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Concrete Cutting

Concrete Drilling Guide: What is Concrete Drilling & Coring?

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Concrete Cutting & Coring Boston Team

Published on October 1, 2020

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Every property owner should know, what is concrete drilling and coring? Repairing concrete surfaces and drilling through cement slabs is not the same as patching or cutting through other materials around your property, and can be more complicated and messier than you expect.

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Concrete drilling and coring use specialty tools that drill through concrete, allowing access through slabs such as needed for installing plumbing pipes. Concrete drilling also allows easier removal of concrete than outdated jackhammers, while slab sawing creates trenches and other needed cuts along concrete surfaces.

Professional concrete coring and drilling is an excellent choice for old concrete removal and for cutting through slabs, creating trenches, and other fabricating you need to have done. For homeowners and commercial property owners, you might consider some vital information about concrete coring and drilling as well as other concrete services available, so you know when to call a concreter for work on your property!

It’s also helpful to note what projects might need core drilling, slab sawing, and other fabricating, as well as some tips on proper concrete cutting techniques so you handle those small jobs around the yard properly. You can then discuss your concrete cutting, drilling, and coring needs with a professional and ensure your property is always in good condition.

What IS Concrete Drilling and Coring?

Concrete drilling and coring are essentially the same processes, and there are many uses and applications for this concrete cutting method. Note some important details about how this work is done and why it’s so useful, as well as when your property might need slab sawing and other concrete fabrication.

  • Concrete drilling or coring uses a special diamond-tipped round drill bit, available in a wide range of diameters, that cuts a hole through concrete surfaces.
  • Using concrete drilling and coring equipment, those holes can be drilled at any angle and along virtually any surface; this includes concrete slabs in the ground and upright concrete features such as walls and tanks.
  • Some concrete drilling creates small holes, perfect for running wires or conduit through concrete slabs and walls.
  • Larger concrete drill bits, often up to 60” in diameter, create openings for manholes, plumbing pipes, irrigation equipment, drains, and HVAC hoses. If an opening is needed larger than 60”, a concrete drilling professional will typically cut several holes side by side, and then saw off excess areas.
  • Concrete drilling or coring is also used to break up concrete you want to be removed from your property. This process is cleaner and quieter than outdated jackhammers!
  • Slab or flat sawing is a bit different than concrete coring. A slab saw is a large, walk-behind machine with a type of saw blade on a large spindle. This blade can be set to various depths, for long cuts on concrete surfaces.
  • Slab sawing is used to create new expansion joints in concrete, allowing slabs to expand without cracking. 
  • Slab or flat sawing also creates trenches in concrete, used for installing drains, wiring, and other smaller fixtures.
  • Slab sawing also helps break up large, flat concrete slabs, making removal easier while also avoiding the noise and mess of a jackhammer.

concrete drilling by contractor

Will Concrete Drilling Crack It?

To avoid cracking concrete during drilling, it’s vital that you use the right drill bit and proper techniques. Regular drill bits, trying to force the bit through, and other seemingly simple mistakes can mean cracking concrete or breaking the bit and even your drill!

What drill bit is for concrete?

Drill bits meant for concrete are called masonry bits, and these are also used for brick and similar materials. Choose one with a tungsten carbide tip, and the sharper the better! Drilling at a lower speed is also recommended for concrete, so the bit has ample time to cut through the material without cracking or chipping.

Can you use a regular drill for concrete?

A hammered drill will make cutting into concrete faster, but you can still drill into concrete, brick, patio pavers, and other such materials with a standard drill. The drill bit itself is more important than the drill you’re using! 

How long until you can drill into concrete?

Concrete takes a good 5 to 7 days to cure at least 60% of its overall strength. Drilling into it before that time can mean cutting through wet cement and having your drilling covered as the material sets and cures. To ensure a proper drill that lasts, wait at least a week if not even longer before drilling, cutting, or coring.

How deep can you core drill concrete?

