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Explore Tile Cutting Methods Using Manual Tools, Wet Saws, and Tile Cutters

a tiler working on cutting tiles
Posted By: Darren Yorke
Posted Date: May 31, 2024

Tile cutting is an essential skill for any DIY enthusiast or professional tiler. Whether you’re renovating a bathroom, installing a kitchen backsplash, or laying a new floor, knowing how to cut tiles accurately and efficiently is crucial. There are several methods to achieve precise tile cuts, each with its own set of tools and techniques. This blog will explore three primary tile-cutting methods: manual tools, wet saws, and tile cutters. We’ll delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each method to help you decide which is best for your project.

  1. Manual Tile Cutting Tools

Manual tile-cutting tools are ideal for small projects or when you need to make quick, straightforward cuts. These tools are typically inexpensive, portable, and easy to use. The most common manual tile-cutting tools include:

Tile Nippers

Tile nippers are perfect for making irregular cuts, especially around fixtures like pipes and corners. They work like pliers, with sharp jaws that nip away small sections of the tile.


  • Ideal for small, irregular cuts
  • Affordable and easy to use
  • No electricity required


  • Not suitable for large or straight cuts
  • Can be slow and labor intensive
  • Leaves rough edges that may need sanding

Manual Tile Cutters

Manual tile cutters, also known as score-and-snap cutters, are designed for straight cuts on ceramic and porcelain tiles. They have a carbide scoring wheel that scores the tile surface, and a braking system that snaps the tile along the scored line.


  • Excellent for straight cuts
  • Quick and efficient for smaller tiles
  • No electricity or water required
  • Portable and lightweight


  • Limited to straight cuts; not suitable for curves or complex shapes.
  • Struggles with very thick or hard tiles.
  • Accuracy depends on the user’s skill.
  1. Wet Saws

Wet saws are electric tools that use a diamond-coated blade and water to cool the cutting surface and reduce dust. They are highly effective for cutting a wide range of tile materials, including ceramic, porcelain, stone, and glass. You’ll know more about this at UK Pro Tiling.


  • Highly precise and clean cuts
  • Suitable for straight cuts, angles, and complex shapes
  • Can handle large and thick tiles
  • Water cooling reduces dust and heat build-up


  • More expensive than manual tools
  • Requires electricity and water supply
  • Bulkier and less portable
  • Higher maintenance due to water and moving parts

Using a Wet Saw

When using a wet saw, it’s important to wear appropriate safety gear, including goggles and gloves.  Adhere to these steps for an effective cut:

  1. Set Up the Saw: Fill the water reservoir according to the manufacturer’s instructions and plug in the saw. Make sure the saw is positioned on a steady surface.
  2. Measure and Mark: Measure your tile and mark the cutting line with a pencil or marker.
  3. Position the Tile: Place the tile on the saw’s sliding table, aligning the cutting line with the saw blade.
  4. Cut the Tile: Turn on the saw and gently push the tile towards the blade, keeping your hands clear of the cutting path. Let the saw do the work without forcing the tile through the blade.
  5. Finish Up: After the cut, turn off the saw and carefully remove the tile. Smooth any rough edges with a rubbing stone if necessary.
  1. Tile Cutters

Tile cutters, also known as tile saws, are electric tools similar to wet saws but can be used dry or with minimal water. They are designed for precise straight and angled cuts on various tile materials.

Handheld Tile Cutters

Handheld tile cutters are compact, portable tools that are useful for making quick, precise cuts on smaller tiles. You can acquire both manual and electric models.


  • Portable and easy to handle
  • Suitable for quick, small cuts
  • Versatile for different tile materials


  • Not ideal for large tiles
  • Limited to the user’s skill and control
  • Can produce dust if used dry

Tabletop Tile Cutters

Tabletop tile cutters are stationary tools with a flat surface to support the tile during cutting. They are ideal for larger tiles and more frequent use.


  • Stable and precise cutting
  • Suitable for larger tiles
  • Can utilise water to control dust


  • Less portable due to size.
  • More expensive than handheld versions.
  • Requires a stable setup area.

Choosing the Right Method for Your Project

When deciding which tile-cutting method to use, consider the following factors:

  1. Project Size:
    • For small projects with a few cuts, manual tools or handheld cutters are usually sufficient.
    • For larger projects, especially those involving many cuts or large tiles, a wet saw or tabletop tile cutter is more efficient.
  2. Tile Material:
    • Manual tools are best for ceramic and porcelain tiles.
    • Wet saws and tile cutters can handle a wider range of materials, including stone and glass.
  3. Cut Complexity:
    • For straight cuts, manual tile cutters or tile saws work well.
    • For curves, notches, and complex shapes, wet saws and tile nippers are more suitable.
  4. Budget and Portability:
    • Manual tools are the most budget-friendly and portable option.
    • Wet saws and tile cutters offer greater precision and efficiency but come at a higher cost and require more space.

Safety Tips

No matter which method you select, always make safety your top priority. To ensure overall safety on your tiling journey, equip yourself with tiling courses, but here are some general safety tips:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Use safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask to protect yourself from debris and dust.
  • Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Always read and follow the tool’s user manual for proper setup and operation.
  • Secure Your Workspace: Ensure your work area is stable and free of clutter.
  • Handle Tiles Carefully: Tiles can have sharp edges; handle them with care to avoid cuts.

Tile cutting is an essential skill for achieving a professional finish in any tiling project. By understanding the different methods and tools available, you can choose the best approach for your needs. Whether you opt for manual tools, wet saws, or tile cutters, each method offers unique advantages that can help you achieve precise, clean cuts. Always prioritise safety and follow best practices to ensure a successful and efficient tile-cutting experience.


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Darren Yorke