LAST UPDATED: 8th January 2023 by The Editorial Team
Summary: Step by step guide and video showing how to break up concrete with an electric hammer drill or concrete with a pneumatic hammer drill.
Breaking up concrete
During gardening or other renovation projects, you may decide you want to remove a concrete floor or driveway. This may seem like a difficult and daunting task; however, using the correct tools it is possible to break up and remove concrete in a fairly short amount of time. The only realistic way of breaking through concrete is to use an electrical breaking hammer or even better, a pneumatic hammer. These can be hired from most tool hire shops.
- To best decide which power hammer to use, you should find out the thickness of the concrete you want to break. Electric hammers are good for the smaller jobs. Anything over 4 inches would be best tackled with a high powered electric hammer or a pneumatic hammer.
- Before you start, you will need to be aware of pipes that may be running underneath the concrete surface. If you think you know where the pipes are, then dig up that part first, so you have located it. If not, you must be careful and watch out for pipes as you hammer through the concrete.
- If the concrete is reinforced with steel you will need to also use an angle grinder.
- For protection wear safety goggles, gloves, and heavy boots when using an electric or pneumatic hammer drill.
- The best way of breaking into the concrete is to use a circular saw with a masonry blade attached. Once you have measured the area you want to have broken up, saw lines and use these to help start the process of breaking up the surface.
- When cutting the concrete you must wear a dust mask at all times. Concrete contains silica, which is dangerous to your health if inhaled.
- Position the electric or pneumatic hammer point into the crack and aim in the direction of the area of concrete you want removed. Continue working the area, digging deeper as you go.
- It is important not to try and break pieces too large but instead small to medium chunks. This helps to prevent getting the drill stick in the concrete.
- As you progress, break down the edges so the pieces fall away and the rubble can be removed. Try and break up the concrete into pieces as big as you can (not so big the drill gets stuck), so removing them is easier. Too many small pieces will take much longer to clear up than larger bits. Remove the debris as you go.
- Power hammer or hammer drill
- Ear defenders
- Dust mask
- Safety boots
- Rubble bag
How to break up concrete video
- Mixing concrete and mortar
- Setting fence posts in concrete
- Sealing concrete
- Laying concrete outdoors
Related cost guides
- Average ready-mix concrete cost
- Average cost of skip hire (2023)
- Average patio cost
- Average home insurance cost