How to Cut Pavers

Builder cutting pavers

 

RossHelen / Getty Images

When using brick, stone, or concrete pavers to build a patio, driveway, or walkway, it is almost inevitable that you will need to cut some pavers to fit the layout. There are several good tool options for DIYers, including simple hand tools and basic power tools.

Choosing the best tool for your project depends on your situation. If you already own a circular saw or angle grinder, you're all set; just get a new diamond blade made for cutting masonry. If you need to make a lot of cuts, it might be best to rent a wet saw or a brick/paver splitter. And if you want to go old-school or you have just a few easy cuts to make, a hammer and cold chisel will do the trick.

Protect Yourself

Always wear a dust mask and goggles when cutting any type of paver. Cutting with saws creates a lot of dust, some of which may be carcinogenic. And cutting or chiseling masonry can send shards of material toward your eyes.

What You'll Need

Equipment/Tools

  • Goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Work gloves (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Square or straightedge
  • Circular saw or angle grinder
  • Painter's tape
  • Non-slip mat
  • Brick/paver wet saw
  • Brick/paver splitter
  • Hammer
  • Cold chisel

Four Ways to Cut Pavers and Instructions

Cutting Pavers With a Circular Saw or Angle Grinder

Both a standard circular saw (7 1/2-inch blade) or angle grinder (4 1/2-inch blade) make clean, easy cuts and involve similar techniques. In either case, be sure to use a diamond blade made for masonry and stone.

Set the paver on a non-slip mat (such as rubbery all-purpose grip mat) to help hold it in place during cutting. You can also clamp the paver to your work surface, if desired. When using a grinder, it's often easiest to hold down the paver with one hand while cutting.

Project Metrics

  • Total Time: 30 to 90 seconds
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  1. Mark the cutting line across the top face of the paver, using a pencil and a square or straightedge. Transfer the line to the bottom face of the paver.
  2. Place the paver onto a non-slip mat atop your work surface. Adjust the saw blade to cut to a depth of at least 1 inch, if using a circular saw.
  3. Cut along the marked line, starting with a shallow cut at the surface, then make several back-and-forth passes until you reach a depth of about 1/2 to 1 inch.
  4. Flip the paver over and repeat the same cutting process on the bottom face.
  5. Set the paver flat on your work surface, and tap the waste portion of the paver with a hammer to break the paver along the cutting line.

Cutting Pavers With a Masonry Wet Saw

A wet saw makes a clean cut all the way through a paver. Saws that are capable of cutting pavers are simply large versions of the wet saws you can rent for cutting ceramic tile. Water sprays onto the blade during the cut to minimize heat and dust.

Project Metrics

  • Total Time: About 30 seconds
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Mark the cutting line on the top face of the paver, using a pencil and a square or straightedge.
  2. Place the paver on the saw sled, making sure it is resting fully against the back lip of the sled.
  3. Line up the paver's cutting line with the saw blade, then slide the sled all the way back.
  4. Turn on the saw and let it come up to full speed. Water should flow over the blade whenever the saw is running.
  5. Hold the paver firmly against the sled, keeping your hands well away from the saw blade. Push the sled slowly and steadily toward the blade until the blade cuts through the paver.
  6. Slide the sled back, remove the paver pieces, and turn off the saw.

Cutting Pavers With a Brick Splitter

Sometimes called a guillotine, a brick splitter is a non-power tool that operates somewhat like a log splitter—except that it cuts bricks and pavers. It is sometimes preferred over other methods because it produces no dust and is much quieter than a power saw. If you're cutting concrete pavers, which tend to be harder than brick, make sure the splitter you rent is designed for concrete. Brick splitters typically do not work with stone pavers.

Project Metrics

  • Total Time: About 10 seconds
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Mark the cutting line on the top face of the paver, using a pencil and a square or straightedge.
  2. Position the paver on the base of the tool so the marked line is aligned with the splitter's cutting edge. 
  3. Pull down sharply on the handle of the tool to split the paver. 

Cutting Pavers With a Hammer and Chisel

If your layout calls for relatively few cut pavers, you can do this work with a masonry chisel and hammer

Project Metrics

  • Total Time: 1 to 2 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Mark the cutting line across the top face of the paver, using a pencil and a square or straightedge. Transfer the line to the remaining three sides of the paver.
  2. Carefully tap the chisel with the hammer to cut a shallow groove (about 1/8 inch deep) along the cutting line on all four sides of the paver. Do not strike too hard, or the paver may break irregularly. 
  3. Set the paver face-up on a flat, sturdy surface. Position the chisel edge into the groove at the center of the paver face. Hit the chisel sharply with the hammer to break the paver along the grooved line. 

Tips for Cutting Pavers

All standard cutting methods work for straight cuts, but for curved cuts, use a circular saw or angle grinder. Score the curved cut along the top of the paver first, cutting about 1/8 inch deep. Make a full straight cut that is tangential to (touching) the scored line, and break off the bulk of the waste. Finish with multiple cuts to pare down the remaining waste to the curved line.

To protect the bottom of your circular saw base and prevent scratches from the paver surface, cover the base with blue painter's tape. Remove the tape as soon as you're done with the project (so it's not hard to remove later).