How do you keep porcelain tiles from chipping when cutting?

Because of the hardness of porcelain tile, a powerful diamond blade wet saw is an important tool. Unfortunately, wet saws can also chip the surface of porcelain tiles, so many tile installers use a couple of tricks to help ensure a cleaner cut. You’ll need a wet saw with an adjustable blade to reap the full benefits, but you can still reduce the likelihood of chipped porcelain with a standard-depth saw. There is no fail-safe way always to prevent chips, but working slowly and using a new blade helps.

Cutting porcelain tile is something that you can do yourself to save money. You can cut your tiles with only a little practice. You can buy a tile cutter at any home improvement store. A simple, hand-operated tile cutter will work. You can also purchase motorized tiles cutters for this job.

Porcelain tile is a great choice when it is about flooring. Porcelain tiles are durable that everyone loves to use them to ensure longevity. But the fact is when you need to cut porcelain tiles, that could be a nightmare without the proper knowledge because it is too hard to cut like a regular tile.

You may ruin the tiles, and that is not acceptable. So, before you are going to cut, you must know how to cut porcelain floor tile without chipping.

In this article, we are going to share different methods that would help you to get perfect results each time. At the same time, you will get to know if you can do it yourself or need someone else.

Porcelain tile is very hard; therefore, you need a powerful wet diamond saw when you want to cut your tile. However, it can be difficult to cut porcelain without chipping it. While you cannot entirely limit the risk of chipping tiles, there is a strategy you can take with your wet diamond saw that will reduce the chance of chipping porcelain floor tiles.

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What is Porcelain Tile?

The regular tile is not durable enough for some areas where people move frequently. For instance, in your kitchen, you may have to spend enough time, and there would be gathering several times. So, picking regular tile won’t be the very best idea. Instead, you should go for the porcelain material. The material is known from the ancient because of its sturdiness and longevity.

Porcelain is a particular type of ceramic, and it is used to be denser. The ceramic may come in both glazed and unglazed, but glazed one is common for tile. The clay used in tile has great quality and ready to take a heavy load.


My tiles are chipping

Tiles are generally very tough, but they are not invincible. Like any hard floor surface, if a hard object on the right angle is dropped onto a glazed tile (porcelain or ceramic), there is a change of the tile itself chipping or cracking.

More often than not, a chip in a tile will look like a crater in the tile as it chips through the glaze and into the biscuit of the tile. The biscuit is the clay that makes up the body of the tile behind the coloured surface/glaze.

What can cause a chipped tile?

Tile has a good reputation for durability and strength as with the millions of tiles that are laid every year in Australia, only a few chips, crack or have manufacturing issues with them. If a tile chips, it is generally not a manufacturing fault but is the cause of one of the following accidents against the tile itself:

  • Dropping a heavy or hard object onto the ceramic or porcelain tile. This may cause the surface to crack or chip.
  • Walking or dragging metal heels or hammering nails onto the tile
  • It is causing furniture to be dragged along the tile that has metal-tipped feet. This includes chairs and other things in the house that have steel or metal feet and no rubber protection.

What can you do if your tile is chipped

The only way to fix a chipped tile is to remove it and replace it with a new tile. If your tile shops have calculated your tile order right, you should have a carton of tiles spare in case of accidents such as this. This will make sure you have the same batch colour and shape to replace the tile.

If you do not have a box leftover, then you can bring the chipped tile to your tile store to see if your tile shop can source the same or match the existing chipped tile.

To remove the chipped tile, you should:

  • Scrape out all the grout around the chipped tile.
  • Use a small chisel and chop a hole in the centre of the damaged tile.
  • Working your way outwards, but always chipping towards the centre of the tile, gradually remove the tile.
  • Replace the tile and grout, as we mentioned earlier, your tiler should have a few spare tiles, or you should have them stored just in case of issues such as this.

Shallow Cut with Adjustable Saw

Fill the reservoir under the platform of a diamond-blade wet saw with water.

Adjust the saw to cut to a depth of 1/8 inch into the tile; not completely through it. In saws with a blade that lowers, the depth is usually adjusted at the back end of the saw blade near the hinge. In some models, it is the platform that requires adjusting and not the blade. The precision with the depth of the cut is not critical, but the blade should not cut through more than half of the tile’s thickness.

Place the tile on the saw’s platform. If the blade lowers, the top of the tile should face up. If the saw blade is in the platform which cuts tiles from the bottom, the tile should be face down.

Engage the saw blade, and push the tile through the blade to make a shallow cut across the tile. After making the cut, you can reset the blade to cut through the whole tile, or cut a notch into one end and then cut the whole tile.

Notching One End

Set the saw blade or platform at a depth that will cut through the full thickness of the tile.

Place the tile on the platform with one end of the mark where you will make the cut facing the blade, but don’t touch the blade with the tile. If you have already scored the surface of the tile with a shallow cut, one end of the cut should face the saw blade. Turn on the saw, and engage the blade.

Push the tile into the saw blade approximately 1 or 2 inches, depending on the size of the tile, then back the tile out and turn off the saw. If it is a small tile, cut only 1 inch in from the edge of the tile is 12 inches square, cut in approximately 2 inches from the edge.

Rotate the tile to the opposite side of the initial cut, which is the opposite end of the mark or scored line.

Engage the blade and cut the tile across the mark to the opposite end where you made the initial cut, then turn off the saw.

Can You Cut Porcelain Tiles Yourself?

Most newbies wonder if they can cut a porcelain tile themselves. Well, if you have the proper knowledge and have the right tools in hand, you can do it yourself. Just make sure you are following the safety cautions and don’t do hurry. Moreover, here we are going to share the details that might help you to do it perfectly.

