Porcelain remains one of the most popular choices for bathroom and kitchen tile. This hard, glazed substance can easily decorate floors and walls for added durability and great aesthetic value. From design to implementation, working with porcelain can be a breeze – as long as you know how to cut it.
For some homeowners, cutting this smooth substance can be a challenge, especially if they are used to ceramic. Since porcelain is fired and glazed clay, there are different factors to take into consideration before cutting it. It can be done using a variety of specialty tools to expedite the process. Porcelain tile can even be cut by hand!
Cutting ceramic tiles may sound scary, but it is surprisingly easy. The tool you use will depend on what sort of cut you are doing and how many tiles you plan on cutting. If you have to cut a few tiles, a glass cutter will suffice. If you need to cut more tiles, however, a tiling tool or a wet saw might be more convenient. Knowing how to cut tiles yourself can save you a lot of money, and ensures that your tiles come out precisely the way you want them to.
A small- to medium-size ceramic tiling job is a project that’s well within the grasp of most DIYers. With careful measuring, the right tools, and conscientious attention to detail, a determined homeowner can achieve satisfying results. But doing things right can be time-consuming. Case in point: Even the most straightforward tiling job will require cutting a few tiles, whether to complete the edges of the surface or to work around obstacles. Cutting tiles is a task that demands accurate measurements and precise use of tools. To make sure your project goes smoothly, it’s best to figure out ahead of time how you’ll handle all those cuts.
Different jobs require different types of cuts. For some, you’ll be able to get by with just straight cuts; for others, you may need to cut on the diagonal or carve a corner or curve out of a tile. And each type of cut entails different methods and tools. As you layout, your tile design, determine what kinds of cuts you’ll need, then check below for the situation that best describes your job to find out how to proceed.
Ceramic tiles come in a lot of different styles, so it will surely help you make your flooring beautiful. On top of that, they fall in the budget, are super durable and adds a great aesthetic value to your home.
Ceramic tiles including the earthenware, stoneware or porcelain tiles are hard-wearing materials which are why they are used for dado walls, rooftops, tabletops and various other purposes. In cases where they are being used as construction materials, most of us will confront the need for cutting them at some point in time.
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What is the porcelain tile?
Porcelain tile ( also known as ceramic tiles ) is a hard form of clay tiles primarily used in the washroom, kitchen, and any other room to enwrap the floors and walls. Variety in colour, design, and quality are the good things regarding this type of tile. For being made with dry clay at high temperatures, it is considered one of the most durable tiles.
Best Ways How to Cut Porcelain Tile
The fascinating fact is which things make it durable also similar things make it challenging to cut. In the below, there are best ways to cut porcelain tile.
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 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:
- To use the snap cutter, initially, you have to prepare the tile and mark the line.
- After marking the line, place the tile firmly against the front guide, lift it and depress to score a straight line.
- 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.
- However, you should brush the debris away after you’re done with the cutting procedure.
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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 other two tools.
- To make a cut using the tile nipper, initially use a snap cutter for scoring the lines.
- After scoring, nibble the tile chips one by one slowly from the tile area that is to be removed.
- Removing larger bits will shatter the entire tile, and therefore, patience is what you require while nibbling the tile away.
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 centre 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 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.
- 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.
- Test it and make sure it’s functional before proceeding to cut in a way that it supplies water stream to the diamond blade.
- 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.
- Now, take a marker and mark the tile on the surface in the shape you want to make a cut.
- 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.
- 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.
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 edge to the bottom of the tile, measure and use a pencil to mark the area where you want to cut.
- 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.
- Snap Tile: Place a wire hanger along the marked/cut line and press down on the edges until the tile snaps.
- 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.
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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 a 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:
- Draw your lines to mark the area to be cut
- Place the tape on top to cover the edge to prevent chipping
- Gently press down the angle grinder and cut along the surface and the lines
- By holding the blade against an edge horizontally, you can make rounded cuts
- By holding the blade against an edge vertically, you can make straight cuts
Using a Rotary Cutting Tool
What if you want to create a hole in the centre of the tile or make cuts on 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.
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 and put another tile against the one which is to be cut (it will work as a straight edge)
- With a firm grip, press down on the tile scribe and draw it along the marked starting and finishing line
- 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
- 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
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. In the end, you can use a tile filer to smoothen the edges.
- Use a tile scribe to mark the centre inside the hole which is to be cut
- Put it in the centre and twist to score
- After that, use a power drill to make the hole
- Start with small drill bit size and make your way up to the desired hole size
Using a JigSaw
A jigsaw can also be used to make the 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 its diamond blade.
Make sure the tile is properly fitted on the workbench before starting cutting. Also, keep sprinkling some water on the tile while making cuts using a jigsaw to make sure it doesn’t overheat.
Speaking of risk, make sure you are always following safety precautions, so you don’t end up hurting yourself or your project. It’s easy to take measures to protect your hands and face from potential damage.
Here’s what we recommend:
- Always wear goggles and protective gear while operating saws and power tools.
- Use thick gloves when you come in contact with a wet saw.
- Make sure you are not standing on a slippery or wet floor when beginning your project.
- Always keep your saws and tools properly lubricated.
- Wear a mask over your mouth so you don’t breathe in the dust that can be created from cutting tile.
- Follow the directions from your tool’s manufacturer to ensure proper setup and use.
- If something is not working correctly, or you notice an issue, stop work immediately and contact a professional for help.
- Diamond blades are great for cutting porcelain tile, but they are some of the sharpest blades in the industry. If they break or get caught, you can be seriously injured. It only takes a few minutes of your time to take the necessary safety precautions before cutting your porcelain tile. Even if you are only using hand tools, such as a tile nipper, hand and face protection may still be a good idea.
Cut Tile To Your Specification
Cutting porcelain tile can be achieved in a variety of different ways in order to achieve your perfect results. For large, standard-sized cuts, a wet saw or a tile saw is likely to be your best bet. With those, you can get heavy-duty cuts that meet your specification and can be applied to many tiles. For smaller projects or more unique cuts within porcelain tile, hand tools are an easy suggestion. Dremels and diamond drills are good for cutting circles, holes, or unique shapes within your tile.
Keep in mind the differences between porcelain and other types of ceramic. Porcelain isn’t as absorbent, so some of the issues you may run into when it comes to using ceramic for kitchen tile may not apply here. You can always research more differences to find out whether porcelain or ceramic is the right choice for your next kitchen or bathroom remodel.
Professionals utilize different strategies to ensure that each tile is uniform. Accuracy is important in construction projects, no matter how large or small. And whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a contractor, taking advantage of these strategies – and safety precautions – is the most important thing.