Whether you need to cut concrete for your patio, sidewalk, or something, it is a process, you should have a thorough know-how of. As a DIYer, if you need to cut concrete pavers, blocks, boards, or a retaining wall, then this guide about how to cut concrete is designed just for you.
For cutting concrete, you can use a variety of power tools, most notably, a circular saw or an angle grinder. Whichever of the two you go with, there are certain crucial steps that you need to take for the successful execution of the entire cutting process. These include;
- Choosing the right blade
- Preparing the workspace
- Making the cutting lines
- Taking the safety precautions
- Dampening the concrete sample
- Making the Desired Cut
Our guide below dives deep into all the aforementioned steps and more. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Here is everything that you need for cutting concrete pavers, slabs, blocks, or anything else:
- Circular saw
- Handheld cut-off saw
- Dry-cutting diamond blade
- Wet-cutting diamond blade
- Drop cloths
- Angle Grinder
- Safety Gear (shin guards, knee pads, steel-toed boots, protective eyewear, ear protection, face shield, etc.)
- Extension cord
- Garden hose
- Wet/dry vacuum
- Mason chisel
Step 1: Choose the Right Blade
First off, you need to pick the right type of blade for your saw.
If you are using a circular saw or any other hand-held saw, you will have the options of a dry-cutting and a wet-cutting blade. For the former, you will need to wet the concrete to reduce the flying dust during the cutting process whereas, for the latter, you will need to supply the water continuously to the blade.
Note that by choosing a concrete-cutting saw for the process, you will be able to use either of the two-blade more conveniently.
If you happen to prefer an angle grinder instead of a saw, your best bet is to opt for a diamond cutting disc (either wet or dry).
Step 2: Prepare the Workspace
Now, you need to prepare the workspace so that dust is kept from entering your living space.
So, if you are working in your basement, cover any doors with clothes and if you are working outside, make sure that all windows to the house are closed.
Additionally, make sure that there are no loose clothes or other dangling items near the workspace.
Step 3: Mark the Cutting Lines
Using chalk, mark cutting lines on your concrete structure, whether it is a concrete wall, or you are trying to cut pavers, blocks, or a board out of a concrete sample.
Be sure to draw the line as thick as possible as otherwise, it would disappear when a trickle of water is applied to it.
Step 4: Take the Mandatory Safety Precautions
Before you can begin the cutting process, you need to take all the necessary safety precautions.
Put on your heavy clothes, knee pads, shin guards, eye protection, face shield, ear protection, and steel-toed boots. Additionally, if you are using an electric saw, such as a circular saw, avoid plugging it directly into the power outlet; instead use an extension cord. As a result, there will be lesser chances of power shocks, surges, and overloads.
Step 5: Apply Some Water
Now that everything is set up, you need to trickle some water on the concrete sample, you are dealing with, to begin cutting.
Accordingly, if it is possible, place the garden hose, directly over the point where you intend to make the cut.
For a flat, horizontal piece of concrete, extend the hose to the work area to dampen the surface. Be sure to hold the hose in place so that a steady stream of water flows over the chalk line.
On the contrary, if you are dealing with a vertical project, like a retaining wall, you will need to spray water on the concrete at regular intervals throughout the cutting process.
Step 6: Make the Desired Cut(s)
Choose one end of the marked chalk line, whichever end feels convenient, and place a guide board along the external part of the chalk line.
Now, while the saw is off, adjust its depth to no more than a half-inch. Using a shallow depth will allow staying in control of the saw and on top of that, a series of shallower cuts is much safer as compared to a deeper cut.
Having done that, power up the saw at the lowest revolutions per minute (RPM) setting and initiate the cut along with the guide board. With a tight, two-handed grip on the saw, move the saw gradually along the guide board.
You only need to dig a quarter-inch deep on your first go but if the saw digs a bit deeper than that, that is fine as well. The first cut is basically to ensure that you are keeping the saw straight as you cut the material. Make the cut for around 30-45 seconds.
Remove the saw from the concrete, letting it spin freely, so that any dust, clogging it is spat out. Keep cutting alternately for 30-45 seconds until the cut of a half-inch is completed.
Having made a guided cut, remove the guide board. Now, repeat the process of making several intermittent cuts, lasting for no longer than 30-45 seconds, until they add up to a 2-inch-deep cut.
For much deeper cuts, switch off the saw and adjust the depth of the saw blade by increments of ½ inches.
Step 7: Use a Sledgehammer
Now that you have made the cuts of the desired depth(s), clear the workspace of all the dust and put away the saw and the power cord.
Next, hammer away at the cut concrete near the cut line. Be sure to stay 1-2 inches away from the cut line as you apply enough force to break away the concrete.
After knocking away most of the concrete around the cut line, go ahead and tap away from the excess concrete for a neater line.
Note that if you intend to pour new concrete into pavers, or a slab, you can leave the edges of the cut concrete rough, as they will help in bonding with the new concrete.
Step 8: Achieve a Neat Finish
For achieving a cleaner and neater edge underneath the saw-cut line, you are going to need a claw hammer and a chisel.
Beginning at any of the two ends, place the chisel blade, such that it is flush with the concrete, and tap the top of the chisel with the hammer solidly. The protruding concrete will crumble away bit by bit until the rough edges are being straightened to your liking.
As for the crumbled concrete, be sure to properly dispose of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Cut Concrete with a Drill?
No, although you can drill holes in concrete with a drill, you cannot cut concrete with it.
Can You Cut Concrete with a Chainsaw?
Yes, you can. A concrete chainsaw is made to first plunge the nose into the concrete and make the cuts, which can be twice as deep as those made by a 14-inch cut-off saw.
How Long Will a Diamond Blade Last Cutting Concrete?
A low-quality can only last around 12 hours of non-stop cutting whereas a top-quality one can cut concrete for up to 120 hours.
How Do You Cut Reinforced Concrete?
Although cutting reinforced concrete may seem daunting, you basically have to just follow the step detailed above, and that means choosing the right blade and tools.
You may have noticed by now that cutting concrete is not as intimidating as it seems. In fact, regardless of the shape of the concrete sample, you are dealing with, you just need to keep a few important things in mind and you are good to go.
To reiterate, having prepared the workspace and the cutting lines marked, you need to equip the safety gear. Then, you apply some water on the lines where you need to cut and begin with a guide cut.
After the guide cut, you make all the desired cuts and provide a neat finish to the obtained concrete piece so that it is ready for use.