How To Cut Ceramic Tile By Hand The Safe & Effective Way

How To Cut Ceramic Tile By Hand: The Safe & Effective Way

Tile cutting is only challenging if you can't cut through the glaze.

To accomplish this, a specialized tool is required. It won't work by using random objects that you find around your garage.

Spending money on a quality manual tile cutter can help you avoid wasting money on supplies, time, and things you might have broken out of frustration.

Which can happen on most, if not all, building projects. In addition to this, you want to ensure that you are cutting these tiles as safely as possible to reduce any chances of breakages and injury to yourself. 

Continue reading to learn how to cut ceramic and porcelain tiles by hand and what tools can be used.

Always Put Your Safety First

Keep in mind that you are using very sharp, potentially deadly tools when cutting tiles. Gloves and protective eyewear are necessary.

You might be wondering why it's necessary to shield your eyes? The reason is that while cutting, little bits of tile can break off.

During a ceramic tile job, be sure to give yourself plenty of space, and take as much time that you need.

Alongside that, make sure that you eliminate any potential distractions, which could make you lose concentration.

Using a hand-held cutting tool to dry cut tiles (whereas cutting loose tiles requires a wet saw) may require the use of a face covering to guard you from the dust.

Don’t Forget Your Grout Thickness

The thickness of the necessary grout line-space should be subtracted from the gap measurement where the partial tile will be placed.

Using a quality wax pencil or graphite, create a line on the surface of the tile. This will become our cutting line, so you are aware of how much of the tile you will be removing.

Cutting Ceramic Tiles By Tile Scribe

The hand cutter, also known as a tile scribe, is the first technique for cutting clean lines in tiles. This instrument will score the glazing on any tile because it is tungsten carbide-tipped.

Mark the tile surface where you want the cut to be made, place a second tile across the tile to be cut to create a straight edge.

After that, press firmly down on the cutter, and draw a line across the tile. Pay close attention to the beginning and end of your line.

The tile will break if the glaze is not scored along the entire length of the cut.

Place the tile over the edge of a work surface or something similar after it has been scored. Ensure that the scored line lies (facing upwards) exactly over the edge of the surface.

Holding onto the tile you need while pressing down firmly. Press down with your free hand on the overhanging portion of the tile that you don't need.

The tile will then break off from the undesirable area, providing you with the necessary portion and a neat cut.

Cutting Ceramic Tiles Using A Hand Saw

The hand saw is another tile cutting method. As you move it back and forth, a cylindrical tungsten carbide blade physically grinds its way through the tile.

This tool makes it difficult to cut straight lines, yet it excels at shaping objects like half-pipes or cistern corners.

You need to make sure that you mark the line that you wish to cut on. As this can then be used as a guide for you to follow while you are sawing. 


Cutting Ceramic Tiles Using A Contractor Tile Cutter

Using a mechanical tile cutter, also known as a contractor's tile cutter or angle grinder, is a little simpler method.

The tile is put into the machine, the handle with the circular blade cutting wheel is slid over the tile along the line you want to cut.

Then the clamp is closed down onto the tile, breaking it where you want it to be.

With some of the less expensive ones, you could discover that you have to pass the tile through the cutter two or three times to completely score the glaze.

Allowing the undesirable portion to break off with ease. It is such a simple tool to use that makes ceramic tile cutting a breeze. 

If you need to make a lot of cuts, it's going to save you a great deal of time.

Purchase one with an adjustable guide if at all possible, so you can make sure your tiles remain straight while being cut.

The line will also be nice and clean after that. This is also the best method for cutting natural stone tiles and porcelain tiles.

How To Make Small Cuts In A Ceramic Tile

A pair of tile "nippers", or a snap tile cutter, is required for all the small cuts required in the corners of tiles.

This is to help the files to fit into tight spaces and around objects protruding from the wall, such as pipes or sinks.

The trick to utilizing a tile nipper is to avoid cutting too much tile at once, and to avoid placing the entire blade on the tile in one go.

You should try to use tile pieces that are no deeper than half a blade length, and trialing it with the edge of the tile at first.

Complex forms can be carved out extremely cleanly, but the secret is to take your time and be careful. With these nips, a whole circle can be cut.

In order to assist the tile break smoothly, mark the section to be removed and draw the line to create a vulnerability. This will ensure that the tile will break cleanly

Put a little portion of the tile's waste area between the nippers' teeth. With hard pressure, twist the tile while holding it in your hand to separate a small piece of it.

Repeat the procedure to gradually remove the tile from the waste area. Avoid attempting to remove huge chunks, as the tile may crack abruptly if you do.

Apply equal pressure and twist your body as you get closer to the score line to promote a fracture there.

Making Holes In A Ceramic Tile

There are two approaches to creating tile holes.

You can either drill small holes all the way around the diameter of the hole you need to cut using a small masonry or tile drill.

Then place your tile saw inside a hole and cut along the edges to unite the holes.

For neatness' sake, you will require a tile file that will smooth all the drilled edges when using this technique.

However, there are also drill bits that can instantly give you your perfectly sized hole straight away.

Although, you may still need to sand down the hole afterwards to ensure it is as smooth as possible. 


When cutting ceramic tiles by hand, you want to ensure that you are using the safest methods possible.

All the methods we have outlined above will allow you to cut ceramic tiles cleanly and safely. The contractor tile cutter is the easiest and safest method you can use and will ensure clean lines as well. 

We hope you have found this article useful and have a better understanding on how to cut ceramic tiles by hand. Which is not only safe but effective as well.


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