How to cut tiles: 3 Tools & When to Use Them

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Knowing how to cut tiles is an important skill for any DIY-er.

During your tiling project, you will come across the need to cut some tiles to size.

Whether you’re cutting them to fit around certain obstacles whether you need trim tiles around the edge, here are three tools you’ll need to master for different tiles and situations.

Expert Tip: Measure twice, cut once. Remember, you can’t ‘uncut’ a tile!

Using a Manual Tile Cutter

Best for: Straight cuts to your tiles.

  1. Measure
  2. Measure where the tile needs to be cut. To do this place a tile on the last full tile and mark with a pencil where the overlap is, this is where you need to cut.

    Note: Make sure you leave enough room for the grout joint and movement joint on corners and perimeters. Movement joints must not be grouted, the use of sealant is recommended

  3. Place the tile in the cutter
  4. Place the tile in the manual tile cutter, square it up to the plate and get the cutter and pencil mark in line.

  5. Score the tile
  6. Press down firmly on the handle of the cutter and push forward across the tile to score a line.

  7. Apply a bit of pressure
  8. Press and apply pressure on both sides of the tile and it will snap into two pieces.

    Note: some cutters will have an all-in-one breaker built in. Just put the clamp part on the tile and push down on the handle to snap the tile.

  9. Check the edges
  10. If the cut isn’t clean and the edges are slightly rough, use a file or rubbing stone to smooth the edges.

  11. Use tile nippers to cut small pieces
  12. For smaller or curved pieces use tile nippers to cut small pieces off to achieve the correct size or shape required.

With a Tile Scribe

Best for: Cutting thinner tiles

  1. Measure
  2. Measure where the tiles needs to be cut using a pencil and a metal ruler, draw a straight line across the tile.

  3. Score the cut line
  4. Hold the metal ruler along the line to ensure a straight cut. Holding at a 45° angle, use the tile scribe against the side of the ruler and cut across the glaze.

  5. Break the tile cleanly
  6. Use a long, thin object underneath the scored tile, such as a pencil and apply pressure to both ends of the tile. It should break cleanly into two pieces.

  7. Check the edges
  8. If the cut isn’t clean and the edges are slightly rough, use a file to smooth the edges.

With an Electric Cutter

Best for: Cutting right angles, curved edges and on thicker tiles such as porcelain and natural stone.

  1. Setup the Electric Cutter
  2. Firstly, make sure the electric cutter has water in the tray to prevent the blade from overheating, this will also help to reduce the dust produced whilst cutting.

  3. Mark out lines for curved edges
  4. When cutting curved edges, mark with a pencil the area which needs to be cut and mark several lines up to the curved marking. This is because you cannot turn the tile during the cutting process.

  5. Cut into the lines
  6. Use the electric cutter to cut each of the lines up to the point of the curved line, it should look like a comb when you’re finished.

  7. Mark around the curve with a tile scribe
  8. Draw around the curved mark with your tile scribe to score and cut into the glaze.

  9. Nip away at the remaining unwanted area
  10. Use your tile nipper to break away small pieces at a time, up to the curve and then file down until smooth.