How to select the proper tool for cutting ceramic or vinyl tile or marble, slate, or stone flooring.
Depending on the kind of tile you are installing on you floor or wall there are several available tools to cut tile. While more than one tool can be used to cut tile, some tools may be better than others for the size and type project. This guide can be used to determine what tools are available for your ceramic or vinyl tile job.
Tile nippers break off small bits of tile at a time, which allows you to shape tiles along the edge - for example, around a toilet or along the curved edge of a sink. Firmly hold the tile glazed-side up, and use the tile nippers to chip away at the ceramic tile until you have created the necessary shape. To make the shape more accurate, it's possible to trace a template from your curved surface, transferring the shape onto the tile. Score the area to be removed with a glass cutter (making parallel lines along the surface of the area, or even cross-hatch marks), then use the tile nippers to remove the unnecessary tile material. Take off small amounts of tile at a time; you don't want to take off too much tile, otherwise you'll have to start over with a new tile.
Tile nippers are a handheld tile cutting tool used to take "bites" out of the tile, much like a pair of scissors cuts paper. Use them for small jobs or mosaic tiles. Pair tile nippers with other cutting instruments to make specialty cuts like curves or outlet cutouts.
Snap cutters work similarly, but more rapidly, than the glass cutter-and-dowel method. They hold the tile in place, allowing you to score the tile at the appropriate place, and then snap the tile at the score mark. These can be purchased or rented from home improvement centers or tile suppliers.
Rotary tools can be used to make small cuts around fixtures or moldings. While rotary tools may not be the best choice for making long straight cuts, they are ideal for intricate cuts around plumbing fixtures or to make fine adjustments to larger cuts.
Rotary tools can be equipped with small drill bit type cutters for plunge cuts and grinding or diamond blades for making larger straight cuts.
Score and Snap Tool
A score and snap tool works like the carbide tipped pencil, but on a large scale. Place the tile on the flat table portion, run the blade over it and push down to snap. It makes precise cuts each time, and works well for all types of ceramic tile but its effectiveness varies with the thickness of the tile and the thickness of the glaze.
Glass Cutting Wheel
Tile nippers work well for mosaic tiles made of stone, ceramic or porcelain, but they can crush glass tile. To cut glass tiles by hand, use a glass cutting wheel. The cutting wheel is shaped like tile nippers with a handle that's squeezed, but rather than chomping down on the tile, it slices with two moving wheels that press together. Use a glass cutting wheel for small glass tiles.
Ceramic tile wet saws have water cooled diamond tipped blades that grind through most tile and stone with relative ease.
A tile saw can cut any type or size of tile. Use a standard blade for ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles, or a special diamond crusted blade to cut glass tiles. Some tile saws can accommodate a bull nose blade that can make finished end tiles of porcelain or stone.
Some tile saws can make plunge cuts which is useful when cut larger tiles and some wet saw blades can be adjusted to 45-degree angles to make miter cuts on the edge of the tile.
Vinyl Tile Cutter
Vinyl tile is extremely easy to work with and it can be cut with a utility knife and straightedge. If you are installing a large floor you can use a vinyl tile cutter to make straight cut quickly and easily. The tile cutter also has an adjustable stop which can be set to make the same cut over again.