How to Cut Ceramic Tile With a Tile Nipper

6 Best Methods for Cutting Porcelain Tile

One can use a few different ways to cut a porcelain tile starting from a regular tile nipper to the expensive tile cutter. The method used for each of the tools is different and therefore, shall be done with proper guidance.

These methods are convenient, faster and easier to carry on and are relatively less costly when compared with the wet saw.

A wet tile saw is the most impeccable tool that can cut the porcelain tile but because of the price and also the effort that is to be invested, it is usually preferred for hardcore jobs than the regular household jobs or the petty jobs we do.

The tools that are generically used to cut the porcelain tile are:

  1. Tile Nipper
  2. Angle Grinder
  3. Tile Cutter 
  4. Wet Tile Saw
  5. Wet Wheel (Diamond Blade)
  6. Drill Bit

Some Helpful Resources:

#5 Cutting Porcelain Tilewith a Wet Wheel (Diamond)

A wet wheel also known as a diamond blade is used to cut very tough and coarse materials. There are diamonds fixed on the edge of the blade which facilitates this action.

Follow the steps below to cut a porcelain tile with a wet wheel:

  1. The tiles and stones can usually be cut with two type of wet machines one being using the tile saw and other using a wet wheel.
  2. In one, the blade which is overhanging moves along the surface of the tile and in other the tile is moved along the cutting blade (rotating).
  3. Before making the cut, make sure that you have side support to the tile. If not, you can try making a support out of plywood for tiles which are larger than 600mm side. 
  4. Align the edge with the help of the cutting wheel and guide it smoothly over the blade till the cut is complete. Applying force may cause chipping.


Corner Cuts and Really Big Jobs

If you’ll be cutting lots of tiles for a big job, or if you need to make corner cuts around door jambs or wall outlets, invest in a wet saw or rent one from your local home center. (I recommend renting unless you envision doing many similar projects in the future.) As with any power tool, read the instructions carefully before you begin and heed the recommended safety precautions. It’s also not bad idea to take a few practice cuts before jumping into the project.

STEP 1: Measure and mark the tile

First, measure and mark the tile where you want to make the cut.

STEP 2: Cut the tile with a wet saw

Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for the wet saw, and make sure you’ve put enough water in the tub. Turn the wet saw on, confirm that water is flowing over the blade, then proceed to make your cut the same way you would cut wood on a table saw.


STEP 3: Smooth the edges of the tile

If the cut edge of the tile is rough, smooth it with a rubbing stone.



Safety Tips

Speaking of risk, make sure you are always following safety precautions, so you don’t end up hurting yourself or your project. It’s easy to take measures to protect your hands and face from potential damage.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Always wear goggles and protective gear while operating saws and power tools.
  • Use thick gloves when you come in contact with a wet saw.
  • Make sure you are not standing on a slippery or wet floor when beginning your project.
  • Always keep your saws and tools properly lubricated.
  • Wear a mask over your mouth so you don’t breathe in the dust that can be created from cutting tile.
  • Follow the directions from your tool’s manufacturer to ensure proper setup and use.
  • If something is not working correctly, or you notice an issue, stop work immediately and contact a professional for help.
  • Diamond blades are great for cutting porcelain tile, but they are some of the sharpest blades in the industry. If they break or get caught, you can be seriously injured. It only takes a few minutes of your time to take the necessary safety precautions before cutting your porcelain tile. Even if you are only using hand tools, such as a tile nipper, hand and face protection may still be a good idea.

Electric Tile Cutter

Electric tile cutters are now widely available, easy to use…and cheap! They make the job so much neater.

As you can imagine these feature a spinning cutting blade that you push the tile along that then makes your cut.

Again, most models will feature an adjustable guide that you can set to make a specific sized cut and by ensuring that your tile is level with the guide at all times will ensure that your cut is straight and true.

As you will be working close to the cutting wheel, make sure that you take great care and don’t get your fingers too close!

Electric tile cutter

Electric tile cutter

Transfering Shapes onto Tiles

The shapes mentioned above can easily be transferred to the tile, for cutting with the saw, with this little beauty.

Called a profile gauge, it has hundreds of thin "needles" which, when pressed against the profile, will form the outline which can be transferred to the tile by drawing along the edge of the gauge with a pencil on to the tile.

There is one drawback with this tool however and this comes in the form of actually getting the copied profile of your shape on to the tile in the right place. This tool is great at marking out the correct shape but it is then left up to you to measure and mark the tile with the shape in exactly the right place. This can be quite tricky!

Profile Gauge

Profile Gauge

Tile Scribes

  1. Tile scribes operate in the same fashion as the snap cutter by scribing the surface of the tile. It is a simple tool that resembles a common glass cutter. After aligning a metal straightedge in the desired location on the tile, dragging the tile scribe along the straightedge in one firm, quick movement produces the score. After placing a support under the tile aligned with the score, you snap the tile by pressing firmly with your hand. Always wear protective gloves when using a tile scribe to avoid injury.

Small Jobs with Straight Cuts

If you need to cut just a few tiles and you don’t need to make any curved or corner cuts, you can probably make do with a carpenter’s square and a glass cutter. The latter tool costs little and can be found in craft stores and home stores, as well as online. You can pick one up on Amazon for under $10.

STEP 1: Measure and mark the tile

Measure, then use a pencil to mark the tile where you want to make the cut.

STEP 2: Score the tile

Place the tile on a flat surface, such as a workbench or a piece of plywood. Set your square slightly off your marked line so the glass cutter (or the scoring wheel on the pliers) will hit the right place. Then, starting at the edge of the tile, place the scoring tool on the line and press down firmly as you drag it across the tile. You should hear a scratching noise, which is the sign that the tile is being scored.

STEP 3: Snap the tile

If you’re using pliers, open them and slide the tile all the way into them, with the scoring wheel sitting directly under the line you’ve scored on top of the tile. Squeeze the pliers while gently supporting the tile as it snaps. If you’re used a glass cutter, place a length of wire hanger or other appropriately sized material beneath the scored line, then push down on either side of the tile to snap it; alternatively, grab the tile nippers and snip off the scored piece.

STEP 4: Smooth the edges of the tile

If the cut edge of the tile is rough, smooth it with a rubbing stone.



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