What Is Selective Demolition? When Is It Applicable?

There are times when a part of a structure needs to be torn down or reworked to meet certain needs. It doesn’t always make economic or functional sense to rip everything apart and start from scratch. The solution is selective demotion.

Selective demolition, also referred to as precision demotion, is the process of demolishing specific materials or zones within a building or structure. It’s slightly different from interior demolition, which involves the complete demo of all interior elements of a structure. For example, a structure may need to be made higher, lower, wider, or safer. 

Selective demolition can also refer to the precise process of taking a structure apart. Instead of using explosives to blow it up or a crane to knock it down, this process is more precise. In other words, selective demolition techniques are preferred to preserve usable areas of the property and avoid the collateral damage that explosives can cause.

How Selective Demolition Works

Every selective demolition project is different, but here are a few key steps that characterize most successful projects.

Planning and Surveying

Any project that involves demolition will also require a significant amount of planning and preparation. Depending on the nature of the project, the contractor might need to invest in extensive site surveys and materials testing. 

The results of the testing and surveys will allow the team to create a detailed plan for execution. Specifically, what equipment, experience, and expertise will be required for the project? How long will it take to complete? What are the inevitable challenges that still require addressing?

“Cutting and Capping” Utilities

Another vital step to take before launching the project is to cut and cap any existing utility lines. This ensures there is no damage to the remaining structure during the project. Also, any part of the structure that will remain in operation could do so if this step is planned correctly. 

Obtaining Licenses, Permits, and Insurance

Many selective demolition projects are massive undertakings. They may require separate permits or the company may have to adhere to various state and federal regulations. Insurance and bonding for the specific project is generally a requirement. 

Emphasizing Safety

Precision demolition can also be dangerous work. One of the trademarks of a successful project is a company’s ability to achieve the desired goals without any major incidents or injuries. This happens through careful planning, experience, and strict safety procedures. 

Planning for Removal

One of the major benefits of selective demolition is that it’s a cleaner and more sustainable option. Instead of blowing everything to pieces, you have the opportunity to salvage and even reuse materials. Assuming you don’t want to reuse the materials, at least other parts of the property or structure won’t be damaged or destroyed by the process. It’s also a more environmentally friendly option. 

When Selective Demolition Might be Applicable to a Project

Selective demolition is applicable to a variety of projects in a variety of industries. Here are a few examples.

  • Heavy industrial — Various heavy industrial industries use selective demolition for projects related to power plants, steel mills, pulp and paper mills, and refineries. 
  • Offshore — Selective demolition even takes place offshore for things like marine applications, topside modifications, and platform segmentation. 
  • Heavy civil — The heavy civil industry uses precision demolition for projects related to ports, locks and dams, and highway bridges and railroad bridges. 
  • Nuclear — In the nuclear field, these services can be used for decommissioning, seismic upgrades, and steam generator replacement. 
  • Heavy metal — Heavy metal industries use these services for projects related to decommissioning and size reduction. Selective demolition is also used to cut large metal structures for forensic testing.

Examples of Some of Our Selective Demolition Projects

One of the best ways to understand how selective demolition can work for your business is to understand how it has benefited others. Here is just a small sampling of some of Bluegrass Bit’s many precision demolition projects.

When to Call in the Professionals for Your Project

Selective demotion is a highly specialized form of destructive work. It involves proprietary processes and tools as well as the expertise of skilled workers with years of experience in the industry. 

Bluegrass Bit has built a global reputation as a leader in precision demolition projects. We have the capabilities, resources, and experience to take on the concrete and metal cutting and drilling elements of demolition jobs of any scope, anywhere in the world.

We offer diamond wire sawing, robotic hammering, core drilling, concrete shaving, and rail saw services to clients in various industries—onshore, offshore, and underwater. Contact us today for more information about how our specialized services can help your business achieve its goals.

What Is a Diamond Wire Saw?

There are many different approaches to cutting and removing concrete. Ring saws are one option because they are easy to handle, but they also have many limitations. If you need thicker materials cut and want something done with precision, a diamond wire saw is a better option.

Diamond wire saws are used to remove reinforced or large concrete structures by segmenting.  Wire saws can cut through nearly any material because diamonds are among the hardest materials in the world.

In short, a diamond wire saw is a saw which rotates loops of wire cable onto which are threaded metal beads crusted with diamond chips. The entirety of the cable and the beads is then protected from corrosion by an elastomeric compound covering.  The cable is made of multiple strands of high-tensile steel wire.

How Do Diamond Wire Saws Work?

