How to Break Up Patio Concrete Slabs With a Hammer

Written by sal marco
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How to Break Up Patio Concrete Slabs With a Hammer
Break up concrete with a sledgehammer for removal. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Concrete is a combination of aggregates and Portland cement. Mixing these ingredients with water allows masons and homeowners to pour the mixture into forms to create slabs. After hardening, the concrete becomes a durable and hard-wearing permanent structure. Improper curing, overworking the concrete or inadequate base preparation can lead to cracking, lifting or spalling along with a whole host of problems making removal necessary. If this happens, a homeowner may want to remove the concrete patio and opt for another design in their yard. Removing a concrete slab with a hammer is a time-consuming process and requires a lot of hard work.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Plywood
  • Hardhat
  • Full-face shield
  • Dust-approved respirator
  • Gloves
  • Work boots
  • Sledgehammer or masonry hammer
  • Bolt cutters
  • Friction saw
  • Metal-cutting blade

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  1. 1

    Cover nearby windows with plywood to protect them from flying pieces of concrete. Stand plywood sheets in front of glass windows and doors or nail them in as protection.

  2. 2

    Don a hardhat, full-face shield, dust-approved respirator, gloves and work boots.

  3. 3

    Strike the concrete forcefully with a sledgehammer or heavyweight masonry hammer. Begin anywhere on the concrete slab. Strike repeatedly until the concrete begins to break up.

  4. 4

    Remove pieces of concrete that you are able to easily lift and set to the side or into a dumpster for disposal.

  5. 5

    Cut wire mesh with bolt cutters into removable pieces. Cut rebar with a friction saw equipped with a metal-cutting blade into sections for removal. Some concrete slabs use rebar or wire mesh to add strength.

  6. 6

    Move to the left or right and strike the concrete forcefully with the sledgehammer or masonry hammer until you can lift and move pieces away from the slab. Continue to break the concrete into pieces, cutting metal and removing them until no slab remains.

Tips and warnings

  • Periodically spray the concrete with a garden hose to keep the dust down while breaking the slab.
  • Consider renting a jackhammer to break up large slabs.

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