How To Cut Porcelain Tiles Without Chipping Them


How to Cut Porcelain Tile Without Chipping

Porcelain tiles can be an excellent addition to your home. They provide a classic look without sacrificing the durability required of materials in kitchens and bathrooms.

As you work to add porcelain tiles to your home, you may need to cut it from time to time. This can be difficult to do without chipping the tile given how hard it is. However, with the right saw, it’s not impossible.

To cut porcelain tile without chipping, use a wet saw with an adjustable blade. First, fill the reservoir with water. Then, turn the saw on and notch the tile at one end. Next, start pushing the tile into the saw blade approximately 1 or 2 inches. Then, rotate the tile and cut across the mark you’ve made until finished.

Why You Should Use a Wet Saw When Cutting Porcelain Tile

Wet saws are versatile tools that can be used to cut through many different materials. They have several unique strengths that make them the best option for cutting porcelain tile.

First, and most importantly, wet saws offer the benefit of extremely precise cuts. When you’re cutting porcelain tiles, you need to be able to make uniform cuts. If you aren’t able to do that, you’ll end up with tile pieces that don’t fit neatly with one another upon installation.

Wet saws also enable DIYers to create smooth, straight edges. This is also something you’ll want to prioritize while preparing porcelain tiles for installation.

If you plan on cutting lots of porcelain tile, then it’s a good idea to invest in a wet saw if you haven’t already. Doing so will allow you to get the best cuts on your tiles without chipping them.

Things You Will Need

The first step in this project is gathering the tools and materials you’ll need to get the job done. Getting this set up now will allow you to proceed with your porcelain tile cuts unimpeded once you’re ready to begin.

Outside of a good wet saw, there aren’t many things you need to gather before cutting porcelain tile. Here’s what you should have:

  • Diamond blade
  • Tile cutter
  • Thick work gloves
  • Eye protection

How to Cut Porcelain Tile Without Chipping

Chipping porcelain tile is, unfortunately, fairly easy to do. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to throw away entire tiles because of this. 

You can make chipping much less likely by following what professionals call “the notching system” while cutting porcelain tile. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Put your tile on the blade as if you were going to cut all the way through it.
  2. Mark two points where you want to notch the tile. These should be made at an equal distance apart from one another to ensure a uniform cut.
  3. Make sure you can see the notch marks while setting up for your cut.
  4. Turn your wet saw on.
  5. Slowly push the tile into the blade, cutting only an inch into the notch mark.
  6. Rotate the tile to set up a cut on the second notch. This should be on the opposite end of the first notch mark that you cut.
  7. Slowly push the tile into the blade at the second notch mark. Keep going until you’ve made it back to your initial cut.

Prevent Chipping by Applying Pressure

Following a notching system while cutting porcelain tile is the most effective way to prevent chipping. However, the process isn’t a perfect one. You’ll be able to make successful cuts more consistently by following a few additional practices.

The first of these is to apply pressure while you make your cuts. You can do this with a hand tool, a power saw, or another tool that you have, which will get the job done.

The method is fairly straightforward. Simply apply an even amount of pressure across the entirety of the tile throughout the duration of your cut. The pressure should be gentle and enable your wet saw to cut through the tiles as smoothly as possible.

If you’re wondering why this works, think about how you would cut a piece of paper with scissors. You would push down on the paper to give yourself extra control and secure it in place. That’s exactly what you’ll do when applying pressure while cutting through porcelain tiles.

Prevent Chipping by Making Shallow Cuts

It’s also important that you don’t cut too deep when working with porcelain tiles. Deep cuts have the potential to ruin the structural integrity of the tile, which is a surefire way to chip it.

For the best results, DIYers should adjust the blade of their wet saw to make 1/8-inch deep cuts. This is the ideal depth because it allows you to make your cuts without damaging the porcelain itself.

As you prepare your tiles to be cut, you can also increase your chances of success by utilizing better placements. For example, if your blade lowers, you should face your tile up. If your blade cuts from the bottom up, then face your tile down.

Other Tips for Cutting Porcelain Tile with a Wet Saw

DIYers who have experience with a wet saw are going to be more successful in cutting porcelain tiles without chipping them. However, if you’ve never worked with a wet saw before, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to failure.

Instead, consider implementing these tips whenever using a wet saw:

  • Use a leveler. This will make sure that your tile and cut marks are lined up perfectly with your blade.
  • Make sure your water reservoir is full before starting. This is a good habit to get into doing. The last thing you want to have to do is stop working right when you start getting into a groove.
  • Keep your blade sharp and fresh. Dull blades make chipping much more likely. To avoid that from happening, make sure that your blade is fresh and sharp before cutting any porcelain tiles.
  • Consider using a cutter to score the lines before pushing the tile into your saw. This can make it a bit easier to make cleaner cuts.
  • Use a wax pencil for marking. A wax pencil will make a noticeable mark that won’t be difficult for you to follow while operating your wet saw. At the same time, wax pencils don’t do any damage to porcelain tiles. That makes them a good tool for marking your tiles before cutting them.

Can you Cut Porcelain Tiles with Other Tools?

Wet saws are undisputedly the best way to cut porcelain tiles. This is thanks to the advantages discussed above, including precision cuts and the ability to prevent chipping.

However, if you don’t have a wet saw, you may want to try cutting your tiles with another tool. Popular alternatives include drills, a Dremel, and tile nippers. 

Each of these tools can cut through porcelain tile. However, you should expect to experience more frequent chipping if you decide to use one of them.

Related Questions

Are there any benefits to using porcelain tiles over ceramic ones?

Porcelain tiles are made out of a thicker clay than their ceramic counterparts. This makes them more impervious to moisture and a better fit for heavy-duty usage.

Is porcelain tile more expensive than ceramic tile?

Yes, you typically will have to pay more for porcelain tile than ceramic tile. However, as discussed above, homeowners do get value out of paying these additional costs.

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