Marking concrete to prepare for cutting should be fairly straight forward. And for the most part it is. But there are times that it can be frustrating. Those times typically come from when you try to cut the concrete wet or if you do not quite remove the entirety of the line and it wont come off with some water. Either of those problems can be extremely frustrating in the cutting process.
If you are cutting wet and the line is disappearing, it can be quite disappointing when you complete your cut and you are off and need to re-cut. It wastes time and destroys material. And if you use a specific marker and the line does not completely get cut and some of the marks remain on the concrete afterwards, it can stand out like a sore thumb in the project and be difficult to remove.
This article discusses each of these frustrations and suggests three materials to use when marking concrete for cuts.
Concrete Paver Marking Tool
It should be straight-forward when choosing the right marking tools for cutting concrete or pavers. However, there are many different choices in material to mark with and the way in which you can continue with your cutting.
Some materials do not remove well from the concrete so you will want to make sure that you hit your cut right on and do not miss your mark. Otherwise you will have to go back and cut the sliver off or you will left with marks that do not come off well. That also means that if you miss mark your cuts, you may have wasted material or will need to find a cleaner to remove these marks. Regardless, this is our least favorite material to use for marking cuts.
Then there are the materials that remove too well from the concrete or pavers. So much so that when you cut wet or dry, you are actually removing the marked cuts making it difficult to follow your marked line appropriately. This can lead to poor cut lines and inconsistencies. Though you can slightly score these marks before going ahead and cutting all the way through which will help keep that line and keep your cuts consistent.
Then there are materials that you can mark with that will not disappear when cutting and still remove well after the fact if you need to remove the marks from pavers. These are the optimal marking materials for your concrete cutting.
How to Mark Pavers for Cutting
There are a few options to mark pavers for cuts. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to choosing the right marking method for the project. These are the various options that are optimal in their own way for marking cuts on concrete materials.
When it comes to marking pavers for cutting, on straight runs it is best to use a chalk line. This is a spool of line that is saturated with chalk dust. As the spool is tightened once extended, you can place it on the surface and pick each side up while in tension and let go. This will snap a chalk line on the surface of the pavers. However, this will disappear if you cut wet before you can cut it. Even when cutting dry, the dust from your cuts and the revolutions of the saw blade will wipe that chalk line away before you can even get to it.
This is why the best method for completing a chalk line cut is to score the line slightly with you saw. This score line can then be followed cutting all the way through the pavers without it disappearing whether you choose to cut dry or wet.
If you follow this method of marking concrete for cutting, it is definitely the most efficient and effective way of cutting concrete and pavers for straight runs.
Lead Concrete Marker Pen
Lead concrete markers work fine, but it is actually best to get a lead that is colored that way it is much more visible when you are cutting. A graphite lead on a dark grey concrete surface can be difficult to follow especially with dust flying around or water droplets on your safety glasses as you are cutting. You want something that will contrast the material that you are marking to ensure you can follow the line you marked.
Lead will be a little bit more difficult to remove from the stones after they are marked, but that is good for the cutting process. If you are cutting wet it may be better to actually dry score your line slightly first before starting to cut wet. However, if you miss mark your cuts it gets difficult to perfectly remove these lines afterwards to reuse those products.
Pica has a construction marker with refillable leads. They are built to last with a lead sharpener on the side of them if you need to sharpen your lead for those precise lines. The lead is fed through with the push of a button on the top of the marker. And you can get a variety of leads for the marker including water soluble leads for those lines you need to remove that you got wrong or missed in your cut. These leads will mark on all material surfaces even if they are dusty, rough, oily, or damp.
Pastel / Wax Paver Markers
A pastel / wax marker is suitable for those concrete markings when you are cutting wet. These are the least likely to be removed with the revolutions of the blade or the water from the saw hitting the marks. This makes it ideal if you do not want to waste time scoring your cuts first or if you are unable to cut dry in your area which leads to airborne dust.
Using a pastel / wax marker allows you to cut wet without the need to score, but that also means that the marks are long lasting and very difficult to remove after the fact. That means that you need to make sure that you completely cut your line and hit your mark as you cut. It also means that you do not want to make a mistake in the marking process otherwise it could mean the waste of some material if you cannot remove the marks from the pavers or concrete.
Continuing along with the previous Pica marker, there are also pastel / wax leads for the Pica that are stable up to 70 degrees Celsius not melting and able to mark most surfaces (though not suitable or glassy or glossy surfaces).
If you are looking for a cost-effective way of providing this solution to your crews or you are more likely to lose your markers while on the job site. Then these marking tools may be for you. They have the same benefits as the Pica marker and do not require a sharpener as you just pull the string to remove the paper wrapped core and reveal more of the marker.
Soap Stone Pavers Marker
Soap stone is an excellent material for marking those curved cuts. It remains on the concrete or pavers that you are cutting long enough when cutting dry, but it is also removeable after the fact with some water. If you opt to cut wet, you may want to score your lines first when marking with soap stone. If you prefer to not score, then some sort of wax marking tool is best as long as you remove those lines completely with your cuts.