How to Cut Concrete

Nearly every construction project involves some form of cutting concrete. You can rent the necessary tools from many home supply centers. There are many different kinds of concrete cutting.

Concrete dust is potentially damaging to the lung, sinuses and eyes. Concrete dust also becomes corrosive and abrasive, and may damage surrounding finishes. The two most common dust control methods are wet cutting where the dust is collected in the cooling water and pneumatic devices that pull the dust away in an air stream.

Diamond Cutting Blades

When using a diamond cutting blade or other abrasive disk cutting device such as a concrete saw, the water also serves to lubricate and cool the cutting tools. Consideration must me made to handle the spillage of cooling water on to the surface being cut.

When using electric powered tools, adequate grounding, insulation and appropriate ground fault protection must be provided. Standing in a puddle of water while operating an electric tool can be fatal if proper protections are not in place.

Slab sawing, also known as flat sawing, is used to cut horizontal flat concrete surfaces such as floors, bridge decks and pavement. Slab saws feature a diamond blade that is mounted on a walk-behind machine that requires only one operator. They can cut up to 33 inches in depth but generally only 6" or less is necessary in most homeowner applications. Attempting a slab saw project can be very time consuming for your average "do it yourselfer", however it can be accomplished.

Wall Sawing is the process of cutting openings such as doors or windows in concrete walls, usually no more than 12" thick but in some cases up to 24" thick. This is accomplished by using a saw that attaches to a track on the wall to be cut.

This process utilizes an enormous 30" or even larger diameter diamond blade that can cut 12" or more of concrete all of the way through from one side. This aspect of concrete cutting requires the most skill and cannot easily be done by your average "do it yourselfer."

Cold Cutting Concrete

Cold cutting, or water jet (hydro blast) cutting as it is also known, involves a focused jet of water delivered at ultra high pressure (UHP) combined with a sharp edged abrasive. This no-contact cutting tool does not produce any appreciable heat, something that most cutting tools do. It can also cut in precise easily controllable lines through concrete.

Water delivered at ultra high pressures can be potentially dangerous if not handled properly. This is why all cold cutting operators must be highly trained and they must wear the proper safety clothing and use the proper equipment. Because water is used as the primary cutting force, dust is not generated in any form.

When cutting concrete with traditional concrete saws the noise generated is considerable, requiring the need for ear muffs to protect hearing. This is not the case with cold cutting, which is considerably quieter in operation. Recycling and filtration methods are employed to minimize water wastage. In this way the water is not required to be constantly replenished, but can be reused with only slight ongoing loss.

Safety

Concrete cutting requires sharp tools, quality equipment in good repair, a good supply of cooling water and a skilled operator. When cutting concrete with traditional concrete saws the noise generated is considerable, requiring the need for ear muffs to protect hearing.

There are companies in almost every part of the country that actually specialize in the process of cutting doorways and windows in concrete walls. These companies are called concrete cutting services. They are listed in your local or online yellow pages under the heading of “concrete breaking, cutting, sawing, core drilling etc.”

A professional concrete cutter will make the process look exceptionally easy. Concrete can be a homeowner's worst obstacle if he or she doesn't know that there are companies out there that specialize in removing it very quickly and neatly.