Steel mesh is an incredibly useful application to reinforce concrete on a wide range of construction projects. The steel greatly strengthens the concrete and therefore, ensures that the entire building is much more structurally sound. Before the concrete is poured though, the steel will need to be cut to size… and this process can be a little tricky.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at how to cut concrete reinforcing mesh.
What is reinforced concrete?
Reinforced concrete is concrete that has steel mesh embedded within it and has been in use since the 19th century. The reinforcing steel comes in the form of metal bars (dowel), rods, or mesh and absorbs the stresses that may otherwise cause the concrete to crack and crumble. Reinforced concrete is used in concrete slabs, walls, pillars, and floors. Steel reinforcement has permitted us to build structures that otherwise wouldn’t have stood the test of time.
When do you need to cut concrete reinforcing mesh?
Concrete reinforcing mesh comes in a variety of lengths and sizes. Therefore, there’s a good chance that you will need to alter the size or the shape of the steel before you’re able to use it on your project or structure. In some cases, it is possible to bend the steel bars to fit your needs, though in most cases, mesh cutting is necessary. Thankfully, there are a number of tools and techniques available to cut concrete steel.
What are the best tools for cutting wire mesh?
There are a number of tools that can be used to cut wire mesh. However, much of the time the tool you use will depend on the diameter of the wire gauge. For instance, what may work on a very fine steel wire mesh, probably won’t work when cutting much thicker steel.
Bolt cutters are a very versatile tool, great for cutting through chains and locks. But they’re actually a great tool for cutting concrete reinforcing mesh, too! The force that is generated by a standard set of bolt cutters is certainly enough to snap through rebar that is on the smaller side.
The angle grinder is a go-to for most tradies when things get tough. This hardy tool is excellent for cutting concrete reinforcing mesh, and can easily handle thicker gauges of steel. When using an angle grinder, it’s essential to use the right PPE, including eye protection. And if you’re cutting a large amount of steel mesh, backup grinding discs are a must.
A circular saw is one of the most common tools used to cut concrete reinforcing mesh. With the right metal-cutting blade, a circular saw can cut through most gauges of reinforcing steel. However, it is important that whoever is operating the saw, has plenty of experience, as a circular saw is less stable than other power tools and may move or jump.
It is possible to cut through steel mesh with a hacksaw, though it’s better to stick to thinner gauges when using this tool. It can be very time-consuming to cut through thick steel rods and mesh with a hacksaw, as well as physically demanding. You’ll probably also chew through a few blades.
It is possible to use power shears to cut through steel mesh, though it will be a more physical process than using a circular saw or angle grinder. The bonus when using power shears is that it’s possible to easily maneuver the tool as you cut, making it possible to cut complex shapes.
How to cut concrete reinforcing mesh
The process of cutting steel mesh is rather straightforward, once you have your tool of choice.
- Double and triple-check your measurements, and mark your lengths clearly.
- Ensure the mesh is completely secure and on a flat surface. You don’t want any movement when cutting the steel.
- Make your cuts without rushing. Rushing can lead to poor workmanship and of course, an increased risk of accident or injury
Once the steel mesh is cut, it can be taken to the site proper, ready for concrete pouring.
Should you cut steel mesh on-site?
Many expert tradies and construction companies elect to cut their steel mesh on site. This avoids the potential for mistakes in the fabrication process and allows builders to quickly make changes to the size or length of the steel mesh if required. However, there are a number of things required to be able to cut concrete reinforcing mesh on site.
- The right tools; good quality circular saws or angle grinders are preferred.
- Experienced personnel to use the tools, safely and efficiently.
- A safe space to cut the steel mesh, with a stable and even bench or floor.
The other option is to have your concrete reinforcing steel custom-made to size and then delivered to the job site. This can streamline the process, and the manufacturing timeline is usually quite swift.
If you’re looking for the highest quality concrete reinforcing mesh, Reozone has you covered.