How to Cut Porcelain Tile

Porcelain remains one of the most popular choices for bathroom and kitchen tile. This hard, glazed substance can easily decorate floors and walls for added durability and great aesthetic value. From design to implementation, working with porcelain can be a breeze – as long as you know how to cut it.

For some homeowners, cutting this smooth substance can be a challenge, especially if they are used to ceramic. Since porcelain is fired and glazed clay, there are different factors to take into consideration before cutting it. Needless to say, it can be done using a variety of specialty tools to expedite the process. In fact, porcelain tile can even be cut by hand!

Below, we offer a step-by-step guide on cutting porcelain tile efficiently and effectively. To get installation just right, cutting needs to be as accurate as possible. Want to know how to cut porcelain tile like a pro? Look no further!

Porcelain remains one of the most popular choices for bathroom and kitchen tile. This hard, glazed substance can easily decorate floors and walls for added durability and great aesthetic value. From design to implementation, working with porcelain can be a breeze – as long as you know how to cut it.

For some homeowners, cutting this smooth substance can be a challenge, especially if they are used to ceramic. Since porcelain is fired and glazed clay, there are different factors to take into consideration before cutting it. Needless to say, it can be done using a variety of specialty tools to expedite the process. In fact, porcelain tile can even be cut by hand!

Below, we offer a step-by-step guide on cutting porcelain tile efficiently and effectively. To get installation just right, cutting needs to be as accurate as possible. Want to know how to cut porcelain tile like a pro? Look no further!

Why Porcelain Tile?

Tileshop

Earlier, we mentioned that porcelain is different from ceramic. However, porcelain is still technically a type of ceramic. This means that there are some working characteristics that are shared with ceramic. But it is still different from standard ceramic, so additional precautions and considerations need to be taken into account when learning how to cut porcelain tile.

The biggest difference between porcelain and ceramic is that porcelain tile is much harder and less porous than general ceramic. Porcelain is far less likely to absorb water, and therefore cannot be damaged in that way. This impervious substance makes it a top choice for tiling installations.

There are a few preferred methods for cutting porcelain tile that can prevent chipping and set you up for the exact sizes you need to complete your renovation project. Cutting porcelain tile with a wet saw is the most efficient and most highly recommended option, although Dremels and hand tools can easily be used to cut porcelain to your specifications as well.

How To Cut Porcelain Tile With A Wet Saw

Wet saws are extremely precise, and this can play to your advantage when cutting porcelain tiles. Not only can they be cut to your exact measurements, but they will always be left with a smooth, straight edge. While there are some situations in which another cutting method is better suited to your project, wet saws are highly accurate and good for bulk projects. If you’re going to be cutting a large amount of porcelain, an investment in a wet saw is recommended.

Wet saws with adjustable blades are the best for cutting porcelain in order to avoid chipping. The slower you feed the porcelain into the blade, the more accurate of a cut it can get. For a visual walkthrough on cutting porcelain tile with a wet saw, check out the tutorial video below:

Tips For Cutting Tile With A Wet Saw

Knowing how to cut porcelain tile with a wet saw comes with learning the ins and outs of the tool itself. When using any kind of power blade, it’s imperative to remember the following tips for achieving the cleanest cut possible:

  • Always ensure your blade is sharp and fresh.
  • Use a wax pencil to mark the cutting line. This requires manual measurements and accuracy so you know how to guide the saw blade.
  • You can also use a cutter to score the lines before entering the tile into the saw. This helps to make cleaner cuts.
  • Use tape to mask the edges of the tile to further avoid chipping.
  • Remember to have a full reservoir of water before you begin, and place the tile into the water when you’re ready to start making the cuts.
  • The saw should be cutting at least ⅛” deep, but not more than halfway through the tile.
  • Use a leveler to make double sure that your tile and cut marks are lined up perfectly with your blade.

Wet saws are not necessary for cutting porcelain tile well, but they are one of the most accurate and efficient tools for getting this job done. Other methods of cutting porcelain tile are discussed below.

How To Cut Porcelain Tile With A Dremel Or Drill

Sale
Dremel 4000-6/50 120-Volt Variable-Speed Rotary Tool with 50 Accessories
  • Speeds from 5,000 to 35,000 RPM
  • Compatible with all Dremel accessories and attachments
  • Includes 50 accessories
  • 360-degree grip zone for control in any position
  • Deluxe carrying case included.Cord Length: 6[ft]

If you’re more into learning how to cut porcelain tile by hand, it might be of use to you to invest in a Dremel. Dremel tools are more affordable and commonplace tools for cutting porcelain tile. It’s one of the easiest methods for cutting holes in porcelain tile. While a bit more preparation is needed, it is still an efficient method of cutting porcelain. In fact, after getting used to the process, cutting with a Dremel can be a breeze.

To accurately cut with a Dremel, make sure you have a diamond tile drill bit. This will ensure that you have the best tool possible for cutting accurate holes or slots in your porcelain tile. Once your drill bit is properly installed, you can start making the cuts in your tile – assuming you have already prepared it by marking the circles where you want the holes to be cut out.

The expert recommendation is to put the drill into the tile at a 45-degree angle, pushing until it is at a 90-degree angle. Don’t push too hard, or else the drill bit will be worn out way too fast. Once you reach the end of your cut line, pull the tool out gently. Cutting past the marked lines may result in damaged tile.

