How to cut different shapes in ceramic wall tiles

Tip

Use water to lubricate the saw blade if you feel heat coming from it while cutting the tile. Buy extra jigsaw blades before you begin your project because they dull quickly when cutting tile.

Cutting Ceramic Tiles With a Hand Saw

Last but not least in the "straight line cutting" category is the hand saw. A tungsten carbide cylindrical blade literally wears its way through the tile as you pull it back and forwards.

Straight lines are not very easy with this beast, but its ideal for cutting shapes such as cistern corners, or half-pipes.



150mm Tile Saw Blade

150mm Tile Saw Blade

Video

Making Holes in Ceramic Tiles

For holes in tiles there are two ways. You can either drill, using a small masonry or tile drill, drill small holes all the way round the diameter of the hole you need to cut and then insert your tile saw and cut along the edges to join up the holes.

Using this method you will need, for neatness sake, a tile file to smooth off all the drilled edges. Or you can get one of the drill bits below.



Circle tile cutter and guard

Circle tile cutter and guard

Again, at £13.00, its a bargain! Neat holes, of all sizes, every time and no frustrations with tiles breaking at the last moment. This particular one is adjustable from 20mm to 94mm and is ideal for bathrooms. The red fence around it is a guard that ensures that nothing gets caught on the cutter as it is spinning on the drill.

As with every project, as well as having the right tools for the job, it is a really good idea to practice first. Buy an extra box of tiles to practice the cuts, it will pay for itself in the long run….A job done on the cheap is one that will probably have to be done twice!!

Step 3: Cut and smooth the tile

Ensuring the tile hasn't shifted, press the lever down directly over the scored line using even pressure. This should split the tile in two. If the tile edges are rough after being split, use a rubbing stone ($10, The Home Depot) to smooth uneven edges.

Small Jobs with Straight Cuts

If you need to cut just a few tiles and you don’t need to make any curved or corner cuts, you can probably make do with a carpenter’s square and a glass cutter. The latter tool costs little and can be found in craft stores and home stores, as well as online. You can pick one up on Amazon for under $10.

STEP 1: Measure and mark the tile

Measure, then use a pencil to mark the tile where you want to make the cut.

STEP 2: Score the tile

Place the tile on a flat surface, such as a workbench or a piece of plywood. Set your square slightly off your marked line so the glass cutter (or the scoring wheel on the pliers) will hit the right place. Then, starting at the edge of the tile, place the scoring tool on the line and press down firmly as you drag it across the tile. You should hear a scratching noise, which is the sign that the tile is being scored.

STEP 3: Snap the tile

If you’re using pliers, open them and slide the tile all the way into them, with the scoring wheel sitting directly under the line you’ve scored on top of the tile. Squeeze the pliers while gently supporting the tile as it snaps. If you’re used a glass cutter, place a length of wire hanger or other appropriately sized material beneath the scored line, then push down on either side of the tile to snap it; alternatively, grab the tile nippers and snip off the scored piece.

STEP 4: Smooth the edges of the tile

If the cut edge of the tile is rough, smooth it with a rubbing stone.

Photo: fotosearch.com

Photo: fotosearch.com

Make a dish-shaped cutout for small holes

Photo 1: Plunge cut

Photo 1: Plunge cut

Center the cut on the hole and plunge slowly from the back. Stop when the slot through the face of the tile lines up with the edges of the desired cutout.

Photo 2: Repeat plunge cut Draw another larger circle to guide the depth of the remaining cuts. Make repeated plunge cuts until the circle is complete.

Most plumbing pipe holes are covered by a decorative escutcheon or hidden by a fixture base, so a precise round hole isn’t necessary. Use the technique shown here to make rough, round holes.

Start by marking the circular cutout on the back of the tile. Then plunge the diamond blade down through the tile, keeping it centered on the hole so that the slot made by the blade extends equally on both sides of the circle marks (Photo 1). Check often to see when the slot through the front of the tile reaches the edges of the desired cutout. Then use the length of that plunge cut to gauge the diameter of a second, larger circle. Draw that larger circle on the back of the tile (Photo 2). Use this circle as a guide for making the rest of the plunge cuts. Rotate the grinder about a blade’s width and make another plunge cut, stopping at the outer circle. Continue this process until you finish the hole.

