When To Use Grinders, Scabblers, and Scarifiers For Concrete Repair Preparation

by | Feb 18, 2021 | Energy Feature

When it comes to resurfacing concrete, the preparation process is the most crucial of all steps involved. How well you prepare the underlying concrete will determine whether the layers and coatings bond consistently and securely to guarantee durability. Many reasons may prompt anyone to resurface their surrounding concrete using a handheld concrete scarifier, including repairs and decorations. It is also important to note that resurfacing can increase your home’s value and enhance future wear and tear resilience without breaking the bank.

To achieve all the resurfacing objectives, builders leverage various tools and machines, including grinders, scabblers, and scarifiers. Here is more in-depth information on when to use these tools and machines.


Grinders are abrasive wheels that can cut, grind, and polish hard concrete surfaces. They are one of the most versatile options for concrete preparation as they can work on both dry and wet surfaces. While there are up to more than five types of grinders in the market, an angle grinder is the most prevalent one in construction sites.

The common ones used in concrete surface preparations include walk-behind models and single-disc grinders. Walk-behind models are ideal for heavy-duty grinding and can eliminate up to 20-inches of hard concrete in a single pass. Concrete preparation grinders have durable construction of sturdy materials such as diamond and ceramic.

Depending on the size and mode, different grinders have varying rotating speeds ranging from 250 up to 3,000 rpm. They also come with adjustable wheels to enable working in tighter areas such as small partitioned rooms.

When Should You Use Grinders?

Grinders have an assortment of accessories used together or interchangeably to work on various construction projects. Even so, for elaborate concrete repair preparations, you can utilize grinders when performing the following:

  1. Eliminating bumps
  2. Polishing surface for painting and decoration
  3. Resealing wooden flooring
  4. Cleaning floors

Grinders Operation and Maintenance

Like many other construction machines, grinders run on gasoline, electricity, or propane. They come with vacuum ports to ensure a dust-free operation.


Scabblers are pneumatic tools that leverage compressed air to penetrate piston-mounted bits into hardened concrete. A high-quality scabbler should penetrate up to about 0.25 inches of the underlying concrete in a single pass. It is essential to note that production rates of different scabbling jobs vary accordingly and depend on the concrete’s strength. Typically, a 12-inch bit scabbler should roughen about 200 square feet of concrete in an hour, thanks to its ability to produce up to 1,200 hits per minute.

Scabblers are prevalent in any concrete removal applications, including the elimination of deteriorating concrete surfaces. They are also common when creating slip-resistant surfaces; what you popularly call “profiling” for installing new coatings and overlayments.

When Do You Use Scabblers?

Unlike grinders, scabblers are ideal when you want to roughen the surface. Before the invention of modern tools, masons often used hammers or axes to create a rough surface. You’ll find scabblers indispensable in reducing the level of an already repaired structure, preparing a surface for decoration, and harshening the ground for better grip. The types of repairs that will likely need a rough surface include:

  1. Coating
  2. Sealing
  3. Grouting
  4. Painting
  5. Sidewalk trip hazards

Scabblers are also ideal for eliminating adhesives and surface contamination.

Scabblers’ Maintenance and Operation

Modern scabblers can run on electricity, gasoline, and propane. Like any other moveable machine, you’ll need an in-line lubricator to enhance the piston performance, especially when working on more rigid floors. It will also help if you secure vacuum ports for dustless up and running.


As the name sounds, scarifiers work on concrete faster and more aggressively than both grinders and scabblers. They are milling machines that leverage multi-tipped cutters to eliminate concrete and achieve a smooth or textured surface. The flails have a powerful tungsten carbide construction to chip off even the most hardened concrete surfaces. There are also less durable scarifiers with hard steel flails that can only perform simple scarifying tasks.

There are different types of scarifiers that a construction worker can utilize depending on work scope and complexity. This includes a handheld concrete scarifier and self-propelled machines. A handheld scarifier has a cutting width of 3 inches and clears about 350 square feet of concrete per hour. Self-propelled scarifiers are quite large and can clear anywhere between 500 to 1,500 square feet every hour.

When Should You Use Scarifiers?

Different scarifiers have varying applications depending on size and horsepower. Besides, you can assemble various cutters interchangeably to achieve a desirable work output. Notable applications of these machines include the following:

  1. Light milling
  2. Heavy milling
  3. Rubber adhesives removal
  4. Grooving sidewalks
  5. Epoxy coating removal

Scarifiers Maintenance and Operation

Modern scarifiers run on gasoline, electricity, and propane.

Difference Between Grinders, Scabblers, and Scarifiers

Even though all these machines work towards a similar goal of preparing concrete surfaces for further construction activities, a scabbler leans more towards demolition. Scabblers use more force to impact concrete compared to grinders and scarifiers.

What To Consider When Buying a Tool for Concrete Repair Preparation

You should note that most concrete repairs involving grinders, scabblers, and scarifiers aren’t DIY for amateurs. It will help if you get a professional to complete the repairs lest the chances of accidents and severer injuries will remain high. Factors that you should consider when acquiring any of the above machines include the following:

  • Scope of work: If you plan to prepare a large area, getting a high-power tool with enormous torque sounds like a good option, whether grinders, scabblers, or scarifiers.
  • Type of concrete: Concretes have varying hardness depending on age, the expertise of construction, and materials used. Your engineer will advise accordingly on tools that can work best on your concrete floor or court.
  • Outcome desired: For instance, if you want to groove a sidewalk or ramp for people with disabilities, you’ll want a low-powered scarifier.

You’ve seen the different applications of concrete repairing preparation tools. When buying or renting any of them, ensure you get safety consumables like glasses, gloves, and ear protection devices too.

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