What are the best ways to break up concrete? Over time, concrete can weaken, crack, or just be in the way, and you need to get rid of it. So what’re the best ways to break up your unwanted concrete, and what tools will you need? In this article we’ll cover everything you need to know about breaking up your concrete. 

Be Sure to Wear Safety Gear During Demolition:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • Work Gloves

Tools Required:

  • Shovel
  • Jackhammer
  • Sledgehammer
  • Long Bar or PryBar
  • Bolt Cutters
  • Wheelbarrow

Jack hammer

Whether it’s old, cracked, or just not what you need right now, the best (and easiest) way to break up your unwanted concrete is with a jackhammer. Your concrete must be at least 3 inches thick to warrant using a jackhammer. A jackhammer is a large tool that can be operated by just one person, and can usually be rented from your local big-box hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc). 

Jackhammers work best when you focus on breaking off many smaller pieces, rather than a few large chunks. For best results, try to place your jackhammer within 2-4 inches of the nearest crack before you begin to hammer again. This will ensure you’re taking off smaller, more manageable pieces, reducing the likelihood that your bit gets stuck. Repeat until the entire concrete slab has been broken up into pieces small enough to haul away.


Sledgehammers can be used for concrete slabs less than 4 inches thick. Using a sledgehammer to break up concrete can be very effective when utilized correctly. Here’s a good overview on how your job should go.

When using a sledgehammer to break up concrete, you’re going to want to start by digging out the material below the corner you intend to start at. By doing this, you are undermining the structural integrity and support, making the concrete more likely to crack. Once you’ve started at the corner, work your way inward. If it doesn’t crack with your first swing, try to aim your next hit a few inches away. Try your best to not strike the same spot repeatedly. That will just chip the surface, and create a cushion of debris over the concrete, making it harder to break.

Ideally when using a sledgehammer to break up a concrete slab, you’d have a 2 person team. Start by having one person pry up one corner of the concrete with a pry bar. Once the concrete is elevated off the ground, strike the concrete with the sledgehammer. By elevating the concrete, you are removing the cushion and support below the surface, making the concrete more likely to crack.


Concrete can be difficult to break up on your own for many reasons. If you find yourself not able to to break up your unwanted concrete, a contractor may be able to help.

If you are looking for a contractor to break up and remove your concrete, Almand Bros should be your one-stop destination. We have been delivering high-quality construction projects in New Jersey since 1985. 

Our services include concrete and masonry installation and repair, custom stonework, basement waterproofing, grading and watershed, and snow removal services. You can call us at (856) 310-1390 to get a free estimate. You can also fill our online contact form to get in touch.