Cutting Concrete Pavers – Tips and Tools

If you are installing a paver project yourself, whether it’s a driveway, walkway, patio, pool deck, or other application, it’s very likely that you’ll have to cut concrete pavers in order to fit them into the pattern. Most cuts are usually done when you include curves and fans in your design; however, even with straight patterns, especially running bond and herringone, you’ll have to cut the pavers near the borders of the project in order to fit the pavers within the specific dimensions.

If you need to know how to cut concrete pavers, this guide is for you. It will tell you all the tools you need for marking and cutting pavers successfully. It will also provide some safety and efficiency tips to make sure that your project is a success.

(Note: Much of this advice also works for other types of pavers, such as for cutting brick pavers and natural stone paving stones, though you may need a different saw and tools to do so.)

Marking the Pavers for Cutting

The first step you’ll have to do is mark out the pavers so that you now which ones to cut and where. Let’s say that you’re doing it near a border first. When you have laid the last brick you can in that course, take a full brick and line it up with the border in the same direction. Use it as a straight edge on the paver you just laid, and use a red masonry pencil to draw a straight line. Remove this marked paver and replace it with the full one you just used. Then, cut the paver on this line. Put the paver in the hole and you’re done with that course! Repeat as necessary to fill out the structure.

IF you are creating a curved section of your paver project, you will need to get a soft, flexible strip of wood that you can lay down and bend. Beginning with the origin point of your curve, bend out the strip of wood according to how much curve you want – where you want it to start and where you want it to end. Then use your pencil to mark out the line on each of the affected brick. Take each paver and make your cuts, replacing them when finished. Finally, lay down your border course along this edge, making cuts to allow for a smooth curve throughout the border – you don’t want huge gaps or jutted corners throughout the border curve, as this will look terrible and unprofessional.

Now that you’ve marked up your project as necessary, let’s talk about how to cut pavers.

Cutting Concrete Pavers

You will need some tools for this step. First, you’ll need safety goggles to protect your eyes. If necessary, get gloves to help you grip the bricks, as they may get wet and slippery if you use a wet saw.

As for the tool to use to actually do the cutting, your best bet is a diamond blade wet saw. The diamond blade is very sharp and will thus cut through the paving stone like butter. The use of water will keep dust down. If you use a regular saw, it can work, but it also creates a ton of dust. If you have to do a lot of cuts, you will find that the dust will become overwhelming. Thus, it is best if you rent or borrow a diamond blade wet saw in order to do this work.

To cut the pavers, simply place them within the guides of the wet saw and slowly bring the saw down on the paver. Only turn on the saw when the paver is properly set and ready to be cut. After cutting, move the saw to the ‘neutral’ position; then switch off the machine. Only then should you remove the paver and inspect your work.

Safety Tips and Other Helpful Hints

Go slowly. This will help you in two ways. First, you’ll make the cut more smooth and consistent. If you are ragged with your cutting motion, it will show in the quality of the separation. These saws are very dangerous – one wrong move could mean an injury. Over time, your proficiency with the saw will increase, until eventually when you will be able to make consistent cuts.

One note about cutting – do you make cuts on the line, before the line, or after the line you’ve drawn? It ultimately depends on how you draw the line in the first place. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works for you, since sometimes you’ll have to “take the line” or “keep the line” depending on how you’ve drawn it.

Other Cutting Methods

Of course, if you don’t have access to a wet saw, there are other options for you to cut the paving stones.

For instance, you can do the old fashioned method – use a lump hammer and chisel to slowly chip away at the line – eventually, it will come free. Any uneven edges can be chipped off as necessary.

You can also used hand held saws like skill saws or Stihl saws. You’ll want to be careful when using these if you don’t have experience, and make sure to use a carbide or diamond-tipped blade. If you are using a blade that normally cuts wood, it won’t work! Note as well that you’ll have to deal with the dust mentioned above, and the blade also may get dangerously hot over time. This could lead to burns and problems with the blade, even leading it to break or warp, damaing the paver, the saw, and potentially even you!