The 8 Best Tools for Cutting Tile in 2021
A tabletop wet tile saw is one of the top tools for cutting tile, since it’s easy to use and provides straight, accurate cuts and the ability to bevel tile edges as needed. The Ridgid 6.5 Amp Corded Tabletop Wet Saw offers plenty of power and conveniences that will make any project involving tile cutting tools quicker and easier.
Quality wet tile saws include a pump that propels water onto the saw blade to minimize dust and debris while preventing the blade from overheating. This Ridgid model includes a clear splash guard that helps to minimize spray from the wet blade without minimizing visibility of the tool in action. Whether you’re planning on use this tool for ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, marble, slate, or other popular tiling options, you’ll find that the 6.5 amps of power delivers clean, crisp cuts.
A big advantage of this tabletop wet tile saw is the fact that it includes a detachable table support which allows you to rip cut tiles up to 24 inches in length. The table also tilts to allow for bevel cuts up to 45-degrees and a miter guide lets you cut tiles on the diagonal.
How to Cut Large Porcelain Tiles
By Kristy Robinson
Porcelain tiles are known for their rock-hard quality, beauty and durability. When installing the tiles on a wall or floor it is almost always necessary to cut at least some of them in some way. Most cuts are made around the perimeter of the room and wall outlets. Cutting large porcelain tiles is no different from cutting any size natural stone tile except that you must support the extra weight of the tile while cutting. Making the cuts requires attention to detail but can be completed by any homeowner with average DIY skills.
Measure the exact location where the tile is being set with a measuring tape. Subtract the width of the spacers to determine the size of the cut tile. Mark a line across the tile at that measurement with a wax pencil.
Insert the tile into a tile cutter, lining up the mark with the center cutting line. Prop up the excess tile so it sits level in the cutter. Hold the tile firmly in place and run the cutting blade through the cutter. Slide the tile out from under the cutting assembly and bend it until the tile snaps along the cut line.
Insert the tile underneath the blade on a wet saw if you prefer to cut with power tools. Line up your mark on the tile with the cutting blade. Fill the water channel with water and turn the saw on. Gently lower the cutting blade into the tile. Slowly guide the tile toward the blade to continue cutting along the line until you have reached the opposite end of the tile. Lift the cutting blade and wait for it to stop spinning before removing the tile from the cutting surface.
Make relief cuts from one side of the tile toward the marked line when cutting curved lines. Stop cutting approximately 1/4 inch from the line. Relief cuts decrease stress on the cutting blade and they resemble fringes. Make one cut for every inch of tile. Then cut along the curved line, slightly turning the tile as the blade cuts it. Every time you come to a relief cut, one of the pieces of excess tile falls off.
Score along the line on the tile for shallow cuts. Then bend the tile to snap it into two pieces. Or nip away the excess tile with a tile nipper. This method works best for shaving a sliver of tile off to fit around the perimeter of the room or removing small corners of the tile. Smooth the rough edges of the tile with a double-sided sanding stone.
Prop the tile up on scrap 2-by-4 boards. Drill a hole in a third 2-by-4 board the same size or larger as you need in the tile. Insert that board under the tile with the hole lined up with your cutting area. When the tile is cut, this both supports the weight and provides relief to the cutting tool.
Place masking tape over the surface of the tile where the cut needed to reduce slippage. Set the drill to the lowest drilling speed and apply gentle pressure until the bit breaks all the way through the tile.
- When cutting with a wet saw you need to hold the excess tile level to the cutting plate for curved cuts. For straight cuts, use spare lumber or any other stable item to support the weight of the tile.
- Square holes can be cut in the tile using a jigsaw.
Based in southern Virginia, Kristy Robinson has been writing for various websites since 2008. Her work focuses on tutorials and self-help articles. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from American InterContinental University.
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Many people have the misconception that the porcelain tiles are different from the ceramic tiles. However in reality, porcelain tiles are a type of ceramic tiles which are mostly used for flooring and walling purposes with an absorption rate of around 0.5%.
The only difference is that the ceramic tiles are made of clay. water and sand while the porcelain tiles constitutes of clay which is more dense. These tiles are formed by the application of heat and pressure which makes the porcelain tile more hard and dense than ceramic tiles.
Both of them constitute clay and other natural materials, however the clay used to make a porcelain tile is more pure. You can be more flexible in terms of design when using porcelain tiles.
A disadvantage is that these tiles can’t be replaced in a corner if they are chipped because of the distinct colour difference and therefore one should be careful while cutting porcelain tile and installing it.