What is the best tool to cut tile?

‘There are many different types of tiles, and many different machines that will work on them.’ says Ash.

‘In my experience though, a wet table saw is an invaluable tool for cutting most, if not all types of tile, as these types of saws cut very straight and smooth. It can be used for ceramic, glass, porcelain, and natural stone tiles.

‘You can rent a wet table saw for your specific project or choose to purchase one, but if you pick the latter option keep in mind that these saws come in multiple sizes, depending on the tile size you will be cutting.’

Ready to rent a tile saw? They’re available at your local home improvement stores including Home Depot (opens in new tab) and Lowe’s (opens in new tab).

You can use a manual cutter, available from Amazon (opens in new tab) for straight cuts on porcelain and natural stone/slate tiles, then an electric cutter for more complex designs such as right angles and curves in mosaic tiles or a tile scribe for small, thin tiles.

Geraghty adds: ‘A tile cutter is designed to carefully cut ceramic and porcelain to reduce the risk of shattering. This is a great tool to use as it is available in either manual, or powered variants to best suit your needs.’

Safety notice: With all tile cutting methods be sure to wear safety goggles (opens in new tab) and utility gloves (opens in new tab), both of which you can buy on Amazon. Do not touch the blade and keep fingers away from it. Ensure any hazards are not present, do not wear loose clothing and keep children away also. Finally, go at your own pace.

(Image credit: Ca’ Pietra)

How to cut tiles with a wet saw

For experienced DIYers, a wet saw will make cutting tiles easy. Wet saws/electric cutters are used for right angles, curved or beveled edges and thicker tiles such as porcelain and natural stone. You can use it indoors but outside use is less messy.

The RYOBI 7 in. 4.8 Amp Tile Saw with Stand, exclusively available at Home Depot (opens in new tab)is a great candidate for more complex home improvements and comes with attractive features to help you achieve flawless results. 

The anti-slip rubber feet on the stand creates a stable surface, while the splash hood allows you to see exactly what you’re doing, without the water getting in the way.

How to:

  1. Make sure the electric cutter has water in the tray as the blade will overheat; it also reduces the amount of dust produced when cutting.
  2. For curved edges, mark with a pencil the area that needs to be cut, and mark several lines up to the curved mark. This is because a tile can’t be turned whilst being cut.
  3. Using the electric cutter, cut the number of lines up to the curved mark so it looks like a comb.
  4. Draw round the curved mark with a tile scribe to score and cut into the glaze.
  5. Using a tile nipper, break away small bits at a time up to the curve, and file down until smooth.

Step 1: Measure and mark tile

Always wear gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask ($8, The Home Depot) when cutting tile. Use a ruler to measure where your ceramic tile needs to be cut. Mark the measurement on the glazed side of the tile using an erasable marker or pencil and a straightedge.

How to Cut Tile

Straight cuts

Achieving straight cuts on most ceramic tiles can be achieved using simple tools, often, all that are needed are a handheld tile cutter (or scribe) and a steel straight edge to guide the cutter.

Measuring tiles for cutting

Once the final row of full sized tiles have been applied, the space for each part tile should be measured individually, don’t assume that the distance between a wall, ceiling or skirting board etc and a row of full tiles will be uniform – the distance will vary.

To measure each tile for cutting, make sure that the pattern is up the right way vertically and then place the tile glaze side down against the adjacent full tile and slide it up to the edge to be tiled leaving a gap of about a 3mm (1/8 inch) for grouting all around.

Mark both sides of the tile to be cut where it lines up with the edge of the existing tile underneath using a pencil or crayon.

Cutting the tile

Using a handheld tile cutter (aka scribe), score tWith both edges of the tile marked, place a steel straight edge on the glazed, front surface of the tile and line it up with the pencil marks.

