A Summary Description of the Various Concrete
Cutting Methods and Tools
Mark J. Donovan
Concrete cutting is often a necessary evil for homeowners finishing a
basement. Whether needing to install plumbing pipes underneath the
basement slab for a new bathroom or wanting to include a new window or
door in the basement foundation wall, the difficult process of concrete
cutting is involved. Cutting concrete requires special planning and the
use of heavy-duty specialized saws with diamond impregnated blades. Itís
also a job not really recommended for the average diy homeowner. In
addition to the special tools and skills required to cut concrete, itís
also a dangerous job that involves a lot of weight and even structural
|There are three basic ways to cut concrete; slab sawing,
wall sawing and core drilling. Summarized below is a brief description of
each type of concrete cutting.
Wall sawing mostly involves cutting openings in concrete foundation walls
normally for installing bulkhead doors or windows. However this method of
concrete cutting may also be used for lowering a foundation elevation or
cutting out retaining walls.
Basement concrete walls are typically 10 to 12 inches thick. Consequently
cutting out a section of wall that is nearly a foot thick, 8 feet in height,
and 4 to 6 feet in width is an extremely challenging task. Itís also an
extremely heavy piece of concrete, and thus wall sawing should be left to the
experienced concrete cutting professionals. Wall sawing is accomplished by
mounting a track onto the section of concrete wall to be cut out and attaching
a diamond tipped saw blade to it. The saw blade is extremely large. Itís
typically a minimum of 30 inches in diameter and can cut through at least 12
inch thick concrete walls.
Slab sawing, or flat sawing, involves cutting concrete floors and flat surfaces.
Itís often required if new plumbing drain pipes are required in a basement, or
for repairing existing plumbing pipes underneath a slab floor. A tool known as a
ďslab sawĒ is used to perform flat sawing. The diamond saw blade is again quite
large and is affixed to a walk-behind machine that the user operates. Slab saws
are mean, heavy pieces of equipment and again itís not a tool or job for the
average diy homeowner. Slab saws can cut up to a depth of 33 inches, however
fortunately most basement concrete slabs are 4 to 6 inches in depth.
A slab saw is also the perfect tool for removing an old concrete patio or
sidewalk. Cutting concrete slabs is a slow process, so be prepared to spend
the better part of a day cutting 20 to 30 linear feet of concrete. A heavy
sledge hammer is also commonly required to break up the sections of cut
concrete slabs into more manageable pieces to lift and remove. So again, make
sure you have the time and physical stamina before attempting to tackle this
project on your own.
Core drilling is about drilling round holes in concrete walls and floors.
Cutting holes in concrete walls and floors is often required for enabling
sewer or water pipes to enter the home, as well as other utilities such as
electricity and furnace and appliance vents. Most required core drilling holes
have an average diameter of around 5 inches, however cutting concrete circular
holes anywhere from 1 to 12 inches is not uncommon. Again, special equipment
and skills are required to perform core drilling, however for the diy
homeowner who wants a challenge he or she can often rent the necessary core
drilling equipment from a local home improvement center.
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