When doing work in your basement or garage, it can be very common to find nails sticking out of concrete.
Sometimes these nails are out of the way, and they won’t matter, but other times, they will need to be removed.
If you need to remove nails from concrete, you can rest assured that there are a few solutions for this.
Let’s look at a step-by-step guide to help you remove nails from concrete.
How to Remove Nails From Concrete (Step by Step)
1. Gather Materials
The first step of this process is to put together some of the supplies you will need.
We highly recommend that you get a pair of gloves and safety glasses before you start this process.
If you happen to remove the nail and it comes out with a bit of force and speed, you will not want it to hit you in the eye.
Gloves are useful in case you need to handle nails which are rusty or sharp in any of the areas.
A prybar is another tool that you will use to help remove nails from concrete.
If you don’t have a pry bar, you can use the back of a hammer, but this can be a bit more difficult.
In addition, it is best if you have some kind of a grinder like an angle grinder.
These tools can be used to cut off a stubborn nail that will not completely come out.
If you don’t have one of these, you can still begin this process and see if you can get it done without using a power tool, but you could rent a grinder if it’s absolutely needed.
- Safety Glasses
- Angle grinder
2. Assess the Situation
The first step in the process of removing nails from concrete is to assess the overall situation you have in front of you.
See if the nails are very deep or if they are simply resting on the surface.
Most of the time, you will be able to proceed by just using a prybar to get the nail out.
If you notice that more than half of the nail is stuck in the concrete, you may have to use a power tool.
You are going to need some leverage to complete this process.
Look for an area of concrete which you can use as leverage while you are trying to pull the nail out.
You won’t want to push on any sheetrock or other softer surfaces as it could cause more damage.
3. Attempt with Non-Power Tools
The first way you want to try and get the nail out is by using a prybar.
We suggest using a prybar because it is a bit stronger than a hammer, and it will give you more leverage.
A prybar is longer, and you will be able to push down on it a bit harder without it flying up.
Position the head of the nail at the end of the prybar.
If this nail is stuck on the ground somewhere, you can then use your foot to step on the prybar and push the nail out of the concrete.
Do this with a boot on, and you can move at a slow pace as long as you are applying pressure and force.
If the nail in the concrete is up higher in a wall, then you can obviously use your hands to help to pull the nail out with the pry bar.
The pry bar will give you much more leverage than if you tried pull the nail out with something like pliers.
Sometimes when you do this, if the nail is old and rusted, it could break.
Ensure that you are aware of this, as the prybar could go flying if this were to happen.
If this process of pushing down on the pry bar to release the nail is not working, then you may need to move on to step number four.
4. Attempt with Power Tools
Truly, the easiest way to get a nail out of concrete is to just cut it out.
You will end up leaving part of the nail in the concrete, but this should have no impact on the project you are doing.
Most of the time, people want to remove a nail from concrete because it poses some kind of a safety risk.
Using a grinder to cut the nail down so that it is even with the surface of the concrete will help to eliminate any safety risks.
When you use an angle grinder, you are going to need to make sure you are wearing safety equipment.
Although this will happen fast, chances are there will be some sparks flying while you are cutting through the nail.
You will need to make sure you have a sharp disc on your angle grinder that is capable of cutting into a nail.
Most angle grinders are built specifically for a job like this, so that should not be an issue.
Before using the grinder to cut the nail, position the handles so that you have easy access to the nail.
Lower the grinder into the nail at an angle so that it slices directly through the bottom portion of the nail.
We recommend getting as close to the surface of the concrete as you can.
If you happen to leave a bit of the nail exposed, you can use this grinder again to file down the nail and make it flush with the concrete.
If you have several nails in concrete which need to be removed, there is no question that this will be the fastest way.
Purchasing an angle grinder does not need to be expensive.
Although there are some models out there that have lots of additional features, a basic angle grinder can be purchase for less than $50.
This is a tool you can use for a lot of different purposes.
It works for smoothing, polishing, cutting, and more.
As long as you can change the blade in the angle grinder, you can get a lot of different kinds of work done.
5. Dispose of Nail
Once you have either removed the nail with the pry bar or cut it flush with the angle grinder, you must dispose of it.
Don’t leave a partial nail lying around in your workspace.
This is a hazardous situation.
Although you know where the nail is, the next person might not, and it could cause them injury.
6. Determine if Filling the Hole Is Necessary
Take a look at your concrete and see where the nails were removed.
Most of the time, you will barely be able to see where the nails were.
However, in certain situations where a lot of nails were removed, you may need to look at filling some of the holes.
Keep this in mind and always assess the finished product to make sure it looks as it should.
How Can I Remove Tack Strips?
In addition to occasionally having to remove nails from concrete, you may find yourself having to remove tack strips.
Tack strips are the pieces of wood placed around the edges of the room which help to keep carpets down.
Tack strips can be a bit difficult to work with because they are very sharp.
Essentially, you will follow a very similar method as you did to remove a nail from the concrete.
Use your pry bar and slide it between the tack strip and the concrete.
Take a hammer and tap the end of the pry bar to get it to slide under the tack strip.
Once you get the tack strip to move up a bit, move a few inches down and repeat the process.
As you move around the room, you will notice that the tack strip will start to pop out quite easily.
Usually, getting started is the hardest part of the process.
Be sure that you are not pushing your prybar down into the concrete as you are hammering on it.
You won’t want to chip the floor with the prybar.
As long as you keep it level, this should not happen, and you can get the tack strips up without leaving a mess.
Always handle tack strips carefully as you remove them from the room as they can do some damage to your hands.
What Is the Best Product to Patch Concrete?
As we mentioned, sometimes, when you pull nails or tack strips out of concrete, you can be left with a bit of a mess.
You will first want to remove any loose pieces and then sweep the surface clean.
This will give you a better idea as to what needs to be repaired.
If a piece looks like it may break off, just break it off, it is not worth leaving unstable pieces in place.
Now that you have a clean surface, you can use a concrete filler or epoxy to fill in the holes.
Ensure that there is no dust or dirt on the surface before trying to use either of these fillers.
If you do, they won’t stick well, and you will notice that the concrete looks uneven.
Always make sure you are filling the holes so that they are level as well.
Since both concrete and epoxy will dry somewhat hard, you will need to ensure they are level before you walk away from the project.
Remember that, if you are going to apply new concrete to an area which is already concrete, you have to use some kind of a bonding adhesive.
There are concrete patch products or epoxy which will do this for you.
Don’t try and mix a batch of fresh concrete to patch holes.
The two will not stick to each other, and your new concrete will simply fall out of the hole in the wall.
Overall, patching concrete is not all that difficult, and you will very rarely have to do it after removing just a nail or two.
Removing nails from concrete is a bit harder than removing them from a piece of wood.
You will need some extra strength, and if your nails are old and rusty, this process gets a bit more complicated.
Try your hand with a prybar first to see if it works to remove your nails.
If they haven’t been in there all that long or the space around them has spread a bit, you may have a chance.
For the most part, you will have to use an angle grinder or similar tool to just cut them off right at the surface.
This is quite common to do and something that a power tool can handle in a minute or less.
The good news is, when it comes to removing nails from concrete, at least you have some options.