Cutting a Porcelain Tile: 6 Easy Methods

Cutting Porcelain Tile: Many people have the misconception that the porcelain tiles are different from the ceramic tiles. In real, porcelain tiles are a type of ceramic tiles which are mostly used for flooring and walling purposes with an absorption rate of around 0.5%. The only difference is that the ceramic tiles are made of clay and water while the porcelain tiles are made of sand. These tiles are formed by the application of heat and pressure which is why they are lot denser than the ceramic tiles. In general, porcelain tile is harder than ceramic and offers greater design flexibility. Although both are made from clay and other naturally occurring materials fired in a kiln, the clay used to make porcelain tile is more refined and purified.

A disadvantage is that these tiles can’t be replaced in a corner if they are chipped because of the distinct colour difference and therefore one should be careful while cutting porcelain tile and installing it.

cutting porcelain tile

What are the Best Methods for Cutting Porcelain Tile?

One can employ 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, should be done with sophistication. Why do we need to use these methods and what makes the best out of all the existing methods, if you ask? These methods are convenient, faster and easier to carry on and are relatively less costly when compared with the wet saw. A wet 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

Cutting Porcelain Tile Using Tile Nipper

A nipper or tile nipper (like a pair of scissors or pliers) is a tool used to “nip” or remove small amounts of a hard material, such as pieces of a tile which needs to be fitted around an odd or irregular shape.

Given below are the easy steps for the guide to using tile nipper:  

  1. In the construction industry, we see a lot of people using tile nippers in huge amount. This is because of the ease of their functionality and also because most of us are only interested in cutting a small piece off the tile.
  2. Initially, take the tile that you want to cut and prepare it. Then, score a line marking the edge where you want to make a cut with a cutter.
  3. Use the tile nipper, hold it at the edge centre of the marked line and apply pressure. The nipper will break the piece off.
  4. Sometimes, the piece fails to nip off, and that’s when you should try cutting it with a cutter.
  5. Don’t stress your nipper so much that it might even give up.
  6. The best tile nippers that are found in the contemporary market are Qep and Kobalt.

 Cutting Porcelain Tile With an Angle Grinder

  1. The second best tool that can be used is the Angle Grinder which can do multiple cuts in different sizes and shapes including the L cuts, the circle cuts, straight cuts, square cuts (basically any cut under the sun) et.al.
  2. The price of the tool is reasonable as a decent one can be owned by just spending $30 on it. An example of a smooth angle grinder is the DEWALT grinder that is only 41/2 inch long.
  3. The blade of this DEWALT Grinder is very durable and strong that it can cut any tile without any additional human effort.
  4. Just take the grinder and pull it across the edge that you want to cut and the grinder does the work for you in no time with efficiency and cleanliness.

How to Cut a Porcelain Tile Using Tile Cutter

A tool specifically designed for cutting ceramic tiles, although it can sometimes cut other materials such as glass. A thin blade (typically a cutting wheel) is drawn across the surface, making a small straight score mark in the glaze.

Below are the steps to be followed to use a tile cutter:

  1. Tile cutter has been everyone’s favourite for a while now. The reason behind this is because it is the fast among all the cutting tools and you can make many adjustments to the type of cuts you want to make.
  2. With the help of the cutter, you can either make big cuts or small cut depending on the type of the tile and the size of the tile.
  3. All you need to do is to cut the tile just the way you cut the paper with a paper cutter and rub the edge with the sandstone for a smoother finish.

How to cut a porcelain tile using a wet saw?

A wet tile saw cuts tiles made of ceramic, leaving a clean, smooth edge. As mentioned, owning a wet saw is not economically feasible. However, you might as well come across certain situations where you have to weigh the pros and cons and use a wet saw for cutting a porcelain tile.

Unlike vitrified tiles with a harder glaze, these tiles are softer because of the substrate and therefore are sometimes hard to cut with a simple cutter because of melted glass mass. For this reason, one should know how to cut a porcelain tile with a wet saw, a cutting machine or a blade.

  1. Marking Out: It is mandatory to mark the cutting line with a wax pencil before you start cutting porcelain tile. This is to ensure the precision in the size and the chipping can be avoided by masking the edges with a suitable tape.
  2. Scoring the tile: After marking the edges, take a cutter and score the line to make the clean cuts. Be sure that the tile is levelled with the cutting head to avoid any distortions or bends. Now, apply pressure and score the tile towards the down for it to snap.

Cutting Porcelain Tile with a Wet Wheel (Diamond)?

A diamond blade is a saw blade which has diamonds fixed on its edge for cutting hard or abrasive materials. 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 throughout the tile surface and in other the tile which is to be cut is passed across 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 cutting blade till the cut is made. Applying force may cause chipping.

Check this amazing comparison of the best tile saws by Pro Tool Guide!

How to cut a porcelain tile with a Drill Bit?

Drill bits are cutting tools used to remove material to create holes, almost always of circular cross-section. Drill bits come in many sizes and shape and can create different kinds of holes in many different materials. Following is the guide to using drill bit:

  1. Drilling holes are same as making cuts in a porcelain tile only in smaller scale and in circular shapes.
  2. However, drilling is not easy, and you need a clean drill in the tile so that it can fit the screws, plumbing pipes, space for radiators et. al.
  3. This can be done with the help of a drill bit in no time and the cost it also relatively less.

Though some of the tools mentioned above like the wet saw and the drill bit are not very safe to use because of their potential for accidental hazards. On the other hand, porcelain tiles when cut, smoothened and installed is a lifetime investment regarding functionality, beauty and also aesthetics. Therefore, try the one that suits your purpose the best and get to work with it.

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