How to Measure Diagonal Tile Cuts

Made from this plan

In order to cut ceramic tiles, you need the following:


  • Safety gloves, eye protection
  • Measuring tape, framing square
  • Pencil, T-square
  • Ceramic tile cutter


  • Position attentively the ceramic tile in the score and snap cutter

Dry Tile Saw

  1. 1

    Install the tile-cutting blade into a hand saw according to the tool manufacturers’ instructions

  2. 2

    Clamp the tile to a flat surface. Leave enough space between the flat surface and the cutting line to avoid cutting into the surface.

  3. 3

    Line the saw up with the marked line and begin sawing. While sawing, hold the part of the tile protruding off the cutting surface with your free hand.

  4. 4

    Continue sawing until you have cut all the way through the tile.


Diamond hole saw

The diamond hole saw is used in combination with a power drill. It fits into the chuck of the drill just as any drill bit would, and then you can use it to cut round holes in the tile. This is very helpful when you have to tile around obstacles, such as plumbing pipes.

Best suited for: Making round holes in tile. It has just this one use. However, when you need to make a round hole, it’s great to have on hand!

Cost: $15 – $25 for a mid-range type. (Plus a power drill.)

Something different

This time I needed to learn how to develop a template for diagonal tile cuts. I knew how to use the template method for a square tile job. This diagonal tile job turned out to be very different.

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My project was going to be a long rectangle of tile pieces on a diagonal, a mosaic if you will. I would assemble the mosaic then transfer it to the final position. There were no tiles already stuck down as a starting point.

So I used a straight 1 by 4 screwed down to the floor to simulate the wall. I started by placing the whole tiles against that “wall” to get things started off in a straight line. Laying out the whole tiles and adding the cut pieces, then transfer the whole thing into position.


While a diagonal pattern might seem logical if you are using big tiles for a large space such as a kitchen or living room floor, some may be concerned that diagonal tiles can look too busy in a smaller bathroom.

Diagonal tiles can add visual interest to a room, but they will never make a room feel large on the same scale as can wall-length mirrors, light-colored paint, and a white ceiling.

If you are do-it-yourselfer planning to install the tiles yourself, cutting tiles on a diagonal is a legitimate concern. While templates do help, a fair amount of calculating is required. If you're not mathematically inclined, you might want to avoid installing on the diagonal.


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Tile Cutter

  1. 1

    Set the cutter on a level, stable surface that is about waist high. Alternately, you can snap the tiles on the floor but you will need to kneel beside it to cut the tile.

  2. 3

    Insert the tile onto the cutting surface and under the scoring wheel assembly. Line up the scoring wheel with the marked line.

  3. 4

    Drag the scoring wheel across the tile until you reach the opposite corner. Apply even, consistent pressure as you’re dragging it.

  4. 5

    Press down on the lever, or breaker foot, and watch the tile snap in half.

  5. 6

    Raise the lever and remove both pieces of tile from the cutting surface.

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.

How did it work out?

My cut pieces when fitted with grout spacers were butted up against the 1×4 “wall”.  This means that if you use the dimensions as stated in the video the cut pieces could butt up against the object you have scribed against without a gap, as it happened to me(perfect for what I needed). If you’re unsure about the finished dimension I would suggest making a template according to the video’s instructions. Then check out if it’s what you need by cutting one tile piece and verifying its what you need.

If it’s not, and you wanted a gap at the scribed location, all it would cost you to make another template is time. Adjust as needed. Add the distance you would like to see from the tile to the “wall” to the measured distance of the two tiles for your new template. Cut your new template and scribe the tile you recently cut. The finished piece should be shorter the amount you added to the new template.

Cutting ceramic tile

Cutting ceramic tiles

Place carefully the tile in the cutter, making sure the ceramic face is upward oriented. Next, you have to align the tile, as to make sure the blade lines up with the marks at both ends. This aspect is important, otherwise you won’t be able to make a clean cut.

Tile cutters have a measurement grid, so we recommend you to check if you have proper marks. We cannot emphasize enough on the importance of taking accurate measurements, as it is essential for any tile project.

Cutting tiles with a tile cutter

After you have verified that the measurement are correct, you can start cutting the tile. Consequently, move the carriage with the sharp blade on the bottom edge (the one near to you). Place the blade on the edge and then apply pressure and move the handle forward, as to score a continuous straight line till the opposite edge.

Snapping ceramic tile

Remember that you have to slide the blade till the end of the ceramic tile, otherwise, when you will snap the tile, you won’t get a professional cut, but multiple cracks. It is always a good idea to rehearse on several spare tiles, as to get accustomed with the main techniques.

That is why, you have to score a continuous line from one edge to the other. Most likely, you won’t succeed from the very first attempt, you just need to practice several times, until you nail the technique.

Clean ceramic tile snap

Next, in order to make the tile snap, you have to push firmly the handle downward, until the tile breaks. After the tile snapped, you don’t have to apply pressure any more. If you have followed our guidelines, then you should be able to cut ceramic tile by yourself.

Reader Success Stories

  • John Edwards

May 18, 2016

    John Edwards May 18, 2016

    “I have just purchased a tile cutter. Being a novice, I had hoped there would be an instruction leaflet in the box, but I was disappointed! I looked at your explanation which made it look easy, so I gave it try and cut a tile following your directions. You made it simplicity itself. I am most grateful to you.” …” more

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