Equipment Guide For Cutting Trenches In Asphalt or Concrete

Cutting trenches asphalt concrete guide

Asphalt repair and replacement can be complicated and labor-intensive. If you're not just doing a quick patch job, you'll probably need to excavate. Traditionally, this is done with hand-pushed saw cutters and jackhammers. This is fine for small jobs but slow and not really feasible for large ones. Here's a guide to some of the equipment needed to properly cut trenches in concrete or asphalt paving:


Jackhammers are a relatively slow, inefficient way of excavating old pavement. They can also do more harm than good. Even though you're trying to break down the old stuff, it's all connected to asphalt or concrete that you probably don't want to damage. Unfortunately, the percussive action of a jackhammer can cause damage far from the actual impact site. Skip this one in favor of more effective tools.

Asphalt Cutting Saws

Saw cutting is an alternative to using a jackhammer. Asphalt cutting blades are specially designed for cutting asphalt and use a diamond blade with a hard bond. As it cuts through the pavement, the blade is worn away. As it wears, it exposes fresh diamond grit so the cutting surface stays sharp. Hand-pushed asphalt saws are less damaging and more precise than jackhammers but are still slow and inefficient. Unless the paved area is cleaned well before being cut, asphalt saws can also be dangerous — if they catch on pebbles or bits of debris that are harder than asphalt, they can turn them into projectiles. You'll also need to mark a path for the saw to follow using a screwdriver or chisel and a hammer. If the operator attempts to move the saw in anything other than a perfectly straight path, the blade can snap. The cuts left by saw blades are also smooth, which means that repaved areas can end up sliding away from the adjoining pavement when put under stress.


After cutting the asphalt into chunks with a jackhammer or saw, an excavator is needed to scoop up the chunks and load them into a dump truck in order to get them out of the way. This introduces the worksite to the increased risk of collisions and strikes from falling debris. It's also time-consuming for excavator operators to scoop up an individual chunk of asphalt, load it into a truck, then move on to the next part of the trench.

Dump Trucks

Dump trucks are needed to cart away the cut chunks of asphalt for disposal and to backfill the cut trench before it can be repaved. They're not necessarily convenient, but they're crucial for traditional trench cutting methods that involve jackhammers or saws.

Street Trenchers

Street trenchers effectively combine all of the capabilities and functionality of the equipment listed above. They give work crews the ability to access underground utilities and remove damaged pavement quickly and easily while saving time and money on disposing of chunks of pavement. They work by tearing into asphalt or concrete — including steel-reinforced concrete — with powerful teeth, and are able to cut the trench below grade. As it cuts, the drum of the machine pulverizes the cut material into a consistency suitable for use as backfill, and automatically backfills the trench in one pass. There's no need for jackhammers, saws, excavators, or dump trucks since a street trencher performs the function of all of them in a way that helps preserve the integrity of the surrounding pavement.

The Streetworks Tigercat T726G street trencher also allows operators to cut trenches of varying depth and width, depending on what's needed for the job at hand. Rather than spend several days cutting a trench with saws and excavators, it can handle the job quickly, in just one step. The Tigercat T726G is also fuel-efficient and conforms to American emission standards, so it's also a more environmentally-friendly option than days of using excavators and dump trucks. Since it cuts a trench and backfills in one step, it also helps keeps worksites cleaner and safer.

That's not all, either. According to UtilityProducts, the Tigercat T726G street trencher is also easy to maintain. All of the components are thoughtfully arranged, providing easy, efficient access to the parts that need regular maintenance. The most vital components are also housed in separate compartments, to provide "[c]lear access to engine, hydraulic components, filters and other service points for painless maintenance routines." It's a durable, powerful machine that's as easy to care for as it is to use.

Cutting trenches in asphalt and concrete has always been a long, laborious job. With street trenching machines, a multi-day, multi-step process can be done cleanly and efficiently in a single afternoon, without the need for excavators or dump trucks. They cut, pulverize, and backfill, performing the functions of a whole worksite's worth of equipment and leaving a neat, clean trench in their wake.

POSTED: April 27, 2022