How to Cut Tiles (Step by Step Guide)

Before tiling a surface, you will need to cut some of the tiles to size so that cover the surface you are tiling. You might also need to cut tiles to accommodate for any obstacles such as plug sockets or a pipe. Knowing how to cut wall or floor tiles is an essential DIY skill. There are a variety of different ways and power tools that you can use to cut tiles. The right method for your project will depend on the size of the task and the type of tiles that you are cutting. We have put together this step by step guide so you can learn to cut tiles safely using a variety of methods and tiling tools.

Cutting Tiles With a Tile Scribe

Using a tile scribe is one of the simplest methods of cutting tiles. A tile scribe or scorer is also one of the cheapest cutting tools you can get for cutting tiles so is ideal for those on a lower budget. It is a good method for cutting ceramic-tile or thin wall tiles.

  1. Measure the gap you need to fill on the wall or floor that you are tiling and mark these measurements on your tile.
  2. Using a steel ruler and a pencil, draw a straight line to mark where the tile needs to be cut. 
  3. Hold the steel ruler firmly against the cut line and score with the tile scribe in one stroke. Make sure to push down with enough pressure to cut right through the tile glaze.
  4. Place a pencil beneath the scoreline. Apply pressure to both ends of the tile and it will break cleanly into two pieces.

Cutting Tiles With a Manual Tile Cutter

A manual tile cutter is a scoring wheel on a rail that you can slide over tiles to create a scored line. After making a scoreline, you can then simply snap the tile in half. Manual tile cutters are good for achieving straight cuts and they work best with ceramic and porcelain tiles because they are thinner.

  1. Measure where the tile needs to be cut by placing the tile over the last tile and drawing a line where the overlap starts. This is where you need to cut. Remember to leave enough room for grout around the sides of the tile.
  2. Place the tile in the cutter and make sure that the pencil line is on the line marked on the cutter.
  3. Press down firmly and push the handle of the cutter over the tile to score a line. 
  4. Apply pressure on each side of the tile to snap the tile along the marked line. 
  5. If the edges are rough, use a tile file or sanding paper to smooth the edges. 

Cutting Tiles With an Electric Cutter

This is the best method for cutting right angles, curved edges and cutting through thicker tiles such as natural stone and thicker porcelain. An electric tile saw will usually have a strong diamond blade that will make a neat line, ensuring the edges of the tile are tidy. Wet saws are a great option for safely and smoothly cutting through ceramic, stone and porcelain tile. 

  1. Setup your electric tile cutter ensuring that there is water in the machine’s tray so that the blade doesn’t overheat. Make sure to keep the tile cutting machine switched off unless you are using it and wear protective gloves and a dust mask. 
  2. To cut a straight line into your tile, first mark the cutline with a pencil. Then switch the machine on and firmly hold the straight edge of the tile. Gently push your tile into the cutting blade and cut along the score mark.
  3. To create a curve, cut in straight lines towards the top of the curve. Then, use tile nippers to cut away small pieces of tile to create the curve or shape you need.
  4. Use sanding paper afterwards to make sure the curve is smooth and the edges are neat.

How to Cut Tiles (Infographic)

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