As a professional tile installer, knowing how to tile and cut ceramic, porcelain and stone tile, is essential to ensuring you don’t make any costly mistakes. Tiles are a popular choice of homeowners in various renovation projects and having the best tile cutting tools at your disposal will make your job even easier.
Ceramic tiles can be a bit fragile, with the smallest of chips making a difference in the overall appearance of the tile. You want to be careful and use the right methods when cutting ceramic tile.
Porcelain tiles are more hard wearing but a glazed porcelain will react the same as a ceramic in regards to the chipping cause by cutting.
In todays blog, we will be going over how to cut tile with the best tools for the job, as well as common problems you may run into, and tips & tricks that even the most experienced tile installers may not be aware of.
Cutters for Ceramic Tile
There are a variety of professional-grade tile cutting tools and equipment you can use when looking at how to cut tile. Whether you’re adding in a tile backsplash for a client’s home improvement project or something more involved, quality tools will make all the difference.
Some of the tools you can use when cutting ceramic, porcelain and stone tiles include:
- Manual tile cutter
- Wet saw
- Diamond blades
- Diamond drill bits
- Tile nipper
- Angle grinder
- Rubber diamond pad
To help determine what type of tools you’ll need to cut the tile, you need to figure out what cuts you need. This can include angled, straight, or curved. You also need to think about how many tiles you’ll be cutting for the project.
How to Cut Tile with a Wet Saw
For an experienced professional tile installer, cutting with a wet saw is a great option when you’re working on a bigger job that is using stone or requires lots of mitre cuts.
You can get a precise cut with this type of saw, including a straight, smooth edge. If you need to cut corners around wall outlets or door jambs, go with a wet saw.
Wet saws come equipped with water pumps that spray water continuously onto the diamond blade. Your tile saw needs to have a splash guard if you’re using it inside to help with the spray. We strongly recommend using it outside because of the splatter and dust it creates when cutting.
Follow these below tips for cutting tiles for big jobs with a wet saw:
- Measure and mark on the tile where you want to cut it.
- Put the tile on a smooth surface.
- Note: Put masking tape around the outside edges of the tile so it doesn’t chip · If your tile saw has a water pump, put the pump in the machine’s water deposit or in a separate bucket and fill it with water to the level indicated in the tank.
- Note: Test it before you start cutting to make sure everything is functioning properly.
- Each tool comes with different instructions from the manufacturer, so follow their guidelines.
- Don’t force or push the tile into the saw.
- Gently guide the tile toward the wet saw, letting the blade cut the tile for you.
- *Note: The slower you move, the more accurate the cut will be.
If you’re not confident with using a wet saw but need it to do a big flooring job, practice on old tiles. Get the technique down and watch some videos online so you can learn the best methods.
How to Cut Tile with a Manual Tile Cutter (Ceramic & Porcelain)
If you don’t want to bring your power tools onto the job or don’t have access to electricity or water, a manual tile cutter is also a great option.
Manual cutters don’t cut tiles on bevels, and it takes a fair amount of practice and skill to cut curves with them. For beginners, it’s best to use a manual cutter only for diagonal or straight edge cuts.
Follow the below instructions for cutting ceramic and porcelain tiles with a manual tile cutter:
- Measure and mark with pencil the line on the tile where you want to cut.
- Put the tile on tile cutter bed with the glazed side up underneath the cutting wheel.
- Beginning at the edge of the ceramic tile, press the scoring wheel firmly on the face of the tile until a straight line is scored.
- Note: It may take a second attempt to get the score line going but don’t do it multiple times as the edges may start to chip.
After the line has been scored, lift the handle of the manual tile cutter, applying pressure across the score line of the tile at one of its ends (which end may or may not matter and you can consult this in the instruction manual of your manual cutter).
- If you properly scored your tile, it’ll snap.
- If you have any rough or sharp edges, smooth them with a manual diamond pad.
Avoid Common Problems with Cutting Tiles
Ceramic tile is compressed and fragile, making it more susceptible to cracking and breaking when you attempt to cut it. There are certain things you can do to ensure you don’t end up with piles of tiles with jagged breaks and cracks.
Since tile installation is part of your profession, invest in quality equipment. Cheap cutters and saws will break easily and are more likely to damage your tile.
You should also do regular maintenance on your equipment. Replace the scoring wheel and blades as needed. You can also extend the useful life of your manual cutters by cleaning them with a proper maintenance kit.
Educate Yourself on the Best Tools & Techniques
Even the most experienced tilers should continually educate themselves on how to cut tiles.
Tile cutting technologies regularly change and advance, so staying on top of the industry is vital to staying competitive.