How to Remove a Concrete Slab

This labor-intensive job requires the right tools and a solid amount of muscle

Kristin Luna
Written by Kristin Luna
Updated June 14, 2022
A little girl riding her bike in the patio
Photo: Bokeshi / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


Special skills and tools necessary.

Time to complete

72 hours



Costly rentals or equipment—you might want to leave this one to a pro.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.

What you'll need:


  • Heavy pry bar
  • 10- to 20-lb heavy sledgehammer
  • 3- to 5-lb light sledgehammer
  • Jackhammer
  • Extension cord
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Truck


  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection

If you take a good look at your home's poured concrete driveway or back deck, you’ll quickly realize that you’re actually gazing at a five-inch thick layer of solid rock. If there is cracking, settling, or surface damage that requires you to remove your concrete patio piece by piece for a full-on replacement, you’ll want to listen up. We’ve got tips for you to learn how to remove concrete on your own (though you might want to just go ahead and hire a pro).

How to Dispose of Concrete

Let’s face it: Busting up old concrete slabs is hard labor. The material, a rock-hard slurry of sand and Portland cement, is designed to withstand decades—if not centuries—of exposure to the elements. And unless you have the right tools to remove a concrete patio from the backyard of your home, it’s an extremely challenging task to tackle. 

Most city and county dumpsites will take demolished concrete. Additionally, commercial construction sites in need of infill material will let you safely dispose of it on their property. An alternative eco-friendly method for disposing of old concrete is to repurpose it into a retaining or gabion wall for your garden or to line the edge of your property.

Removing cement from your home entirely is almost as much work as the physical task of removing it from the yard bit by bit. Lifting concrete chunks into a truck, driving them to a dump, and then removing each piece by hand can be a tedious, back-breaking effort depending on the volume of concrete you’re moving around. The professionals use dump trucks, so if you don’t want to go through the laborious process of learning how to remove a concrete slab, a local concrete removal company can handle this project for you.

How to Prep for Removing Cement

The first thing that you’ll want to do before beginning to remove a concrete patio is to line up the heavy equipment rentals, which will make your concrete removal project easier. Jackhammers come in various iterations, with electric jackhammers the most popular option for DIYers; they simply plug into a standard 120V outlet. Compressed air or hydraulics drive the heavier-duty versions of jackhammers, but are usually overkill for a simple deck, porch, patio, or driveway in a typical residence. If you have a particularly large concrete removal project in mind, you’ll also want to reserve a skid steer and dump truck to do all the heavy lifting. 

The second prep step before removing a concrete slab is to arrange for delivery of the new material for pouring into the new framework of its replacement. Lead times for concrete plants can be long if you’re located in an area seeing a big boom of construction projects, and the mess that you’ll create during demolition will be an eyesore if you haven’t planned ahead to pour a fresh concrete slab immediately.

Since concrete is delivered in volume by cubic yards, calculate the amount you’ll need by multiplying the width by the length by the depth, in feet. Divide this number by 27 to figure out the cubic footage for your delivery order. For example, a 10-by-10-by-0.5-foot area will require 1.85 cubic yards of wet concrete to fill. 

  1. Punch Holes in the Concrete

    A worker punching a hole in a concrete slab with a jackhammer
    Photo: BirdofPrey / E+ / Getty Images

    Your jackhammer rental setup will come with different tips that attach to the front of the machine. The pointed bit is the most important one that you’ll need for breaking up a concrete slab. This sharpened hunk of hardened steel will allow you to punch straight down in regular intervals across your patio or driveway. A good measure for that is to make holes between five and 10 inches apart to keep your final debris within a comfortable lifting weight. 

    After donning your hand, eye, and ear protection equipment, brace yourself and pull the trigger on the jackhammer. Figuring how to finesse these heavy pieces of machinery is a skill that requires practice and time to learn, but letting the tool do most of the work is critical. Have a hammer and pry bar handy in case you jam the pointed bit into a tough spot and need to bang it back out.

  2. Pry Up Chunks, Piece by Piece

    Now that you’ve punched holes into the concrete slab, it’s time to pry it all up. Working from an edge or area that allows you to gain a solid purchase, jam the pry bar partially into the hole and lever it apart. You’ll want to constantly release pressure from adjacent chunks of concrete by working from the loosest edges of your demolition into the deeper parts of the slab. 

  3. Load Truck and Haul Away the Concrete Remnants

    Once you’ve freed individual pieces of concrete from the mold of your patio or driveway, you’ll need to remove them from your property. If the pieces are too heavy to lift, use the jackhammer again to bust them into smaller, more manageable chunks. Load up your truck and dispose of the concrete in a landfill or use it for a repurposed project. 

DIY Removing Concrete vs. Hiring a Pro

Unless you’re going into this process already knowing how to remove concrete, it’s best to leave this job to the pros. While you could attempt a DIY concrete removal, working with cement requires a lot of heavy lifting and the use of hydraulics, which you’ll have to spend money to rent anyway, so it’s typically worth the added cost of labor to hire it all out to a local concrete repair company.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.