How to Cut Tiles
Time Required: 2-4 hours
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. This guide will teach you how to use a wet saw and the most common cutting techniques.
Although you can cut tile with a snap cutter, a wet saw is the best to use when a job requires numerous or specialty cuts (like openings for drains, AC registers, outlets or beveled edges). Wet saws usually have a sliding table that feeds the tile into an overhead blade. A pump sprays a stream of water over the blade while it is running.
Tip: Buy a few extra pieces of tile to practice the cutting techniques before working on the real thing.
Do not cut if a small stream of water is not flowing over the blade and tile. Water is essential to keep the blade cool and produce quality cuts. Check to see that all water delivery systems are working correctly before use.
Wear eye protection 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.
- Set the fence so that when the layout line is at the blade, 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.
- Put on a pair of safety glasses, back the tile away from the blade and turn on the saw.
- If you are unsure how to position the tile, try setting up in different positions and go with the one that supports the largest section of tile on the table during the cut.
- Holding the tile with both hands, feed it along the fence and into the blade.
- Push slowly, letting the saw do the work and keeping your hands away from the blade.
- Push the piece between the blade and fence until it completely clears the blade.
- Lay out and mark the sides and the end of the notch.
- Make two straight cuts along each side of the notch. Reset the fence after the first cut to make the other cut.
- Stop each cut when the blade reaches the line marking the end of the notch.
- If the notch is wider than 1 inch, reset the fence to make a series of parallel cuts spaced about ¼ inch apart. Stop each cut when it reaches the line that marks the end of the notch.
- Break off the individual pieces between the sides of the notch.
- To trim the remaining jagged edge, put the tile back on the saw with the blade inside the notch and just touching the jagged edge. With the blade running, slide the tile sideways, keeping pressure on the tip of the blade to smooth the jagged edge
- Diagonal cuts on a tile are made point to point and are common for diamond tile patterns.
- Set your miter guide to the appropriate angle that best matches your layout line.
- Make sure the layout line is directly on the front of the cutting blade.
- Feed the tile slowly into the blade, especially at the end of the cut, where most breakage occurs.
- This same technique can also be used to make miter cuts other than point to point that result in triangular pieces.
- Bevel cuts are typically 45-degree cuts along the edge of tile.
- Use bevel cuts for inside or outside wrap-around corners, as an alternative to bull-nose tile, or where two walls meet.
- L-cuts are cuts that remove a piece of tile to fit in a corner, around a cabinet, or a piece of molding.
- You can customize your tile with L-cuts by measuring out and marking the cuts you need to make on the tile, then using a combination of straight cuts and notches to cut out the full shape.
- Plunge cuts are made by positioning the material upside down directly underneath the cutting wheel and lowering the wheel onto the work piece, allowing the tile to be cut from the center of the material.
- Score marks from the blade should remain unseen in the finished job as they will be on the backside of the tile.
- Plunge cuts are necessary when making space for vents, outlets, drains or any other protrusions through the tile surface.
- Many cuts that require a circular opening, such as a toilet drain cut-out, can be successfully completed with a rectangular or octagonal hole in the tile as the toilet will cover the area and give it the finished look you desire.