Do you want to lay floor tiles? Are you wondering how to tile a kitchen backsplash? Both of them are easy DIY projects. And they both require tile cutting. Tile cutting allows you to fit tiles in corners, around household fixtures and so on. That’s why the best tool for that purpose is a tile cutter.
Knowing how to use a tile saw correctly is very important as it will give you clean, straight lines, making a more professional job. Hence, within this guide, we have tips and details on how to use such a cutter correctly.
Table of Contents
What is a tile cutter?
A tile saw or cutter is a basic tool used to cut tiles. It consists of a handle that helps apply pressure on the tile during the cutting process and guides the cutter along the rails. Most of the time, it has a tungsten carbide wheel to score the tiles and make the cuts easier.
It’s a very handy tool for making repeated straight cuts using the score-n-snap principle. You can use it to cut ceramic tiles, porcelain, marble or vinyl. You just have to use the appropriate cutter for each material.
Types of cutter
There are different types of tile cutters available in the market. And you need to choose the right one for your DIY project. Here are some details for each type of cutter you should know:
Manual tile cutter
A manual tile cutter is an excellent tool for making straight cuts on ceramic, porcelain and terracotta tiles. It uses a round cutting wheel that scores the tiles leaving a straight line. You can’t use a manual cutter on natural stone tiles or cut small areas. If you need to make a small detailed cut, you’ll have to use a tile nipper.
Hand cutters are the perfect tools to cut small ceramic tiles up to 15cm. This tool has a sharp scoring wheel and teeth to perform fast cutting effortlessly. If you have a simple tiling task, this portable tool is an excellent choice as it gives the desired finishing off your tiles to fit them around.
The snap cutter, also known as a rail cutter, is ideal for glass materials and ceramic, porcelain and mosaic tiles. It consists of a carbide wheel which allows drawing across the glass and creating a score. You insert the tile inside the cutter, and the wheel moves along it. Once the scoring is ready, a snapper inside the tool moves along the area. Then you have to pull back the lever, and the snapper is pressed on the scoreline breaking the tile in half. It’s the perfect tool for small projects, like tiling your bathroom.
Electric tile cutter
An electric tile cutter uses a sharp diamond blade to cut ceramic and porcelain tiles or stone. An electric cutter, at first sight, seems like a table saw. It consists of a guide that keeps tiles straight, a water spray to keep the blade cool, ensuring that tiles don’t smoke or burn. Some models come with water reservoirs, whilst others connect to a water supply. Its diamond blade can cut harder tile materials, making this tiler the best for large projects.
Differences between a tile cutter and a wet saw
On the other hand, other tools can also cut tiles, like the wet saw and the angle grinder. Hence why not use a wet saw or an angle grinder for tile installation, but opt for a tile cutter? Many of you may wonder. Here are some details for each one;
- An angle grinder is better used for cutting fixed to wall tiles or special shapes, like circles, squares and so on, at the centre of a tile.
- A wet saw is a small stationary power tool ideal for ceramic, porcelain and stone tiles. Use this tool to produce many clean cuts in very little time. It’s also great to easily cut bevels, small shapes and odd angles.
How to use a tile cutter
Now, are you ready to learn how to use a tile cutter the right way? We will show you how to cut tiles using a manual cutter. Before we share with you all the details, we need to tell you some precautionary measures you have to follow. Always put on safety goggles to protect your eyes before installing. So wear eye protection every time you use a cutting tool. What’s more, before cutting your tiles, consider the grout joints you will need and adjust your measurements accordingly.
Step 1: Get the suitable cutter
Start by measuring your tiles. The size of the tiles will determine how wide your cutter should be. Measure the tile’s surface from end to end and choose a cutter at least 2.5 cm larger than the tiles. In case you want to lay tiles in a diagonal pattern, you’ll need to make diagonal cuts. To do so and purchase the right cutter, measure from corner to corner your tiles.
Step 2: Practise before cutting
Tile saws are really simple to use. However, if it’s your first time using one, you better practise on scrap tiles before starting cutting tiles. You don’t want to waste your money on extra tiles, right?
Step 3: Mark the tile you want to cut
Once you are ready to start the tiling job, draw a line from one end of the glazed side of the tile to the other. You can use a straight edge or a ruler to draw a straight line. You have to be precise with the line because this will be the guideline the cutter will follow.
Prior to drawing the cut line, you should measure the area where you will lay the tile. For example, if the tile is 5cm too long to fit on a wall, you will have to cut 5cm off the edge of the tile. Just before cutting, double-check your measurements to make sure you are precise. Or else you’ll end up with larger or shorter tiles that don’t fit well.
Step 4: Prepare the manual tile cutter for cutting
When you have made your measurements and drawn the cut line, slide the lever on the manual cutter toward you until it stops. This will remove the wheel into the correct position. Here’s a pro tip. Every time you handle a cutter, you should always stand with the tool vertically in front of you. Plus, prepare all the tiles you want to cut and place them close to the tool.
Step 5: How to cut a tile
Place the tile with the glazed surface up in the cutting tool. Ensure that the tile is beneath the cutting blade and push the tile forward to sit against the end stop. As for the drawing line, be sure that it is positioned over the central guideline (aka the metallic rail that runs the length of the cutting surface). Adjust the locking protractor gauge to the angle you want for multiple tile cutting to the same measurements and tighten it down.
Afterwards, drive the hand lever along your drawing line. The tungsten blade will slice through the glazed side. Push the lever along until it stops against the end stop. Don’t make multiple passes at once, as there’s a high risk of breakage and uneven cuts. Score each tile once. Finally, push down the lever to break the tile in two.
Step 6: Smooth the cut edge
Once you have cut the tile, remove it from the cutter and rub the cut edges of the tile with a rubbing stone, as you would do with sandpaper. Smoothing the edge will protect you from injuring yourself while laying the tile. Remember to smooth down the top and the bottom edges of the tile.
Rubbing stones are available at any hardware store or home improvement centre. You may also find stones having different grits on each side. These will give you extra control while smoothing the finished tile.
That was easy, right? Tiles are hard materials and, at the same time, too fragile. A mishap can easily break them. To ensure that you will get the job done without any misfortunes, you need to use a tile cutter correctly. Purchase your tool, follow our guide and finish your tiling job hassle-free.