How To Cut Tile Like A Pro

Know the preferred cutter for your tile project and make a quick and smooth installation

How To Cut Tile Like A Pro

Most tiling jobs require making cuts on tiles so they will fit properly where they are being installed.

This guide will help you understand the different types of tile cutters and how to choose the best cutter for your project.


When choosing a tile cutter, consider the size of the job and the types of materials being cut, especially their thickness and overall area. This can help you determine the functionality and specifications to look for in your cutter.

Snap or Rail Cutters

Work by placing a tile on the machine and dragging a scoring wheel across the tile. After the tile is scored, the foot of the heel assembly is pressed against the tile to snap the scored pieces apart. Typically rated by the size of the tile they can cut.

Tip: You will likely break a few tiles until you get the hang of using snap cutters, so prepare accordingly while you’re practicing your technique.

  • Simplest & lowest cost; manually operated
  • Ideal for smaller do-it-yourself projects where simple cuts are all that are needed; no specialty cuts possible
  • Not compatible with stone tiles
  • Snaps will not result in perfectly straight lines. In most cases, this does not matter because the cut side will be against the wall and under baseboards.
  • Chrome plated steel rails offer the smoothest cutting action, while titanium coated cutting wheels provide the best cuts.

Handheld Wet Tile Saws

Utilize a diamond powder-coated cutting wheel to grind away the tile it contacts. Water is supplied by a hose connection or by an on-board container. Dry cutting is possible, but broadcasts dust particles through the air.

Safety: If dry cutting, dust masks are recommended.

  • Convenient for touch up and specialty cuts
  • Corded and cordless models available; look for lock-on switches to reduce user fatigue
  • Capable of most jobs performed by table top or overhead models
  • Makes specialty cuts on all natural and manmade tile materials.
  • Ideal for jobs where portability is necessary. If used for smaller jobs, make sure that you have the ability to secure the tile before cutting.

Table Top Wet Tile Saws

Tiles are pushed across the table through a diamond cutting wheel mounted below the table. The wheel rotates in a pool of water which keeps the wheel cool and eliminates flying dust particles.

Tip: Look for saws with drain plugs, making water disposal much easier than tipping the unit on its side.

  • Line of sight from cut line to cutting wheel is not always accurate.
  • Friction from pushing the tile on the table can inhibit smooth cutting.
  • Depth of cut is typically too small to cut pavers.
  • Use a miter attachment to help with specialty cuts.
  • Similar to table saws used for working with wood and composite materials.

Overhead Motor Wet Tile Saws

Material travels on a table and rail system through the cutting wheel. and Many units come with stands or have stands available separately. Water is often supplied by submersible pumps or by fresh water delivery systems.

Tip: Tile saws that provide support all the way through the cut result in much less waste than those that do not.

  • Provide the most control for precise cuts
  • Largest tile cutting machines and require some assembly
  • Many designs are limited to water delivery by pump alone
  • Cutting wheel is located above the tile, improving line-of-site while cutting
  • Specialty cuts are easier if the saw includes a plunging or beveling head. Lasers and LED lights help to ensure cut accuracy.