How to Remove a Concrete Walkway

Lead Image
  • 4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150
What You'll Need
Plastic sheets
Safety goggles
Dust mask(s)
Steel toe boots
Thick gloves
Padded, full length clothing
Ear Protection
Sledgehammer
Pry
Shovel
Garden hose
60 pound breaker
Jackhammer
Bolt cutters
Reciprocating saw

The idea of removing a concrete patio or walkway may seem completely impossible, but there are several effective methods you can use to break up concrete and eradicate the walkway from your yard.

Step 1 - Call Your Utility Company

Before breaking any concrete, it’s vital to call your utility company to check that there aren’t underground utilities beneath the concrete you’re about to break up. If there are, you may want to consider hiring a professional to do the work to avoid a safety issue.

Step 2 - Gather Safety Equipment

Another important step in this process is to acquire and use the right safety gear. Ensure that you have safety goggles, dust masks, steel toe or heavy duty boots, thick gloves, and padded clothing that extends all the way down your arms and legs. You may also want to have ear protection if you’ll be using any loud power tools.

Step 3 - Cover the Concrete

If the concrete walkway is near other elements that are fragile that you want to avoid breaking, cover it with plastic sheets.This helps to contain the pieces of concrete from launching too far when you’re breaking it up. Perhaps surprisingly, concrete can be launched quite far in the process. Use sheets to contain it to protect your home, doors, windows, and car.

sledgehammer next to broken concrete

Step 4 - Sledgehammer Thin Areas

Use a sledgehammer to break apart concrete that is four inches or less in thickness. Start by coming down on any cracks that exist and if none do, start at a corner or edge. Hold the hammer at your shoulders and from there, hit the concrete rather than lifting it above your head.

Step 5 - Pry Pieces Apart

Use a pry to pull apart chunks of concrete that were successfully broken apart with the sledgehammer. Move them out of the way of where you’re working in order to avoid an unwanted tripping hazard.

Step 6 - Undermine Concrete Slabs

Use a process called “undermining” concrete by removing soil beneath the concrete slab. This will allow the concrete to be more easily broken. First use a garden hose to loosen the soil. Then use a shovel under the lip of the concrete. The more soil you remove, the easier the concrete will be to break.

Step 7 - Use a More Powerful Tool

If the sledgehammer isn’t enough to get the job done, the use of a more powerful electric demolition tool may be in order. A 60 pound breaker should do the job and a heavy duty jackhammer should only be needed for very thick concrete, which is not usually installed in home yards.

the tip of a jackhammer breaking a concrete walkway

The 60 pound breaker should be utilized with a chisel point to effectively break up the concrete. As you use this tool, allow its natural force to break the concrete, as it doesn’t require you to push down on it in order for it to work. Move methodically across the concrete, working in pieces about three inches apart from one another to avoid a stuck drill bit. Once you complete this step, again use a pry to break the pieces apart.

Step 8 - Deal With What’s Underneath

Underneath the concrete slabs may exist mesh or bars that were installed to support the structure. As you separate the concrete pieces with the pry bar and uncover these supports, deal with them appropriately. For mesh, use bolt cutters to disconnect them and clear them. For metal bars, use a reciprocating saw or angle grinder.

Step 9 - Extract Stuck Pieces

You may find that some stubborn concrete pieces just won’t budge. If you run into this issue, pull apart these pieces with a mattock. Swing the pointed end down into any cracks that exist between the stuck chunks of concrete. Pry from there, and once the opening becomes wide enough, swap the tool to the larger flat end, continuing to pry until the concrete has broken free.

This is definitely somewhat of a strenuous project, but clearing your concrete walkway to make for a more green yard or simply to complete a new project is entirely possible if you follow these steps.