In a previous blog, we discussed what concrete is and how it’s part of nearly every building structure, from your home to your gym to your bank to the roads you drive on. At some point, all of these structures will need some form of concrete cutting to either be maintained, repaired, or improved.
So, what is concrete cutting? Concrete cutting is the process of sawing, drilling, and removing concrete on a variety of projects. Professionals use concrete cutting to safely and precisely cut large, square or rectangle-shaped incisions into wall or slab concrete.
Concrete cutting requires intense skill and experience, whether it’s used for big construction projects like dams, parking garages, highways, and chemical plants or smaller residential projects like window and bulkhead openings, trenches for plumbing, and utilities.
What are the different ways you can cut concrete?
As you can imagine, concrete is heavy, thick, and stronger than most materials in construction. It takes eagle-eyed precision to remove or modify concrete with heavy machinery. Skilled operators use special saw cutting techniques to get the accuracy needed with very few mistakes.
Some factors that are taken into consideration when choosing one way over another include the age of the concrete—the older, the tougher it is to cut—the type of project, and the efficiency.
When you need to cut into a large, flat concrete slab, slab sawing is known to be a far superior option to jackhammering. Also referred to as flat slab sawing, it’s one of the most common diamond-cutting methods.
How does slab sawing work?
This type of cutting evens out concrete floors by removing the rough and uneven top layer of concrete to reveal the smooth and even layer below.
What type of tool is used in slab sawing?
A large diamond blade is mounted on a walk-behind machine and operated by simple handles and switches. Common projects include roadways, pavements, parking lots, bridge decks, and floors.
Cascade Concrete Sawing & Drilling specializes in exterior and interior slab sawing for construction projects, including concrete removal, demolition, highway and runway repair, and much more.
This type of cutting uses precise cutting when an opening is needed to add windows or doors to concrete walls. Also known as track sawing, wall sawing requires immense skill and attention to detail to cut cleanly through vertical and horizontal concrete slabs.
How does wall sawing work?
Wall saws make straight and bevel cuts perfect for vertical or sloped surfaces made of concrete, asphalt, stone, or cinder block.
What type of tool is used for wall sawing?
A wall saw with two circular blades cuts concrete with a clean and precise finish. Our team of pros provide precision wall sawing to quickly cut openings for residential and commercial uses.
Common projects include bathrooms, basements, or hard-to-access areas.
When slab sawing and wall sawing are not available, wire sawing is the next best option. Occasionally, the concrete is too thick or tough to cut through with saw blades and needs the versatility and strength a wire saw provides.
How does it work?
Instead of using a traditional blade, a thin steel wire goes through a pulley at high speeds to cut the concrete. This method is highly advanced and used by experts in larger projects for more complex jobs.
What type of tool is used?
A wire saw made of a thin steel wire with the ability to cut larger sections of concrete or steel. This tool is perfect for mass concrete removal with its advanced design and ability to cut through most type of concrete, no matter how thick it is.
Wire sawing provides unlimited concrete cutting for small to large construction projects.
Dry cutting vs. wet cutting
Cutting concrete with diamond sawing techniques has gotten more popular over the years. Both dry and wet cutting use a saw with a diamond blade, but some differences determine which method will be used. Ultimately the type of project getting tackled will be a deciding factor.
The saw used for wet cutting has a diamond blade that works in tandem with water to cut concrete.
How does wet cutting work?
Several things happen when water is used to help cut concrete. First, water is continuously sprayed directly onto the surface. While the saw is cutting through, water also cools down the blades so it can cut for longer periods without overheating.
What type of tool is used for wet cutting?
Walk-behind saws tend to be the tool of choice for wet cutting.
Pros of wet cutting:
- cuts harmful dust
- faster than dry cutting
- precise and accurate
- safer than dry cutting
- quieter than dry cutting
Cons of wet cutting:
- less convenient
- messy job sites
- reliance on water supply
- shorter lifespan
- electrical hazards
Dry cutting uses a specialized diamond blade and relies on air, rather than water, to cool down. This type of cutting is great for straightforward, simple projects with no water source or need for one or sites that need to stay dry.
