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Ultimate Guide to Concrete Power Tools

Ultimate Guide to Concrete Power Tools
July 7, 2022

Whether you need to build, resize, or demolish, working with concrete requires familiarity with multiple types of power tools. Each concrete power tool has specific applications and purposes, and matching the right ones to the job is critical to ensuring the success of your project. Explore our ultimate guide to concrete power tools, including a complete list of tools, how to use each tool, and why they are necessary for any contractor or DIYer.

Overview of Concrete Power Tools

You can find power tools for concrete projects that offer a variety of functionality and sizing options. Recognizing each one and understanding how they work is critical. Identifying concrete power tool options helps you determine which tool to use on different project types. It can also give you the necessary knowledge to round out your power tool collection, so you are equipped for any job. The most useful powered concrete tools include: 

  • Core drills
  • Concrete floor grinders
  • Concrete pumps
  • Power cutters
  • Ring saws
  • Concrete chainsaws
  • Power concrete mixers
  • Power trowels
  • Walk-behind concrete saws
  • Miscellaneous concrete tools

Core Drills

A core drill is a powered drilling tool designed to cut holes into hard surfaces and remove cylindrical sections. Core drills are easily differentiated from other power tools by their uniquely shaped drill bits, which resemble long, hollow cylinders with sharp, square, segmented teeth. Although core drills may work on other surfaces, such as wood, rock, and ice, the primary purpose of a core drill bit is to cut cylindrical holes into concrete. A core drill is ideal for creating holes to install piping, cabling, or utility lines.

construction worker using concrete drill

A core drill works using high-speed rotation and abrasive teeth to cut through a hard surface. As the teeth grind through the surface, they cut a circular hole. Core drill bits are hollow to pass through the surface, creating a column of uncut material inside the hollow cavity. Once the drill bit has reached the other side, this column turns into a concrete core (also known as a slug) and falls out the other side, resulting in a perfectly circular hole. When cutting through a surface that is longer than the drill bit’s length, the operator must manually crack and remove the slug using a chisel, hammer, and long, flat tools to pull the core out.

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Core Drill Bits

There are two types of core drill bits, each featuring different materials in the bit teeth: carbide bits (teeth made of tungsten carbide) and diamond bits (teeth with embedded diamond powder). Each type has its benefits and drawbacks. For instance, although diamond bits are typically sharper and more durable overall than carbide bits, you can re-sharpen carbide bit teeth to restore some of their cutting power and extend their lifespan. Besides the teeth materials, core drill bits are available in various sizes. Core bit lengths typically range from 1" to 30", making them suitable for all kinds of walls, floors, and surfaces.

Concrete Floor Grinders

A concrete floor grinder is a powered machine designed to resurface concrete floors. Floor grinders have multiple applications. They are used to remove adhesives, tile residue, or old concrete sealants and coatings. A contracting team can also use them to clean stained or oil-saturated concrete floors, level uneven floors, or polish rough or unfinished surfaces.

concrete floor grinders

Depending on the size and model, a concrete floor grinder may remove up to ⅛" of flooring material. Floor grinders exist in three forms: hand-held, walk-behind, and ride-on.

  • Hand-held concrete grinders are the smallest type of concrete floor grinders available, possessing a single rotating grinding disc, often small in diameter. They are ideal for reaching corners, tight areas, and other spaces where a larger machine cannot fit.
  • Walk-behind concrete grinders are tall machines designed to grind a wider surface using one or multiple rotating grinding discs. These may be powered by an electric, gasoline, or diesel motor.
  • Ride-on concrete floor grinders are the largest type of concrete floor grinders. They are approximately as large as a forklift truck and possess two or three large concrete grinding discs. These machines are designed for large concrete floor projects, such as underground parking lots.

Concrete Pumps

A concrete pump is a powered machine designed to process and transfer large quantities of concrete onto a working surface. Although contractors typically use concrete pumps to lay freshly mixed concrete, they can also apply grout, plaster, mortar, stucco, sound-proofing material, and even paint. Contractors typically connect the concrete pump to the mixer, allowing them to lay the concrete immediately after mixing. Concrete pumps typically ship with multiple nozzle sizes, depending on the thickness of the material applied and the application location. For example, thin nozzles are ideal for filling in cracks or wall joints with fresh concrete or grout. Some concrete pump models double as mixer pumps, combining the attributes of both machines in one. This feature allows the contracting company to save money and space.

power saw cutting brick

Power Cutters

A power cutter is a general-purpose power tool used to create precision cuts in various materials. Power cutters can function as a concrete saw when fitted with appropriate blades. Power cutters employ high-speed rotation, causing the blade to spin. The rapidly rotating blade teeth cut into the working surface when pressed down onto a working material, creating a thin straight cut. The operator can use a power cutter to make cuts of nearly any size, length, and, to an extent, depth.

Power cutter blades suitable for concrete cutting possess easily recognizable wide squared teeth. Most concrete cutting blades have diamond-encrusted teeth and may also be called concrete diamond blades or simply diamond blades.

Other Concrete Cutting Tools

Besides the general-purpose power cutter, you can also find a range of specialized concrete cutting tools that can be considered supplementary to the power cutter, such as the concrete chainsaw or the ring saw. Although their purposes are similar, they allow a contractor to perform different types of concrete cutting jobs.

concrete ring saws

Ring Saws

At first glance, the ring saw resembles the standard power cutter. However, the ring saw employs a ring-shaped cutting blade instead of a solid circular blade. Ring saws do not replace standard power cutters; in fact, professionals typically use ring saws in conjunction with conventional cutters. The primary purpose of a ring saw is to make deep cuts into vertical and horizontal concrete surfaces, blocks, and bricks. A typical application is to pre-cut the surface with the standard power cutter, and then use the ring saw to cut the last few inches of concrete.

