If you’re about to embark upon a tiling project then, unless the size of tiles you’ve chosen divide exactly into the area of your room, you’re going to have to cut some tiles at some point. But how exactly do you do it, and more pertinently, what tools do you need to provide the perfect cut? Well, we’re about to answer this very question (plus a few others) in this quick and easy guide to tile cutting, so read on…
Can All Tiles Be Cut?
Ostensibly, yes. Most tiles fall into one of three categories in terms of the materials they’re constructed from; Ceramic; Porcelain; Natural Stone. The latter is quite a broad category and includes everything from Travertine and Granite, right through to Marble and Limestone and so it’s important to remember that whether a specific tile can be cut depends on the material and its thickness. These two factors will also influence the type of tool needed to cut both natural stone tiles as well as ceramic and porcelain tile products.
When Should I Use A Manual Tile Cutter?
Ideal for cutting straight lines, manual tile cutters are mostly used for creating cuts that will be laid to fill small gaps at the outer edge of a wall or floor. Most manual tile cutters feature interchangeable scoring wheels (the bit of the tool that actually penetrates the tile itself), meaning that the tool can be tailored to cut tiles of different sizes and materials: Scoring wheels typically come in the following sizes:
|Scoring Wheel Size||Tile Types Commonly Used To Cut|
|6mm||Ceramic wall tiles|
|8mm||Ceramic wall tiles, ceramic floor tiles, smooth porcelain tiles|
|10mm||Ceramic floor tiles, smooth porcelain tiles|
|22mm||Hard textured and structured porcelain|
Once you’ve measured and marked your tile, place it on the cutter face up and ensure it is straight using the guides. Score from the bottom of the tile to the top, making sure you apply enough pressure to penetrate the glaze. Once you’ve scored the tile, pull the handle down to snap the tile along the score line. You can learn more about using manual tile cutters in this rather useful video.
When Should I Use An Electric Tile Cutter?
Electric tile cutters, generally referred to as a ‘Wet Saw’ or ‘Wet Wheel Cutter’, are ingenious bits of kit that consist of a blade that is coated in very small diamonds which spins (a lot like the blade of a circular saw) at high speeds so as to cut through tiles. A basin of water below the blade, or a jet aimed directly at the blade keeps the temperature of the blade and the tile low whilst the cutting is taking place so as to keep it from overheating as a result of the friction generated.
Wet Wheel cutters can be used with thin ceramic tiles but are mostly used to cut harder, denser tiles such as 20mm porcelain and natural stone tiles (marble/granite etc) as the cutter can be incrementally sped up to make lighter work of difficult cuts. This type of cutter is also often used on larger jobs where a lot of tiles need to be cut. If you’d like to learn more about how wet wheel tile cutters work and how to use them then check out this video from our very own DIY expert Craig Phillips.
When Should I Use Scribes or Nippers?
Working in very much the same way as a manual cutter, a tile scribe is a quick and easy way to cut through relatively thin ceramic tiles. The method of use entails measuring and marking the tile and then score along your line (using a metal ruler as your guide), before snapping the tile across the back of the scribe.
Tile Nippers on the other hand are a tool similar to pliers. They’re designed for ‘nipping’ the edges of tiles when cutting awkward or unusual shapes such as plug sockets, pipes, and light switches. They’re fairly easy to use – just grip in the hand as you would with pliers or wire cutters and simply nip away at the edge of the tile to achieve the shape of cut that you need. Nippers can be used with porcelain tiles but how difficult the actual nipping is will depend on the thickness of the tile!
Hopefully that little lot has provided some insight when it comes to choosing your weapon of choice for cutting tiles. For more info on cutting tiles, the tools you’ll need and instructional videos, head over to our Help Centre – it’s packed full of useful How-To’s and guidance on all manner of tiling tasks!