6 Best Methods for Cutting Porcelain Tile
One can use a few different ways to cut a porcelain tile starting from a regular tile nipper to the expensive tile cutter. The method used for each of the tools is different and therefore, shall be done with proper guidance.
These methods are convenient, faster and easier to carry on and are relatively less costly when compared with the wet saw.
A wet tile saw is the most impeccable tool that can cut the porcelain tile but because of the price and also the effort that is to be invested, it is usually preferred for hardcore jobs than the regular household jobs or the petty jobs we do.
The tools that are generically used to cut the porcelain tile are:
- Tile Nipper
- Angle Grinder
- Tile Cutter
- Wet Tile Saw
- Wet Wheel (Diamond Blade)
- Drill Bit
Some Helpful Resources:
#1 Cutting Porcelain Tile Using a Tile Nipper
Tile nippers are excellent for cutting arcs or circular section of tiles which is difficult to do using a wet tile saw. They are also great for making regular cuts.
In the construction industry, we see a lot of people using tile nippers in huge amount. This is because of the ease of their functionality and also because most of us are only interested in cutting a small piece off the tile.
Given below are the easy steps for the guide to using tile nipper:
- Initially, take the tile that you want to cut and prepare it. Then, score a line marking the edge where you want to make a cut with a cutter.
- Use the tile nipper, hold it at the edge centre of the marked line and apply pressure. The nipper will break the piece off.
- Take small nips and go slow as sometimes the piece fails to nip off, and that’s when you should try cutting it with a cutter.
- Don’t stress your nipper so much that it might even give up.
- After nipping is completed, use a rub brick to smoothen the edges and the cut itself. The edges will be sharp so be cautious when doing so.
- The best tile nippers that are found in the contemporary market are Qep and Kobalt.
I would recommend you to use tile nippers only to cut curvy and circular areas. For straight and angled cuts, use a wet tile saw. Also, a good idea today would be to use the new generation tile nipper with replaceable teeth.
The old ones can break due to the hardness of porcelain tiles made today.
#2 Cutting Porcelain Tile Using an Angle Grinder
The second best tool that can be used is an angle grinder which can do multiple cuts in different sizes and shapes including the L cuts, the circle cuts, straight cuts, square cuts etc. Cutting porcelain tiles around the toilet for pipes and exposing waste needs a curvy cut rather than drilling holes.
An angle grinder is perfectly suited to cutting curves in tiles.
- On the tile, mark out the shape which is to be cut and have a clear idea about which side is the waste. You can get carried away easily and score on the side of the tile. Use an electrician’s tape to make a cross as a marker.
- Mark the desired shape on both sides of the tile. Make sure you follow the shape on the edge of the angle grinder gently with little pressure to get a clean mark which doesn’t chip.
- Make multiple small cuts by turning over the tile. These will avoid the jamming and help you maintain control. The blade should run into the waste side.
- After you get the desired cut, you can smoothen the edge by using an abrasive wheel. The finished cut will depend on whether the cut is clearly visible on the (polished/unpolished) porcelain tile.
Just take the grinder and pull it across the edge that you want to cut and the grinder does the work for you in no time with efficiency and cleanliness.
#3 How to Cut a Porcelain Tile Using Tile Cutter
A tile cutter is used to cut ceramic tiles upto a desired size and shape. However, depending upon the type of texture, you can even cut certain porcelain tiles using a standard manual tile cutter. It is favourite among the woodworkers because it is the fast among all the cutting tools and you can make many adjustments to the type of cuts you want to make depending on the tile type and size.
All you need to do is to cut the tile just the way you cut the paper with a paper cutter and rub the edge with the sandstone for a smoother finish.
Below are the steps to be followed to use a thtile cutter:
- First of all you need to adjust and lock the guide of the tile cutter
- Slide the tile in a good position where you have marked it and place the cutter on the edge
- Start pushing down on the tile cutter and slide it across the marked tile
- When it reaches the end, press down
- It will break into two smooth pieces. Smoothen out the edges to reduce sharpness.
Watch this video to get a practical idea of how to cut a porcelain tile using a tile cutter in the safest way.
#4 How to Cut a Porcelain Tile Using a Wet Saw
A wet tile saw cuts tiles made of ceramic and porcelain leaving a clean, smooth edge. As mentioned, owning a wet saw is not economically feasible.
