Cut grooves in wet and dry concrete: EASY how to Guide

After concrete installation, most people’s next job is cutting grooves on it. There can be different reasons for groove cutting, and one of the most common reasons is making drain grooves or to install floor heating. In this blog, you will learn more about concrete grooving – what it is, why it is required, what are its benefits, and how to cut grooves in concrete for drainage purposes. It all starts with getting the right tools and protection.


What does ‘Groove Cutting’ on Concrete mean?

It is a technique used on concrete for providing control joints for guiding cracks along a pre-decided line. It also helps in the movement of concrete which helps in the long run by protecting the concrete from damage and cracks.

As the temperature changes, concrete either expands or contracts. The moisture content of the air also affects the concrete. The constant movement of the concrete adds stress to the concrete. Therefore, the base gets stabilized as a result of the cracks in the concrete which develop due to the stress. 

The surface becomes uneven when there is uncontrolled cracking. Eventually, the substrate gets damaged because of water seepage and increased wear-and-tear. 

Concrete grooving helps to control the formation of cracks, although cracking of concrete is inevitable. Groove cutting helps to control the cracking by making the particular slab weak which is by the predetermined line. This ensures that the cracks appear there and not anywhere else. 

It is also possible to cut grooves in concrete to install heating pipes or drainage systems. With the advent of floor heating, more people need to install pipes on their floors. The easiest way to do this is to cut grooves in the concrete as this saves space. It takes some work but can provide a great end result.

Steps for cutting drainage grooves on concrete

Drain grooves are the indentation made on concrete, allowing water to flow away into the drains from a foundation. Drainage grooves are mostly cut before the drying up of concrete after it has been installed. This is done with often a shovel or sledgehammer. Contractors often have special machines for this that automate this process. You can often rent this in a hardware store for a day or more.

However, it is also possible to cut drain grooves in concrete after it has dried up using some mortar and a walk-behind concrete saw. 

Tools to cut drainage grooves in dried concrete

If you are someone who works with concrete, you should be having certain tools. These pieces of equipment will ensure that your concrete projects get done without any errors. Find a list of basic tools below which would help you while groove cutting and also other concrete jobs. But you will only need a few of these for cutting grooves in concrete:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective gear – eye protection, breathing protection, and hearing protection.
  • Rubber boots: it is a dirty job so you have to wear the right gear for it!
  • Eye protection
  • Chalk-line tool
  • Circular blade saw or chainsaw: this is used for smaller grooves
  • Specialty tools like walk-behind trowels, grinders and polishers, and screeds.
  • Groovers and edgers: these are machines that can be rented from Home Depot or other hardware stores. These make it easier to cut grooves in concrete

To finish things up:

  • Wheelbarrows
  • Shovels
  • Hammers and power drills: these are used for smaller grooves.
  • Portable mixer
  • Laser level
  • Bucket

1st Step

Decide where the center of the groove is going to be. Now snap a chalk line there. Measure two inches from both sides of the chalk line. Install two extra chalk lines on the left and right according to the measurements. You have to cut the concrete from these exterior lines. 

2nd Step

Get hold of the walk-behind concrete saw blade. Position its tip over a line’s center. After switching on the saw blade, let the cutter (having a 2-inches predetermined depth) penetrate the concrete. As it is a walk-behind saw, you have to walk behind it, checking that it doesn’t go out of the line. Now you have to do this entire step with the other line also.

If you have to cut more grooves, you can use a specialized machine. These provide a smoother result. They can be rented in most hardware stores. Often you have to sit on these machines as they use your weight to keep the machine in place while it is working.

3rd Step

Take the help of a shovel and a sledgehammer to take the concrete off. 

4th Step

Now that you have cut the trench, you need a wheelbarrow to remove all the spare concrete.

5th Step

Smooth things out with a hammer if needed. Make sure that the concrete isn’t cracked or brittle. If you have to fill up the concrete, you can use mortar to close the gap again.

Final Thoughts

You may need to cut grooves on hard concrete for cutting pavement made with asphalt, expansion joints, or pothole repair. Cutting grooves slows down cracking and damage, makes the surface long-lasting, and also makes it look appealing. It also allows you to install items such as floor heating. Concrete is a very popular building material and its permanence is also somehow its disadvantage. 

It is quite easy to cut grooves in concrete while it is still wet. You can use a shovel or jackhammer. This takes some planning in advance but it is an easy way to make grooves in concrete. Just monitor the concrete while it is drying to make sure that everything is stable. The grooves should be as straight and smooth as possible.

It is more difficult to alter concrete once it has been cured. But you might need to cut concrete for electric chases, drains, joints, or for an aesthetic look. Though it is a difficult task, it is not impossible. If you adhere to the instructions and use the appropriate tools, you will be successful at concrete groove cutting. 

We have discussed the difference between concrete and cement here.