When it comes to cutting, removing or modifying concrete for a home, business, construction or industrial project, only the strongest tools will measure up against this powerful material. Concrete is valued for its resilience and versatility, and these qualities require a safe and well-planned approach to successfully cut, remove or replace the material.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the various elements of concrete cutting and how to do it safely and correctly.
What Is Concrete Cutting?
Knowing how to cut a concrete wall requires precision. Skilled operators normally perform this process, and it entails sawing, drilling and other methods. Concrete cutting has become more refined over the years thanks to advancements in the tools and machinery used. The smoother, cleaner and more precise end results reveal how much of a difference the upgrades make. Modern machinery simplifies concrete cutting and offers various functions depending on the blades used for the task.
Why Cut Through Concrete?
Generally, concrete is used to withstand the test of time and hold up against most elements. There are a few reasons why you’d want to cut this material, including:
- Modification: When a structure requires maintenance, concrete cutting is helpful to repair an unstable foundation and fix any faults to the area of interest.
- Demolition: Modern concrete cutting processes and techniques have helped create a more efficient, precise and refined demolition area.
- Industrial projects: Cutting concrete is common for industrial projects. Workers use this technique for repairing concrete sewer pipes, channeling for plumbing or electrical jobs, cutting through a concrete foundation and more projects.
Tips for Cutting Concrete Safely
There are several tips and safety measures to keep in mind when cutting concrete. To start, consider your selection of tools. There are a number of products available for concrete cutting, such as hydraulic circular saws and chainsaws. These tools have their own spec advantages, such as weight, noise, power, ease of use and portability, so considering which type would be the best option for your project is essential.
Once you’ve decided on your tools, consider these points:
- Choose the right time: The ideal time to cut concrete is after it cures but before it has hardened. Cutting concrete once it’s completely set or while it’s still wet is more challenging.
- Prepare for dust: Make sure you have a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirator while cutting concrete and ensure you don’t inhale any dust.
- Follow the marked lines: Precision is an important element in concrete cutting. We recommend using chalked or waxed lines as markers to help you remain steady and in control at all times. Additionally, wall mounts for circular saws and chainsaw speedhooks are common attachments that help ensure a precise cut every time.
- Take your time: Pushing down too heavily on your tool will put strain on your muscles, so it’s important to remember that you are simply guiding the tool doing the work for you. A firm hold and patience in areas of high concrete density will minimize the fatigue that accompanies heavy-handed cutting.
Safety is a top priority when it comes to concrete cutting. The following tips will help you stay safe and in control during the execution phase.
- Wear protective gear: Protection is critical for concrete cutting operations. A typical setup comprises protective goggles, work-site grade gloves, a respirator, ear defenders, thick overalls and safety boots with a steel toe cap. All of these elements can save you from a potential injury or long-term health issue. If you have long hair or a beard, make sure you keep it securely tied away from the saw.
- Choose the correct tools: Whether you are channeling, slicing or shearing concrete, your choice of saws and blades will come with their own set of safety considerations and instructions from the manufacturer. Confirm that the blade and saw you use are specifically for concrete cutting and that they are in pristine condition. Your equipment should feature a water line for cooling and dust absorption purposes in addition to a vacuum extractor. Ensure there are no faults or damage around the blade or handles.
- Consider the location: Make sure you perform thorough and frequent inspections to proceed with the cutting. You want to look out for things like water, ventilation, damaged blades and nearby people or animals. Make sure you assess the area to avoid collapsing structures or hitting electrical circuits or plumbing and take regular breaks to minimize the physical impact from the vibration.
How to Cut Concrete Using a Saw
Concrete cutting processes may vary based on the project and your personal preferences, but here are some general guidelines to follow:
Step 1: Assess your work area
Assess your work area to ensure it is properly ventilated and free from obstructions. You can use drape cloths to prevent dust from settling on any nearby items or areas. If you’re conducting the process indoors, lightly veil any doorways and HVAC systems to prevent the dust from spreading.
Step 2: Make sure to wear proper safety attire
Put on the recommended safety attire. Remember that anything airborne is hazardous to operators.
Step 3: Set the correct cutting depth
Set your saw and blade to the correct depth. You can apply masking tape to the body of the saw to minimize scratching the concrete surface as you cut.
Step 4: Outline where you will cut
Indicate your cutting lines with chalk or wax. Position and secure a straight board outside the markings.
Step 5: Cut the concrete using the proper technique
Grasp the saw firmly by the handles. Turn on the saw, water supply and vacuum and make contact with the concrete. Be aware of the gradient of your starting point and slowly guide the movements of the saw away from your body and close to the cutting surface. The pressure you apply to the saw will depend on the cutting direction. If cutting horizontally, the weight of the saw simply requires guidance. If you’re cutting vertically, you will need to apply more control and pressure.
Step 6: Make sure there is no debris or obstruction to the concrete
After cutting, assess the area of work you completed and confirm that your space is clear of any water or dust debris. Look out for any sharp pieces or edges as well as loose concrete. You can remove stubborn sections with a chisel and smooth out the completed area with sandpaper.
Step 7: Clean up your work area
With your protective gear still on, clean up any water, dust or material debris from the completed work area.
Step 8: Break down and clean your saw
Dismantle and clean your saw and blade. Check the equipment manufacturer’s instructions for this step and make sure your equipment is dry before storing it away.
Shop RGC Construction Concrete Cutting Products
RGC Construction concrete cutting products give you an edge in this controlled process. As a proud leader in hydraulic equipment, we offer a range of different hydraulic saws and core drills that can help you get the job done right. Our offerings are more productive, versatile, efficient and environmentally friendly than other options on the market.
Contact our team today for more information about our concrete cutting tools and equipment.