Porcelain tile is perfect for just about any space in your home, from bathrooms and kitchens to entryways and hallways. It’s an excellent choice for high-traffic areas because porcelain can withstand scratches, stains, and liquids much better than natural stone. However, when installing porcelain tile, you will often find that the tile is larger than standard size tiles. This is because manufacturers cut most of their tiles to standard measurements so they can fit multiple sizes in one box. Installing a large tile can be a bit tricky if you don’t have the right tools on hand especially if you need to cut it around corners or handle quite a bit of it at once. If you have your sights set on installing cut-tile porcelain flooring, read on for a brief guide on how to do it safely and effectively.
How To Cut Porcelain Tile Without Breaking It
Review the Tile’s Thickness
Before you start cutting, it’s essential to understand how thick your porcelain tile is. This will help you determine which tools and techniques are best for the job. Porcelain tile is usually between 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick but can be thicker or thinner depending on the manufacturer. If your tile is thinner than 1/4″, you may have difficulty cutting it with a standard utility knife or power saw. In this case, a wet saw or diamond blade will be best for your needs.
Determine the Best Cutting Tools for Your Tile Size
Once you know how thick your tile is, you can then decide what tools are best for cutting it into smaller pieces that fit around corners or in tight spaces. A wet saw or a handheld power tool with a diamond blade will work well if you’re piecing together large sections of flooring that need to fit around doors and other obstacles in your home. If you want to cut small pieces of tiles that require intricate cuts around doorways and fixtures, a utility knife might be better suited for your needs — just make sure you use a new blade each time so that the edges are smooth and not jagged when they come into contact with other tiles in your flooring design. If you’re working on an especially large project, consider renting a wet saw from a local hardware store so that you can complete all of your cuts in one session.
Cut the Tile with a Utility Knife or Wet Saw
If you’ve decided to use a utility knife to cut your tiles, be sure to use the right blade for the job. A large, standard blade will work well for cutting large pieces of tile, but you may run into trouble if you try to cut small pieces with it. A smaller blade will do the trick here but make sure that it is sharp enough to make clean cuts without breaking off any edges along the way. With larger pieces of tile, make sure your hand is stable and steady while cutting otherwise you may end up with jagged edges that are difficult to fit back together without creating notches and gaps in the final product. If you’re using a wet saw instead of a knife, be sure that all of your tiles are securely fastened in place before beginning any cuts. Otherwise, they might move around during cutting and break apart or crack when they come into contact with other tiles on your flooring project. Be careful not to get too close to any walls or other obstacles when using a wet saw if anything gets caught between two blades as they move at high speeds, it could cause serious damage or injury!
Test Your Cuts Before Installing Them on Your Flooring Project
Once you’ve completed all of your cuts and think everything looks good from an aesthetic perspective, test them out before going further with the installation process. If you’ve cut a tile to fit around a doorway, for example, place it back on the floor and walk through it. Check for any gaps or notches that need to be filled in with grout if there are any, remove the tile and try again until all of your cuts are perfect. You may also want to test out your cuts before installing them on your flooring project, just to make sure that everything fits together properly before you begin laying down tiles —especially if you have a lot of small pieces that need to fit together into one large design.
Install Your Tiles
Once you’re sure that everything fits well and looks great, it’s time to install your tiles. If you’ve never installed tile before, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that will walk you through the process step-by-step — just search for “how to install tile flooring” or “installing ceramic tile flooring” and you should find a few that can help you get started. The basic process involves laying down a layer of adhesive on your flooring project, then pressing the tiles into place firmly in order to ensure that they’re stuck to the floor. Once you’ve finished with the adhesive, you can begin grouting your tile — if you’re doing a large flooring project, make sure that you have plenty of help and enough grout to cover all of your tiles.
Choosing The Right Saw
- Tile saws. Tile saws are designed to cut porcelain tile without breaking it, but they can be very expensive. They typically come with a table or stand and a thin blade that rotates at high speeds. A tile saw is ideal if you need to make cuts in a large number of tiles, but you can also use smaller tile saws for smaller jobs. If you do decide to use a larger tile saw, make sure you have plenty of room to set up the equipment so it stays safe and secure while you work.
- Circular saws. Circular saws are more affordable than tile saws and can be used on smaller projects as well as larger ones. However, they’re not quite as effective at cutting porcelain tiles without breaking them — so if you’re working with fewer than 50 tiles, consider using a different tool instead. Make sure the blade is thin enough to cut through porcelain tiles without shattering them, and run the blade slowly while pushing down firmly on the handle to keep the blade from moving too fast or jumping around while in use.
- Jigsaws or handheld wood-cutting tools. Jigsaws are designed for wood cutting, not porcelain tiles but they may be an option if your project does not involve many cuts and is small enough for one person to handle alone (no need for an extra pair of hands). If using this type of tool, be careful not to apply too much pressure and keep the blade moving slowly.
- Metal-cutting saws. If you’re looking to cut porcelain tile but don’t have a lot of money to spend on the right tool, a handheld steel-cutting saw may be your best bet. These are designed for cutting metal, so they are not as effective at cutting porcelain tiles without shattering them but they’re an affordable option if you need to make a few cuts in a small space area and don’t want to spend much money on tools.
Make Sure You Have The Right Tools
Measure the length and width of the space you want to tile. You can then use this information to purchase the correct sized tiles.
This is a must-have for any tiling project, and you will use it often when cutting porcelain tile. A utility knife has a retractable blade and is ideal for both straight cuts and curved cuts. The blade is also very thin, so it will fit in tight spaces when needed. Be sure to always use a sharp blade that has been properly maintained and cleaned after each use. If you have thick tiles, you may need to buy a larger utility knife or even a tile saw for cutting your porcelain tile.
You will need these tools if you plan on using adhesive as your installation method (as opposed to grout). These are great tools for tapping down tiles that are slightly raised from the floor or wall (also known as floating). If using adhesive, apply it directly onto the back of your tiles rather than onto the floor or wall surface. Doing so will allow you to keep more moisture out of your adhesive layer so that it dries more quickly and adheres better to the floor or wall surface below it. Once dry, you can then proceed with tiling as usual by setting down one tile at a time until they are all in place. Using adhesive helps keep your job site cleaner because there’s no need for messy grout, and you can complete your tiling job much faster than if you were grouting.
You will use trowels to apply adhesive to the back of your porcelain tiles. Be sure to use a good quality trowel and clean it thoroughly after each use so that there is no leftover adhesive on the tool and none remains on your tiles. You can also use these tools for applying grout, too.
A Large Work Surface
You will need a large, flat surface for laying out your tiles before installation. This will help keep them from moving around while you work with them, which could cause damage or waste time as you try to realign them later on in the process.
Cutting porcelain tile can be challenging, but with the right tools and safety gear, and careful marking, you can cut tile like a pro without having to sacrifice quality or durability.