Concrete patios can become worn over time, making them unsafe and unusable. Even so, it isn’t always easy to know when it’s time to remove or repair an old concrete patio. Learning what to look for with an existing concrete patio is the first step towards creating a more suitable space.

Signs of a Distressed Concrete Patio

Problems that typically only require minor repairs include:

  • Chips
  • Flaking
  • Hairline fractures
  • Overlays
  • Stains

Concrete patios are more likely to have serious structural issues with these problems:

  • Deeply set or wide cracks
  • Frost heave causing raised and broken concrete
  • Much of the surface area has a flaky appearance
  • Settling of the concrete material

Tools Required to Break Up Concrete Slabs

Homeowners will need several tools and other pieces of equipment to remove concrete slabs. Here are the tools required:

  • Bolt cutters
  • Hand truck or wheelbarrow
  • Maddock
  • Pry bar
  • Shovel
  • Sledgehammer weighing 12 to 20 pounds

Additional items to gather before starting the concrete demolition process include:

  • Dropcloth or plastic sheeting
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety glasses
  • Steel-toed boots

Homeowners should determine how they will dispose of the broken concrete slabs before demolishing them. Most local governments don’t allow people to throw broken concrete in the garbage due to the weight. One option is to rent a dumpster and haul the concrete away at the end of the project. Another is to reuse the materials in other areas around the home.

Preparing to Remove a Concrete Patio

Even after securing the proper tools and equipment, homeowners aren’t quite ready to start breaking up their concrete patio. First, they need to place plywood over plastic siding and windows to prevent damage from a flying piece of concrete. Secondly, some city governments require a permit before starting this type of work. A call to the utility company is also in order to ensure no gas lines lie beneath the surface of the patio.

Concrete Patio Removal Steps

Sand or dirt underneath concrete slabs can soften the blow from the sledgehammer and make the patio harder to break into pieces. To avoid this, homeowners should dig under the slab to create a void. It’s easier to lift smaller slab pieces with a pry bar after creating a few cracks. The pry bar goes underneath the slab for easier lifting. The homeowner should shovel two inches deep and approximately four to six inches from the slab’s edge.

Now it’s time to lay a piece of plastic over the concrete and start pounding with a sledgehammer. Placing one hand near the base and one near the hammer’s head makes for more efficient swinging. The homeowner should lift the sledgehammer high but not over the head. It’s also important to avoid swinging the sledgehammer since this could cause serious injury.

The third step is to remove broken concrete slabs after pulling them apart. The mattock comes in handy to break the loosened concrete slabs into smaller pieces. Any wire mesh embedded in the concrete will need to be cut with bolt cutters. The debris is now ready to place in a wheelbarrow.

Planning concrete removal and completing the hard physical labor isn’t for everyone. Homeowners should consider hiring a professional if they just don’t feel up to the task.