Concrete Chainsaws

A concrete chainsaw resembles the traditional wood-cutting chainsaw but features diamond-grit chains and teeth. Contractors use concrete chainsaws to make deep, plunging, square cuts into hard surfaces, from concrete to rock. The primary purpose of a concrete chainsaw is to create square-shaped holes into the working surface, making it ideal for manually cutting openings for doorways, windows, ducting, and other wall and floor elements.

Power Concrete Mixers

The power concrete mixer is one of the most well-known concrete power tools. An all-in-one concrete mixer consists of a mixing drum, a gas or electric engine, and associated mechanisms to rotate the drum automatically. The purpose of a concrete mixer is to mix cement, water, and aggregate with more consistency and precision than hand tools and manually operated mixing stations. These devices are typically mounted on wheels and towed by a car, truck, or heavy-duty motor vehicle. Once mixed, the concrete drum can rotates for direct pouring or insertion into a pump.

Powered Mixing Stations

A powered mixing station is a smaller, more portable concrete mixer, allowing a single contractor to mix, transport, and pour concrete without relying on a traditional mixer and pump combo. Although they are convenient and easier to transport, powered mixing stations can only carry a limited quantity of concrete inside their integrated bucket (12 to 25 gallons).

concrete power trowels

Power Trowels

A power trowel is a power tool designed to compress freshly laid concrete down. Power trowels eliminate underlying air gaps and smooth concrete surfaces. Contractors use power trowels when the concrete floor is fresh and sufficiently firm to walk on without sticking. There are two types of power trowels: walk-behind and ride-on.

  • A walk-behind power trowel resembles a fan pointed downward, ranging between 24" and 48" in diameter. It features an engine on top and a long hand-held spine. The fan blade comprises multiple troweling blades designed to rotate at high speed, straightening and compressing the concrete beneath it.
  • A ride-on power trowel uses multiple trowel fans (typically two) to perform the same job as a walk-behind model but more quickly and efficiently, making it suitable for larger surfaces and projects.

Walk-Behind Concrete Saws

Walk-behind concrete saws are large power machines featuring an 18" to 24" diameter concrete-cutting saw blade. The blades seen on walk-behind concrete saws are similar to the type used by a power cutter but broader and heavier. Unlike power cutters, you can only use walk-behind concrete saws on floors and horizontal surfaces. However, they are more powerful and easier to use and can make deeper cuts up to 5" on average. Walk-behind concrete saws are ideal for cutting and sizing large concrete floor projects. A typical model can cut approximately 10 feet of concrete per minute.

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Green Concrete Saws

Green concrete saws are a variant of the typical walk-behind concrete saw. This machine comes from the construction industry slang for newly poured concrete. The name comes from (similar to how unripe fruits tend to be green in color). Green concrete saws possess a smaller saw blade (7" to 10" in diameter) than their standard counterparts because green concrete is softer, requiring a smaller, faster-spinning blade to make clean cuts.

Other Concrete Tools

Contractors use a variety of less common concrete tools like concrete vibrators, scarifiers, and scrabblers when performing concrete work. These tools are essential to achieving professional results in an efficient timeframe. 

concrete vibrators

Concrete Vibrators

If you’ve ever mixed concrete by hand, you know that poorly mixed concrete is weaker and more brittle due to the formation of air pockets under the surface, a process known as honeycombing. A concrete vibrator is a power tool recognizable by its long, flexible connecting tube (the shaft) tipped with a vibrator head. The purpose of a concrete vibrator is to eliminate these underlying air pockets before the concrete finishes drying. 

Using a concrete vibrator during the concrete’s settling period helps eliminate the honeycombing phenomenon, resulting in a smoother, more homogenous surface, ultimately improving its long-term durability.

Concrete Scarifiers

Concrete scarifiers (also called planers) are walk-behind machines equipped with multiple arrays of rotating metal rings with studs. These studded rings pummel the concrete surface, scraping it more deeply than a standard concrete grinder (up to ¼"). Depending on the scarification depth, concrete scarifiers can fulfill multiple jobs, from adding an anti-slip texture to a concrete surface to removing concrete floor coatings.

Concrete Scabblers

A concrete scabbler is another type of powered concrete tool. Scabblers are walk-behind machines equipped with an array of studded hammers. When active, these hammers use pneumatic force to move up and down rapidly, striking the concrete floor with each downward movement. The primary purpose of a concrete scabbler is to roughen up a concrete floor. Depending on the force applied, a contractor can use a concrete scabbler to remove hard floor coatings, prepare a concrete surface for resurfacing, level down uneven flooring, or even break down a concrete slab or floor for demolition or rebuilding projects.

concrete scrabbler wet cement

Concrete Screeds

A concrete screed is a powered tool comprising a pair of handlebars, an electric or gasoline engine, and a long, flat metal blade. Concrete screeds allow contractors to perform screeding jobs over large surfaces. Concrete screeds offer an advantage over traditional, hand-held screeds because they perform two jobs simultaneously. On top of flattening down freshly poured concrete into a flat layer, the tool’s powered element imparts vibration into the screeding blade, helping eliminate underlying air pockets and preventing honeycombing.

Browse Our Extensive Selection of Concrete Power Tools

Contractors Direct offers a wide selection of top-quality concrete power tools suitable for projects and worksites of all types and sizes. Whether you need to lay fresh concrete, cut or resize concrete slabs, drill holes into a wall, or break down old concrete flooring, we have the professional-grade equipment you need. 

Browse our selection of concrete power tools made by the world’s most trusted manufacturers, such as Bartell, Diteq, Husqvarna, Makita, MK Diamond, Multiquip, Trelawny, and others.


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