How to cut tiles: 3 Tools & When to Use Them
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.
Place the tile in the cutter
Score the tile
Apply a bit of pressure
Check the edges
Use tile nippers to cut small pieces
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
Place the tile in the manual tile cutter, square it up to the plate and get the cutter and pencil mark in line.
Press down firmly on the handle of the cutter and push forward across the tile to score a line.
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.
If the cut isn’t clean and the edges are slightly rough, use a file or rubbing stone to smooth the edges.
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
Score the cut line
Break the tile cleanly
Check the edges
Measure where the tiles needs to be cut using a pencil and a metal ruler, draw a straight line across the tile.
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.
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.
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.
Setup the Electric Cutter
Mark out lines for curved edges
Cut into the lines
Mark around the curve with a tile scribe
Nip away at the remaining unwanted area
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.
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.
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.
Draw around the curved mark with your tile scribe to score and cut into the glaze.
Use your tile nipper to break away small pieces at a time, up to the curve and then file down until smooth.