If you are installing new tile in your bathroom or kitchen, or anywhere else, the correct fit of the tile will make all the difference in creating a clean, elegant look.

With truly rare exceptions, this means that you will probably at some point need to cut some of your tiles for a correct fit, and the tile cutting tool you will select with significantly influence your tile installation.

There are a variety of cutting tools available for tiling work and you will need a tool that allows you to efficiently cut tile for corners, perimeters, and for around pipes and basins.

Apart from measuring the room or space, you wish to tile you have to cut your tiles to fit those measurements. Follow our step-by-step guides for how to use a tile cutter correctly.

this is a manual till cutter

What Is a Tile Cutting Tool?

Tile cutting tools come in a variety of forms that use various methods for the cutting of tiles in numerous materials including stone, ceramic, marble, clay, porcelain, vinyl, and more.

Tile Cutter Types and How They Work

The Manual Tile Cutter

A standard manual tile cutter is a basic tool featuring a handle that you place pressure on to cut a tile after scoring it with the tile cutter’s wheel, often in tungsten carbide.

These manual tile cutters come in versions for cutting marble, porcelain, ceramic, and other tile materials. Ideal for straight cuts, it uses a score and pressure snap mechanism. It is not ideal for stone, for small cuts, or for cutting combinations.

These manual tile cutters cutting small tills

The Handheld Tile Cutter

This is a lesser expensive tool that is available from various manufacturers in numerous versions. This cutter features a scoring wheel and cutting teeth. It is particularly indicated for corner cuttings and shapes.

The Snap Tile Cutter

This cutting tool is also called a rail tile cutter and works in the same fashion as a glass cutting tool or manual tile cutter. It will feature a scoring wheel in carbide to score the tile’s surface.

The tile is inserted into the tool and the scoring wheel is moved up and down the tile to create the score. A snapper within the tool moves onto the score. A lever is pulled, and the snapping mechanism presses on the score and snaps it into the two sized pieces you want. It is used for porcelain and ceramic tiles.

The Tile Nipper

A tile nipper is a hand tool resembling a pair of pliers that will snip off tile pieces and is often used to cut curved shapes.

The Electric Tile Cutter

This power tool resembles a table saw. It features a diamond blade that rotates and a guide to keep your tile in a straight position. A water spray will keep the blade wet to reduce friction and dust. This tile cutter is especially useful in large scale projects; however, it is rather large as a tool and requires a certain skill level.

This tile cutter is electric machines

Who Can Operate a Tile Cutter?

This is a relatively inexpensive tool to use, and it does not require electricity or water during use. Both beginner DIYers and professionals alike can use this tool. It is a safe alternative to power tools and only requires reading the instruction manual to operate.

How to Use a Manual Tile Cutter or Snap Tool Cutter?

Necessary Tools

  • Manual Tool Cutter or Snap Tool Cutter
  • Non-permanent marker or pencil
  • Tile
  • Sandpaper
  • Safety glasses

Step 1: The Cutter

Select and purchase the correct manual tile cutter for your type of tile and the type of cuts you want to make. If you plan on making diagonal cuts, you should select a cutter with a greater distance from corner to corner.

Step 2: Practice

Using tile scraps or tiles you won’t be using, practice making your cuts.

Step 3: Mark

With a non-permanent marker or pencil, mark the cuts you wish to make on both sides of the tile.

Step 4: Position the tile

Slide the blade’s level toward you. With the glazed side of the tile facing upright, position it in the tile cutting machine. Your marking should be over the cutter’s guidelines.

If you will be cutting lots of tiles in the same manner, adjust the cutter’s protector gauge. The tile should be snugly against the line and in a fixed position.

Step 5: Score the Tile

Slide the wheel blade and rest it on the edge of the tile. Run the cutter’s scoring wheel along with the tile once to create the breaking line. A scoring wheel is not to be used for cutting but to weaken the tile along the mark.

Step 6: Cut the Tile

Manual tile cutters feature a pressure pad that is separate from the cutter’s scoring wheel and is controlled by the lever or handle. When the tile has been scored, let the pressure pad drop onto the center of the tile.

