Guide to Cutting Tiles

In this guide, we’ll talk through all the methods around making cuts in tiles. Very rarely does a situation occur where the cutting of tiles is not necessary. Whether it’s getting tight into a corner, or encircling a sink fixture, cutting tiles is a crucial stage of the tiling process, which can be disastrous to get wrong. Taking the time to correctly cut tiles reduces not only the potential wastage of tiles, but also reduces the hazard that may be produced by razor sharp tile edges. Tools used to score tiles should also be used with precaution, as they may cause injury if used incorrectly.

As with any home improvement project, it is important to follow the necessary safety precautions in order to reduce the risk to your health and well-being.

We recommend that all of the following safety precautions should be followed:

  • Take reasonable care of your own safety
  • Comply with all instructions on the packaging
  • Use hand tools carefully and according to instructions
  • Safety footwear should be worn Overalls, dust mask or respirator should be worn to reduce risks
  • Protective eye equipment should also be used


There are several tools that can be used to cut a tile.

Tiles on a lounge floor, with brown ornaments

Tile Scribe

A tile scribe is likely the simplest tool that can be used to cut tiles.

Step 1

Measure the tile. Taking time to properly measure the tile can reduce the headache that can be caused by cutting too early. When you’re sure of your measurements, use a pencil or a pen to mark the tile where you need to cut. Ensure that enough pressure is applied on the ruler to stop it from moving during this process.

Step 2

Hold the ruler firmly and score along the line, using the tile scribe. Ensure that enough pressure is applied on the ruler to maintain its place while you are using the tile scribe. You should aim to cut through the tile in one stroke. The tile should snap cleanly in two after using the scribe tool.

Optional

A tile snapper may also be used, if the tile scribe proves to be ineffective, or require too much pressure to operate easily. If using the snapper, simply score the tile with the tile scribe as described. Once this has been completed, line the score up with the centre mark of the tile snapper. Applying light pressure on the handle of the tile snapper should result in it snapping cleanly in two.

White tiles on a wall with Bathroom Ornaments

Tile-Cutting Machine

A tile cutting machine is a combination of a scoring and snapping tool that comes along with a comfortable bed, to cradle the tile while you delicately snap it in half. Purchasing an expensive cutter might seem redundant, but it will greatly increase the speed of cutting. A sharper blade will reduce the amount of time spent on each tile, reducing 3 cuts to 1. Some of these products will also come with a gauge for measuring the tiles, and can take grout gaps into consideration as well.

Step 1

It is often easier to measure and mark the tile before you place it in the machine, as it will allow you to easily line up the line with the blade.

Step 2

Once the tile is lined up with the blade, lower the handle until the cutter has made contact with the tile. Pushing down on the tile and moving the handle forward should allow you to make a cut in the tile.

Step 3

Now that the tile has been correctly scored, lower the handle so that the snapper touches the underside of the tile. Pressing down on the handle should cause the tile to snap cleanly along the cut.  

Multicoloured tiles on a wall with kitchen utensils

Electric Tile Cutter

On an occasion where a unique cut is required, such as a curve, or an angle, an electric tile cutter may be deemed necessary. An electric tile cutter may also be required in cases where the tile is too thick to snap cleanly with a regular cutting machine. Using an electric cutter in this case can ensure that tiles maintain their shapes that thicker tiles may lose when under the pressure of the manual cutting machines. Similar to the previous methods, it is crucial to take the time to make the correct measurement markings on the tile.  Use a pencil or a pen to mark the tile where you need to cut. Place enough pressure on the ruler to stop it from moving during this process to ensure a clean, straight line.

Saws will vary from manufacturer, but the majority will have a removable trough that must be filled with water, before any work has been started. Cutting without a filled tray, can result in the tile overheating, as well as generating a massive amount of dust, which can be harmful if inhaled, or cause irritation to eyes.

Positioning the tiles on the electric tile cutter will vary from product to product, so please ensure that you follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer. The best way to make an accurate cut is to ensure that your measurements are correct and adjust the saw as you work, to ensure that it lines up correctly with the mark on the tile.

It is crucial to wear safety equipment, such as protective glasses, as cutting tiles can be a dangerous process. Shards of tile can be as sharp as glass and can easily fracture and cause hazard to the person cutting it. You should also be careful of your hand positioning when working with the saw, and work slowly and accurately. This is especially important at the edge of the tile, as this is where fractures occur most. 

Once the tile has been cut, remove it slowly and turn the saw off immediately, and do not reengage the saw until the next tile is ready to be cut.