How to Cut Ceramic Tile

Cutting Ceramic Tile with a Tile Scriber

Time: Around three minute per straight cut; four to five minutes per notched cut
Difficulty: Medium
Note: This procedure is good for individual cuts, but you may spend a lot of time in marking, scoring and breaking if there are many tiles to cut.

  1. Mark the tile for cutting. If you are making similar cuts on multiple tiles it may be easier to mark all of them beforehand, and should speed up the process.
  2. Place a straight-edged guide (a steel rule works best) on the tile and align it with your marks.
  3. Use the tile scriber to score the tile along your mark. The depth of your score will depend upon how thick the tile is, but be sure to apply firm, even pressure.
  4. Next you'll need a piece of thin wire and a chopping board. Lay the wire over the chopping board and make sure that it is in a perfectly straight line. Again, if you're making similar cuts on multiple tiles, you may opt to attach the wire to the board to make the job easier and more efficient.
  5. Position the scored tile on top of the board, with the score mark aligned with the wire. Then, apply pressure to both edges of the tile at the same time. If done properly, the tile will break along the mark and leave you with a perfectly clean cut.

Cutting Ceramic Tile with a Tile Cutter

Time: One minute per straight cut; two to three minutes per notched cut
Difficulty: Easy
Note: If you have a large project, use a tile cutter.

  1. Mark the tile for cutting. If you are making similar cuts on multiple tiles it may be easier to mark all of them beforehand, and should speed up the process.
  2. Place the tile on the tile cutter and align it with the scoring wheel (this area is usually indicated by an arrow or a distinguishable line). Position the guide carefully and tighten securely. Remember, if you are making multiple cuts you'll want to keep the guide firmly in place.
  3. Place the scoring wheel on the outermost edge of the tile and score the entire length of the tile by applying even pressure to it. There are two types of tile cutters - a Push Cut tile cutter involves pushing the scoring wheel away from you to score the tile, while Pull Cut tile cutters involve pulling the scoring wheel towards you to score the tile.
  4. After the tile has been scored completely, apply the tile cutter's breaker foot. Pushing it directly down causes the tile to break along the score you made, leaving you with clean cuts. It is important to note that straight (or "single rail") ceramic tile cutters are designed for clay ceramic tiles with a thin porcelain glaze. They are not intended for stone, fully vitrified porcelain tiles and several types of unglazed tiles, which will require the use of a wet saw.

Safety Precautions

Regardless of which method you choose it is recommended that you practice with spare or scrap tiles first. And, of course, always wear safety goggles and thick work gloves before you begin cutting any ceramic tiles. Last, keep a first-aid kit close by, just in case. It's always "better to be safe, than sorry".

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