How To Cut Tiles With & Without A Tile Cutter

Learn the art of tile cutting with our comprehensive guide, offering step-by-step instructions for various techniques in all shapes and sizes.
Written By: David White | Updated:
How To Cut Tiles
David White/DIY Works

Learning how to cut tiles yourself can save you a fortune when compared to a professional taking on the job. Whether you need to cut porcelain, glass mosaic, or ceramic tiles, they can all be cut using several methods, such as an electric or manual tile cutter, angle grinder, etc.

However, the most popular method to cut tiles by far is to use a dedicated tile cutter, which comes as an electric or manual tool. However, it’s not the only way and below, we walk you through each method to cut tiles with or without a tile cutter.

Choosing Between Electric & Manual

Deciding whether to use an electric or manual tile cutter is a matter of personal preference. For example, the time frame you have to complete the project, the tile material and the project size will all be deciding factors. Personally, we own both because there may be a time when you need to use a combination of the two for certain tiling projects.

If you want to see our recommendations for the best-rated tile cutters, we wrote a guide based on our first-hand experience.

How To Cut Tiles

The most popular ways to cut tiles are with an electric tile cutter, a manual tile cutter and an angle grinder. As we use all three methods regularly, below are step-by-step guides for each.

How To Use An Electric Tile Cutter

  1. Set up the cutter and ensure it’s on a flat surface.
  2. Add water to the tray.
  3. Mark out the tile to be cut.
  4. Turn on the machine.
  5. Gently push the tile into the blade.
  6. Switch off the machine once the tile clears the blade.

Depending on the tiles you are cutting will determine how easily the blade will cut through the tile. For example, stone or porcelain tiles may require a slower feed to cut the tile smoothly.

If you are cutting a lot of tiles, it’s worth noting that you may need to refresh the water. After multiple cuts, the water may fill up with tile sediments and not work as well as it should to cool down the blade. Therefore, after ten or more cuts, refresh the water reservoir with fresh water before cutting additional tiles.

How To Use Tile Cutter

David White/DIY Works

How To Use A Manual Tile Cutter

  1. Mark the tile that you want to cut.
  2. Place the tile into the cutter and line it up with the guide.
  3. Lower the handle to bring the scorer in contact with the tile.
  4. Press down and push the handle forward to score it.
  5. Fit the tile into the slide of the handle.
  6. Lower the handle so that the snapper is touching the underneath of the tile.
  7. Press firmly down on the handle to cut the tile.
how to use a manual tile cutter

David White/DIY Works

How To Cut Tiles With A Grinder

For certain tiling projects, you may need to cut tiles with a grinder. For example, when we installed a wall-hung toilet, we needed to cut in the middle of a tile to access the flushing mechanism of the toilet frame. If you do intend to cut tiles using an angle grinder, you will want to do so with care. Below are some tips that we used during cutting:

  • Use masking tape
  • Place the tile on flat plywood (or similar)
  • Use carpet to reduce vibrations (optional)
  • Ensure the grinder has a good blade installed

If possible, we would recommend performing a practice cut beforehand to get a feel for it before the real thing. The below photo is an example cut that we achieved with a grinder. Although it isn’t smooth, we didn’t need it to be because the flush plate is covering it. Of course, if it was on display, we would have tidied the edges before fitting the tile.

How To Cut Tiles With A Grinder

David White/DIY Works

How To Cut Tiles Without A Tile Cutter

The most popular method to cut tiles without a tile cutter is to use an angle grinder, as discussed above. However, other methods include using a glass cutter, a hand saw that uses a tungsten carbide cylindrical blade and a tile nipper.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article gives you all the information you require to confidently cut a range of tiles to various shapes and sizes.

Although it’s possible to cut tiles without a tile cutter, we personally prefer to use a combination of both an electric and manual tile cutter for our tiling projects. If complex cuts are required, such as cutting in the middle of a tile, we will use an angle grinder.

If you require any advice or recommendations regarding tile cutting, feel free to get in touch.

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