How to Cut Porcelain Tile: Going the Extra Mile for Tile

Porcelain tile is a beautiful material to use for bathroom and kitchen tiling as well as many other popular DIY projects.

Not only is it available in a variety of colors, hues, and patterns that you can mix and match to create a unique pattern. But it’s also extremely resistant to chipping, cracking, and scratching.

That same strength that makes porcelain tile such a durable option for bathrooms and kitchens also makes it difficult to cut.

Luckily with a few tricks and tips as well as the proper preparation and the right tools, it’s actually pretty easy to learn how to cut porcelain tile using one of the three top methods.

When you’re done with this guide, you’ll feel fully confident in your porcelain tile cutting abilities when it’s time for your next project. 

What You’ll Need

There are several different ways to cut porcelain tile.

Here are the tools and materials you’ll need for each of the three main methods. 

All four of these methods also require a handful of the same items:

  • Grease Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Soft Cloth
  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Goggles
  • Sturdy Gloves

Remember that if you use a tile saw for this project, make sure to always use a blade that’s also rated to cut porcelain tile, such as a dry-cut diamond blade.

Method I: Angle Grinder

An angle grinder is one of the most versatile tools you can use to cut porcelain tile.

The tool gives you much more control than most other tools, enabling you to cut circles and other cutouts in the middle of the tile.

Step I: Prepare the Tile  

Prepare your workspace by setting the tile on the soft cloth to prevent damages. Make a mark with your pencil and ruler where you’d like to cut.

Step II: Score the Tile  

Use the blade of the angle grinder to gently score the tile along the mark you just made. The cut should be approximately 1/16 of an inch deep.

Step III: Make the Cuts

Move the blade of the angle grinder just inside of the score you just made. Tilt the blade at about a 30 degrees angle to begin the cut. Continue to cut deeper, while simultaneously moving the blade away from the cut mark, until you cut through the tile. 

Step IV: Smooth the Edges

The edges of the just-cut tile will likely be rough, especially if you made a circle or angle cut. So, use the edge of the angle grinder to smooth out these edges until the sharp edges are gone.

Method II: Wet Saw  

Large scale tiling projects are much easier with the help of a wet saw.

If you’re not interested in dishing out the money to buy one of your own, many home improvement stores provide rentals.

According to The Home Depot, a wet saw is one of the most effective tools to cut porcelain tile thanks to its water-cooled diamond blade.

Step I: Prepare the Tile

Use your grease pencil to mark the tile where you’d like to make the cut.

Now, place the tile on the wet saw with the back edge firmly pressed against the fence. Line the blade up to the mark you just made on the tile.

Step II: Make the Cut

Turn the wet saw on and wait until you see the water flow into the blade.

Slowly move the porcelain tile through the blade, holding it on both sides of the cut, until the cut is completed.

Remember to gently push the two cut portions of the tile together as the cut nears completion, so the tile doesn’t break or chip in the last moments.

Step III: Special Techniques

The Family Handyman outlines various ways to use a wet saw to cut porcelain tile into special shapes as well as how to notch corners. 

Method III: Tile Cutter

For small tiling projects that require straight cuts only, a more affordable option than using an angle grinder or wet saw is to use a manual tile cutter.

Step I: Prepare the Tiles

Make a mark on the tile where you plan to cut. Place the tile on the soft cloth to prevent damages, such as chipping and cracking.

Step II: Cut the Tile

Slide one piece of tile at a time into the manual tile cutter. Line up the cut line with the blade of the device.

Now, gently press the handle down to score the tile on the cut line. Scoring the tile makes it easier to cut and also helps you ensure you cut it in the right place.

Apply a steady amount of pressure until the tile cutter cuts through the tile. You don’t want to push too hard or too fast as this can break the tile.

Like most things, you will soon get a hang of the exact right amount of pressure to put on the manual tile cutter.

Step III: Smooth the Edges

Porcelain tile can have sharp edges when its freshly cut. According to SF Gate, you can use sandpaper wrapped around a small block of wood to sand some of this roughness away.

Final Thoughts

It’s essential that you learn how to cut porcelain tile if you plan to complete a home tiling project yourself.

Though it might seem intimidating at first, it’s actually fairly straightforward to learn to cut porcelain tile with an angle grinder, wet saw, or manual tile cutter.

Once you’re done with your tiling project, here are some DIY tile ideas you can try out to use up any extra porcelain tiles left lying around.

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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