How to Break Up a Concrete Slab

Concrete Demolition is Easier than You Think

By Mark J. Donovan

Breaking up a concrete slab or patio is not as difficult as one may think, albeit it’s a pretty strenuous job. You can save a small fortune in contractor costs by doing your own concrete demolition. A 12 lb sledge hammer is often all that is required for concrete demolition. A sledge hammer works fairly easy on a concrete slab that is no more than 4 inches thick, which is the maximum thickness of many patios, sidewalks, and basement floors. With any concrete demolition project start out with the sledge hammer to get a feel for how thick the concrete is, and how easy and how much time it is going to take to break up the concrete.

If the concrete slab is only 4 inches thick but has a very large surface area you may want to use a more automated tool.

For concrete slabs thicker than 4 inches or very large slab areas, visit your local tool rental store and rent some heavier equipment for breaking up concrete. An electric jack hammer is easier on your body than a pneumatic one as it is lighter and not as brutal to use. This said, the electric jack hammer lacks the weight and power of a pneumatic jack hammer, thus it doesn’t save a lot of time in breaking up the concrete. An electric jack hammer, however, does help to save your back, shoulders and arms from not having to swing a heavy sledge hammer. If you elect to rent a pneumatic sledge hammer keep in mind that they way nearly 100 lbs. Also, you’ll need to rent a compressor, hose and bits as well.

If you’re breaking up a concrete patio or slab near the side of a home or windows cover the slab or patio with plastic first to prevent shards of concrete from flying. Also, make sure you always wear eye protection, pants, a long sleeve shirt and work gloves when performing concrete demolition.

Besides the sledge hammer and/or jack hammer it also helps to use a prybar, mattock and bolt cutters when breaking up concrete. The prybar and mattock help to lift up and split apart large loosened sections of concrete.

Many concrete patios and slabs have reinforcement wire mesh embedded in them. The bolt cutters are used to cut away reinforcement mesh that may be imbedded in the concrete patio or slab.

When breaking up a concrete slab it is best to work in small sections or bites. Too large of a bite may be difficult to break and broken slab pieces maybe too heavy to lift.

Hauling and disposing of a broken up concrete slab is also heavy and time consuming work. To speed up the effort and reduce the wear and tear on your body consider renting a dumpster and a power wheelbarrow. If you use a manual wheelbarrow make sure it is a heavy duty one and only fill it half full with concrete debris.

Patio design includes choosing the right patio furniture.

This way you’ll save your wheelbarrow and your body. Also, if the wheelbarrow bucket is plastic line it with heavy duty cardboard to protect it from sharp concrete edges.

Dress Up Your Home’s Exterior with an Arbor – If you’ve always wondered what to do about a side door entrance to your house or garage to make it more appealing, or just wanted to simply spice up the backyard, building an arbor may be your answer. The “How to Build an Arbor Ebook” provides detailed, step-by-step instructions and pictures on how to build an entrance-way arbor for your home. Order and Immediately Download today!. 100% Money-Back Guarantee if you are not satisfied.

Planning to have a Brick or Paver Walkway Installed by a Landscaping Contractor but not sure what questions to ask to ensure you hire the right one? See’s Brick and Paver Walkway Bid Sheet. The Brick and Paver Walkway Bid Sheet will help ensure that your walkway project goes smoothly and you get the finished walkway you are looking for.

Additional Landscaping Resources from

Free Home Addition Price Quotes with No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on a house addition from one of our prescreened and licensed home addition contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your house addition price estimate.