There’s more than one way to go about scanning concrete structures while working on a construction job, such as a renovation. Each method comes with some merits as well as drawbacks. What would work for a certain scenario might be ineffective in another situation.

That’s why it would be best to understand the advantages and disadvantages, comparing the two methods before making a final decision.

Learn more about the Advantages of Concrete Scanning.

What Are the Major Differences Between GPR and Concrete X-ray?

GPR and X-ray scanning devices are two of the best options among non-invasive concrete structure scanning technologies. Let’s take a look at what both methods have to offer so you can better understand which one will work best for your next construction project.

Concrete X-ray scanning

Concrete X-ray scanning has been in use for a long time in the construction industry due to its accuracy. There are two variations to this technology:

  • Digital X-ray scanners render scans digitally so you can view them on an electronic device.
  • Regular X-ray scanners process your renders from film.

Both methods rely heavily on technical interpretation to locate and identify the structures within concrete. And, the radiation emitted by these devices do carry some health concerns. It can also be time-consuming, and the costs may be a bit prohibitive, mostly when you’re operating on a tight budget.


Enter GPR (ground penetrating radar), a more versatile option that comes at a lower price point, plus it works faster. GPR also delivers consistent results even when scanning large areas at deeper subsurface levels.

However, GPR requires more technically adept contractors because of the massive amounts of raw data require skilled analysis and interpretation.

How Does GPR Fair in Comparison to Concrete X-Ray Scanning?

Both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages. However, GPR presents fewer challenges and comes at a fairer price. Let’s look at some of the benefits of choosing GPR over concrete X-ray scanning.

1. Real-Time Concrete Scans

Unlike X-ray concrete scanning, GPR provides immediate scan results without any additional steps. It’s non-invasive, has a small work-site footprint, and you can even use it for spot analysis when you need to make quick reports.

2. Affordable Concrete Scanning Option

GPR can help you make quick scans of a large area with significant time and labor cost savings in comparison to the X-ray concrete scanning procedure. This is especially vital if you need to locate and mark out underground facilities.

3. Safety on the Job

Ground-penetrating radar is safe; your smartphone probably emits more signals than GPR equipment. You also won’t need to evacuate a construction site for fear of exposing other workers to radiation as you would with concrete X-ray scanners.

4. 3D Scan Results

X-ray concrete scanning equipment can only scan one side of a structure, making GPR more suitable for scanning slab-grade concrete structures. GPR can also distinguish back-filled underground facilities such as tunnels.

5. Low Noise Emissions

GPR equipment operates quietly. This means you can perform concrete scans any time without interrupting surrounding activities on the job site. Plus, you don’t have to worry about disrupting people as they work in nearby offices.

6. Increased Accuracy

Radar-based technologies can scan a concrete slab with a minimum of 4″ to an accuracy that ranges from -/+ 0.5″. The standard deviation for thicker slabs is +/- 15%.

Watch this video to see how GPR concrete scanning works on the job site.

Are There Any Limitations to Using GPR?

While GPR has more benefits than concrete x-ray scanners, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on one of its significant drawbacks. GPR signals can be inhibited or bounce back if the scanned slab has considerable water or moisture content.

This could translate into false-positive results. In such a case, an x-ray scan would be required to provide more details about any objects that may be embedded in the concrete structure. However, this may not be necessary unless you’re working on a delicate renovation or construction project.

SoftDig Insists on GPR for Cost-Effective Concrete Scanning Results

Concrete scanning to locate underground facilities or map utilities embedded into concrete slabs can be a challenging job. That’s why you need to consult an experienced locator service provider. At SoftDig, we’ve been at cutting-edge locator services since 1959. We are a full-service subsurface utility engineering (SUE) firm serving customers in a vast area in the northeastern United States and throughout the state of Texas.

Feel free to send us an estimate request to get more information about our comprehensive concrete scanning or GPR services as it relates to your next project.


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