Breaking concrete is a heavy-duty job that is usually completed with a tool such as a jackhammer. But what if you don’t have access to powered tools? Can you use a sledgehammer to break concrete?
Depending on the depth of the concrete, a sledgehammer can be used to break concrete. They are effective up to a thickness of about three inches. Anything thicker than that will need a power-assisted tool of some kind. For breaking concrete thinner than three inches, a sledgehammer is a great option.
In the right circumstances, then, a sledgehammer can certainly be the right tool for the job. It’s about assessing those circumstances, and fully understanding the job before you start.
Let’s find out more.
Can a sledgehammer be used to break concrete?
A sledgehammer can be used to break concrete that is less than four inches thick. It does take a lot of effort and strength to break concrete with a sledgehammer. But it can be a great workout while completing the task.
Sledgehammers can be easier to use than jackhammers when breaking thinner concrete. It takes a lot of effort to hold a jackhammer in place and the vibrations can be uncomfortable for workers. Using a sledgehammer makes it easier to control what part of the concrete you are going to break.
To break concrete with a sledgehammer, you first need to dig under the concrete from the edge of the slabs with a shovel and pick. Create a void beneath the concrete slab, then sprinkle the concrete with water. This moisture helps reduce dust from the concrete becoming airborne. It’s a great way to protect yourself against inhaling dust when breaking concrete.
Grasping the sledgehammer close to the head, use an arching motion to lift the hammer high, but not over your head. Strike along the edge of the void you dug. You want to work from the outside inward to break up a concrete slab with a sledgehammer.
By starting with the outsides of a concrete slab, you reduce the impact hitting concrete will have on your body. It makes it easier to break up the concrete with a sledgehammer. Most home projects like removing a concrete driveway can be done with a sledgehammer.
What size sledgehammer breaks concrete?
To break concrete with a sledgehammer, the best size to get should weigh around 10 pounds. Sledgehammers come in many sizes, but for any concrete-breaking project, you will want a bigger one. For very thin concrete, a 5–8-pound sledgehammer can do the trick. But generally, you should be using a sledgehammer that is closer to a 10-pound weight.
A lighter sledgehammer will require more effort to break concrete and increases the chances of injury. This is especially the case if you try to use a lighter and smaller sledgehammer on thicker concrete. If the concrete you want to break is three inches thick or more, you should use a 10-pound sledgehammer. If a 10-pound sledgehammer doesn’t seem to do the trick, the concrete is too thick to break with only a sledgehammer.
To assist in breaking up concrete with a sledgehammer, you can cut concrete slightly with a circular saw. Then use the sledgehammer to hit the area that has been cut.
How thick of concrete can a sledgehammer break?
The thickest concrete that a sledgehammer should be used to break is around four inches. There are some labourers that suggest a sledgehammer can only break through three inches of concrete. You should stick to four inches as the maximum concrete thickness to use a sledgehammer to break. Anything beyond this should be broken using powered tools such as jackhammers.
For safety reasons, it’s best to lowball the estimate. Concrete that is deeper than three inches could cause the sledgehammer to bounce off when you try to strike. This leads to many potential hazards and injuries.
If you’re experienced in using a sledgehammer, you could try to break four-inch-thick concrete with one. But be sure to take the correct safety precautions, wear protective gear including protective face masks, and use correct form to hammer concrete.
When should you use a sledgehammer to break concrete?
If you’re unsure of whether you should use a sledgehammer to break the concrete, you will need to measure the concrete slab. Dig at the base of the slab and measure it from the top to the bottom. If the thickness is under three inches, then you can use a sledgehammer to break the concrete.
If it is four inches or more, you should use a jackhammer.
It may also depend on the surface area of the concrete you want to break, and how long you’re willing to spend on the job. Once you know what you’re doing with the tool, a jackhammer will end up doing a quicker job on more concrete. But if you’ve got the time to spare, then a sledgehammer will also work.
The simple answer is that you should use a sledgehammer only on concrete of three inches or less of thickness.
Are sledgehammers hard to use?
Sledgehammers can be hard to use while you’re building up your strength. They are hard to use because of the weight of the hammer. You need lots of strength to effectively use a sledgehammer, as well as proper form to prevent injury. The good thing about using a sledgehammer is that you can quickly build strength from sledgehammer exercises.
To use a sledgehammer properly grip the hammer with two hands, your dominant hand above your non-dominant, just under the head of the hammer. Raise the hammer on your dominant side, and keep your elbows bent around 90 degrees.
Bring the hammer down hard, making sure to bend your knees as the hammer descends.
Be sure to get a couple of test swings in on the concrete you’re trying to break, no matter how much experience you have. You want to be sure the hammer is going to interact with the surface the way you expect it to and won’t slide or bounce off.
With care and patience, using a sledgehammer will become instinctive. But always be sure to take safety precautions to prevent injuries from occurring.
While you’re checking out information about concrete slabs, have you ever wondered if you can use an angle grinder to level concrete? The answer to this and many other construction questions can be found in our Paragon Tools resources! For quality cutting, grinding and bricklaying tools, visit our Paragon Tools shop today!