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5 Essential Tile Cutting Tools for DIY Tiling Projects

Author: Handyman StartupTime: 2024-01-07 18:05:02

Table of Contents

Introduction to Tile Cutting Tools

Tile cutting is an essential part of any tile installation project. Having the right tools allows you to make precise, clean cuts that result in a professional-looking finished product. In this blog post, we will introduce you to five of the most common and useful tile cutting tools that every DIYer should be familiar with.

Manual Tile Cutter

A manual tile cutter, also known as a score and snap cutter, is a hand-operated tool that allows you to score and then snap ceramic, glass, and some natural stone tiles along the scored line. It consists of a wheeled cutting head that scores the surface of the tile, along with a bar and padded handle that provides leverage for snapping the tile cleanly along the score. Manual tile cutters range in price from $50 to $900. The cheaper $50 versions work fine for basic ceramic tile projects. However, for harder materials like porcelain or thicker glass tile, you'll want a more heavy-duty tile cutter that can apply more cutting pressure. Manual tile cutters allow you to make straight or diagonal cuts. They are an essential, cost-effective tile cutting tool for most projects. Just keep in mind that the cut edges will not be perfectly smooth like what you would achieve with a wet saw.

Wet Table Saw

A wet tile saw, also known as a wet table saw, uses a diamond-tipped blade to cut tile while continuously spraying water on the blade. The water prevents the blade from overheating while also minimizing airborne dust. Wet tile saws allow you to make precise, smooth cuts in tile including porcelain, ceramic, glass, and natural stone. They are the best choice when you need to make repetitive cuts to tiles (like when installing subway tile), straight cuts around windows and outlets, or any situation where smooth edges are desired. Wet tile saws do come at a cost premium compared to manual tile cutters. Budget models start around $200-$300. You can also rent a wet tile saw which is a good option if you only have a small tiling project. While not essential for every project, having access to a quality wet saw will make cutting tile much easier and give superior results.

Handheld Manual Tile Cutter

A handheld manual tile cutter is a small, basic tile cutting tool that sells for about $10. You slide the cutter across the tile while pressing down firmly to score it. Despite what some videos online try to portray though, I have found these tools very difficult to use accurately. It's hard to apply enough pressure to actually cut the tile, follow a straight line, or use along an edge as a guide. Handheld tile cutters really only work for thin, soft tiles like ceramic. While super cheap, handheld tile cutters are not an essential purchase. In most cases, you're better off using a quality manual tile cutter or wet saw to get better, straighter cuts.

Angle Grinder with Diamond Blade

A 4-inch angle grinder outfitted with a diamond tile cutting blade is a versatile power cutting tool. It allows you to make curved, detailed cuts in tile, which is difficult to achieve with manual tile cutters or wet saws. An angle grinder with diamond blade can cut most tile materials including ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, and even granite. The downside is that angle grinders do not make very smooth, clean cuts compared to a wet saw. There is also a lot of dust produced when cutting tile this way. For most tile jobs, an angle grinder for tile cutting won't be essential. But they are still great to have for unique cuts and customizations. An angle grinder has many uses beyond tile work too.

Hole Saw

A hole saw allows you to neatly cut circular holes in tile for plumbing fixtures like showerheads, faucets, soap dishes and more. Plumbing locations rarely line up exactly with the tile layout, so being able to cut clean holes wherever needed is very useful. Carbide grit or diamond grit hole saws work on most tile materials, including porcelain and natural stone tiles. Adding water while cutting with a hole saw significantly improves the speed of the cut and prevents excessive wear of the blade.

Best Tile Cutting Tools for Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tile is generally the softest and easiest type of tile to cut. For most ceramic tile projects, the essential cutting tools you'll want are:

  • Wet tile saw - Makes straight, smooth, repetitive cuts
  • Manual tile cutter - For straight cuts where smooth edges aren't critical
  • Angle grinder with diamond blade - For unique curved cuts
  • Hole saw - For cutting plumbing holes through tile

You can get away with using a basic, inexpensive manual tile cutter on ceramic since it's such a soft material. However, investing in a quality wet saw takes a lot of the hassle and effort out of cutting rows of ceramic tiles to exactly the same size. And combining a wet saw for repetitive straight cuts with an angle grinder for custom work gives you the most flexibility.

