Cutting Ceramic Tile
If the cut tiles in your project will be the same width, cut all of them at once, trowel on the adhesive, and lay the tiles. If the tiles will not be uniform, cut each one separately. Do not let adhesive set longer than its working time while you're making the cuts.
Tile cutting is accomplished with a variety of tools. For one or two cuts you need only a tile nippers or a rod saw with a carbide blade.
Rent a wet saw to cut thicker tiles. If you have several tiles to cut, the wet saw will prove well worth its cost. Water is used to cool wet-saw blades. It comes from an outlet or from water in a trough below it. To save on rental costs, cut all your edge tiles in one day. That way you only pay one day's rental for a wet saw. Do not use the wet saw without water.
Cut tile edges are rough. Either hide them under toe-kicks or smooth them with a masonry stone.
Less than 5 minutes to mark and cut each tile
Felt-tip or china marker, tape measure, snap cutter, wet saw, tile nippers, masonry stone
Measuring and marking tile precisely; cutting tile with nippers, snap cutter, or power saw
Install backerboard and field tile
- Straight cut: For the last row of partial tiles place the tile to be cut on top of the installed tile closest to the wall. Place another tile over the tile to be cut with its edge against the wall. Trace the edge with a marker. Draw the cutting line parallel to the mark but shorter by the width of two grout lines.
- L-shape cut: Place the tile to be trimmed first on one corner, then the other, marking the cutlines with a full tile as you would for a single straight cut. Cut each side shorter than the mark by the width of two grout lines.
- Curved cuts: Set the tile to be cut against the obstruction, lining up its edges with tile already laid. Mark the width of the cut by setting a tape measure on each edge of the obstruction. Move the tile to one side of the obstruction and use the tape to mark the depth of the cut.
- Snap cutter: Insert the tile in the cutter, aligning the scoring wheel on the cutline. Pull or push the scoring wheel across the cutline, using firm pressure throughout the stroke. Score the tile in one pass. Hold the tile firmly in place and strike the handle with the heel of your hand.
- Wet saw: Set the tile securely against the fence with the cutline at the blade. Turn on the saw and feed the tile into the blade with light pressure. Increase the pressure as the saw cuts the tile and ease off as the blade approaches the rear of the cut. Keep the tile on the table at all times.
Using a wet saw make several relief cuts from the edge of the tile to the curved cutline. Relief cuts do not have to be exactly parallel to each other, but make sure they stop just short of the curved line.Making curved cuts: Step 2
Place the jaws of tile nippers about an inch away from the curved line and carefully snap out the waste at the relief cuts.Making curved cuts: Step 3
Working the nippers on the cutline, snap away the remaining excess. Don't try to "bite" through the tile with the nippers. Instead grasp the tile tightly with the tool and use a prying motion.Pro Tip: Don't wash away the line
The blade of a wet saw is cooled with water, which will wash away a cutline made with a felt-tip marker. When marking tiles that will be cut with a wet saw, use a china marker so the line won't wash away.Safety First
Protect your eyes when cutting
Cutting tile with a snap cutter is not especially dangerous, but you should wear eye protection to guard against any fine chips, especially from glazed tile. A wet saw can discharge chips and larger pieces of tile at high speed, so wearing eye protection is a must. Wear ear protection as well to guard against damage from the noise of the saw.
Wear safety glasses when cutting tile with nippers.
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- Preparing a Room & Floor for New Flooring
- Installing Wood Flooring: How To Install a Wood Floor
- Installing Laminate Flooring: How To Install a Laminate Floor
- Installing Resilient Floors: How To Install a Resilient Floor
- Installing Carpeting: How To Install Carpet
- Installing & Staining Cement Overlays: How to Install Cement Floors
- Installing & Finishing Baseboards: How To Install Baseboard
- Paint & Epoxy: How to Apply a Paint or Epoxy Floor Coating
- Floor Repair: How to Repair & Maintain Floors