How to Cut Tile – Tools, Methods, and When to Use Them

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If you’re about to tackle your first DIY tile project, then you’re probably wondering what tools you’ll actually need for the job.

In this article (and the video above), I’m going to talk about five different ways to cut tile so you will quickly learn which tools you actually need and which tools you can forget about.

Whether you are cutting ceramic tile, porcelain tile, glass tile, glass mosaic tile, or even natural stone, I’ll show you exactly which tile cutting tools and methods you’ll want to use (and which ones are a waste of time and money).

Let’s get started…

Tile Cutting Method #1 – Manual Tile Cutters

Manual Tile Cutter Cutting Ceramic Tile

The first tool I want to mention is the manual tile cutter. This is a very common tile cutting tool and can be used on ceramic, porcelain, glass, and terra cotta tiles.

It basically scores the tile with a small carbine blade and then snaps the tile as demonstrated in the video at the bottom of this article.

This method of cutting tile is fast, easy, and doesn’t create any dust. It’s also an inexpensive tool to buy. The one in the image above cost just $50 and is perfect for ceramic tile up to 24″. However, larger tiles or harder tiles like porcelain will require a heavy duty version.

Porcelain is much harder than ceramic and requires a more robust tile cutter. If you are cutting porcelain and plan to buy or rent one of these tools, then make sure it is rated for cutting porcelain tile.

The manual tile cutter will also work on mosaic and glass mosaic tiles.

The tile cutting method will not work for most natural stone tile, however.

Tile Cutting Method #2 – Wet Table Saw

Wet Table Saw Cutting Tile

Wet table saws are staple tile cutting tools. They can cut any kind of tile and they cut a very smooth and straight edge. This is an essential tool for cutting natural stone tile and it will work with pretty much any type of tile except for glass tile.

If you’re doing a ceramic tile project, then this tool isn’t 100% necessary, but it will save you a lot of time and give you cleaner cuts. And, if you are cutting a lot of tiles to the same exact size (like when installing subway tile) this tools can save even more time.

This tool uses a diamond blade circular saw to cut the tile and pumps water onto the blade to eliminate all dust and keep the blade cool. Wet table saws come in variety of different sizes so the bigger the tile you are cutting, the bigger the wet table saw you will want to get.

A small wet table saw like you see above can be rented for about $200 per week and is a worthy investment for the DIY tiler.

Tile Cutting Method #3 – Handheld Manual Tile Cutter

Handheld Manual Tile Cutter

The handheld manual tile cutter scores and snaps the tile just like the manual tile cutter I talked about above. However, it’s much smaller and fits in your hand.

If you look around online, you’ll see all kinds of videos of people using these and claiming how awesome and easy they are to use. However, I found this tool almost useless. That’s because you have to push hard to score the tile which makes it very difficult to cut a straight line. It’s also hard to follow a guide while cutting.

This thing can cut ceramic tile pretty well, but not straight or accurately.

So, do not waste your time or money on one of these tools.

Tile Cutting Method #4 – Angle Grinder With a Diamond Blade

Angle Grinder Cutting Tile

The angle grinder with the diamond blade is such a useful tool. I’ve found thousands of uses for it as a pro handyman. And, it can also be used to cut any kind of tile (everything except glass).

It’s great for making small detailed cuts and circular cuts in tile. However, it does have downsides. It creates a lot of dust and it doesn’t cut a very smooth edge.

This is certainly not an essential tile cutting tools for most projects, but it does make those curved and detailed cuts much easier. But, since this tool is so useful for so many other things, I highly recommend you get one anyway. You can pick up a corded one for $30 and you’ll find dozens of uses for it down the road.

Tile Cutting Method #5 – Diamond Hole Saw

Diamond Hole Saw Cutting Tile

A hole saw with a diamond coating on the edge is great for cutting small holes in almost every type of tile and even granite or cement. Sometime you will have a pipe coming out of the wall right in the middle of where you want to put a tile. Without a hole saw like this those cuts can be very difficult.

These hole saws will cut through ceramic like butter in a matter of a few seconds. However, when cutting harder materials like porcelain or granite, then you’ll want put some water on it while you are cutting to keep the blade cool and to cut faster.

To use one of these, just hook it up to your power drill, put it down where you want to cut your hole and squeeze the trigger. It can be challenging to get the hole started, but once you do it is an easy tool to use.

Tile Cutting Tools By Project

Depending on the type of tile you are cutting, you will need different tools. So, here is a breakdown of the tools you want for each type of tile.

Tile Cutting Tools List

Cutting Ceramic Tile

When cutting ceramic tile you will want a wet table saw, a manual tile utter, a diamond hole saw, and an angle grinder.

You could technically get away with just a manual tile cutter and an angle grinder if you wanted to keep it minimalist. But, the wet table saw wills save you a lot of time and give you cleaner cuts.

Cutting Porcelain Tile

When cutting porcelain tile, use the same tools as you would when cutting ceramic tile except go for a heavier duty manual tile cutter. Depending on the job you are tackling, you may also want to consider a hand held wet table saw, especially if there are a lot of detail cuts.

Cutting Natural Stone Tile

Most natural stone will require a wet saw to cut well. While you can cut this with just an angle grinder, you’ll want to make the majority of your cuts with a wet saw of some kind. A wet table saw is essential here since you can’t score and snap natural stone. It just doesn’t break cleanly enough.

Cutting Glass Tile

Whether you are cutting glass mosaics or glass tile, you’ll always want to score it and snap it. Trying to cut glass with any type of saw will result in lots of chipping and a very rough edge.

Enjoy the video below which demonstrates all five cutting methods as well as provides a lot of extra tips not shared in this article.

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