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Best Tile Cutter: Manual vs. Electric

What is the best tile cutter? Should you opt for a manual tile cutter or an electric tile cutter? These are the two best tile cutting tools, but choosing the right one depends on the specific job at hand, the materials you’re cutting, and the space to work in. That’s why we’re going over how to choose the best tile cutter for your project. When it comes to the great manual vs electric tile cutter debate, we’re here to help. Let’s get started!

Imagine you’re replacing the splashback in a kitchen. Or maybe tiling a bathroom floor. But your tiles just won’t line up. Good news! Tile cutting isn’t that difficult. It all comes down to choosing the right tool for the job.

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best tile cutter

What Type of Tile Are You Using?

Tiles comes in many different varieties. Ceramic tiles, clay tiles, and porcelain tiles are the tiles you’ll commonly see at the store. However, these three types only scratch the surface.

Ceramic tiles are made from sand, water, and clay. The materials are molded into a square and then baked in a kiln to remove moisture. Porcelain tiles are made from a denser type of clay than ceramic ones. Clay tiles are entirely made of clay. Ceramic, porcelain, and clay tiles are either glazed for inside use or unglazed for roofing.

Other tile types such as glass, concrete, or natural stone are used for any number of different applications. There’s no rule dictating which tile you can or can’t use for a project. Though some tiles hold up better in certain environments.

best tile cutter

Measuring the Area You Will Tile

Every project comes with unique spatial challenges. Sometimes you need more tiles, sometimes less, and other times you need to cut tiles.

Accurately measuring the area that you will tile is imperative for choosing the correct amount of tiles for your project. Measure the entire area, diagonal interiors, width, and height. Next, measure one square of sample tile. Use those numbers to calculate how many tiles you’ll need for your entire project.

Don’t forget to account for abnormal boundaries. Order extra tiles to allow for wastage due to poor cuts and breakages. 10% extra is usually the recommended amount.

Cutting Tiles

Chances are you’re not working with perfectly straight boundaries that are a multiple of your tile size. Cutting the tiles is the only way to make most projects work.

Your two best options for tile cutters are manual or electric tile cutters. Manual tile cutters generally take less time to use and are more convenient but they are limited to straight cuts only. Electric tile cutters take more time to cut a tile and require more skill to use but can cut all of the cuts required on a job.

Each is readily available from RUBI. Which one you should choose is an entirely different story. Ready to learn more about the difference between manual and electric tile cutters?

Manual Tile Cutters

Everyone should have manual tile cutters in their toolbox. The cutters look somewhat like a car jack with a bar that runs from top to bottom. Tiles are placed inside the cutters and scored. Then the tiles break along the scored line.

best tile cutter

Manual tile cutters are easier to set up and use than electric tile cutters. You need to place the tile in the cutter, score it, and then use the breaker which will snap the tile along the score.

  • Some harder porcelain tiles can be difficult to score and cut so we recommend using an extreme or endure scoring wheel. This tends to cut deeper into the surface of the tile, allowing for an easy and accurate cut.
  • With ceramic tiles, a harder or deeper score can cause damage to the delicate glaze, so we would recommend a lighter score with a 6mm or 8mm scoring wheel.

There is a trick to scoring glass is to do it lightly with a 6mm scoring wheel because putting too much pressure on the tile can cause it to crack or have jagged edges. Breaking tiles along the score isn’t always easy. Sometimes a manual tile cutter won’t score deep enough. Other times the tile has a lot of internal tension and doesn’t want to break accurately. Expect to fight with more than a few tiles.

However, manual tile cutters have some major benefits. They’re cheaper than electric tile cutters, portable, and operating them doesn’t take intricate skill. (Though you do need skill to line up your tiles). Manual tile cutters work best for small kitchen splashbacks, projects with a lot of straight cuts, and projects where use of an electric tile cutter is unsuitable due to space limitations.

best tile cutter

Our website lists a number of different manual tile cutters. RUBI carries different sizes made to accommodate any type of project. We sell the maintenance materials, like lubrication, to keep your cutter working smoothly. We also have a full range of different scoring wheels.

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Electric Tile Cutters

Electric tile cutters are best for projects where manual tile cutters just aren’t cutting it (literally). At first glance, an electric cutter looks like a table saw. A rotating diamond blade cuts the tile while a guide keeps your tile straight.

best electric tile cutter

Water sprays from around the cutting blade to ensure the tile doesn’t smoke and burn and the diamond blade remains cool. Some tables come with a water reservoir while others can connect to a water source.

Electric tile cutters cut tiles extremely straight. The guide helps make accurate cuts. With some skill, you can also cut tiles into intricate shapes. While manual tile cutters can only cut straight lines, an electric tile cutter can create L-shaped and U-shaped cuts and cut inserts (for sockets etc).

Electric tile cutters can also easily cut through harder materials. The diamond blade can cut the hardest varieties of tile. The electric tile cutter is a must if you are cutting natural stone tiles or wish to mitre your tiles for external corners.

Compared to manual tile cutters, electric tile cutters are best for large projects. You can cut all types of tiles with greater precision than manual tile cutters. The only price to pay is the set up and preparation of the working area. Because of the water used in cooling the diamond blades, there are some limitations in where you can set up.

Skill and size are the wet saw’s main drawback. The units are typically large and take time to learn how to set up properly. You also need to understand safety procedures before getting started. Please practice using a moving saw to cut straight lines and get familiar with the pressure and movement.

Buying an electric tile cutter comes down to understanding what you need. Different saws come equipped for different jobs.

Choosing the Best Tile Cutter for Your Needs

The information above should serve as a good starting point. Material, project size, and skill all factor into your choice. However, the best choice for your project isn’t always straightforward.

Sometimes money, time frame, tile type, etc. influence which tool to choose. If you’re short on time, do you really have the luxury of ordering an expensive electric cutter?

That’s where we’d like to help! Our experts would love to hear all about your project and help you decide between an electric and manual tile cutter. We’ll take the time to ensure you’re buying the best tile cutter for the job.

If you’re planning on tiling often, it might make sense to buy both. You’re likely to come across situations where you’ll need each tool and it’s always best to have the proper tool for the job.

If you’re ready to get started on your tiling project, get in touch with us. We can help you choose the best tile cutter for your needs.

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