How does dry cutting work?
Using a diamond blade designed to hold more heat, dry cutting saws create shallow, straight cuts every time. Because it does not use any water, the saw has to be given breaks between cutting to allow the air to cool down the blade.
What type of tool is used in dry cutting?
A hand-held dry-cutting saw is the tool of choice, especially for more small-scale jobs.
Pros of dry cutting:
- easy to use for simple jobs
- no water needed
- longer-lasting blade than wet cutting
- no power source needed
- cleaner work sites
- precise detailing
Cons of dry cutting:
- hazardous dust
- no curved cuts
- takes longer to cut
- can’t to large-scale cutting
- less accurate than wet cutting
Choosing between wet and dry cutting comes down to the type of project and what it entails. Dry cutting is typically better for smaller jobs requiring some decorative patterns. A dry-cutting saw does great detailing because it can create decorative patterns on flatter, smoother surfaces.
By contrast, with wet cutting, you can make more accurate cuts for a longer period which makes it faster and cuts back on downtime. Additionally, this method allows for curved cutting since it’s not limited to straight cuts like dry cutting.
Both methods are highly effective when done right and used in the right setting.
Common concrete cutting tools
Having the right concrete cutting equipment can make or break the success of a project. When cutting concrete, it’s important to use the right type of saw and blade. We also need to take into consideration safety, efficiency, and cost.
Here are eight of the industry’s most common tools used in concrete cutting projects.
- Ring saws: a circular saw using blades to cut through concrete
- Hand saws: a convenient and affordable tool for smaller projects that require precision cuts
- Wire saws: versatile machines perfect for mass concrete removal due to their spindle-mounted diamond blades
- Wall saws: a powerful tool that cuts through concrete by using the reciprocating motion of two blades
- Walk-behind saws: a safety-focused tool designed with a blade that can easily cut into hard surfaces without kicking back or jabbing arms or hands
- Cut-off saws: designed with teeth to provide maximum cutting potential with minimal resistance and binding
- Rock drills: this tool cuts holes into reinforced concrete using a drill
- Core drills: a power tool used to create holes for cables, gas lines, and much more
When is concrete cutting necessary?
If your home or business is going through an improvement or repair project and concrete is in the way, you may need some concrete cutting. This can be for a variety of purposes—anywhere from creating openings for doors and windows or cutting out sections for plumbing or electrical work.
What are the dangers of DIY concrete cutting?
Mastering the sawing technique is what professionals do to keep everyone and your property safe from damage. Working with these powerful concrete cutting tools takes a ton of skill and accuracy. So not only can trying DIY concrete cutting be time and energy-consuming, it’s also potentially dangerous.
Safety is #1. Our professionals are trained to work with heavy machinery, do tough concrete cutting jobs, and adapt to complex situations. For instance, water is often used in concrete cutting but having water near electrical equipment poses the danger of electrocution.
Safety also considers the health of our crew on site and your family. Concrete dust can damage the lungs and cause health issues if ingested. Our pros wear the proper safety gear to ensure the job site is controlled and safe.
DIY’ing a project tends to mean somewhere-somehow, necessary steps get skipped. We’ve seen this result in many expensive and time-consuming revisions down the line. Spare yourself the headache of trying to do it yourself by bringing in the professional concrete cutters your job deserves.
Cascade Concrete—A Cut Above the Competition
We’ve been Washington state’s concrete and asphalt cutting experts for the last 40-plus years. Our skilled specialists provide precision concrete and asphalt sawing and drilling services for commercial and residential projects.
As concrete cutters, we respect our team, our clients, and every property we touch. This level of respect and service fuels the work we do for every customer. With strong safety policies and regulations in place, we have the capability, knowledge, and experience to tackle your toughest concrete jobs.
And we believe in creating a culture of accountability and integrity.
For high-quality concrete cutting services, give us a call at 253-872-7578!