Concrete slabs with rebars are essential to the strength, durability, and all-around lasting capacity of any foundation or structure that is built to pass the test of time.
But as rugged as these concrete slabs are, a modification might become necessary along the way. This could be for many reasons, one of which is to create space to add other masonry works to an existing structure.
When such modifications are due, then the slabs have to be cut and modified.
If you’re planning to do such modifications and you have no idea how to go about it, then you’re reading the right article.
Here, I’ll be teaching you how to cut concrete slabs with rebar.
Cutting Concrete Slab With Rebar
I have to mention that major concrete demolition and cutting projects are best handled by experienced professionals and not amateurs (that’s you).
Large projects require a lot of expertise to be done right, and unless you have such expertise, then pick up your phone and call a contractor.
This article is targeted at minor concrete slab cutting projects around your home so be guided accordingly. Such minor projects do not require industrial-grade tools to be executed.
All you will need are some heavy-duty tools that can be used domestically and can be rented or bought from a home improvement store around your neighborhood.
Tools Needed For Concrete Slab Cutting
You wouldn’t be needing much to cut your concrete slab with rebar.
The major tool you will need for the job is a concrete wet cutter with diamond blades.
Cutting through concrete with a power tool is a dangerous job, so you have to be extremely careful. You don’t have to be a professional to handle domestic jobs, but it would help if you have had prior experience using these tools.
That aside, you will need to protect your body from the hazards that are associated with concrete cutting.
Here’s what you need to put on.
Eye goggles: Your eyes are at great risk if left unprotected when cutting through concrete slabs.
As the power blade slices through, tiny pieces of concrete and iron will fly at great speeds and can hit you in the eye.
This can cause severe injuries to the eyes and might even lead to blindness. But not if your eyes are guarded by a pair of eye goggles.
Heavy-duty gloves: Sawing through concrete is hard work, especially when it has rebars inside. Even with a power tool, you can still end up with blisters on your hands afterward.
This is why heavy-duty gloves are important, as they can keep your palms safe from the harsh blisters that would definitely develop at the end of the cutting.
Work boots: Cutting through a concrete slab will cause pieces of hard debris to fall on the ground, so you need to put on a pair of heavy-duty work boots to keep your feet protected.
A nose mask: As your cutting blade powers through the concrete slab, a lot of dust will be produced, and if your mouth and nose aren’t protected, you will end up inhaling the dust.
This is dangerous for your health, as it can lead to difficulty in breathing.
Wear a nose mask to guard your respiratory organs against concrete dust.
Headphones: Power saws are very noisy, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to deal with such noises while you’re cutting. The good news is, you wouldn’t have to, as long as you put on a pair of padded headphones.
Now that you’re well protected, follow these steps to cut through concrete slabs with rebar.
Use a tape rule to measure the areas that you plan to cut, but leave some room for slack. This is because concrete cutters are not the best when it comes to precision cutting, so some errors should be expected.
When you are done with the measurements, mark the lines so that you will remember the exact spots where you are supposed to cut.
You should use a very visible material to mark the lines, a bright-colored plaster tape or paint will do.
Use your phone to take pictures of the slab and the lines you have marked for cutting then head to the hardware rental.
Show the picture to them so they can recommend the best tool for the particular type of slab you are cutting.
Rent the tools that have been recommended by the hardware store. For minor projects, they will likely recommend a walk-behind cutter, as they can be used for modifications on your sidewalks, driveway, and foundation.
They can also recommend a hand-cutter if you are going to be working on vertical structures like concrete walls.
Before you leave the hardware store, make sure you know how to use the equipment you are renting. If you don’t, then consult with the clerk and ask for a demonstration.
It is needless to say that concrete cutters are very sharp, and can injure a user if not well handled.
If you already have experience using these tools, leave the store and move on to the next step.
While standing over the concrete slab, turn on the cutter and give it a few minutes to warm up.
Now slowly drop the blade towards the line you plan to cut and allow it to sink into the concrete. Guide it along the line but don’t force it through by adding extra pressure.
Minimal pressure is enough for the blade to sink through both the concrete and the rebar.
Finish the cuts according to the way you marked the lines and you are done!
Why You Might Want To Hire A Professional
You can indeed cut a concrete slab with rebar yourself, but you have to realize that you are not a professional and there are factors you may not fully understand regarding power-cutting.
Besides being a dangerous job, cutting a concrete slab also has to be done neatly to preserve your home’s beautiful looks. And a professional can be trusted to be safe and neat at the same time.
Here are some factors a rookie such as yourself may fail to put into consideration.
Kickback from the saw
In case you didn’t know, concrete saws can kickback (when the saw viciously moves back to the user). This can happen when the upper part of the saw is obstructed.
The saw blades are meant to be rotating at full speed before you place them into the slab, if you don’t, you’ll be hit with a hard kickback.
A trained professional is well aware of this, but you’re not, and this is one of the many areas where they hold the advantage.
Before I forget, a kickback can injure your shoulders!
This is another dangerous factor you may not be aware of. Lock-in occurs when the concrete slab shifts during cutting and traps the saw blade inside.
Pulling out the blade is very tricky, but not for experienced professionals. One wrong move and you can damage the slab, the saw, and even injure yourself.
Inhaling silica dust
I’ve already mentioned the importance of putting on a nose mask before cutting through concrete to avoid inhaling dust. But did you know that the dust in question is silica dust?
Silica is no ordinary dust, as it can cause a respiratory condition called lung fibrosis when inhaled.
While putting on a nose mask can help to keep you from inhaling the dangerous dust, industry-level protection is far better. Professional engineers wear industrial vacuums and respirators when handling such projects, and this ensures that they are 100% safe during the job.
I can bet you don’t have these respiratory tools at home, and since you should be concerned for your safety, I advise you to hire a professional.
Choosing the right blade
Did you know that not all concrete is built the same? I guess you didn’t.
It is worth mentioning that every concrete slab is formulated with a unique ratio of ingredients, which means they will cure differently.
That being the case, all concrete slabs can’t have the same thickness, which means some blades are better used for cutting than others, depending on the nature of a particular slab.
An average homeowner wouldn’t be able to tell the differences in the slabs, but a professional can. And this will allow the pro to select the right blades for each slab.
Professional contractors are equipped with a wide variety of blades that differ in size and weight, so they won’t have any issues making the right choice.
Putting all this into consideration, the wise choice may be to call a professional contractor to cut your concrete slabs with red bars for you. But if you still insist on doing it yourself, then follow the tips I’ve provided here and be as safe as possible.
Thanks for reading!