Brewery Lane, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

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What Size Concrete Breaker Do I Need?

If you’ve got a concrete surface that needs removing, chances are that a breaker will be the quickest and easiest way to tear that slab apart, but it’s not quite as simple as picking up the first device you come across. So, if this is the case, what size concrete breaker do I need?

You’ll need to find a 35-40lb medium-sized concrete breaker for sale as this is required to break up most hard construction materials, including concrete slabs between 3”-10” thick, though thinner concrete footings and floors can be broken apart by a smaller 20-30lb concrete breaker. For large construction projects, such as breaking up pavements and roads, you’ll need a heavy-duty 60lb+ breaker.

We’ve been removing, replacing and installing concrete foundations for over 15 years, picking up a few tips along the way. There are certainly situations where a trusty sledgehammer or fancy demolition chemicals can help us. However, our go-to method for concrete removal remains the reliable concrete breaker. Because we’ll only need to work out which size we need!

Concrete Breaker Sizing Advice 

Commercially available concrete breakers and jackhammers are generally split up into three main sizes, small, medium and large (heavy-duty), with the weight of the device being used to specify which category each model falls into. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Small breakers 

Small breakers weigh around 20-30lbs, with most models featuring an electric motor which can produce the equivalent power of a rotary drill set in hammer mode.

These devices are the lightest of the three and often use an L-shaped handle that allows users to operate the tool horizontally and vertically. 

Small-sized breakers tend to be used to clean up the rough edges around larger demolition work. Chipping out concrete around pipes and conduits and breaking up concrete slabs thinner than 5”.

Medium-sized breakers 

Medium-sized breakers come in at about 35-40lbs. They are perhaps the most versatile of the three, being suited to detailed chipping work and removing concrete over 5” thick.

These breakers tend to have a wide range of chisels, shanks and drill bits that can be attached to suit the device to specific projects better, making them popular amongst DIY-ers.

Most medium-sized breakers will be electric-pneumatic tools, though it is possible to find fuel-powered models of this size that use petrol or diesel to power their motors. 

Large heavy-duty breakers 

Heavy-duty concrete breakers weigh over 60lbs. They are often referred to as pavement breakers for their ability to split incredibly thick concrete surfaces easily. You can read our guide on how to break up thick concrete over on this page.

These tools must be operated vertically and can be found in pneumatic and portable hydraulic varieties, requiring a dedicated air or hydraulic compressor to function.

Some heavy-duty breakers will feature a small petrol or diesel-powered engine, which is used to drive a hydraulic pump mounted onto the tool itself.

Are They The Same As Hydraulic Breakers? 

Handheld concrete breakers are not the same as hydraulic breakers, even though some larger handheld models do feature hydraulic systems. Hydraulic breakers are large devices mounted to excavators which trained professionals must operate. They’re much more powerful than handheld tools and are commonly used on large construction jobs.

  • Price – Handheld: £130-£1000 / Hydraulic: £2000-£12000
  • Size – Handheld: 20-60lbs / Hydraulic: 246-3835lbs
  • Qualifications – Handheld: none / Hydraulic: formal excavator training
  • Impact energy – Handheld: 20-50J / Hydraulic: 165-5200J

Hydraulic Breaker Production Rates

Hydraulic breakers are really only used for large-scale construction projects and must be operated by trained professionals, meaning even if you do require one of these tools, you’ll likely be hiring the services of a construction company to operate the device. 

Below you’ll find a table illustrating the production rates (the amount of material a breaker can break in m³ per hour) of the most commonly found hydraulic breaker sizes.

Non-Reinforced Concrete m³/8hr2-58-1620-5030-60250-400
Reinforced Concretem³/8hr4-1612-4530-8050-110300-600
Hard Rockm³/8hr8-2024-6060-10590-200400-800

Last Word

We hope this article has helped you to work out which sized concrete breaker you’ll need for your next project. It’s also useful to know what oil do you use for concrete breakers to help ensure the machine moves smoothly.

Handheld breakers will generally be the models you’re looking for, as hydraulic breakers are incredibly expensive, bulky and almost exclusively used by professionals!

Handheld breakers come in three main sizes, small, medium and large (heavy-duty), and are often categorised by weight. Small models are great for chipping work and breaking apart concrete up to 5” thick. Medium models are the most versatile, and large breakers will be needed to split concrete thicker than 10”, so choose wisely for your next job!