How To Remove Concrete Steps

In this article, I’ll be teaching you exactly how to remove concrete steps.

Concrete is one of the strongest construction materials around, which is why it remains a popular choice for making steps.

However, you may be doing some renovations at home, and you feel that the old steps will not do justice to the new looks you have envisioned for your home.

Concrete Step Removal Guide

So, you’ve decided to remove them, and you’ve decided to remove them yourself. But how do you remove them effectively without messing up the looks of your newly renovated home?

Not to worry, I’m here to help with concrete removal.

All you have to do for now is read to the end!

What You Need To Know Before You Begin

Concrete steps are traditionally placed on their own separate foundation (not the same as the main foundation of the house). If this is the case with your steps, then you’re in luck, as they will be easier to remove.

However, if the concrete steps are laid on the same foundation as your home, then you’ll have a more difficult task ahead of you. Don’t lose hope, it may be difficult, but certainly not impossible.

What You Need To Do

If you want a perfect job done, then follow the steps I will mention below to remove your concrete steps.

Safety First!

Removing concrete steps is hard work, and it can be dangerous too. Remember, you’ll have to swing hammers, smash concrete, and be put at risk of accidentally hitting your feet or having concrete chippings flying into your eyes.

Not only that, but smashed concrete also produces dust, which can get into our eyes and mouth.

For this reason, the very first thing you need to do before you start breaking up the concrete is to protect yourself!

Here’s what you’ll need to put on.

The right clothing: Removing concrete is a dirty job, so you can expect to get a lot of dust and debris on your body. I can safely assume you wouldn’t want to be putting on your favorite clothes when doing this kind of work.

Put on an old pair of jeans and a long-sleeve lumberjack shirt, as you wouldn’t mind getting them dirty. You should also put on a pair of rugged work boots to keep your feet from stepping on concrete chippings.

Bits and pieces of smashed concrete are very hard and can cause injuries. Sneakers and loafers aren’t ideal for this job, as their soles can get damaged by all the debris.

Goggles: Concrete chippings can fly straight into your eyes if they aren’t protected, so put on a pair of goggles for protection.

Gloves: Guard your hands with a pair of rugged masonry gloves. This will save you from blisters.

Helmet: You wouldn’t want bits of concrete lost in your hair, and you can prevent that from happening by wearing a construction helmet.

Nose mask: Inhaling the dust from the smashed concrete is dangerous, as it can cause respiratory issues. Put on a face mask to guard your mouth and nose against the dust.

Headphones: Blade saws make a lot of noise, so you’d want to protect your ears with a pair of headphones.

Now that you’re well protected, you can begin removing the concrete steps.

Step one

Take a look at the base of the step to determine if it’s pre-cast concrete. If they are, then it means they are hollow and can be easily removed with a furniture dolly and helper.

Move on to the next step.

Step two

With your safety glasses on, take a good swing at the steps with a small sledgehammer to see if they chip. You should aim your strike at the edge of one of the steps.

If the sides were built with concrete blocks and packed with sand (with nothing else under it), then you can get them off with continuous strikes until they are broken off.

Step 3

If you discover that the top of the steps is a concrete slab, but supported by sand beneath it, then removing the sand underneath will make it easier to break off the concrete.

Keep in mind that concrete is brittle, so it will break off easily if there is no support under it.

Step 4

Use a jackhammer across the top of the concrete steps and along with the risers. Also, use a diamond saw blade to make cuts along the sides of the concrete steps for quicker results.

A combination of the jackhammer and the saw blade will weaken the concrete and it will be broken down after consistent strikes. In no time, the steps will be broken down to the foundation and completely removed.

Step 5

Take a look at the joint between your home’s foundation and the foundation of your step. They are hardly ever the same, and the joints that you think are connected actually aren’t.

The mortar or paint over it just makes it seem as such.

Now if you discover that the foundation of your house and the steps were poured, then you can use the diamond blade saw to cut through to about 2 ½ inches deep.

When you have done this, grab your sledgehammer and begin to swing at the steps and it will start to weaken.

Use the saw once more to cut a line. This line will create a soft spot on the steps, and this is where you should aim your sledgehammer strikes.

I have to mention that you can’t cut against your building, this means you will have a 2 to 3 inch-thick excess of porch poking out of the house.

Not to worry, you can get rid of this excess by cutting through the face and using a cold chisel to chip the rest away.

The Ideal Tools For Concrete Step Removal

The key to removing something as hard as concrete is having the right tools. It’s a tough job that also requires precision, so you just have to be equipped with the right apparatuses.

I don’t assume that you have all these tools stocked up at home. If you do, then that’s great, but if you don’t, then you can visit a hardware store near you to buy or rent.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  1. A Sledgehammer

It comes as no surprise that most people will think of a jackhammer when the topic of removing concrete steps pops up. Rightfully so, as a jackhammer is a rugged heavy-duty tool that can smash concrete masonry into pieces.

However, there is a smaller, much simpler tool that can help you work edges that a jackhammer is too big to access, and this tool is a sledgehammer!

The sledgehammer will indeed require more manual labor from you, as you will have to swing several times before the concrete gives in, just consider that an unavoidable necessity.

Sledgehammers are great for slabs of concrete that are 3 inches thick or less.

  1. A Jackhammer

When you need to break slabs that are far greater than 3 inches, then you should put the sledgehammer down and pick up a more powerful tool – the jackhammer.

If you don’t have one, then you can buy one from a hardware store. Better still, rent one, as it isn’t a tool you need all the time. Renting is also cheaper.

You can go for either an electric or pneumatic jackhammer, as they both can get the job done.

Jackhammers are armed with a super-powered chisel at the tip, and its rapid action movement is lethal against concrete surfaces.

I have to warn you that jackhammers can cause catastrophic injuries if the needle accidentally makes contact with any part of the human body (most likely the feet) so be extremely careful when using.

You will need to be strong and flexible to control this tool, as it vibrates heavily when turned on.

  1. Chipping Hammer

Sometimes you will need to remove concrete that isn’t necessarily a flat slab, and this is where a chipping hammer becomes useful. The good thing about this tool is that it is lighter than a sledgehammer, so it gives you better control of your swings.

They are ideal for chipping off the concrete in tighter spaces and delicate areas like your windows.

Proper Disposal After Concrete Stairs Removal

After you have successfully removed your concrete steps, you will need to dispose of the rubble properly.

This may not be something you would want to do by yourself, so you would have to call the waste disposal department in your locality to find out what it will cost you.

If you do decide to dispose of the waste yourself, then get in touch with your local waste management authority to be sure you’re not breaking any laws.

Conclusion

Removing concrete steps is hard work, but you can certainly do it yourself. The easier route would be to hire a contractor, but that would also be the more expensive route.

I hope the information provided here has been helpful.

Thanks for reading!

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