A powerful table saw can cut through hardwoods with seemingly little effort. It seems only logical that it would be able to cut through a variety of other difficult to cut materials. So, can you cut tile with a table saw?
It is not recommended to cut tile with a table saw but it is possible. You can cut a ceramic tile and some stone tiles with a table saw, but the dry blade used with a table saw will create more chips in the tile than if you used a wet saw. Additionally, the hazardous dust created by slicing into a ceramic tile can cause serious damage to your table saw.
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Plenty of people will use hand saws and table saws to cut tile, but the consequences of such actions can be serious. In this article, I will take you through all the reasons you shouldn’t use a budget table saw to cut tile, how you would go about doing it if you wanted to do it anyway, and what tools you should use to cut tile.
Why You Shouldn’t Cut Tile with a Table Saw
While a table saw is capable of cutting ceramic tile and some types of stone, it is not the best way of cutting these materials, especially if you have to make more than just a couple of cuts, and here is why.
Dust will damage your table saw
Ceramic tiles create a lot of dust when they are cut in a dry environment. The dust that is created when cutting tile is far finer than sawdust.
Ceramic tile dust will get into the workings of your table saw and bind with any moisture it can find there. This creates a kind of paste like material that will gum up the workings.
If you want to keep your table saw working for many years to come, cutting tile on it isn’t going to help you reach that goal.
Dust can be hazardous to your health.
This dust created by slicing through ceramic and some stone tiles is also extremely hazardous when inhaled. It contains silica dust which can cause irreversible lung disease, COPD, and cancer. It is not something you want to be breathing in no matter the quantity.
This dust can be even more hazardous if you are cutting the tiles in an enclosed environment.
A table saw will cause chips in your tile.
If you want to create as perfect a finished product as possible, you will not want to use a table saw to cut your tiles. A table saw will not provide the smooth cut you are looking for and will result in wasted materials and a subpar finished product.
There are simpler and easier ways of cutting the tile that will result in a better finished product.
Cutting Tile with a Table Saw
If your only option to cut tile is to use the best table saw for the money and you want to give it a go, then this is what you will need to do.
- Get the right blade. To cut a ceramic tile with a table saw, you will need a special blade. Purchase an appropriately sized wet or dry continuous diamond blade or another blade for cutting ceramic tile in a dry environment.
- Install the blade on your table saw.
- Make sure you use a respirator while cutting to keep the dust out of your lungs.
- Operate your table saw as usual to cut through the tile. Be sure that you do not force the tile into the blade. Allow the blade to cut through it with its own power.
- Turn off the saw when you have finished.
4 Better Tools for Cutting Tiles
- Tabletop Wet Saw
A tabletop wet saw is one of the most commonly used machines for cutting tile. It uses a continuous diamond blade in a wet environment to cut tiles without chipping. The use of water has the added benefit of keeping most of the dust from becoming airborne and entering your lungs.
Tabletop wet saws come in a variety of sizes and can be rented at home improvement stores at reasonable rates. If you have a lot of tiles that need to be cut, this is definitely the way to go.
- Handheld Wet Tile Saw
Handheld tile saws are relatively new to the tile cutting scene. Many people enjoy their portability, although you do need to stay connected to a water source and power while using them.
You cannot rent these, but the purchase price on many, like a Ryobi model available at the local big box hardware store which normally costs around $89.99, is pretty affordable.
- Manual Tile Cutter
Manual tile cutters score tiles and then snap them along the score. The technology is simple and easy to use, and it does not need to be plugged in. It does not make as clean a cut as the wet saw, and it is not as fast. However, if you are only doing a small tile job, it could be just right for you.
A manual tile cutter can only make straight cuts. If you need to make curving or irregular cuts you may need to use nippers.
Nippers are a great tool for creating irregular shapes, like the kind of cuts you would need around a door jam, in ceramic tile.
To use them, you need to first use a utility knife to score a line into the tile in the shape that you would like the tile to be. Then, starting at the edge of the tile, you slowly nip away the part of the tile you want to remove. You can smooth out the cut with sandpaper.
This can be time consuming, but if you’re looking for a simple and inexpensive way to cut irregular shapes in tile, this is the way to do it.
Cost to Rent Tile Cutting Tools
There is really no reason to risk damaging your table saw by cutting tile with it. There are a range of affordable options as far away as your local home improvement store.
This table breaks down the cost of renting or buying a range of tile cutting tools.
Tile Cutting Tool
Maximum Rip Cut
Small Tile Saw
$50 per day to rent
Medium Tile Saw
$60 per day to rent
Large Tile Saw
$70 per day to rent
Manual Tile Cutter
$18 per day to rent
$6.97-$30.95 to buy
Ryobi 4” Handheld Tile Saw
$89.99 to buy
Additionally, some tool rental locations allow machines to be rented for just four hours for about half the cost of a full day rental.
Cutting Tile with a Grinder
If you do not want to rent a wet saw, and you have a grinder, you can use it to cut tile as long as you buy the right blade. You will need a continuous diamond blade meant for cutting tile in a dry environment.
Like the table saw, cutting tile with a grinder does not result in the smoothest cut. There will likely be some chipping and some wasted materials.
The advantage of using a grinder over a table saw is that the grinder is not as big an investment as a table saw and the tile dust will have a harder time getting into the workings of the grinder.When it comes down to it, would you rather risk damaging a table saw that is worth hundreds of dollars or a grinder that is worth about a hundred? Of course, you’d probably rather risk neither