Home DIY – How to Cut Tiles

Although there are several very good devices to help you cut tiles successfully, you will achieve much better results if you carry out a few practice runs first. Experiment on old tiles or sacrifice a few plain tiles to perfect the technique. It may be worth investing in a tile jig to help you achieve professional results when cutting large quantities of tiles.

Professional results
Badly cut tiles with jagged edges will be an eyesore wherever they are placed. If you find it impossible to obtain consistently good results, approach your tile supplier, as many will be prepared to cut them for you, but make sure you mark them clearly and accurately. When fixing small pieces of tile, use a notched spreader to apply adhesive to the tile itself, rather than the wall. this should keep excess adhesive off adjoining tiles.

Scoring/cutting devices
Straight cuts are the simplest to make. For example, cutting a tile to fit into a corner or to fill the gap at the bottom of a run of whole tiles.

A tile-cutting jig or hand-held cutter will make light work of this, but the former may not be able to cope with diagonal cuts. In which case, a hand-held tool should be used, scoring along the cutting line and snapping the tile in two in the jaws of the tool or over two matches or a pencil.

For irregular and awkward shapes, around basins and pipes for example, you will need to make a template to transfer the shape to the tile. Alternatively, a profile gauge can be used to copy the shape. This incorporates a series of plastic fingers that reproduce the outline of the object you want to copy when you press them against it. Narrow sections of tile can be cut away piece by piece with tile nippers.

Mirror tiles
To cut a mirror tile, place it, face-up, on a flat surface protected by a cloth or newspaper. Mark the cutting line with a straightedge, then run a glasscutter along the line’ in one smooth stroke.

Place the straightedge under the tile and use the handle of the glasscutter to tap the surface of the tile lightly along the line of the cut. This will ensure a clean break.

Finally, position the tile so that the scored line is aligned exactly with the straightedge. Protect the surface of the tile with newspaper, then place a hand on each side of the straightedge, pressing down firmly to snap it in two. Wear safety goggles when doing this. Alternatively, a local glass supplier will cut the tiles for you, and smooth down any rough edges, for a small outlay.

Mosaic tiles
These are fixed to a mesh backing and are trimmed by cutting through the backing with scissors. Some may have a paper facing, which is also easily cut. Individual tiles can be cut with tile nippers.

Cutting border tiles
Each border tile should be marked and cut individually as walls can often be uneven and the dimensions may vary on a run of tiles. Once the tile is cut to size, file smooth any sharp edges.

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