Using a handheld tile cutter (aka scribe), score the glaze using one strong pull across the face of the tile.

Place a hand on each side of the tile and apply fiPlace the scored tile (glazed side up) on a flat, solid surface and place a match stick under each end under the scored line.

Place a hand on each side of the tile and apply firm downwards pressure, this will break the tile along the scored line.

Alternatively, use a tile cutting machine – (this can be an attractive alternative where there are a large number of tiles to be cut), be careful when selecting manual tile cutting machines as some cheaper models do not work very well but cause broken tiles. Most Tool Hire Shops will offer professional type tile cutters machines which can be better than cheap machines sold for the DIY’er.

Tilt the blade for cutting circles

Photo 1: Score the circle

Photo 1: Score the circle

Score the front of the tile along the circle guideline with the diamond blade. Tilt the grinder about 30 degrees and cut about 1/16 in. deep.

Photo 2: Make angle cuts

Photo 2: Make angle cuts

Move the blade 1/8 in. to the inside of the line and make a deeper cut. Continue moving the blade away from the line and cutting deeper until you cut completely through.

Photo 3: Smooth the cut edge Grind off rough edges and trim back to the line for a perfect curve.

Many tile jobs require you to cut one or more large round holes for floor drains or shower valves. Photos 1 – 3 show how to cut a hole for a shower valve. We’re showing how to cut a hole that’s entirely within a single tile, one of the most difficult cuts. In the next section we’ll show you an easier method to use for cutting curves in the edge of a tile.

Even with this method, try to avoid a tile layout that places the edge of the circular cutout less than 1/2 in. from the edge of a tile. It’s better to shift the entire layout instead. Otherwise, chances are good that you’ll break the tile at the narrow point while cutting.

The method shown for cutting a circle with a grinder and diamond blade requires you to cut around the circle a number of times, making a deeper cut with each revolution. The key is to maintain the same angle and shave off progressive layers, moving the cut closer to the center of the circle (Photo 2).

Circle Cuts Make accurate, near perfect circle cuts for shower valves and plumbing pipes with this technique.

Corner Cuts and Really Big Jobs

If you’ll be cutting lots of tiles for a big job, or if you need to make corner cuts around door jambs or wall outlets, invest in a wet saw or rent one from your local home center. (I recommend renting unless you envision doing many similar projects in the future.) As with any power tool, read the instructions carefully before you begin and heed the recommended safety precautions. It’s also not bad idea to take a few practice cuts before jumping into the project.

STEP 1: Measure and mark the tile

First, measure and mark the tile where you want to make the cut.

STEP 2: Cut the tile with a wet saw

Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for the wet saw, and make sure you’ve put enough water in the tub. Turn the wet saw on, confirm that water is flowing over the blade, then proceed to make your cut the same way you would cut wood on a table saw.

Advertisement

STEP 3: Smooth the edges of the tile

If the cut edge of the tile is rough, smooth it with a rubbing stone.

Photo: fotosearch.com

Photo: fotosearch.com

Tile Scribes

  1. Tile scribes operate in the same fashion as the snap cutter by scribing the surface of the tile. It is a simple tool that resembles a common glass cutter. After aligning a metal straightedge in the desired location on the tile, dragging the tile scribe along the straightedge in one firm, quick movement produces the score. After placing a support under the tile aligned with the score, you snap the tile by pressing firmly with your hand. Always wear protective gloves when using a tile scribe to avoid injury.

9 Methods to Cut Ceramic Tile

To make the procedure of cutting ceramic tile easy, three different tools and techniques are recommended the most. However, one should keep in mind that cement, stone, terracotta and a certain type of porcelain tiles should only be processed using a wet saw. Here are the 8 tools you can use for cutting a ceramic tile:

  1. Manual Snap Cutter
  2. Tile Nipper
  3. Wet Tile Saw
  4. Glass Cutter
  5. Angle Grinder
  6. Rotary Cutting Tool
  7. Jig Saw
  8. Tile Scribe
  9. Power Drill

Helpful Guide:

#1 Using a Manual Snap Cutter

A snap cutter and a wet tile saw are the two main power tools which can be used to cut a ceramic tile. If you are looking for a budget option which is easy to carry out the task as well, then you should go for a snap tile cutter.

