How hard is it to remove concrete sidewalk?

I have a 2", 5’ x 5’ piece of concrete sidewalk that I need to remove to implement some waterproofing. I can either remove it myself (with a sledgehammer) or I can pay extra and have the waterproofers remove it.

Can anyone give me an idea of how much work it would be to do it myself? Is it possible? Is it a back-breaking job? A day’s work? A half-days work?

If I do it myself, should I rent a tool instead of a sledgehammer?

Shouldn’t take too long. My dad did ours (probably 2.5 feet wide, 20 feet long, 3 inches thick, just a guesstimate) in about a day with a sledgehammer. That included hauling the pieces away and stuff. I don’t know how physically hard it was to do- my dad never complained, but then again he’s a big guy and does that kind of stuff all the time. YMMV.

Based on the thickness, I think you could do it with a sledgehammer. If the sledge doesn’t work, you can rent a pneumatic concrete breaker for $20 or $30, and that should take care of it in a snap. You might also want to pay someone to haul away the refuse.

I recently had about 750 sq ft of very thick (6"+) concrete removed around my house. I took a couple of licks at it with a sledgehammer and immediately called a local company that specializes in concrete removal. They did the job with three guys and some big-ass jackhammers for about $1000, but said they’d have charged me more if they had known how thick it was. Much of the labor involved carting away the very large and heavy debris.

By the way, if you plan to plant grass where the concrete was, be sure to till the ground. The ground under my concrete was compressed to bricklike hardness, and I made the mistake of putting sod down on it - died within a couple of weeks.

If it’s that thin, I don’t think it’ll be too much trouble.
Break the corners and try to knock off a couple inches at a time, and it shouldn’t be more than maybe a morning’s worth of work. Just let the sledge do the work, and it shouldn’t be too bad.

I removed a slab of concrete about the same size in one piece. I have a one inch thick piece of rebar about 8 feet long (it was made as a pry bar in my days of driving figure eight race cars). I worked in under the slab about 2 feet and lifted. The whole slab came up and I flipped it over onto it’s top. From there I was able to hook a couple pieces of chain and a tow strap around it and pull it away with my truck. For the next 4 years it worked great as a supplier of worms for fishing. Pry up the slab, stick a hunk of fireword under it to hold it up and have my pick at tons of worms. The last time I drove by that house the cement slab was still where I left it.

2" should be easy with a sledge hammer. The trick is to raise a side or corner of it (with a pry-bar), put a large rock (something hard) under it, it should crumble with a few whacks (that is, of course, if it isn’t reinforced with rebar).

Been there, done that-----------------

Big question… is this a section out of the midle of a sidwalk, or a slab sitting all by itself? If it is part of a sidewalk that you want to keep you may have more problems. Depending on if there is an expansion joint nearby, you may have to sawcut the section you want to remove to avoid breaking more by accident.

Barring that… what bobinheber said.

Not likely to find rebar in a sidewalk, but sometimes will find a wire mesh at the bottom. But if it is only 2" thick, you should still have no problem. Just have wire cutters on hand. 2" is a piece of cake. I’ve done up to 4" with a sledge, and I’m not a very big guy. Just determined. Very satisfying if you have some frustrations to work out.

First off, bobinheber welcome to the SDMB! Thanks for registering to answer my OP. Second, thanks everyone for the great info - easily the best feedback to any of my threads.

BoringDad, the piece I want to remove is a section in the middle of a sidewalk. I was planning on removing an entire section of concrete from one expansion joint to the next. Can I do this without a saw-cut? Is there anything I need to do in order to avoid damaging the adjacent sections?

Also, let me extend the OP a little. Another part of the sidewalk is 8" thick and I may need to remove some of this thicker sidewalk. Can concrete this thick be saw-cut?

Please, a sledge hammer is * so * last millenium. I reccomend brewing up some explosives, and using that to take care of the concrete.

Either that, or blast it with a 1920’s style “Death Ray.”

I totally disagree.

Start at the dead centre of the 5X5 slab until it shatters a bit, then hammer along each of the resulting half dozen or so radiating cracks to the edge of the slab.

The smaller sections can then be further split to a suitable size.

About half an hour’s work for a slab that size.

Is it an expansion joint (black tarlike filler strip) or a simple groove joint? If it is actually an expansion joint, then it should come apart fairly well at the joint. If it is a groove (or sawcut) joint you need to sawcut as deep as you can. It will also be a little harder to break out since you have no corner to start on, but it can be done.

You will not be able to sawcut 8" concrete with any tools that you will likely be able to get your hands on. You will not be able to easily break 8" concrete with a sledge. You can do it eventually but you will feel like you are on a chain gang. It will be a fair amount of work even if you rent a jackhammer. If it is a small area, you may be able to lever it out of the way.

When I was thinking about ways to get rid of the thick concrete in my backyard, I read about a method in which you drill holes, pour in a special compound that expands as it cures, and wait for the cracks to start. I didn’t have the time or ambition to do it that way, but it sounded kind of fun. Maybe you can give that a try.