When it comes to cutting ceramic, porcelain or glass tiles you have two options – a manual or electric tile cutter. A manual cutter is perfect for most DIY projects. It’s simple to operate, doesn’t use water and is relatively inexpensive. An electric cutter is best for hard materials, such as marble, limestone or granite, and when you need to make a lot of diagonal or intricate cuts.
With a manual cutter you can make straight or diagonal cuts. Some models enable you to cut angles between 0° and 45°. Most cutters are equipped with a carbide cutting (a.k.a. scoring) wheel that slides along rails over the tile and scores the surface. You then use a breaker bar that’s attached to the cutter handle to snap the tile along the score line. You can cut both glazed and unglazed tiles. For hard material such as glass there are specific cutting wheels to use. Manual cutters come in a variety of sizes. Purchase a cutter that can handle the largest tile cuts you need to make. For most DIY projects a 14″ to 24″ tile cutter is adequate. Two of the most common errors DIYers make when using a tile cutter are making multiple passes with the cutting wheel and applying too much pressure when making the scoring cut.
Cutting length: 14″ to 64″
Tile thickness: 1/4″ to 3/4″
Price range: $35 to $600
Top brands: Anvil, Montolit, QEP, Rubi, Vevor
Read and follow the instructions that come with your cutter. While using a tile cutter is pretty easy, you still want to make some practice cuts using inexpensive or scrap tiles.
Don’t make multiple scores on a tile as this can result in uneven breakage and a ragged edge.
Gentle, consistent pressure is the way to go. Press too hard and the tile will break, which is why you need to make some practice cuts to find the sweet pressure spot.
After cutting and snapping the tile, smooth the cut edges using a diamond rubber pad. The tiles will look better when installed.
When tiles break, small sharp fragments can fly upwards. Just like a pro, wear proper eye protection.
Carl Duguay - [email protected]
Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.