I'm tiling my bathroom floor with some large ceramic tiles (33cm x 33cm aka 13" x 13") and I'm having difficulty cutting them. I'm using a simple glass cutter, because the tile cutter for such large tiles is too expensive, and an angle grinder with a diamond disk gave a pretty dismal result (not to mention an absurd amount of noise).

The glass cutter worked like a miracle - for the first tile that I tried to cut diagonally (corner to corner). After that, it's the same problem over and over again:

Bad cut

I've scratched a pretty deep line with the glass cutter (even faintly visible in the picture), and I've positioned the tile-to-be-cut on top of an already glued tile on the floor. The scratch line matches the tile edge. Then I hit the corner with my fist to break it. And the result is in the picture.

In the middle it breaks as it should, but closer to the edges it ignores the lines. This is still salvageable with tile nippers (I need the big piece), but it's annoying. What am I doing wrong?

  • Can you post a picture of the tool you are using to cut the tile? – Freiheit Jul 22 '15 at 16:28
  • When you snap it, are you using a sharp blow (punch), or a gentle application of pressure? – Tester101 Jul 22 '15 at 16:28
  • @Tester101 - Umm... gentle punch? :) Well, ok, more like a blow, but with the softer side of my fist. Would a slower application of force work better? – Vilx- Jul 22 '15 at 16:34
  • @Freiheit - added links to google image searches. That should give you a good idea. – Vilx- Jul 22 '15 at 16:35
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    Maybe I'm just spoiled but you will not esthetically accomplish that cut without a wet saw. I've never met or known of anyone having good results with a tile cutter. You can keep practicing, you might get it done before you waste all of your tile. – Mazura Jul 22 '15 at 23:21

After wasting my money on tile nippers (they don't cut where they are supposed to any better that what you are having, IME) I went the dry diamond blade in an angle grinder route, and short of a wet saw I can't justify, would not do it otherwise. With dust mask and eye & hearing protection, of course; incredibly loud should not be something you experience directly. With a tiny bit of practice it was able to give me excellent results, and I even got to the point where I was mitering wall tiles (redoing an old bathtub with the old tiles needing to be re-used, and no outside-corner pieces available.)

The worst part for my job was cutting very small tiles, but the method I used for that might help depending what your problems with quality of cut are - I had to clamp them in between two boards to hold them steady for a cut and provide a straight edge to follow.

Also the usual "use of an angle grinder generic advice" applies - don't force it, don't let it twist in the cut. Practice on some of your waste tile offcuts.

Alternatively, see about renting a wet saw at the local tool rental place, but if you have a dry diamond blade and an angle grinder, you should not need to, IME.

  • I don't do it otherwise, without a wet saw. Anything else is out of the question. My first comment after using one: Oh, so that's how you cut tile. I'd of run a reduced garden hose to your grinder, like I've done to a worm drive for cutting granite slabs... I mean, um, don't try this at home. – Mazura Jul 22 '15 at 23:37
  • In the end, when all methods were getting progressively worse (and the broken tile pile bigger), I finally decided to give the angle grinder another go. This time I also had bought some cheap earplugs. And boy, what difference did that make! All of a sudden the tool was entirely usable, and cut through the tiles like butter. The cuts were pretty clean too, unlike the first one a couple days ago which I botched up. So yeah, +1 for the angle grinder! When I get to the walls, I won't even consider anything else. – Vilx- Jul 24 '15 at 14:46
  • The only problem now is - what to use as a guide for the blade? This time I only needed to do half a dozen cuts, so I used a straight piece of wood, but even those few cuts made a noticeable dent in it. I'll have to get something made out of a hard metal (and even that will yield to diamond in time) – Vilx- Jul 24 '15 at 14:48
  • @Vilx- It's been a few years, but I believe that I found an offset distance where I could clamp my wood guide and run the guard (rather than the blade) along the guide. As I got more time doing it, following a pencil line respectably was also more achievable, as far as I recall – Ecnerwal Jul 24 '15 at 16:22

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$65 at Harbor Freight or other import discounter. You are wasting your time with a scoring cutter. If you had a lot to do I would recommend a quality domestic saw, but for a one time job this saw will work so well you will kick yourself for not biting the bullet and buying one before you even started the job.

  • Winner, winner. Chicken dinner. THIS. What the OP "is doing wrong", is not owning one of these. – Mazura Jul 23 '15 at 22:03
  • I did a 150 square feet tiled shower with a QEP Torque Master XT tile saw: $33 at Amazon, so there's no excuse not to use the right tool. Just be sure to get yourself a good blade. – Paul Price May 23 '18 at 19:36

I think your problem is simply that you are using the wrong tool for the job. To get good cuts in tile use a tool designed to cut tile, not glass. They are similar but designed to do different jobs.

If the right tool is unavailable you might try changing how you break the tile. I have a tile cutter like this: Generic tile cutter image. The 'foot' is used to apply pressure and break the tile. This pressure is applied closer to the cut. It applies the force closer to the cut and not as abruptly as a punch.

Perhaps you could use a board or something else to apply your breaking force along the cut instead of in one place.

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    I did buy a tool like this... but I later realized it was too small. :( The bigger ones become comparatively expensive (cheapest I can find around here is about $50), so since I only needed a few tiles cut, I opted for the cheaper solution. Board - yes, the thought crossed my mind, but I didn't try that yet. I'll try Tester101's advice first, and then the board. – Vilx- Jul 22 '15 at 16:33

It sounds like you're being too aggressive. You want to snap the tile with gentle pressure, not a sharp rap.

  • Score the tile, as you've done.
  • Place the tile on another tile, as you've done.
  • Place one hand flat, palm down on each side of the scored line (place them close-ish to the line).
  • Apply gentle downward pressure to the tile, until it snaps.

A tile cutter works by applying a gentle force, evenly along the scored line. You want to mimic that as best you can.

  • Ehh, sorry, the gentle application didn't work either. :( The results are exactly the same. – Vilx- Jul 22 '15 at 17:24
  • Try using a piece of wood or something, to spread the force evenly along the score. – Tester101 Jul 22 '15 at 18:42
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    You could rent a tile saw. – Tester101 Jul 22 '15 at 18:42

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