Concrete cutting, in principle, is pretty simple: It’s the process of using power tools to cut concrete, asphalt, tiles and other hardened, aggregate materials at desired angles and shapes. While conceptually it sounds straightforward, concrete’s unique properties make it a difficult material to cut if you don’t have the correct tools or expertise.
Concrete is a coarse, hard material that creates a lot of friction and turns to dust when it’s grinded or sliced. That puts stress on the tools and can expose workers and the general public to a cloud of airborne particles that irritates the eyes and lungs. Concrete is also structurally critical and can be sensitive to temperature and humidity (especially when it’s still curing), and deep knowledge of the material is important for anyone cutting into it. For all these reasons, concrete sawing requires specialized tools and skills to get a renovation, remodel or demolition done efficiently and safely. Here’s a look at some of the more common concrete cutting tools and techniques.
There are quite a few concrete sawing tools out there, each filling its own niche, but let’s start with the basics: power.
Electric-powered concrete saws are commonly used for indoor projects because they produce less noise and dust, which is a big advantage in apartment buildings and other sites the regulate noise and dust levels. They also tend to be lighter and a bit safer to use (no fumes or combustion).
Gas-powered concrete saws are used in dry processes and minimize dust using a containment system. They are ideal for use outdoors or in well-ventilated workspaces.
Both gas- and electric-powered concrete saws are built in a range of sizes, from handheld variants to saws that are large enough to walk behind.
COMMON CONCRETE CUTTING TECHNIQUES
Dry sawing is suited for large-scale, outdoor worksites due to the dust that’s produced in the cutting process. Dry saws are fitted with diamond-tipped blades to protect the saw from the heat that’s generated during the cutting process, rather than using an alternative cooling method, such as water. A common dry sawing technique involves making quick, shallow cuts on surfaces and then going through on additional passes to deepen them to a desired depth.
Wet sawing also utilizes a diamond-tipped blade but, in addition, a steady stream of water cools the blade as it saws to prevent warping and poor cuts. The water also turns concrete dust into a mud of sorts, keeping it contained and cutting down airborne irritants that can cause respiratory issues. Because they use water, they are typically gasoline or diesel powered to eliminate electrocution risk. Wet saws can yield more accurate cuts because they’re used for extended runs, rather than stopping and starting repeatedly. That translates into less downtime and increased productivity. A few drawbacks: Wet saws require a continuous water supply and the job site tends to get a little sludgy.
Wire sawing is a technique that originated long ago in ancient quarries, and involves feeding a rigid, diamond-laced cable through a series of pulleys to create immense tension and make a desired cut. The technique has been modernized for use in difficult projects that involve reinforced concrete structures where large sections need to be removed. Wire sawing goes where other traditional, spindle-mounted saws cannot, as they can be quickly customized to precisely cut a diverse array of shapes and sizes.
Wire sawing offers excellent flexibility, reduces waste and allows crews to move large portions of concrete efficiently. Since the process is anti-vibration, it doesn’t produce cuts or cracks around the openings.
Floor saws are to cut road surfaces, concrete floors, and slabs. Floor saws are used primarily on flat surfaces like roads and pavement for joints, trenching, and demolition projects. These tend to be heavy-duty saws in order to make deep cuts in a single pass. As such, walk-behind versions are more prevalent on construction sites.
Wall saws are used to make precise cuts on heavily reinforced concrete walls or vertical surfaces up to three feet deep. Also known as track saws, wall saws cut openings for doors, windows, ventilation ducts, HVAC modifications, staircases and elevator openings. Track saws are secured onto the target surface using a track-mounted system that enables a precise, accurate, and clean cut.
Ring sawing uses specialized chainsaws for smaller concrete cutting projects. Preferred in smaller projects, these saws are compact, lightweight and easy to handle in hard-to-reach places. Ring saws are used to cut bricks, walls, concrete pipes, and floors. The cutting technique is similar to chainsawing and is best for shallow, smooth cuts.
Contact Interstate Sawing and Demolition Today!
Interstate Sawing has been providing the greater Milwaukee area with superior concrete services since 1996. We offer a wide array of knowledge, experience, specialty services, and innovative ideas. Our team uses the best equipment the industry has to offer, allowing us to work safely and efficiently without sacrificing quality. Contact us today!