How To Break Up Concrete

Written By: David White | Updated:
how to break up concrete
David White/DIY Works

Despite the fact that concrete is easy to lay, the same can’t always be said when it comes to breaking it up. Luckily, there are a number of tools you can use to break up concrete relatively easy as we discuss below.

What Tools Should You Use To Break Up Concrete?

Although you could use a sledgehammer to manually break up concrete, the best method is to use a SDS drill. Without even having to put any effort in, you can use the weight and power of the tool to easily break up concrete as we’ve done within this article. From breaking up thick concrete bases, slabs, walls or anything that’s made with concrete, it’s certainly the best tool for the job. If you don’t own a SDS drill, they can be bought for as little as £100 (even Makita machines) or hired out for as little as £30 for the day (i.e. at HSS Hire).
tools to break concrete
David White/DIY Works

Case Study: The Task In Hand

Breaking up concrete is a common DIY task that you may need to carry out but recently, we needed to break up concrete in order to level out a floor.

As you can see in the photo, there is raised concrete from a fireplace that we removed whilst renovating this property and it needed to be removed.

Therefore, we used a SDS drill to break up the thick concrete and we were then able to mix up new concrete to pour into the hole that was made. Once the concrete had dried, we were then able to lay the self levelling compound across the entire room.

how to break up a concrete base
David White/DIY Works

How To Break Up Concrete

Although there are several ways to break concrete, our preferred method is to use an SDS drill with a chisel point. It has proven to be very successful for us on a number of occasions and we highly recommend it. As well as the SDS drill, we also recommend that you get a crowbar to deal with the removal of large/thick pieces of concrete.

Below is our process to break up concrete using an SDS drill:

  1. Set up the SDS drill with a chisel point.
  2. Lightly sprinkle the area with water to minimize dust (or wear a dust mask).
  3. Aim the chisel point at a 45 degree angle and starting chipping away at the concrete.
  4. Pry off large pieces of concrete with a crowbar.

The above 4 steps is really all there is to it but if you come across concrete with mesh wire, you may need to use bolt cutters to cut the wire as you are breaking the concrete.

If you are unable to use an SDS drill, below we discuss other methods of breaking up concrete.

how to break up thick concrete
David White/DIY Works

Disposing Of The Broken Concrete

After breaking up the concrete, you’ll more than likely want to dispose of it and depending upon how large the area is will determine the best route to take. For example, if you are breaking up a small amount of concrete, you may be able to pack the broken pieces into rubble bags and take it to your nearest recycling centre. However, if you are tackling a large area, it’s probably easier to hire a skip or have a registered company collect it.

Other Ways To Break Concrete

By Hand

Breaking up concrete by hand is more labour intensive but it can be just as effective. Depending upon the concrete area to be broken, you have the option to use either a sledgehammer or a hammer and chisel. Similar to the method shown above, you’ll want to strike the concrete (either method) and pry away any large pieces with a crowbar.

Using Chemicals

If you are unable to break up concrete using manual or electric power, you may want to consider using a chemical alternative. The chemical solution is often referred to as demolition grout and it’s a liquid formulation that’s able to dissolve modern concrete mixes over a prolonged period of time.

To use a chemical to break up concrete, you’ll need to drill holes into the concrete and then pour the grout in. Overtime, the grout will expand, which causes the concrete to break apart. This make it the perfect method for those that are trying to be quiet or have to tackle difficult to break concrete. The only negatives are the fact that it’s highly toxic and expensive.


Breaking up concrete isn’t a difficult DIY task and whether you use an SDS drill, sledgehammer or even chemicals, each method is very effective. Hopefully our guide has walked you through everything you need to know but if you require further information, feel free to get in touch and we will try to help out where possible.

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