However, you might as well come across certain situations where you need to weigh the pros and cons and use a wet saw for cutting a porcelain tile. It is the best way to cut a porcelain tile in my honest opinion.
Although they can chip the surface of porcelain tiles so in order to ensure a cleaner cut, you should use a wet saw with an adjustable blade. Working slowly and using a fresh blade always helps.
Notching the Tile to Avoid Chips
A great way to avoid chipping on porcelain tiles is to notch the tile before cutting through. Follow the below steps to do so:
- Set your tile saw blade upon the tile
- Mark the point where you wish to notch
- Place the tile with the marking facing the blade but do not let them get in touch yet and turn on your saw
- Push the tile towards the blade and cut an inch for small tiles (go till 2 inches for larger tiles) and turn it off
- Flip the tile, turn on the saw and cut where you made the notch earlier
This is why one should know how to cut a porcelain tile with a wet saw, a cutting machine or a blade.
- Use a fresh sharpened blade and always remember to cut slowly in order to get clean cuts
- It is mandatory to mark the cutting line with a wax pencil before you start cutting porcelain tile. This is to ensure the precision in the size and the chipping can be avoided by masking the edges with a suitable tape.
- Fill the reservoir with water upto the blade dipping into it and place the tile depending upon where your blade cuts from (above/below)
- Adjust your saw in a way that it can cut upto 1/8 inch deep into the tile. You don’t want to cut through or more than half through the tile
- After marking the edges, take a cutter and score the line to make the clean cuts. Be sure that the tile is levelled along the blade to avoid any distortions or bends. Now, apply pressure and score the tile towards the down for it to snap. Once cut, you can either continue to the final cut or notch the tile before that.
#5 Cutting Porcelain Tile with a Wet Wheel (Diamond)
A wet wheel also known as a diamond blade is used to cut very tough and coarse materials. There are diamonds fixed on the edge of the blade which facilitates this action.
Follow the steps below to cut a porcelain tile with a wet wheel:
- The tiles and stones can usually be cut with two type of wet machines one being using the tile saw and other using a wet wheel.
- In one, the blade which is overhanging moves along the surface of the tile and in other the tile is moved along the cutting blade (rotating).
- Before making the cut, make sure that you have side support to the tile. If not, you can try making a support out of plywood for tiles which are larger than 600mm side.
- Align the edge with the help of the cutting wheel and guide it smoothly over the blade till the cut is complete. Applying force may cause chipping.
#6 How to Cut a Porcelain Tile with a Drill Bit
When you are dealing with circular cross-sections, drill bits come handy while creating clean holes to fit the screws properly inside them. They are available in many different sizes and shapes and work on various kind of materials.
Drilling holes are same as making cuts in a porcelain tile only in smaller scale and in circular shapes. However, drilling is not easy, and you want a clean drilled hole in the tile so that it can fit the screws, plumbing pipes, space for radiators et. al.
This can be done with the help of a drill bit in no time and the cost it also relatively less. This technique can also be used for small as well as large diameter holes. Following is the guide to using drill bit:
- Mark the exact position where the hole is to be drilled and cover it with a thick tape to prevent the chips and helps in drilling smoothly.
An starting drill hole might be needed as a support if you wish to drill larger holes.
- In order to prevent torque with the sudden shifts of the tile, fix the tile properly before hand.
- Start drilling very slowly to cut a hole without overheating as it may cause it to stick.
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.
After reading this guide, I am pretty sure any of you can easily cut porcelain tiles with good accuracy. If you have any questions or doubts, feel free to comment below.
Share this guide if you liked it, it would mean the world to me. Keep visiting for more such content!
Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile > Tile & Stone Forums > Professionals' Hangout > Best way to cut 48" long tile?
View Full Version : Best way to cut 48" long tile?
12-29-2014, 08:54 AM
I am a large commercial contractor that needs advice on the best way to cut 48" long tile. We recently made the switch from Target to Imer since some of my guys used a loaner Imer on a project and told me to never buy another Target. Of course the two Imers we have can only rip 40" and we now have two large projects with 48" long plank tile. We are currently cutting them with angle grinders but I wanted to get some opinions on how to make this process faster and more accurate. I'm thinking the Alpha rail system for +/- $400 is the most cost effective solution without buying another giant tile saw but wanted to hear from others in the trade.
Thanks for your help. I have lurked for many years until I met John himself during a breakfast at Total Solutions Plus this past October and others at the table guilted me into no longer lurking. Hopefully I can help others moving forward.
