Time to trade in that boring, cracked patio for something new with a lot more pizzazz? Tearing out all the old concrete is likely the hardest part of the job, but don’t fret. Our home improvement experts recently weighed in with their favorite tips and tricks for making that unsightly slab disappear as simply as possible.
Mogale Modisane is a qualified Electrical Engineer and the founder of ToolsGaloreHQ.com.
Make Sure You Have All the Right Tools
First and foremost, you should determine if the concrete patio has reinforced steel or not. This can be done via the use of a tool called a GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar). This tool practically maps out and detects the presence of rebar. Secondly, I know a lot of contractors and homeowners who might go at this task using a sledgehammer, however, I would not recommend this approach. It would be back-breaking and very arduous. Rather rent out a jackhammer for the demolition works.
Also together with your jackhammer get an angle grinder that is equipped with a metal cut-off wheel for the reinforced steel (if any). Most concrete patios are not reinforced to the house’s rebar which is great as this makes the job a lot easier. However, if you ever find that the patio is connected to the house’s rebar, use your angle grinder to sever this connection first to not transfer any vibration forces across your home potentially creating micro-cracking throughout the home.
One thing that I have seen which is helpful is using a hammer drill to create pilot holes across the surface of your patio, these pilot holes will encourage fault lines and will also help break up the pieces of concrete into manageable chunks that can easily be carried away and transported to a dumpsite.
Consider Hiring a Pro to Avoid Damage to Your Home
The first step is knowing how many patios you have to remove. That can be difficult if you haven’t seen it for a while. Concrete patios are notorious for cracking, so if you’re taking measurements, take them from crack to crack, not from post to post, or else your measurements will be inaccurate. The cracks aren’t always visible from the ground; sometimes they’re underwater. If the patio runs around a corner, measure the area behind that corner as well.
Once you’ve determined the area of your patio, you can determine how much concrete you’ll need to remove and how much materials and manpower you’ll need to meet that need. It’s best if you can hire a contractor with experience in concrete removal because they know what tools and techniques are most effective without damaging your home or anything around it.
Removal of a concrete patio attached to a house is best left to the professionals. If you are thinking of removing a concrete patio yourself, you will need to rent or borrow an excavation jackhammer. This is a powerful machine that can cost as much as $50 per day and it should only be used by professional contractors. The jackhammer requires a large amount of water in order to function properly when removing the concrete patio attached to a house.
Safety First When Using Heavy Tools
Removing a concrete patio isn’t the most technically difficult task out there, but it is time-consuming and very physically tiring. The most effective tool for breaking up concrete is going to be a jackhammer, and you can also use a pickaxe. It is extra important to remember to abide by all the necessary safety precautions, like wearing steel-toed boots, glasses, etc. because you can get injured if you aren’t careful. Unless you are comfortable with using these kinds of tools, I would recommend hiring a contractor to remove the patio for you. It’ll cost more, but it will be quicker and less stressful.
Start at the Cracks
It is recommended that you approach a professional or ask for help from your fellow friends. If you think you can handle it yourself or you’re still estimating how easy or difficult the process will be for you, you must get to know the details of it first. You must have the right tools with you like a sledgehammer, a bar for prying, a wheelbarrow to carry away the debris, and such. Of course, you would need protection for your head, most especially your eyes.
Make sure nothing else is on your patio. It’s a hassle to push stuff out of the way as you go along. In removal, it’s recommended to start where it is the most cracked if there are cracks. They are easier to break apart since they are already damaged. You would be destroying your patio but just make sure you’re also clearing the debris away as you go along.
Dig Beneath the Slab to Create a Void
If the concrete patio you wish to remove is little or less than 4 inches thick, you can use a sledgehammer. The first step is to create a void so that the sledgehammer may easily break it. Dig beneath the slab and, once some cracks have formed, use a pry bar to raise smaller sections of the slab, creating a void. Now, smash away bits of concrete with the sledgehammer while another person lifts the section with a pry bar. Continue breaking and clearing the concrete until you reach the end of the patio.
Clear the Majority of the Patio with a Jackhammer
While the specifics are going to depend on exactly how the patio is attached to your house and what your house’s foundation is made of and finished with, the basic procedure is to remove as much of the patio as possible with jackhammers first. Go as far as to remove some of the concrete inside the perimeter of your house’s exterior,then patch the area with cement to create a smooth line. In most cases, this area is likely going to be prone to faster wear, cracking, and perhaps even leaks, so it’s best if you can cover the patch with siding or stucco.
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