. If you are disposing of mixed debris, ask your dumpster rental provider the best solution for your needs. Just don’t mix various types of debris without first Okaying it with the rental company.

Estimating the amount of debris

It’s a challenge to accurately estimate demolition debris before swinging the first sledgehammer. But here’s a strategy to get close:

  1. Measure the structure that is to be demolished. Get the square footage.
  2. Determine approximately the percentage of each type of debris (for weight purposes)
  3. Call a dumpster rental company with this information and get a dumpster size recommendation.

 TIP: When disposing of concrete, asphalt or other heavy materials, the weight limit of the dumpster becomes increasingly important. Going over the weight allowance may subject you to additional charges, called overage fees, of anywhere from $50 to $125 per ton.

Already did the demo? Estimate debris totals fast with this technique:

Since 1 cubic yard is equal to a 3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft. of space—or about the equivalent of one standard-size kitchen stove—estimate the total amount of debris by doing a simple size comparison.

how many yards of debris do I have

Looking at the debris piles generated during the demo, do you have “4 kitchen stoves worth of debris?" Then the debris total is around 4 cubic yards. In this case, a 10 cubic yard dumpster makes sense. Estimated debris of less than about 8 cubic yards can fit in a 10 yard bin.

  • Always over-estimate the amount of debris to be sure the dumpster you rent is big enough to complete the cleanup.

Don’t worry if you’re terrible at math or visualizing the volume of debris, experienced dumpster rental companies are incredibly good at doing this for you. Just be sure you have the basic details of the job when you call, such as the type of demo (e.g., shed demolition).

Call and get quotes. Book a dumpster

With demolition details in hand, call and get a few quotes from local haulers. Get a quote for a couple different dumpster sizes.

Find a dumpster rental company near you

We recommend getting quotes from at least two or three dumpster providers. Doing so ensures you’re getting the best deal, as well as finding the dumpster rental company that can work within your project timeline.

TIP: Get dumpster quotes at least a week ahead of the demolition. Dumpster companies have limited stock and during busy months, it can be tough to get a container the same day or next day you call.

Anytime you call and book a dumpster, be sure you get the details of the transaction, including:

  • Total out-the-door price
  • Other possible fees, such as overages
  • Weight allowance (aka weight limit)
  • Restrictions – What can and can’t be put in the dumpster?
  • Length of rental, and the pick-up procedure. Do you need to call for pickup?

Underestimated? How to dispose of the remaining debris on the cheap

Mistakes happen. Even if you’ve followed all the tips above, it’s still possible to underestimate the total amount of debris.

The solution is not tossing the extra debris in with your curbside trash collection. In fact, most waste haulers don’t allow construction and demolition (C&D) debris in the regular curbside collection service.

RELATED: How to dispose of demolition debris properly

Ways to dispose of a few extra cubic yards of demolition debris:

  • If it has any value – metal, lumber, bathroom vanity, appliances, etc. – post an ad in the Free section of Craigslist.
  • Request a pick-up from your curbside trash hauler. There is usually an additional fee.
  • Hire a junk removal company to pick it up. Minimum charges start at around $100 for small pick-ups, depending on where you live.
  • Haul it to the nearest landfill, C&D recycling facility or transfer station. Dump fees apply.
  • Donate things like doors, cabinets, working appliances, and faucets to local charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity.

Why not just haul the debris away yourself?

Hardcore DIY’ers may not even consider renting a dumpster; they’d load up a trailer or truck(s) and haul the debris to the nearest landfill or recycling facility. This may work just fine in some cases, but it doesn’t save as much money – and definitely not time – as you may think.Overloaded truck

There are various factors that affect the cost of DIY waste hauling, and when you add up these costs, you’re really not saving much money over renting a dumpster. The most important cost often overlooked is ‘time.'

What is your time worth?

If it takes 2, 3, or 4 hours roundtrip to dump the debris at the nearest landfill, would that time be better spent working on the next phase of the demolition projects, such as the rebuild?

Additional costs include dump fees, fuel, wear and tear, and trailer or truck rental (if applicable).

Find a dumpster rental company near you

Hometown Dumpster Rental lists reputable dumpster rental companies and verified customer reviews in cities across the country. We make it quick and easy to see a rental company’s:

  • Available dumpster sizes
  • Company background information
  • Contact information
  • Customer reviews (Hometown verifies each and every review before it is published online)

Get free dumpster quotes from rental companies near you

Demolition debris removal