How To Cut Ceramic Tiles With A Jigsaw

Introduction

Ceramic tiles comes in a lot of different styles, so it will surely help you make your flooring beautiful. On top of that, they fall in budget, are super durable and adds a great aesthetic value to your home.

Ceramic tiles including the earthenware, stoneware or porcelain tiles are hardwearing materials which are why they are used for dado walls, rooftops, table tops and various other purposes. In cases where they are being used as construction materials, most of us will confront the need of cutting them at some point in time.

You can use different tools for cutting a ceramic tile. It is just like glass, so when pressure is applied on the cleanly scored surface, the ceramic tile will easily break into pieces.

Video

Video

Angle Grinder with Diamond Wheel

The next option is to buy a diamond cutting wheel for a small size angle grinder. These blades cut dry, so there is a little bit of dust created. They can make quick and convenient cuts. This is one of my favorite methods for getting the job done quickly. This also serves as a great way to quickly make curved cuts or corner cuts if and when needed.

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Rough out semicircular cuts before trimming to the line

Photo 1: Score and rough cut

Photo 1: Score and rough cut

Score the profile with the saw, then cut in from the edge of the tile to remove as much waste as possible.

Photo 2: Trim and grind Make a series of closely spaced cuts up to the scored line. Break off the waste. Then grind the edges smooth.

The process for cutting semicircles from the edge of tiles is similar to the technique shown for full circles. You start by marking the cut and scoring the face of the tile on the line. Then, rather than deepen the scoring cut, simply remove the excess tile with straight cuts (Photo 1).

Before you remove the excess tile (Photo 1), be sure to make short cuts on both sides of the semicircle (1 and 2). Then connect the cuts as shown (3). Rather than make this connecting cut in one pass, make a series of progressively deeper shallow cuts until you’re through the tile.

Now complete the semicircle with a series of radial cuts—like the spokes of a wheel (Photo 2). Finish by cleaning up the rough edges with the diamond blade. Or remove the “tabs” with a tile nipper (a pliers-like biting tool). Then grind the edges smooth.

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

Cutting Ceramic Tiles With a Mechanical Tile Cutter

To make the job of cutting tiles a little easier there is a range of mechanical tile cutters that can be used, these are as follows:

Contractors Tile Cutter

A slightly easier way is by using a mechanical tile cutter or contractors tile cutter as they are sometimes known. The tile is placed in the machine, the handle, which has a circular blade on the end is pushed over the tile along the line you need to cut and then the clamp is wound down onto the tile which breaks it in the required place.

You may find that with some of the cheaper ones that you need to go over the tile with the cutter 2 – 3 times to make sure that you have completly scored the glaze so the unwanted section will break off easily.

For only £15.00 its worth its weight in gold and will save you a lot of time if you have quite a few cuts to make.

If possible, get one with an adjustable guide as you can then ensure that your tile stays straight while cutting it. You will also then get a nice crisp line.



Contractors tile cutter

Contractors tile cutter

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.

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STEP 3: Smooth the edges of the tile

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

Photo: fotosearch.com

Photo: fotosearch.com

What is the best tool to cut tile?

‘There are many different types of tiles, and many different machines that will work on them.’ says Ash.

‘In my experience though, a wet table saw is an invaluable tool for cutting most, if not all types of tile, as these types of saws cut very straight and smooth. It can be used for ceramic, glass, porcelain, and natural stone tiles.

‘You can rent a wet table saw for your specific project or choose to purchase one, but if you pick the latter option keep in mind that these saws come in multiple sizes, depending on the tile size you will be cutting.’

Ready to rent a tile saw? They’re available at your local home improvement stores including Home Depot (opens in new tab) and Lowe’s (opens in new tab).

You can use a manual cutter, available from Amazon (opens in new tab) for straight cuts on porcelain and natural stone/slate tiles, then an electric cutter for more complex designs such as right angles and curves in mosaic tiles or a tile scribe for small, thin tiles.

Geraghty adds: ‘A tile cutter is designed to carefully cut ceramic and porcelain to reduce the risk of shattering. This is a great tool to use as it is available in either manual, or powered variants to best suit your needs.’

Safety notice: With all tile cutting methods be sure to wear safety goggles (opens in new tab) and utility gloves (opens in new tab), both of which you can buy on Amazon. Do not touch the blade and keep fingers away from it. Ensure any hazards are not present, do not wear loose clothing and keep children away also. Finally, go at your own pace.

(Image credit: Ca’ Pietra)

Step 1: Measure and mark tile

Always wear gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask ($8, The Home Depot) when cutting tile. Use a ruler to measure where your ceramic tile needs to be cut. Mark the measurement on the glazed side of the tile using an erasable marker or pencil and a straightedge.

How to Cut Tile

Handheld Snap-Cutters

A handheld snap-cutter uses a small diamond blade to score tile and then snap it for a relatively clean cut. You really only want to use these with ceramic tile as porcelain typically doesn’t play well with a simple handheld score-and-snap. The advantages of this tool include its small footprint, ease of use, and inexpensive price.

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How to cut tiles with a wet saw

For experienced DIYers, a wet saw will make cutting tiles easy. Wet saws/electric cutters are used for right angles, curved or beveled edges and thicker tiles such as porcelain and natural stone. You can use it indoors but outside use is less messy.

The RYOBI 7 in. 4.8 Amp Tile Saw with Stand, exclusively available at Home Depot (opens in new tab)is a great candidate for more complex home improvements and comes with attractive features to help you achieve flawless results. 

The anti-slip rubber feet on the stand creates a stable surface, while the splash hood allows you to see exactly what you’re doing, without the water getting in the way.

How to:

  1. Make sure the electric cutter has water in the tray as the blade will overheat; it also reduces the amount of dust produced when cutting.
  2. For curved edges, mark with a pencil the area that needs to be cut, and mark several lines up to the curved mark. This is because a tile can’t be turned whilst being cut.
  3. Using the electric cutter, cut the number of lines up to the curved mark so it looks like a comb.
  4. Draw round the curved mark with a tile scribe to score and cut into the glaze.
  5. Using a tile nipper, break away small bits at a time up to the curve, and file down until smooth.

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.

Photo: fotosearch.com

Photo: fotosearch.com

Step 3: Cut and smooth the tile

Ensuring the tile hasn't shifted, press the lever down directly over the scored line using even pressure. This should split the tile in two. If the tile edges are rough after being split, use a rubbing stone ($10, The Home Depot) to smooth uneven edges.

How to Do an Interior Cut in Ceramic Tile Using a Jigsaw

Interior cuts in ceramic tile are often done to cut out openings for wall outlets and taps. To do an interior cut in tile, you will need a power drill, a drill bit and a jigsaw.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This roundup was written by Erica Puisis, who has researched and written dozens of home improvement and DIY stories for The Spruce. A regular wanderer at big box home improvement stores and an official helper to her handyman husband, Erica is no stranger to the tool aisle and enjoys researching and recommending the right equipment to help you get the job done.

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