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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cutting Concrete Pavers: Rough Cut Techniques

Cutting concrete pavers is not difficult, but it does require special equipment and a certain level of skill to ensure that your hardscaping project turns out right. There are several methods for cutting. Read the article: Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview for more general information. This article focuses on two methods which leave a rough edge to the cut paver:

  1. Hammer and Chisel
  2. Block or Paver Splitter

1.   Hammer & Chisel

Hammer & chisel is the simplest and most inexpensive method for a few cuts. Simply score the paver along a cut line using sharp but light blows. By repeatedly tapping along the same cut line, the paver will eventually snap leaving a rough cut.

Advantages: Inexpensive, rough finish, ease of use.

Disadvantages: Slow, non-precise rough cuts, possible breakage.

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Rough Cut Techniques Cutting Concrete Pavers: Rough Cut Techniques

2.  Block Splitter

A block splitter is basically a large mechanical chisel or guillotine cutter. By using the leverage of a long handle, you can easily “snap” a paver, wall block or wall cap leaving a rough finished edge.  Block splitters generally can snap material up to 6” thick. This is a great tool to use for creating corner wall blocks or caps where the cut side will be visible. Most hardscaping project contractors will use splitters when building walls to help create finished corner pieces.

Advantages: Ease of use, inexpensive to rent, attractive finishing tool, can cut on project.

Disadvantages: Non-precision cutting, must cut at least 2” to get “straight” cut.

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Rough Cut Techniques Cutting Concrete Pavers: Rough Cut Techniques

Cutting Concrete Pavers: Smooth Cut Techniques

Cutting concrete pavers is not difficult, but it does require special equipment and a certain level of skill. There are several methods for cutting. Read the article: Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview for more general information.

This article focuses on four methods which leave a smooth edge to the cut paver:

  1. Circular Saw with Masonry or Diamond Blade

  2. Table Concrete Saw

  3. Gas Powered Cut Off Saw

  4. Grinder with Masonry or Diamond Wheel.

1.   Circular Saw

A circular saw will make cutting more than a few pavers much easier than rough cut techniques. Note you will need to equip your saw with a masonry or diamond blade. Start by making a pass with the saw at ½” depth. Make additional passes increasing the depth of the blade each time.

Advantages: Inexpensive, faster than hammer/chisel, tool readily available, more precise.

Disadvantages: Slow for large amount of cuts, only works on 2” or thinner material.

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Smooth Cut Techniques Cutting Concrete Pavers: Smooth Cut Techniques

2.   Table Saw

If the job requires a lot of cutting, consider renting a table top concrete saw. Concrete saws are readily available at most rental facilities for approximately $70-80 per day. Tabletop concrete saws make precise, fast cuts for most pavers and wall caps. Most saws are also equipped with water pumps which will spray the paver with water while making the cut to help control dust and prolong the life of the diamond blade. Cutting can be done without using water, but will be quite dusty if water is not used.

Advantages: Fast, easy to use, precise cutting, minimizes dust.

Disadvantages: Need to rent, usually only good for 3” thick cuts or less, can be messy, need electrical hook up.

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Smooth Cut Techniques3.  Gas Powered Cut Off Saw:

A gas powered cut off saw will easily cut through any size paver, wall block or wall cap. While this powerful saw is fairly easy to use, it is somewhat heavy and takes a strong back if doing more than a few cuts. Because of the weight, holding the saw along the desired cut line can be difficult making bad cuts which require recutting common. Cut off saws can be difficult to start, so you should always have the rental company test it to ensure it works before leaving the store.

Advantages: Portable, powerful, maximum cutting depth, great for “in place” cutting.

Disadvantages: Loud and dusty, heavy, higher percentage of bad cuts, can be hard to start.

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Smooth Cut Techniques

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Smooth Cut Techniques

Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: OverviewCutting concrete pavers is not difficult, but it does require special equipment and a certain level of skill. One or two cuts can be done easily with a hammer and chisel or a circular saw equipped with a masonry or diamond blade. If a large amount of cutting is required it may be easier to rent a more powerful piece of equipment such as a table top concrete saw or a gas powered cut off saw. This specialized cutting equipment can be rented by the day or week at most rental centers.

Types of Cutting Tools:

  1. Hammer/Mallet and Chisel/Brickset

  2. Block or Paver Splitter

  3. Circular Saw with Masonry or Diamond Blade

  4. Table Concrete Saw

  5. Gas Powered Cut Off Saw

  6. Grinder with Masonry or Diamond Wheel

For more information on the differences between these tools, see the articles on Cutting: Rough Cut or Cuttting: Smooth Cut.

When using power equipment, you should always take safety into consideration and the use of safety equipment is a must. Safety equipment includes:

  • Safety Glasses

  • Hearing Protection

  • Dust Mask

  • Gloves

Finishing Technique:

Note that most cutting will leave a very clean cut line. Most pavers have a tumbled or chamfered edge and the clean cut line will be very noticeable. Using a hammer or scrap piece of paver, you can “chink” or tumble the edge to give a more finished look. Roughing up this clean edge will make a huge difference in the overall appearance of the project.

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview

Disposal, Dust and Advice:

  • Cutting pavers can be a very dusty, messy experience. You may want to set up a cutting area away from the project and your house to keep dust cleanup as easy as possible. Also take notice of which way the wind is blowing and how the dust will affect your neighbors.

  • Disposal of the scrap concrete left after cutting can be a challenge. In Phoenixville, Cedar Hollow Recycling will take your concrete waste and recycle it for other uses for a nominal charge. If you are not in the Phoenixville area, check your local phone book for waste disposal.

  • If a lot of cutting is necessary for your project, make sure to order extra material (5-15% is typical).  Please note that not all materials are returnable.  Understand what you distributors policy is on returns before ordering material.  If the material is non-returnable, you may want to under order and pick up more material when needed. Be careful…some special order colors or slow moving product may not be readily available and you may have to wait if you need more material.

  • For curved cuts, consider using a border material. Most projects (especially curved walkways or patios) will look much more finished when full pieces are used as a border.

 Cutting Concrete Pavers: Overview