How To Cut Porcelain Tiles

Due to their durability and aesthetic appeal, porcelain tiles are often preferred to line bathroom and kitchen floors. They offer more decorative designs compared to other tiles and are easy to use. The main challenge is knowing how to cut them, especially if you’re used to ceramic or other tiles. 

There are three methods you can use to cut porcelain tiles from your home:

  • Using an angle grinder
  • Using a wet saw
  • Using a tile nipper

As much as these DIY porcelain tile cutting methods might appear simple, knowing how and where to cut the tile is crucial since it’s easy to damage the tile in the process. 

That’s not all, as you still need to know how to handle each device while cutting the porcelain tiles, where to cut the tiles, how to avoid tile chipping, and the safety measures to take, which you will learn when you read on. 

How Can You Cut Porcelain Tiles For Your Home?

Porcelain tiles are hard compared to other tiles, making them challenging to cut without damaging or chipping them. However, the cutting task isn’t impossible, as, with the right tools, you can accomplish it from the comfort of your home. Here are several ways you can choose to cut porcelain tiles:

Cut Porcelain Tiles with an Angle Grinder 

Whether you want to cut the porcelain tiles in circular or straight lines, the best tool for this job is an angle grinder. For starters, it comes equipped with an aggressive disk that makes cutting easier and allows you to cut into any shape you choose. The cutting process is straightforward and involves the following steps:

  1. Mark the area of the tile you want to cut.
  2. Make small cuts each time you pass the tool over the tile.
  3. Use the abrasive steel to sharpen the tile’s edges which helps to align it on the floor.

An angle grinder is perfect for bathroom projects where tiles might be required to take specific shapes to accommodate things like pipes, sinks, and sockets. 

Cut Porcelain Tiles Using a Wet Saw

Like any power blade, using a wet saw to cut porcelain tiles requires some knowledge about using the tool. A wet saw has an advantage over other tile cutting tools since it leaves the edges smooth, eliminating the need to use abrasive steel. It’s also very fast and efficient enough to cut down workload by nearly 30% compared to other tile cutting tools. Here is the process of cutting porcelain tiles using a wet saw:

  1. Mark the area on the tile you wish to cut using a wax pencil.
  2. Choose a sharp or a new blade.
  3. Dip the tile in a bucket of water which helps to prevent cracking when cutting.
  4. Mark the edges of the tile with tape to prevent chipping.
  5. Make sure the cut is only 1/8” deep and don’t cut through the tile.

Before you decide to use a wet saw to cut porcelain tiles, make sure you have a leveler in place, which helps to achieve the desired cut. Although a wet saw requires a bit of caution and experience handling it, it’s also a very efficient tool to cut porcelain tiles. 

Cut Porcelain Tiles Using a Tile Nipper

A tile nipper is a small tool that allows cutting porcelain tiles by hand. It’s more suited to small projects but comes in handy when you want to make precise cuts such as arched or circular shapes. Such cuts are impossible to make with tools such as a wet saw or an angle grinder. The cutting process is similar to the methods we’ve mentioned above.

A tile nipper is a popular tile cutting tool and is suitable for cutting off small pieces. However, you would be required to use a rub brick to smoothen the edges once you’re done cutting. 

How To Avoid Tile Chipping When Cutting Porcelain

Tile chipping is a common problem experienced when attempting to cut porcelain tiles. A chipped tile is unusable, and there is no way of mending it, so the only solution is to replace it. Not only does tile chipping waste materials, but it also adds to your cost of construction. The great news is that you can avoid this problem entirely if you follow these practices:

Tile Placement

Before you begin cutting porcelain tiles, it’s always best to place them on a sturdy surface, such as a strong wooden table. Next, place the tile near a tile stop which helps to hold the tile in place and prevent chipping. Lastly, make sure you distribute pressure evenly when cutting. 

Make Shallow and Slow Cuts

Shallow cuts are very critical if you want to avoid tile chipping. As discussed, the cut should be 1/8” deep and should never exceed ½.” Avoid cutting through the tile since this will degrade the tile’s components and increase the chances of breaking. Regardless of the tool you’re using to cut the tile, it’s critical you cut slow as you observe the tile’s reaction. If you suspect there is too much pressure on one side, stop immediately and readjust the tile. 

Use the Notching System

The notching system is critical if you’re using a power blade such as a wet saw to cut the porcelain tiles. Not only will you be able to cut through the tile fast, but it also reduces tile chipping significantly, making it one of the best ways to deal with chipping. To set up a notching system, you should follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the tile sits on the blade as if you’re going to cut through.
  2. Measure equal points where you want the tile to be notched, and make sure you mark them.
  3. As a rule of thumb, the marks should be facing the blade.
  4. Push the tile into the blade where the notched mark will be cut only an inch deep. 
  5. Do the same on the other side of the tile by flipping the tile over.

Although it’s effective, it can still chip the tile if you’re not careful. Make sure you keep an eye on the tile the entire time; if cracks start to appear where they’re not supposed to, stop cutting immediately.

Safety Measures To Observe When Cutting Porcelain Tiles

Your safety and that of those around you should be your first priority. Since you’re dealing with power blades and sharp objects, it’s very easy for accidents to occur. Even broken pieces of tiles can inflict damage if you’re not careful enough. Here are some safety tips when cutting porcelain tiles:

  • Always wear goggles to prevent small tile pieces or sparks from reaching your eyes.
  • Make sure you wear heavy-duty gloves, which will protect your hands from cuts.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a mask will prevent you from inhaling any toxins.
  • Make sure the floor or the surface is not slippery.
  • Avoid using electric-powered tools near a wet surface.
  • Ensure the tools are well lubricated.
  • Don’t use tools that appear to be malfunctioning.
  • Make sure you use the right blade on the right tool.

Make sure anyone else on the construction site follows these safety tips to avoid any injury. 

Conclusion

Cutting porcelain tiles is challenging, but you can accomplish it by using an angle grinder, a wet saw, or a tile nipper. To avoid tile chipping, make sure you make shallow cuts only 1/8” deep, place the tile on a sturdy surface, and use a notching system. Observe proper safety tips to avoid any injuries. 

Sources:

Home Edit

YouTube

Family Handy Man

Tile Tools

YouTube

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Tony Moran is a writer, blogger and DIY enthusiast living in rural Norfolk, England, UK, with his wife and a lively border collie. Subscribe to this blog for updates and receive more awesome home improvement tips.

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