All About Cutting Tile

There’s a myriad of tools that do-it-yourselfers, tile installers, and contractors rely on to get the job done right. Fortunately, when it comes to cutting tile, there are just a few techniques needed.

First we need to know what we’re cutting. If you’re cutting natural-stone, terra-cotta, cement, brick, and specific porcelain tiles we should mainly rely on making cuts with a wet tile saw.

If you’re working with ceramic, quarry, and most porcelain tiles, we can rely more tools other than the tile saw to get the job done.

Simple Straight-through Cuts

Montolit Glass/Tile Cutter

  • Carbide-tipped Pencil
    Also known as a “Score-N-Snap Tile Cutter”. If you’re only making a couple of straight cuts you can’t beat the price of a carbide-tipped pencil.Using a speed square as your guide, use the pencil to score a line with a couple of quick drags. Then use the other end of the pencil to snap the tile. Smooth out the edge of the cut tile with a rubbing stone.

SIGMA 2G 14" Tile Cutter

  • Manual Tile Cutter
    If you’re going to be making more than a few straight cuts you should opt for a manual tile cutter. It uses the same score-n-snap principal with one major advantage, mechanical leverage. Almost all manual tile cutters have the speed square built right in and most are also equipped with a diagonal fence.Place your tile on the snap cutter. Drag a scoring line down the tile with the scoring handle, then snap the tile with the breaking device that model is equipped with. It’s quick and easy! Don’t forget to smooth the newly cut edge with a rubbing stone.

Notched Cuts

Lackmond Beast 7 Inch Tile Saw
Lackmond Beast 7 Inch Tile Saw
  • Wet Tile Saw
    On almost every tile project you encounter you’ll likely need to make a few notched cuts, especially around receptacles. You won’t be able to make this type of cut with a snap cutter or a carbide tipped pencil, but with a wet saw, you’ll be able to make these cuts with ease. Utilizing a Diamond Wet Saw Blade, you can cut any tile material available.
    Simply mark your cuts with a wax pencil and make your cuts with the wet saw. Make sure not to put too much pressure on the tile and slowly feed the tile into the wetsaw. After making the first cut, rotate the tile and make the final cut!

Barwalt Ultrabite Tile Nippers

  • Tile Nipper
    If you only have a couple of tiles to notch, you might consider using a tile nipper using a score and nip method. You won’t end up with a very clean cut though, and the finished product won’t look very good unless it’s covered up. So our advice is to only use the nipper for notching tiles around pipe fittings that will be covered up with decorative plates.  However with modern porcelain, many tiles are too hard for traditional nippers.

Cutting Circular Holes In Tile

  • Carbide-tipped Hole Saw
    You’ll most likely need to cut holes in your tile when encountering pipes for your shower-head or faucet. Carbide-tipped hole saws allow you to drill holes through ceramic and softer tile materials such as marble.Using your favorite drill fitted with the hole saw attachment, press the hole saw a little bit and make a circular motion without starting the drillng. You’ll hear a little cracking as the drill bit part digs in. As you continue making this circular motion slowly squeeze the trigger until your hole saw starts digging into the ceramic tile. Once the drill bit has started to “dig in” straighten up the bit and drill through the tile while spraying the drill bit constantly with water to keep the drill bit cool as the drilling process will generate plenty of heat.
  • Diamond-tipped Porcelain Hole Saw
    The Diamond-tipped Porcelain Hole Saw is identical to its Carbide-tipped counterpart, it’s just designed specifically for cutting into Porcelain and other harder tile types such as Granite. The method for making your hole into the tile is identical as well.

Cutting Square Holes In Tile

  • Wet Tile Saw with Plunge Cut Feature
    Sometimes you’ll encounter an outlet that requires you to cut a precise square hole in your tile. Especially if you’re laying large floor tiles that have outlets.
    To make the cut you’ll need a wetsaw with a plunge cutting feature. On most wet saws the blade head makes the plunge however there are some tile saws where the table itself is spring loaded and thus the table itself makes the plunge.Using either type of saw you’ll need to mark your cut with a wax pencil and then plunge the saw blade into the middle of the mark. As you gently apply pressure the cut will grow outward to the edge of your marks. When finished with your first cut, slide the tile over to make your second parallel cut. Then rotate the tile and finish the remaining cuts.

Mitre Cuts

  • Wet Tile Saw with Tilting Blade or Sawhead
    You’ll typically encounter this type of cut when installing tiled countertops or cutting a nice-looking finished edge. To make this precise cut, you’ll need a wet tile saw with miter cutting feature.Place your tile on the saw making your marks for both your cut and your mitre. You can choose to perform these cuts separately or at the same time, it just depends on your comfort level. Using miter guides that typically are included with your wet saw will allow you to quickly cut the typical 45 and 22.5 degree mitre.

There will be plenty of situations during your tile job when you might need to put some thought into how and what type of cut you should perform. An example would be making a miter cut into a “V-Channel” tile.

If you encounter tough tilling questions, give our experts a call. At, we have a sales staff made up of tile professionals that have encountered almost every tile situation and will be able to help you make the right decisions.