How to Cut Tiles
Porcelain and ceramic tiles are very popular for flooring and walls, and the majority of tiling projects would require some cutting to fit the pattern or surface area in question. In this article we look at how to cut tiles to a high standard whilst preserving the lifespan of your cutting equipment.
Tools for cutting tiles
The most conventional machine used for cutting tiles is a masonry saw or tile saw. These can be self-standing like a table saw or operated on an existing work surface. Desktop tile saws are compact and portable, and typically use a 9” (230mm) or 10” (250mm) blade, whereas freestanding bridge saws such as Red Band’s Prime 100 have a 14” (350mm) blade capacity.
Some of the smallest blades are for handheld finishing, using an angle grinder. These machines and blades are typically the least expensive due to their small size relative to a masonry saw.
Diamond blades for tile cutting
Continuous rim blades are used for cutting porcelain and ceramic tiles which helps to prevent chipping and cracking in the material. The consistent impact pattern causes a well-distributed grinding force onto the tile, rather than reverberating throughout the material. A segmented blade would create continuous shocks and disrupt the entire surface of the tile.
For particularly hard tiles, Norton Clipper have developed a new blade called the Extreme Ceramic Soft. The ‘soft’ in the title refers to the bond in which the diamond content sits. The harder tile surface needs a soft bond to better expose the diamond so that it makes a quality cut. The most popular size of tile blade on masonry saws is 350mm.
Tile cutting method
Once you have the right machine and the right blade for the task, you need to make sure to use the right cutting technique. Instead of just cutting all the way into the material as quickly as possible, we recommend patience and caution to maximise the life of your machine and blade.
Ensuring you use a water feed, fix the blade to its optimum height and place the tile against the backstop and cutting guide. If your material is more than 3mm deep, use the saw to score a line of partial depth at a slow but steady pace. Be receptive to auditory and vibratory feedback which should indicate how much the blade is having to work to cut the material.
Please avoid pushing the tile with force because this can make the blade wear down and exert excessive strain on the motor of the machine. Many masonry saws have a thermal overload function which cuts the motor if there is too much resistance on the blade.
Once you have used the same machine and blade with the same material a few times you will get a feel for it. We always recommend wet cutting where possible, as this prolongs the life of the blade.