If you’ve ever used a bandsaw or reciprocating saw, a wire saw operates using the same basic principles. The diamond wire is arranged around the material that requires cutting. It can also be threaded through a core hole. Then, the wire saw is rotated at speed, using the abrasion of the diamonds on the wires to cut through the concrete or other materials. 

Diamond wire cutting produces a significant amount of heat, which means cooling is essential. Many diamond wire saws use “wet cutting,” meaning there is a flow of water to provide cooling. 

What Are the Benefits of Using Diamond Wire Saws?

Using the strength of diamonds to cut through thick, dense, and hard materials like concrete and metal is incredibly useful. Here are some of the main benefits of diamond wire saws.

They Can Cut Any Size

Diamond wire saws have the ability to cut through any thickness or size of concrete and steel. The power and precision of these tools mean that they can tackle major projects like columns, beams, sections of bridges, dams, and other structures. Once cut, the sides of the material are smooth, making them easier and safer for workers to handle. 

They Are Incredibly Accurate

Diamond wire sawing is incredibly accurate. Trained professionals can deliver precise results even in the most extreme conditions, such as underwater or in tight spaces. Diamond wire saws are also very effective at cutting awkward corners and odd shapes. The flexibility of the wire allows technicians to complete work to precise specifications.

They Are Highly Efficient

Time is money when it comes to construction and demolition projects. Diamond wire cutting does the job with incredible accuracy and speed. Other cutting techniques don’t come close to measuring up. Because it is so efficient, there are less wasted materials at the end of the process and fewer work hours required to get the job done correctly.

They Are a Safe Option

Removing concrete and steel isn’t a safe activity by any means, but using diamond wire sawing is one of the safest options for workers. It’s fumeless, less vibrational, and quieter than other sawing options. With that said, only trained professionals should use diamond wire saws.

What Are the Different Applications for Diamond Wire Saws?

Diamond wire saws were initially used to cut stones in quarries. Over the years, their uses have expanded substantially. A diamond wire saw can cut through concrete (including reinforced concrete), steel, stone, granite, and brick. Some of the most common applications for wire sawing include the following.

  • Precision concrete demolition projects
  • Cutting through concrete structures, such as dams, bridges, columns, beams, and factory floors
  • Dismantling nuclear power plants
  • Cutting through openings with limited access
  • Angular cuts on horizontal and vertical structures
  • Precision cuts on restricted, sensitive, or confined areas
  • Cutting through heavy rebar or embedded steel
  • Subsea cutting of, pipelines, and other underwater concrete or metal structures

Just a Few of Our Diamond Wire Sawing Projects

Bluegrass Bit Company has worked on many diamond wire sawing projects. Here are just a few real-world solutions showing how our experts can cut anything. 

  • Gross Reservoir Dam Expansion — Bluegrass Bit has played an integral part in Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir expansion. In Project Phase 1, we removed the dam’s ogee crest by inserting diamond wire saws into core holes to cut blocks for removal. 
  • Lake Matthews Water Intake Structure Modifications — We used diamond wire saws to remove a 30’ diameter concrete water intake structure in sections to modify this water intake area of the Colorado River.
  • Port of Los Angeles — We removed a 14.5’ diameter concrete and metal sheet pile cell at the Port of Los Angeles. Using a specially designed 15’ underwater diamond wire saw, the material was cut into pieces and removed by a crane. 
  • NASA Concrete Silo Dismantling — We assisted NASA in removing existing concrete silos built for the space shuttle booster rocket to make way for other projects. Using diamond wire saw technology, we cut the concrete silos into segments for removal ahead of schedule. 

Worldwide Diamond Wire Sawing Services

Concrete cutting is one of Bluegrass Bit Company’s foundational services. We have revolutionized the field of precision concrete demolition and construction using our custom-built diamond wire technology. We became the first demolition company to use diamond wire saws for controlled demolition in the late 1970s.

Our concrete and metal cutting services are the safest and most precise in the industry. Our saws can cut a wide variety of materials under the most extreme conditions. We work on land, on elevated platforms, and deploy wire saws underwater at locations across the globe. Contact us today for more information about our diamond wire sawing services.

Bluegrass Bit’s Complete Guide to Concrete Cutting

This is a photo of a person cutting concrete.

If your facility has concrete in the wrong place or needs to make some changes for another reason, what are your options? Blowing it up is probably one, but that route has many downsides, including being dangerous and destructive to surrounding structures. 

The best solution is concrete cutting, which is safer and more controlled. Here is what you need to know about concrete cutting, how it’s used, and the different methods for precisely removing concrete during your project.  

What Is Concrete Cutting?