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Methods for Cutting Porcelain Tile Without Chipping

Different methods are suitable to cut porcelain tiles. But the fact is, only a few methods can ensure there will be no chipping. Here are the top 4 methods that you should follow –

Cutting the Tile with Manual Hand Tool

Manual tile cutter may take much time to cut a small portion, but the result would be satisfactory. Using manual hand tools is the best way to cut porcelain tile without chipping when you can’t afford fancy tools.

You may apply multiple hand tools to cut the tile. But the best way is to use a tile nipper. Especially when you need a circular cut in the tile, cutting those areas is difficult with other tools such as a wet cutting saw.

To achieve a perfect cut, you must use a marking on the area. Use a pencil and a scale to draw the area. Draw the line according to the edges where you are going to apply the nipper. Now place the nipper on the centre and apply enough pressure on the line. If applied good pressure, the area will cut off from the tile.

You may have to wait enough to cut a small area. But the process is good. Just don’t hurry and apply pressure gently. Also, be careful about the marking because the wrong selection of the area could destroy the tile. Once the small piece came off from the tile, apply a rub brick on the edges to make it smooth as the edge could be sharp.

Consider a durable hand tool to have a precise cut with accuracy.

Cutting Porcelain Tile with an Angle Grinder

Using an angle grinder, a tile could cut into different styles. An angle grinder is suitable for both straight and circular cut. With an aggressive disc, the tool makes the process easier. Especially when a particular shape is required, the tool does amazing.

Like the manual hand tool, here you also have to mark the area where to cut. For instance, if it is for the pipe fitting in the bathroom, mark the circular area. Start the grinder and start applying on the mark lining. Do small cuts each time you pass the tool.

Gradually go-ahead to cut the tile without chipping. Once the cut is done, check the edges if they are well-finished. You may have to pass the grinder again in some areas. Now apply an abrasive wheel to sharpen the edges.

Cutting Porcelain Tile with a Wet Saw

When it comes to fast operation, a wet saw could have the best performance. The benefit is, after the cut, the edges remain clean and well-finished. Though the process looks pretty hard, it is easy if the right procedure followed. The cut looks very professional, and there is no chance of chipping the porcelain tile. However, it is crucial to follow the safety cautions when using a wet saw.

Now, mark the area where you want to cut the tile. Start the wet saw and move the tile gradually according to the line. Remember that you don’t need to hurry. Just be slow and move the tile according to marking. Wet saw cut might not keep uneven edges. Still, you may apply some abrasive to smooth the edges.

In a similar process, you may also use a diamond wet saw that excellently give straight cut. You don’t even have to wait to cut the porcelain ceramic tile.

Waterjet Tile Cutter for Porcelain Tile

Waterjet technology is a relatively advanced method of cutting hard things. Like any rough thing, it could also do an amazing job for porcelain tile. However, you may not get a waterjet at home. The tool is very common in industrial usages and requires prior experience.

But if you could manage the waterjet tile cutter, it could give the best performance compared to other methods. The process is simple and effective that there is no chance of chipping. Moreover, it won’t take much time and keep the edges smooth.

To use a waterjet tile cutter, mark the area where the cut is required. Now pass the waterjet nozzle according to the marking. Go slow and cut gradually. However, waterjet best suits for a straight cut but not for a circular cut.

Cutting Porcelain Tile Without Chipping It

Step 1 – Tile Placement

Place the tile cutter on a sturdy surface in front of you. Put the porcelain tile against the tile stop at the end of the cutter. Ensure that the pressure is distributed evenly so that you cut a straight line.

Step 2 – Cutting the Tile

Place the blade on the tile edge closest to you. Press the lever down and then roll the blade to the other end of the cutter. One final push down will ensure that the cut goes through to the end of the tile. The key to cutting porcelain tile without chipping it is not to use too much force. People think you need to press down hard, but just a little pressure should do the trick. The gentle pressure will avoid tile damage.

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How to Cut Glazed Porcelain Tile

Fitting glazed porcelain tile as part of a do-it-yourself project will enable you to lay an attractive and hardwearing floor. Completing the process involves cutting the tiles to ensure the tiles fit correctly.

Step 1 – Note Dimensions

Measure the area in which you intend to fit the tile, to get the dimensions of the tile you need. On the bottom of the tile, mark the point where the cut will be made with a felt tip pen.

Step 2 – Score Line

Place the tile on the cutting board, and hold it in place firmly, so that it doesn’t inadvertently slide. Lay the straightedge on the tile, and draw the tip of a screwdriver along the edge of the straightedge, to score a line along the entire length.

Step 3 – Cut

Using the scoreline as a guide, run the blade of the glass cutter along with the glazed porcelain tile, with the straightedge still in place. Press the cutter quite firmly against the surface, and stroke it along in one direction. This will result in a cut deeper than can be made with mere scoring. Apply some gentle pressure, by gripping the tile in both hands and bending, and the tile will snap along the line.

General Safety Tips

Though some of the tools mentioned above like the wet saw and the drill bit are not very safe to use because of their potential for accidental hazards.

  • Wear protective gear
  • Wear the right shoes and proper clothing
  • Use gloves, goggles and ear protection
  • Stay alert and don’t lose focus
  • Lubricate the saw blades regularly
  • Use scrap wood to keep fingers away from the cutting blade

Porcelain tiles when cut, smoothened and installed is a lifetime investment regarding functionality, beauty and also aesthetics. Therefore, try the method from the above noted that suits your purpose the best and get to work with it.

Now you exactly know how to cut porcelain tiles without chipping. Go and grab the right tool that you like to use if you can’t afford some fancy porcelain tile cutting tools, no issues! You should simply pick a manual tile cutter. That may not give a fast operation, but it would do the job. Also, there is no need for any expert help. If you are smart enough, it won’t cause any chipping or anything else.

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