How to Cut Tiles

Knowing how to cut tile and choose between the different tools for cutting can help save a lot of money. There are many methods and tools for cutting tiles. From glass cutters to wet saws, they all have different advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the type of tiles and the size of the project, you will need to decide which tool is right for you. This guide will help you find the most suitable tile cutter for your project and provide you step-by-step instructions on how to cut tiles.

Using a glass cutter or a carbide-tipped pencil

This method is better suited for small jobs where you just need to cut a few tiles. It is not suitable for cutting corners or curves.

  1. Before using any tool to cut tile, measure the glazed side of the tile to determine where you need to make the cut.
  2. Use a straight edge to mark the line with an erasable marker. 
  3. Press the edge of the glass cutter or carbide pencil along the line, using a square as a guide. Do not cut entirely through the tile. 
  4. Place the scored tile over a wire hanger on a flat surface, aligned with the scored line. 
  5. Press gently on both sides of the tile until it snaps cleanly. 
  6. Smooth the rough edges with a brick or sand sponge if needed.  

Using a manual tile cutter

This method is a good choice for ceramic tiles and subway style cuts. Manual tile cutters may take more time but require less skill. They are less expensive than power tools. However, manual tile cutters may be less effective at cutting tile narrower than 1/2 inch.

  1. Measure and mark your tile with a square and a pencil. Align one edge of the square with one edge of your tile. Use a pencil and the other edge to draw your guideline.
  2. Set the tile into a tile cutter. Set the square aside and set the tile into the tile cutter. Push the tile right up against the fence, and make sure there is no debris preventing the tile from touching the fence. 
  3. Press down on the handle of the cutter, then slide the wheel part across the tile.
  4. Push down on the lever, applying enough pressure to break the tile into two pieces. 
  5. Use a sanding sponge or stone to blunt the sharp edges of the cut pieces. 


Using an Angle Grinder

Angle grinders can be used for abrasive cutting as well as sanding and polishing. When equipped with diamond blades, they can make curved, square and circular cuts for floor drains and other uses. 

  1. Begin by measuring the tile. Draw the shape of the cut with a marker or pencil. 
  2. Secure the tile to a work bench or other work surface with a clamp. 
  3. Pull the angle grinder carefully along the cut line to score the tile. 
  4. Make deeper and deeper cuts along the score until you cut through the tile. 

Using a Wet Saw

Last but not the least, you can always invest a wet saw to make your work easier.  A wet saw is a power tool that uses a water-cooled diamond blade to make quick work of cutting tile. The diamond blade does not have teeth, which makes it ideal for more delicate cutting needs. Each wet saw is a little different, so be sure to follow the instructions closely.

** Wear goggles and gloves while using any saws. Keep fingers as far away from the blade as possible to avoid accidents, and do not wear loose clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the blade. 

  1. Before cutting, make sure that the wet saw’s water reservoir or tray is full. 
  2. Prepare to cut tile with a wet saw by aligning the tile on the table. Set the protective rip fence. When the tile’s layout mark meets the blade, make sure the widest part of the tile is between the blade and the fence. This keeps your hands as far away as possible from the blade during the cut. 
  3. Turn on the saw and give it 15-20 seconds to get up to speed whenever you begin using the saw. 
  4. Holding the tile white side up with both hands, feed it along the fence and into the blade. 
  5. Push slowly, letting the saw do the work and keeping your fingers away from the blade. 
  6. Push the piece between the blade and fence until it completely clears the blade. 
  7. Before removing the tile, turn off the saw and let it power down. 

Once you’ve cut your tiles, you’re ready to install the pieces!