If your tile is a loose square, make sure to use industry-grade clamps to secure the tile in place before cutting. If the tile is already installed, your cutting may be a little easier to start with.

Cutting Porcelain With A Tile Nipper

Sale
M-D Building Products 49943 Compound Tile Nippers (PRO), Black, Yellow
  • Twice the power of conventional nippers
  • Makes irregular cuts on all tile or stone
  • TPR ergonomic comfort grips

Another method used to cut porcelain tile by hand, the tile nipper is good for smaller or more short-term projects. The ideal use of a tile nipper is to form circular or arched sections of tiles. These kinds of smaller, more precise cuts cannot be done with something like a wet saw.

Tile nippers are quite popular in the construction industry and can be used to cut smaller pieces of tile.

The process for cutting porcelain with a tile nipper is similar to the methods listed in previous sections. What’s most important to remember is that you must use a non-permanent marker to accurately measure and mark the areas you want to cut. Then, properly score the tile using a shallow cutter. This will prevent chips and jagged edges as you start the cutting process.

Tile nippers work by hand using pressure. Pushing into the tile, you’ll be able to easily break the piece off. Afterward, you may need to use something like a rub brick to get the edges smooth to your satisfaction. Freshly cut edges are often sharp, so be sure to protect yourself to avoid getting cut.

We recommend the Qep Compound Tile Nipper for easy, affordable, and accurate results.

Cutting Porcelain Tile Without Chipping

Cutting porcelain tile without chipping it can be a separate challenge. Experts have invented methods for cutting tile that can prevent chips and breaks. Nothing is more frustrating than having to throw away entire tiles of porcelain because they keep chipping. That’s a waste of your money and materials, and there are ways to ensure that you never run into any bad luck on that end.

Here are a few methods to prevent chips during the tile cutting process:

The Notching System

If you are using a wet saw or any kind of power blade to cut your porcelain, you should be inserting notches into the tile before you cut it all the way through. This can be done using the following method:

  1. Put your tile on the blade as if you are setting it up to be cut all the way through.
  1. Add points at an equal distance apart from each other, where you want the tile to be notched.
  1. Make sure the notch marks are facing the blade when you set it up.
  1. Slowly push the tile into the blade and cut only an inch into the tile at the notch marks.
  1. Flip the tile over and make the same exact notches in the same exact spots, about an inch apart.

Even wet saws can chip tile occasionally. There are some tricks of the trade that professionals and amateurs alike have learned in order to ensure that the tile does not break during your project. Glaze tile has a special protective coating that, depending on the factory it came from, can increase the chances of the material chipping if the job is not done right.

Applying Pressure

With a successful notching system in place, another way to prevent the likelihood of chips or cracks is by gently applying pressure while cutting the tile. Whether using a hand tool or a power saw, the method is the same. Apply an even amount of pressure from start to finish, as your blade goes through the cutter.

Gentle pressure ensures that your tile goes all the way through, from end to end, as smoothly as possible. It is the same reason why you want to push down on a piece of paper when cutting a straight line in it; that force adds a little extra control and secures the materials in place so that the material is more likely to stay together.

Make Shallow Cuts

You don’t want to cut too deeply, or you ruin the structural integrity of the tile itself. Cutting shallow and slow will prevent the tile from chipping.

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to adjust your blade to make ⅛” deep cuts. Anything more, and you may damage the porcelain. You don’t want to cut completely through the tile, or you will start to run into precision issues.

Placement of your tile on the blade also makes a difference:

  • If your blade lowers, face your tile up.
  • If your blade cuts from the bottom up, face your tile down.

While occasional chipping and damage can’t be completely avoided, using these strategies can help you greatly reduce your risk.

Paragraph

Cabinets 101 Banner - Sebring Design Build

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.

Cut Tile To Your Specifications

Cutting porcelain tile can be achieved in a variety of different ways in order to achieve your perfect end results. For large, standard-sized cuts, a wet saw or a tile saw is likely to be your best bet. With those, you can get heavy-duty cuts that meet your specification and can be applied to many tiles. For smaller projects or more unique cuts within porcelain tile, hand tools are an easy suggestion. Dremels and diamond drills are good for cutting circles, holes, or unique shapes within your tile.

Keep in mind the differences between porcelain and other types of ceramic. Porcelain isn’t as absorbent, so some of the issues you may into when it comes to using ceramic for kitchen tile may not apply here. You can always research more differences to find out whether porcelain or ceramic is the right choice for your next kitchen or bathroom remodel.

Professionals utilize different strategies to ensure that each tile is uniform. Accuracy is important in construction projects, no matter how large or small. And whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a contractor, taking advantage of these strategies – and safety precautions – is the most important thing.

For more information about tile projects for your bathroom or kitchen, or for further insights on successfully cutting tile, check out Remodeling 101 as a free e-Book resource from Sebring Design Build. Get remodeling secrets, make sense out of your materials, and browse options without getting scammed.

Blog-CTA-Banner-3_Sebring-Services
2019-09-27T15:10:48-05:00Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on How to Cut Porcelain Tile

About the Author:

" We are very passionate about educating homeowners.From design ideas to hiring a contractor, we hope this bloghelps you in the process of remodeling your home. "~ Bryan Sebring