How to Cut Paving Slabs

Richard Partington

Published on: 19 November 2019

Cutting Power Saw

From breaking slabs in half to carving curved garden paths, you might believe that cutting paving slabs is a skill reserved for industry experts.

Yet, with the right tools and a little practice, you too can re-shape your paving stones to your landscaping needs. You can even get the job done with a trusty hammer and chisel set and, of course, the right safety gear (i.e. quality work gloves, safety glasses and a dust mask).

To grant you the know-how you need, we have broken down three different cutting techniques.

Read on to find out how to cut paving slabs like a pro.

Hammer and chisel

Cutting Hammer and Chisel

The oldest technique for cutting paving slabs is also the simplest. That’s right, you can put your power tools away for this one; basic equipment and a little bit of patience is all that’s required for this technique.

Ideal for use with:

What you need to cut paving slabs:

  • A tape measure
  • Chalk or a pencil
  • A hammer
  • A sharp-tipped breaker chisel
  • A rubber mallet

How to cut paving slabs with a hammer and chisel:

  1. Firstly, measure the perimeter of the space that needs to be filled by the paving slab with your tape measure.
  2. Taking on board these measurements, draw the cuts you need to make for the paver with your chalk.
  3. Then, use the hammer and chisel to cut a shallow (1-2mm) channel into the paver.
  4. Once you have scored the paver, you can split the slab by hitting it with the rubber mallet. If it doesn’t break right away cut the channel a little deeper.
  5. Tidy up any uneven edges by chipping away any excess stone with the hammer and chisel.
  6. You’re now ready to put the slab in place.

Top Tip: This technique is most suitable for cutting pavers where clean, straight lines aren’t imperative.

Power saw

Power Saw

Clean and quick, a handheld circular saw is a firm favourite with landscaping experts.

If you are considering cutting patio slabs with a power saw, just remember that they produce dust clouds and can leave behind a lot of residue. To stay safe, wear your safety glasses and dust mask and, if possible, use a dust-suppression system. By spraying water at the point of the cut, dust suppression systems wash away dust before it becomes airborne.

Ideal for use with:

What you need to cut paving slabs:

  • A tape measure
  • Chalk or a pencil
  • A workbench
  • Four C-clamps (to secure the slab in place)
  • Power saw or angle grinder with a diamond-tipped blade made specifically for stone or masonry (this is important as blades made for wood will become dull almost immediately)
  • A rubber mallet

How to cut paving slabs with a power saw:

  1. Using the measuring tape and chalk/pencil, measure the space where the paver will be slotted and mark the cutting line on both sides of the paver.
  2. Secure the paving slab to the workbench with the C-clamps. If done properly, the paver should not move once it is secured.
  3. Begin cutting through the paver with the power saw, using the marked line as a guide. Once you’ve cut about 1cm through one side, turn the paver over and repeat the process on the other side.
  4. Continue until you have cut all the way through and then lay your newly carved paver into place.

Top Tip: Power saws are the only option for cutting dense and hard materials like porcelain; bear this in mind when you decide on a look for your patio or driveway.

Slab splitters

The real pros will use large slab splitters for cutting slabs, and, thanks to tool hire businesses, you can use them too.

There are several types available, including electrically-powered and hydraulic versions, but the most common is a simple lever press that squeezes the paver between an upper and lower blade until it snaps. We recommend using a slab splitter if you are dealing with particularly dense paving stones.

Read below for our advice on how to use a slab splitter safely.

Ideal for use with:

What you need to cut paving slabs:

  • A lever press slab splitter
  • A tape measure
  • Chalk
  • A rubber mallet

How to cut paving slabs with a slab splitter:

  1. Set up your slab splitter on solid, level ground where you have enough room to work.
  2. Measure the space that needs to be filled with the paving slab and mark the required cut on the paver with chalk.
  3. Lift the handle of the splitter and place the slab into it with the chalk line at the point which will be cut.
  4. Lower the handle and apply the appropriate force to split the slab.
  5. Put your newly cut paver into place, using a rubber mallet to consolidate it, if needed.

How do I cut curves into paving slabs?

If you dream of winding garden paths, you’ll need to learn how to make curved cuts. While it can prove a tad more complicated than straight lines, we’ve got you covered.

For these more intricate cuts, we recommend using the power saw technique (above). Many of the steps are the same as the straight line cuts, but you chalk the cutting line as a flowing smooth curve across multiple pavers.

When it comes to the actual cutting process, large arcs can be followed relatively easily along the chalk by the power saw. However, for tighter arcs, you’ll need to make a series of smaller, straight cuts. While the pavers might look a little jagged once you’re finished, you won’t notice any rough cuts when they’re laid into place.

And if this sounds too time-consuming, you can always buy curved paving slabs to create eye-catching patio shapes instead.

Have a question about how to cut paving slabs? Call Simply Paving on 0800 032 6306 or start a live chat with us for all the answers you need.