There is no “one size fits all” answer about concrete drilling and coring, as this will depend on concrete’s strength and structural stability. In some cases, concrete might be drilled as deep as 120 feet. Whatever your needs for drilling and coring, talk to a concrete cutting contractor near you as he or she can note the best method for the concrete fabricating you need to have done.

What is a core test for concrete?

A core test is used to evaluate the strength and structural stability of concrete. This test is often needed when planning new construction or if you’re thinking of adding onto an existing structure; a core test notes if the foundation is strong enough to support that added weight, for example.

Core testing might involve concrete drilling or coring, to remove a section of concrete and then test it for strength and durability. If your property needs a concrete core test, contact a concrete cutting and drilling company near you!

coring the concreate

What Construction Projects Need Core Drilling?

There are many reasons why your construction project or the existing property might need core drilling. For example, core drilling is used to install runway lights or other built-in lights along driveways and roadways. Core drilling also allows you to install or access pipes underneath concrete slabs or behind concrete walls.

Smaller core drilling is an excellent choice for handrail installation, and for running wires and conduit through concrete surfaces. On residential properties, you might want to run electrical wiring to an outdoor space such as a patio or kitchen, and core drilling allows you to bury those wires underneath a porch, patio slab, and another concrete surface.

Core drilling is also an excellent choice for adding drains in basements or commercial properties with concrete floors. Concrete drilling and coring also allow you to add windows in concrete walls, an excellent choice for a homeowner looking to finish their basement, or for anyone who wants to use basements and other such rooms for occupancy and needs to add emergency egresses or exit points.

How Do You Cut Concrete Curbs?

Before you cut concrete curbs, first check with your city and county and ensure it’s allowed! Some areas only permit licensed concrete corers to cut curbs on public roads. Some cities also require concrete cutting and coring companies to fabricate curbs on private property, to avoid drainage issues.

If you are allowed to cut concrete curbs yourself, start with a rented concrete cutting circular saw. Note that gas-powered saws are more powerful and make cleaner, faster cuts, so avoid electric saws even if their rental cost is cheaper overall. Choose a blade about 14” in diameter, as most curbs are around 6 or 7 inches wide; if you’re cutting a larger curb, choose a blade with a diameter twice its size.

Before cutting, dig away all dirt on the non-street side, as this allows a cleaner, easier cut. Mark the lines to be cut with a grease pen rather than trying to “eyeball” your cut, as neglecting to mark cut lines often results in messy, uneven cuts.

As you cut, run a slight flow of water over the saw and curb. This reduces dust and debris while also softening the concrete slightly. Cut slowly, allowing the blade to do most of the work; don’t force it or try to push it through the curb, as this increases the risk of breakage.

You’ll want to make two vertical cuts along the outside of the section needing removal and then a horizontal cut along its base. Once cut, it’s helpful to knockout the section with a sledgehammer, as this loosens the concrete and allows it to fall away from surrounding cement.

When You Need Concrete Drilling, Coring, and Sawing on Your Property

If you’re planning any special additions to your property or have a home improvement project in mind, don’t let a concrete slab or wall stop you from seeing those plans through! Concrete drilling and coring allow you to cut through basement concrete to add a drain or sump pump, an excellent choice for removing humidity and standing water so that your basement is ready for finishing.

If you’ve always dreamed of an outdoor kitchen, concrete drilling and coring allow you to run needed electrical and internet wiring, plumbing pipes, and other features through a concrete porch or the walls of your home, hiding them from sight. You can also add outlets and electrical features to your back porch, including an overhead fan and outdoor lights, creating a safe and comfortable environment.

Concrete slab sawing also allows you to run a French drain across your property or install an irrigation or sprinkler system through an outdoor patio. Whatever your plans for your home and property, never hesitate to ask, “What is concrete drilling and coring and how can it help me achieve my goals for a more functional and welcoming space?”


concrete sawing by a worker in boston

A Word from Our Team at Concrete Cutting & Coring Boston

This article was a collaborated effort by the professionals at Concrete Cutting & Coring Boston. Whenever you need concrete drilling in Boston, MA, we’re the experts to get it done fast and affordably!

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