DIY skills: How to cut tiles – the right tools to use
You’ve got visions of a gorgeous herringbone tiled bathroom or are planning to remove the plain white squares in your kitchen to create a trendy pink splashback.
You find some bargain tiles, read up on the tiling basics, and get ready.
Then you realise: your wall isn’t the exact size of ten tiles across. There are little gaps that need filling.
Don’t panic – the answer is simple: cut tiles to shape.
But we know that the prospect of cutting up tiles you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on – and having it go wrong – can be daunting. So, before you get slicing, we chatted with the DIY experts at The Goodlife Centre for their guidance.
How to cut tiles
Look, here’s the hard fact: you are going to buy some special tools for this task. Your kitchen scissors or raw hand strength won’t cut it.
Along with an actual tile cutter, you’ll also need goggles, as tiles produce shards when being cut. Don’t proceed without goggles – that’s important.
Okay, now the way you cut your tiles depends on their size. Thinner tiles can be ‘hand cut’.
‘The principle of hand cutting divides the process into a first and second part,’ Alison Winfield-Chislett tells Metro.co.uk.
‘A ceramic glazed tile consists of a layer of clay with a thin layer of glaze on top. The top layer is like glass, and that layer must be scored with a tungsten (very hard metal) cutting wheel before attempting to snap the tile.
‘Once the cutting line has been scored, the tile is clenched between the V shaped grip and snapped into two. It takes relatively little pressure to nudge the lower layer of ceramic clay into following that guideline. Use a ruler to scribe the top layer to keep the measurement accurate.
‘Tiles up to 8mm thick can be cut with tile cutters that resemble pliers. They look like this.
‘If there are any spurs left on the tile, a giant’s version of a nail file can remove them.’
Got a heftier tile? Then it’s time for your second option: a table top ‘flatbed’ cutter.
‘The next step up is a larger table top flatbed version, with a square edge to use as a guide and a longer handle to give more flexible pressure to make the final cut,’ Alison explains.
‘These are great as long as the cut that needs to be made isn’t just a sliver at one side.
‘Because their cutting actions are based on a snap method, like breaking a biscuit, it’s hard to break off an amount that less than a half.’
Another option is to use a tile saw. ‘You will use fewer swear words if you use a tile saw,’ Alison says. ‘They are relatively inexpensive and they require less of a knack to use.
‘There is a reservoir to be filled with water, which cools the tile as a metal tile cutting disc spins and cuts the tile. These can cut tiles and granite up to 25mm thick. Like all things, it needs some practice to get to know what pressure to push the tile through.’
Need to make a curve? Cut adjacent straight lines into the waste area of the tile with your saw then nip off the edges with a nipper.
Alison’s final words of wisdom: ‘When buying tiles, it’s often recommended to add 10% extra for breakage.
‘You are training yourself as you tile so be prepared for some learning experiences. As the Americans say: There is no such thing as failure – only feedback.
‘Even if you buy all these tools, you are saving money with the sweat equity and getting free pride thrown in.’
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