How to Cut a Trench in a Concrete Slab

July 7, 2023

Concrete trenches play a critical role in the construction and renovation of buildings, fulfilling several important functions including laying new plumbing pipes. In both residential and commercial settings, concrete trenches allow for the safe and secure placement of plumbing pipes, ensuring that they are well-protected and unobtrusive. 

Additionally, concrete trenches are also used for drainage purposes. In areas prone to heavy rainfall or in buildings with a high risk of water leakage, these trenches serve as an effective solution for channelling water away from important structures, thereby preventing damage and maintaining the integrity of the building - essential for the safety of those living and working nearby. 

Moreover, concrete trenches are utilised for the installation of electrical boxes. By housing these boxes within trenches in the concrete floor, risks associated with electrical faults or fires can be significantly reduced. It also allows for easier access when repairs or adjustments need to be made.

When creating concrete trenches, it’s essential to hire a concrete contractor such as ourselves. Our team of CHAS Accredited concrete specialists have the necessary expertise and the finest equipment to carry out the job efficiently and safely. Based in Warrington, but offering our services nationwide, our friendly team are always happy to help with any concrete cutting, drilling or breaking projects.

Health and Safety When Sawing Concrete 

First things first, the health and safety of everyone on site is of the utmost importance, meaning that everyone should be wearing the proper protective gear. Drilling and sawing through concrete can produce harmful dust, so eye, ear and respiratory protection is essential, and workers should also wear steel-toed boots, a hard hat and gloves to protect themselves from any debris that may fall. 

Getting your equipment together

Searching for a contractor for your concrete trench cutting project? Look no further! With over 50 years of industry experience, our team of drillers are experts at concrete cutting for jobs both small and large. 

However, if you’re looking to do the job yourself, arguably the most important tool for cutting a trench in a floor is a specialist saw - specifically one that has a diamond-tipped blade. This is because the extreme strength of diamonds can cut through tough materials such as reinforced concrete with ease and precision. It’s likely that you’ll also need a diamond drill and a concrete breaker to fully clear the area and get the most accurate results. 

Unsure if you’ve got the right tools for the job? We offer our commercial services across the UK, and our domestic jobs across the North West, East Midlands and North Wales. So, whether you’re based in Wigan or London, we’ve got you covered!

Keep it clean

Effective dust management is essential throughout the concrete sawing process, not only to maintain a safe and healthy working environment, but also to ensure efficiency and quality of work. This is a concern that should be taken seriously by all industries involved in concrete cutting, including those using wire saw equipment. 

Here at DP Diamond Drilling, we take immense care to ensure the safety of our team and clients throughout every project large or small. To reduce the amount of dust produced, we only use specialist diamond drilling and sawing equipment that can accurately cut through concrete with ease and precision. We also take the proper safety measures required, such as using water as a lubricant and coolant when cutting to avoid creating excessive amounts of dust. 

This is because uncontrolled dust produced from cutting concrete can have detrimental effects on the health of those exposed to it. Respirable crystalline silica, a substance found in concrete dust, is particularly harmful when inhaled. Therefore, implementing appropriate dust management strategies, such as the usage of water when sawing and drilling, are crucial to safeguard the health of workers.

In addition to health risks, poor dust management can also impact the efficiency of the concrete cutting process. Heavy dust can obscure vision, making accurate cutting more challenging. This can result in substandard work and increase the likelihood of workplace accidents due to reduced visibility. By managing dust effectively, operators using equipment such as wire, track and hand saws can ensure precise cuts and improve overall productivity.

Furthermore, excessive dust can cause damage to cutting equipment over time. Dust particles can accumulate in the mechanical parts of the machinery, leading to wear and tear and shortening the lifespan of the equipment. Regular maintenance and cleaning are necessary to prevent this, but effective dust control can significantly reduce the need for such interventions. 

Mark the area

Before you start sawing, it’s important to first know exactly where you want to make the cuts. We’d recommend marking the area with chalk so that once you’re ready to start sawing it’s nice and clear, ensuring that you get the most accurate results. 

Starting Out

Once you’ve marked the area you’d like to saw into, you can then get started with some initial guide cuts. We’d recommend going for shallow cuts at first, as these will guide your saw and make it easier to handle when you try deeper cuts. 

Another method you can use to guide your saw is pilot drilling using diamond drilling equipment to create perfect holes that will then guide your saw. 

Deeper cuts

After creating guide cuts, you can then begin to slowly make deeper cuts into the concrete slab. Slow and steady is the key here - you don’t want your saw to get overheated as this can damage the blade and spoil the precision of your work.

Removing the concrete

Once you’ve sawed the concrete in all the necessary places, you’ll then need to remove the concrete from the trench area using a concrete breaker. Concrete breakers use a hammer movement to quickly and easily break through tough concrete, making it much easier to remove. 

Then, where possible, we’d encourage you to recycle your scrap concrete. Not sure if your concrete can be recycled? Check out our blog post here.

Clean the area

When you’ve removed all of the scrap concrete from the trench, you’ll need to clean the area you’ve been working in. This will include removing any dust using a vacuum and, if required, wiping down the area with more water. 

Then, the job is done! You’ve now created a trench suitable for pipes, wires or electrical boxes to be fitted. 

Feeling unsure? Call the professionals!

Looking for a concrete contractor to help with your concrete floor sawing project? Get in touch with us today to arrange your free site visit and quote.