Gently press down the cutter’s handle with gentle force. The pressure pad when pressing down will snap your tile in two along the scoring line.

Step 7: Smoothing

When necessary, use sandpaper for smoothing the cut edge.

How to Use a Hand Tile Cutter?

Necessary Tools

  • Handheld tile cutter
  • Tile
  • Pencil or non-permanent marker
  • Safety glasses

Step 1: Practice

Practice using your hand tile cutter on tile scraps or inexpensive tile to get a feel of using the tool.

Step 2: Mark Your Cutline

Using your pencil or marker draw the cut from the beginning to the end.

Step 3: Score the Tile

Place the scoring wheel over your marked guideline. Apply gentle pressure and slide the scoring wheel over the line. This can be repeated to weaken the tile along the cut line.

Step 4: Cut the Tile

Now place the tile on the score line into the hand cutter’s jaws and apply gentle pressure. The tile should snap into two pieces along the line quickly. Begin with gentle pressure to avoid tile breakage.

Step 5: Smooth

Smooth the edge that you have just cut. Using sandpaper, smooth the edge along with the cut tile.

How to Use a Ceramic Tile Cutter?

Necessary Tools

  • Ceramic Tile Cutter
  • Ceramic Tile
  • Pencil or non-permanent marker
  • Safety glasses

Step 1: Marking

Mark your ceramic tile where you have decided to cut it.

Step 2: Positioning

Place the tile in the ceramic tile cutter. Your mark on the tile should line up with the base’s center line. Adjust the gauge on the cutter to hold the tile in the desired position for an efficient cut.

Step 3: Oiling

Oil the cutting wheel lightly. Place the wheel on the edge of the tile that is closest to you.

Step 4: Scoring

Applying gentle pressure on the handle, push the wheel over the tile surface to score the tile. Lift the wheel from the tile.

Step 5: Cut the Tile

Using the breaker bar, position the bar onto the tile. Press the handle downward to snap your tile into two pieces along the lined you have scored on its surface.

The Anvil Tile Cutter and a Step-by-Step Guide for Using It

The Anvil tile cutter is not a type of cutter but a brand name of a manual tile cutter for both ceramic and porcelain tiles. The Anvil is a 14-inch tile cutter. The same steps should be followed as when using a manual tile cutter or snap tool cutter because the mechanism is identical.

Step 1: Mark

With a non-permanent marker or pencil, mark the cuts you wish to make on both sides of the tile.

Step 2: Position the tile

Slide the blade’s level toward you. Position it in the Anvil tile cutting machine. Your marking should be over the cutter’s guideline in the center. The tile should be snugly against the line and in a fixed position by adjusting the gauge. You can remove the miter gauge and still score the tile.

Step 3: Score the Tile

Slide the wheel blade and rest it on the edge of the tile. Run the cutter’s scoring wheel along with the tile once to create the breaking line. A scoring wheel is not to be used for cutting but to weaken the tile along the mark.

Step 4 Cut the Tile

Anvil tile cutters feature a pressure pad separate from the cutter’s scoring wheel and controlled by the lever or handle. When the tile has been scored, let the pressure pad drop onto the center of the tile. Gently press down the cutter’s handle with gentle force. The pressure pad when pressing down will snap your tile in two along the scoring line.

Step 5: Smooth

Using sandpaper smooth the cut edge.

Pros and Cons of Using Manual Tile Cutters and Snap Tile Cutters

Every cutting tool will have benefits and drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons for manual tile cutters and snap tile cutters:

Pros

  • Perfect for small DIY projects
  • Tile edges can be covered by cabinets, molding, and baseboards
  • These cutters are best for tiles smaller than one square foot
  • Quiet
  • Dust- free
  • Are best for ceramic and porcelain tile cutting

Cons

  • Not ideal for large scale projects
  • Can cut only in straight lines, no shapes, circles, curves or holes

The Bottom Line

For DIY tile work without having to invest in expensive tools, a manual tile cutter is a great option.

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