It is also known as a rail cutter and works simila

It is also known as a rail cutter and works similarly to a glass cutter. It has a carbide wheel that is slowly pressed along the tile to score.

A manual snap cutter comes in really handy for making straight cuts. If you want to make a perfectly straight cut, the manual snap cutter is what you’re looking for. Handy as it is, it is a worthy investment as it only ranges around $200 (decent quality) and is available on any home improvement online portal or shop.

Follow the guide to cut a ceramic tile with manual snap cutter:

  1. To use the snap cutter, initially, you have to prepare the tile and mark the line.
  2. After marking the line, place the tile firmly against the front guide, lift it and depress to score a straight line.
  3. After scoring, depress the handle in order to snap the tile in two pieces. If you’re cutting ceramic tile (more than one), clamp the fence into the same position as the first cut and place the tiles succeedingly.
  4. However, you should brush the debris away after you’re done with the cutting procedure.

#2 Using a Tile Nipper

But most of the times we want to make irregular cuts across the edges rather than the straight cuts. In such cases, using an efficient tile nipper is beneficial as the snap cutters can’t make the irregular cuts.

Also, known as the nibbling tool, it can be used to make a half inch or an entire inch distant cuts from the edge by making the scoring lines. This tool is also used to make notches or tiny cutout. The best part about the nippers is that they are relatively chip ranging from $10-$25 based on their quality.

However, the drawback of a tile nipper is that the cuts that are made using it are not as clean, unlike the rest two tools.

  1. To make a cut using the tile nipper, initially use a snap cutter for scoring the lines.
  2. After scoring, nibble the tile chips one by one slowly from the tile area that is to be removed.
  3. Removing larger bits will shatter the entire tile and therefore, patience is what you require while nibbling the tile away.

#3 Using a Wet Tile Saw

The precision of tile cuts are made using the wet saw, but one has to be experienced to use the wet saw. Wet saws are largely available in different models, different sizes both for renting and owning.

Therefore, find a prominent home improvement center or portal to purchase a budget priced wet saw which can be available for around $60. In case if you are looking for a wet saw that can handle the bulk job, get a professional one which costs around $500.

The tile saws come with pumps which squirt water on constant basis onto a sharp diamond blade. Inexpensive saws do not have any pumps but have the ability to keep the made submerged.

It’s a mandatory to have a splash guard for the wet saw if you want to use it in the indoor environment with the help of scattered spray. However, using it outdoors is recommended because of the dust and splatter it delivers. In case if you want to make curvaceous cuts, employ a radial arm wet saw.

  1. To cut a tile with a wet saw, initially set it on a smooth surface. If the saw comes with a pump, put the pump in a pan and fill the pan with water.
  2. Test it and make sure it’s functional before proceeding to cut in a way that it supplies water stream to the diamond blade.
  3. If your saw doesn’t have a pump, fill the pan to a certain level such that the blade stays submerged in water and keep filling the water after every 20 cuts.
  4. Now, take a marker and mark the tile on the surface in the shape you want to make a cut.
  5. To make straight lines, place the tile on the tray pulled away from the diamond blade. Turn on the saw, hold the tile rigidly against the tray, slide it and let the blade cut the tile.
  6. To make angle cuts, switch to the protractor like mode and cut notches by making small and parallel cuts that are around 1/4 inch distant. Take a tile nipper and finish the work by nibbling the chips away.

#4 Using a Glass Cutter

If the task is small and doesn’t involve any curvy or complex cuts, you should use a glass cutter. It can be found anywhere in the nearby local tool stores or even online for a very low cost.

