Gearing up for a kitchen or bath refresh? With the right tools and techniques, you'll be cutting tile like an old pro.
Cutting tile -- whether stone, glass or ceramic tile -- for a kitchen backsplash or a bathroom remodel is an easy weekend project. As with many DIY projects, the right tools and precision are two of the most important factors. Here's what you need to know.
Invest in some tile nippers
and/or a wet saw
, a scoring tool
, and a straight edge. For glass tiles, you may need a handheld glass cutting tool.
1. Measuring For Cuts
Before making any cuts in a tile, it's important to measure and mark the cuts. This process is known as a dry layout. Always work from the center
of a space and move outward in equal measures. The cut tiles should be buried in the edges of the room, in door moldings, corners or under cabinets. If you work the wrong way -- from the edges of the floor or wall inward, you'll be left with the eyesore of cut tiles in the center of the room, where they're the most obvious. When finished measuring for each row of tile, use a straight edge and pencil to mark exactly where on the tiles the cuts should be made.
2. Using a Score and Snap
For small tile jobs using ceramic tiles, you can use a technique known as "score and snap". Use a scoring tool to dig into the clay body of the tile, weakening it at the point of the cut. You can then snap the tile in half with your hands. Use this technique for tiles less than 6" in width and of less than 3/8" in thickness. Snap tiles in quick motions to avoid chipping or cracking of the glazed surface of the tile.
3. Using a Wet Saw
Use a wet saw to cut large and thick tiles, or for big tiling jobs. The blade on a wet saw moves quickly, slicing through whatever material they come in contact with. The wet saw uses water to cool the blade as it cuts through the ceramic, porcelain or stone materials. The water also helps to dampen the excess tile dust that's given off during the cutting process.
Be extremely careful when operating a wet saw, and use the proper safety equipment.
-- To cut ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles with a wet saw,
simply mark the tiles with a straight edge and line this mark up with the blade. Push the tile slowly and steadily toward the blade by applying light pressure to the tile from either side. Keep hands and clothing free from the blade as it is moving, and give the tile one final push through the blade, letting go and stopping the blade before retrieving the pieces of tile.
-- To cut glass tiles on a wet saw,
a diamond-tipped saw blade is required. Turn the tiles upside down and pass them extremely slowly through the blade. A dull blade or too fast a cut will result in a chipped finish on the back of the tile. As many glass tiles have color applied to the back of the tile, these chips will be extremely obvious upon installation.
If minor chipping of less than 1/16" in diameter does occur even with the correct blade and technique, paint these chips with an acrylic paint which matches the color of the tile.
4. Using Tile Nippers
Tile nippers work a lot like scissors, but for much tougher, thicker materials. Use tile nippers for mosaic tiles, in which a tile saw would be too inaccurate, or too difficult to remove a small portion of the tile. You can use tile nippers with ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tiles; do not
use tile nippers with glass tiles.
5. Using a Handheld Glass Cutting Wheel
A handheld tool for cutting glass tiles is known as a glass wheel. Like tile nippers, the wheel functions a lot like scissors, and is squeezed down onto the material being cut. Unlike nippers, however, the glass wheel will not crush the glass as it cuts. Use this method for glass mosaics, or small tiling jobs.
Always work slowly when cutting tile and double check measurements at each step. Once a tile has been cut, there is no piecing it back together, so be sure it's cut properly the first time. Use the right tools for the right sized job, and follow the cardinal rule of DIYing: measure twice, cut once.
Sarabeth Assaff contributed to DIYLife using Seed.com. To find out how you can contribute, go to Seed.com
Now that you have the proper tools, learn more about the material you're working with by watching this video: