How to Break Up a Concrete Patio


Breaking up a concrete patio to replace it with a new one is a full weekend project. Concrete patios are usually just simple poured slabs. However, some concrete patios have steel bars that run through it to help prevent it from developing cracks. The steel rebar requires cutting with a cutting torch as well as breaking up the concrete and is more suitable to hire a contractor to accomplish. Before breaking up your concrete patio, take the time to find out if you have the steel bar running through before renting the equipment necessary to break up the slab.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • 12-lb sledgehammer
  • Jackhammer
  • Rental dumpster
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Eye goggles
  • Ear plugs
  • Leather work gloves
  • Dig under one corner of the patio with a shovel. Dig at least 12 inches down each side of the corner and under the corner at least 18 inches. There should be a 1-foot square of the corner that there is little dirt under.

  • Hit the corner you dug under in several spots with a 12-lb sledgehammer. Attempt to bust at least a 2-foot square out of the corner of the concrete patio. If there is steel rebar running through the slab, a contractor is necessary to break up and remove the concrete patio.

  • Rent a small electric jackhammer from a home improvement center or tool rental facility. Inform them of the size patio you are breaking up and they will select the proper size jackhammer and bit. While renting the equipment ask them to show you the proper operation if they do not offer it to begin with. You also need to decide how to dispose of the concrete. You can fill in low spots in the yard and cover with topsoil or rent a small contractor's waste bin.

  • Go to one of the outer corners of the concrete patio with the jackhammer, preferably the one you busted with the sledgehammer. Stand on the patio away from the edge about a foot and set the tip of the jackhammer 6 inches from the edge.

  • Hold the jackhammer firmly with both hands and at a slight angle with the tip further away from you than the top of the jackhammer. Squeeze the power trigger and apply light downward pressure on the jackhammer handle.

  • Allow the jackhammer to bust through the concrete until it hits the soil or gravel below. Release the trigger and move the jackhammer away from the ledge 6 inches and squeeze the trigger.

  • Place the busted concrete into a wheelbarrow and roll it over to the dumpster or where you are disposing of the concrete. Use a shovel to pick up smaller pieces to put into the wheelbarrow. Alternate between busting up the concrete with the jackhammer and removing concrete to keep your work area as clean as possible.

  • Continue the process until the concrete patio is all in the dumpster or disposal area. Rake the soil where the patio was with a garden rake to level the area.

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