12-29-2014, 09:11 AM
Welcome Nick . :)
I think a Raimondi rail saw will do the right job for your needs . I have a Rubi rail saw and it serves me very well , but didn't test it in continuous use as commercial projects. Did try the Raimondi one and it is a great saw . Moving the saw , set it up can be easy and it doesn't require any built of any sorts .
I am sure you can install a grinder attachment to the rail cutters and do the cuts , but just managing the dust, setting the tile right , etc . can be quite a challenge and probably more headaches than just fill the saw , push the start button and go .
12-29-2014, 06:01 PM
Sigma 3E2M tile cutter 51inch cut capacity, or a 3F2M 60 inch cut. time savers for sure.
12-30-2014, 07:54 AM
There are plenty of options out there. Tiletools.com offers a variety snap cutters that have that capacity. However, to keep the price down, I have had success with this saw (http://tiletools.com/us/briccolina-compact-tile-saw/) for cutting plank tile also. It is a professional grade compact saw that has enough juice to get through porcelain. There are quite a few members here that have bought these and really like them!
12-30-2014, 09:27 AM
@schluterman - Thanks for the recommendation. I found a video and a nice review of the 3F2M and think it will be perfect. I didn't know you could get a snap cutter that large. My largest snap cutter is a Tomecanic Supercut that rips 35". Crazy that it is just about obsolete given all the 36" planks we've installed recently.
@sprung831 - I didn't see the 3F2M on tiletools.com. Are you able to get it? Thanks!
12-30-2014, 10:06 AM
I have to see if the supplier has any in stock. If they do, I see no reason why we couldn't get one.
Otherwise, we stock the RTC Razor 51" and the Montolit Masterpiuma P3 48" and we have a 61" coming in.
01-01-2015, 03:54 AM
Not for anything but I like Steve's advice on this one. Don't know about yinz guys but I get nervous trying to snap a large tile...If it breaks you just wasted alot of square footage. Most of my mainly bathroom shower projects usually don't have that much extra tile to practice on...Let alone forking out 800+ for a decent large cutter. when the tile come 4-5 to a box people don't tend to buy that extra box..
Heres a job that didn't allow much, and cutting a giant "E" for the niche was a bit nerve racking as I broke two tile trying to cut it. If I broke another it would have been another 4 weeks for the lady to take a shower.
Please no comments on the the placement of the shelf, this was a schluter niche(usually make my own) and the lady wanted it there. Though this is a good example of what happens when you don't have the flexibility of niche size and placement...or joist bay for that matter.
Another option is to make a jig for a standard overhead saw..by removing the factory tray and having a wooden table instead so the saw becomes an overhead tablesaw if you will..use clamps to fasten a guide.
Higher Standard Tile
01-01-2015, 02:27 PM
If I am a large commercial contractor like Nick I would spend the money on a high quality snap cutter for large tile and a nice rail saw for the tiles that don't snap good.
I am not a large commercial contractor but even with a few guys high quality tools cost a lot less that payroll.
I tell my guys every time you cut a tile on a snap cutter instead of cutting it on the wet saw you are making me money:)
01-01-2015, 04:23 PM
I like it ^^^^^^^^ , Isaac . :)
01-02-2015, 08:36 AM
Isaac, I agree with you 99%! The only reason I don't say 100% is this...when it comes to a plank installation (especially the 48" and longer), the amount of long rip cuts you need to make are typically going to be minimal. I am an advocate of snapping any time you can, but it a situation like this, for the hypothetical 9 rip cuts you will have to make, this $200 saw will do it no problem, and you don't have to find a 6 ft long area to set up your snap cutter. :blah:
That may have been the longest run-on sentence I've ever written in my life!
I can see spending the money on a long cutter or tile saw if you're on a big job. I usually lock the sliding tray on my DeWalt and use the guide as a fence, similar to using a table saw. Or, clamp a longer fence on the tray to be more accurate. I have 4 saws, don't want another.
01-05-2015, 01:50 PM
Thanks, everyone. I am going to buy a large snap cutter now that I know there are multiple options available. It will pay for itself in only one or two typical size jobs for me.
Higher Standard Tile
01-06-2015, 01:51 AM
Steve I love my little Briccolina but hadn't considered using it to rip a 48" porcelain. Of course I just have the standard ceramic blade. Do you stock the porcelain blade for it?
01-06-2015, 08:07 AM
The porcelain blades have been stuck at the port for weeks now. Hopefully we will have them soon.
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