Concrete cutting is a controlled process that modifies or removes concrete. Because concrete has a high compressive strength relative to many other construction materials, it requires a unique approach when you need to change its structure. If you need to make any repairs or improvements to your facility, and concrete is involved, you must cut the concrete to get it done. 

Types of Concrete Cutting Methods

When you know you need to modify your concrete, what’s the proper way to do it? Depending on your circumstances and goals, there are several different types of concrete cutting methods. 

Wall Sawing

Wall sawing refers to making a cut into an existing concrete wall. To accomplish this, a concrete cutter will use a large diamond blade or a diamond wire saw that can cut completely through the wall. The saw will have an attachment allowing it to be guided along an established line or track in the wall. 

Slab Sawing

Similar to wall sawing, slab sawing involves cutting horizontal pieces of a concrete floor, road, bridge, or anything else that is flat. One operator runs the slab saw from behind to guide it along the surface. 

Core Drilling

Core drilling involves cutting a round hole into a specific area of the concrete. This is commonly used to facilitate repairs or add in a variety of infrastructure components such as wiring, plumbing, or ventilation. The holes vary in depth and diameter, depending on their intended purpose. 

Wire Sawing

Wire sawing is a particular concrete cutting tool that requires experience and skill to set up and operate, but these saws are the most accurate concrete cutters available. A diamond wire saw is made of a main wheel that is driven by a hydraulic or electric motor, which steadily pulls the diamond wire along the cut path. The diamond beads use friction to cut through any material, from concrete to titanium. 

Why Concrete Cutting Is Used

Concrete cutting is common in construction and demolition projects where the primary material used is reinforced concrete, cemented concrete blocks, concrete bricks, stones, and other hard-to-cut items. A variety of projects will use concrete cutting, such as bridges and overpasses, dams, wharves and piers, sewage treatment plants, chemical plants, and nuclear power plants.

Benefits of Concrete Cutting

Concrete cutting offers numerous benefits over methods like explosive demolition. 

Less Intrusive

When you blow something up, there’s a chance you might damage more than you intended. Even the most skilled explosive expert can’t make guarantees, while concrete cutting only targets the areas you want to be altered. Thus, it is much less invasive to your structure. 


Explosives are noisy, potentially dangerous, and disruptive. Sure, concrete cutters can make some noise, but they are much quieter than the alternative.


Concrete dust is a known health hazard, so it makes sense to minimize this as much as possible. Instead of paying for an explosion of dust, you can have a controlled cut that is safer for the people in the area. Bluegrass saws use water to cut in a “wetted” condition, and the resulting slurry is efficiently captured and contained. 

More Economical

Because concrete cutting is more precise, it can be the best option economically. You are only removing the concrete you don’t need. 

Examples of Concrete Cutting Projects

Bluegrass Bit Company is known as a global pioneer in the field of precision demolition. Our specialized concrete cutting equipment works on land, deep underwater, and under the most extreme conditions. Here are just a few examples of our concrete cutting projects.

  • Gross Reservoir Dam Expansion — This is an ongoing project in support of Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion, which will triple the reservoir’s capacity by raising the height of the dam by 131’. In 2022, we assisted with removing the dam’s ogee crest through precision concrete cutting and concrete block removal. 
  • Humboldt Bay Nuclear Plant Decommissioning — We assisted with removing a 250’-tall ventilation stack at this nuclear power plant by cutting it into ring sections under harsh conditions and removing them from the premises. 
  • Arecibo Observatory Tower Repairs — This observatory located on a mountaintop in Puerto Rico required extensive repairs after damage to the dish. We used diamond-wire saws to cut damaged towers into smaller pieces for removal by crane.
  • Pecan Island Compressor Base Cut — We helped remove a 90,000 lb. compressor on Pecan Island that sat on l-beams, which had been leveled using concrete grout in varying depths. We cut the base using diamond-wire technology, which allowed the compressor to be removed while remaining intact.

Contact Bluegrass Bit Company for Your Precision Concrete Cutting Needs

If you have a need for precision demolition, Bluegrass Bit has the experience, capabilities, and resources necessary to take on your job, anywhere in the world. We offer diamond-wire sawing, concrete shaving, core drilling, and other precision demolition services to clients in heavy industrial, offshore, heavy metal, nuclear, heavy civil, and other industries. We were the first demolition company to use diamond wire saws for controlled demolition in the 1970s. 

Our more than four decades in the business have made us a global authority in the demolition and decommissioning business, and we are known for our advancements in diamond-wire sawing as an alternative to using explosives. Contact us today to discuss your project and learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.