Best Tile Cutting Tools for Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tile is significantly harder and denser than ceramic tile. While the same cutting tools are used, porcelain requires more robust, heavy-duty versions in order to achieve clean cuts:

  • Wet tile saw - Again, a wet saw makes the smoothest, fastest cuts
  • Heavy-duty manual tile cutter - Don't skimp here, you need one rated for porcelain
  • Angle grinder with fresh diamond blade - Helps make detailed curved cuts
  • Hole saw - Use a diamond grit one for clean holes

Cutting porcelain tile without chipping it is very difficult. Investing in high quality, specialized tools is important because a basic manual tile cutter will likely struggle. You can also rent heavy-duty tile cutting tools which makes sense if you only have a small porcelain tiling project.

Essential Tile Cutting Tools for Natural Stone

Natural stone tiles like marble, granite, and travertine are very hard, so top quality cutting tools are essential. Never try scoring and snapping natural stone tile with a manual tile cutter—it simply won't work.

For natural stone, the essential cutting process is a wet saw outfitted with a diamond blade designed specifically for stone. This will allow you to make smooth, precision cuts without overheating the blade or stone. You can also make detailed cuts with an angle grinder and diamond blade. Just keep in mind the cut won't be perfectly smooth but it works in a pinch.

Cutting natural stone tile is labor intensive and requires great care to achieve clean results. If tiling a large area with stone, it's wise to leave the specialized stone cutting to professionals with the proper tools.

Conclusion and Summary

We've covered five of the most popular tile cutting tools, discussing what they excel at, their limitations, and what tile types they work best on. Here's a quick recap:

  • Manual tile cutters - Essential for most jobs. Best for ceramic.
  • Wet tile saws - Makes smooth, repetitive cuts. Works for all tile types.
  • Handheld tile cutters - Rarely needed. Cheap but hard to use.
  • Angle grinders - Allows custom curved cuts. Finishes aren't perfectly smooth.
  • Hole saws - Cuts neat holes for plumbing fixtures.

The right cutting tools allow DIYers to tackle tiling projects with professional-looking results. Manual tile cutters combined with an angle grinder or wet saw form a highly capable tile cutting toolkit suitable for most home ceramic and porcelain tile installations.


Q: What are the 5 main tile cutting tools?
A: The 5 essential tile cutting tools are: manual tile cutter, wet table saw, handheld manual tile cutter, angle grinder with diamond blade, and hole saw.

Q: What tools do I need to cut ceramic tile?
A: For ceramic tile projects, you'll need a wet table saw, manual tile cutter, drill and hole saw, and an angle grinder with a diamond blade.

Q: What tools should I use to cut porcelain tile?
A: For porcelain tile, use a heavy-duty manual tile cutter, wet table saw, drill and hole saw, and an angle grinder with a diamond blade.

Q: Can I cut tile without power tools?
A: Yes, you can cut tile without power tools using just a manual tile cutter. However, you may not get clean, smooth cuts on harder tiles like porcelain.

Q: Is a tile saw necessary?
A: A tile saw like a wet table saw is extremely helpful for cutting lots of tiles cleanly and smoothly. But for small DIY tile projects, a manual tile cutter may suffice.

Q: What is the cheapest way to cut tile?
A: The cheapest way to cut tile is using a basic manual tile cutter. But it won't give you the smoothest cuts on harder tiles.

Q: Can I rent tile cutting tools?
A: Yes, you can often rent tile cutting tools like wet table saws and heavy-duty manual tile cutters if you only need them for one project.

Q: How do I make holes in tile for plumbing fixtures?
A: Use a diamond hole saw on a drill to cleanly cut holes in tile for showerheads, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures.

Q: What blade do I need to cut porcelain tile?
A: To cut porcelain tile, use a wet saw with a porcelain blade or an angle grinder with a diamond porcelain blade.

Q: How do I cut detailed shapes in tile?
A: To make curved cuts or detailed shapes in tile, use an angle grinder with a diamond blade.