 Measure & Mark: By aligning the horizontal ed

  1. Measure & Mark: By aligning the horizontal edge to the bottom of the tile, measure and use a pencil to mark the area where you want to cut.
  2. Position & Score: Place the tile down on a robust surface (a plywood suits best), move the square cautiously and keep it a little off the marked line. Now press down the glass cutter and move it along the marked line by using the square as a reference.
  3. Snap Tile: Place a wire hanger along the marked/cut line and press down on the edges until the tile snaps.
  4. Smoothen: You want to smoothen out the edges whenever you cut a tile since the sharpness would be dangerous. Rub the edges across a brick or a rubbing stone to do so.

#5 Using an Angle Grinder

Another tool you can use is an angle grinder (4-inch) with a stone blade. It is helpful to make angled cuts. The cuts will not be as cleaner as you get using a wet tile saw though they would be fine. Around the doorways and heater vents, you can make rough cuts quite easily.

It is important to choose the right blade (diamond tipped and smooth edge)  for the angle grinder when cutting ceramic tile. Once you are done fitting it tightly into it, start the procedure:

  1. Draw your lines to mark the area to be cut
  2. Place the tape on top to cover the edge to prevent chipping
  3. Gently press down the angle grinder and cut along the surface and the lines
  4. By holding the blade against an edge horizontally, you can make rounded cuts
  5. By holding the blade against an edge vertically, you can make straight cuts

#6 Using a Rotary Cutting Tool

What if you want to create a hole in the center of the tile or make cuts on the edge? Well, there is a solution!

A rotary cutting tool or RotoZip can be used to make such cuts (such as circles for pipe insertion) or any shape. It has a blade that works similarly to a drill bit and moves super quickly. The bits cut through the ceramic tile. It doesn’t cut straight lines too well, but can fulfil the duty of a tile nipper easily.

They are on the expensive side but can be used for a lot of remodelling jobs at home.

#7 Using a Tile Scribe

The most basic method of cutting tiles (particularly straight cuts) is using a tile scribe. It has a tungsten carbide tip which allows it to score almost on any tile.

 Do the marking on the tile where you want to cut

  1. Do the marking on the tile where you want to cut and put another tile against the one which is to be cut (it will work as a straight edge)
  2. With a firm grip, press down on the tile scribe and draw it along the marked starting and finishing line
  3. After scoring, place the tile on the edge of the surface you were working on such that the scored line is just above the edge
  4. Press down strongly on the unwanted part of the tile and holding onto the piece that you need above the edge of the work surface with your other hand

#8 Using a Power Drill

You can either use a drill or a masonry drill to cut holes in ceramic tiles. First you need to drill small holes along the diameter of the hole you wish to cut and then cut along the edges using a tile saw. At the end, you can use a tile filer to smoothen the edges.

  1. Use a tile scribe to mark the centre inside the hole which is to be cut
  2. Put it in the centre and twist to score
  3. After that, use a power drill to make the hole
  4. Start with small drill bit size and make your way up to the desired hole size

#9 Using a JigSaw

A jigsaw can also be used to make cut in ceramic tiles. It works best to make notches and angled cuts in the tile.

A tile cutter helps to make straight cuts however at times, the requirements might be different (smaller, slanted or notches). Here’s where the jigsaw shines with it’s diamond blade.

  1. Make sure the tile is properly fitted on the work bench before starting cutting
  2. Also keep sprinkling some water on the tile while making cuts using a jigsaw to make sure it doesn’t overheat

Tile Nippers

To make a cut that a snap cutter can’t make—usually 1/2 inch or less from a tile’s edge—use a tile nippers (also called a nibbling tool) after scoring the line with the snap cutter. This tool is indispensable for making irregular cuts, cutouts, and notches. Tile nippers cost from $10 to $25. You can buy tile nippers online.

Tile nippers make irregular cuts along the edge of
Tile nippers make irregular cuts along the edge of a tile. Goldblatt

Though cuts made with tile nippers are not as clean as those made with a snap cutter or wet saw, they are close enough for most applications.

To make a cut that runs both across and down a tile, first use a snap cutter to score the lines. Then nibble away slowly from the area to be removed. A large bite risks shattering the entire tile. When you work your way to the scored lines, you can make your cuts more precise.

Tags

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*