5 Best Tools for Cutting Ceramic Tile

If you're saving money by installing your own tile, don't make the mistake of scrimping on tools. Different tile-cutting tools are designed for different types of cuts, from fast straight cuts to detailed curves and notches. There are also cutting tools that excel at removing tile for repairs.

  • 01 of 05

    Tabletop Wet Saw

    cutting tile with a wet saw
    lutherhill / Getty Images

    You Want To:

    Cut lots of tile for at least one room of your house, and you want those cuts to be perfect, straight, and trouble-free.

    Best Tool:

    Tabletop wet tile saw, such as the SKIL 7 Inch Wet Tabletop Tile Saw

    Why:

    A wet tile saw is a tabletop saw, somewhat like a woodworker's table saw, except it uses a diamond or carbon blade made just for cutting tile. It also delivers a continuous stream of water onto the blade and tile throughout the cut, to reduce heat and, most important, minimize dust.

    Wet saws make quick, accurate straight cuts in all types of tile, including stone and glass tile. They can cut anything from huge large-format tiles to tiny mosaic tiles, and they save considerable time on large-scale projects. What they don't do is make curved cuts.

  • 02 of 05

    Handheld Wet Saw or Oscillating Tool

    Ryobi 4 Inch Hand Held Wet Tile Saw

    Ryobi

    You Want To:

    Cut out an installed tile, either the entire tile or a portion of it.

    Best Tools:

    Handheld wet tile saw or oscillating multi-tool; a regular circular saw with a tile blade works, too

    Why:

    A manual wet saw is the cleanest, safest option for removing an installed tile. Some, like the Ryobi 4 In. Tile Saw, go for less than $100. These work just like an ordinary circular saw, but they use a tile blade and have a continuous spray of water that is fed to the blade through a plastic tube.

    Alternatively, a standard circular saw equipped with a 4-inch diamond blade can do the job, but it will get ugly. There is a reason why tilers use wet saws. Cutting with a standard circular saw is very dusty and creates a potential for flying shards of sharp tile.

    An oscillating multi-tool, like the Bosch Multi-X, is a good way to surgically cut away the grout that binds the affected tile to​ the surrounding tiles. Once the grout is removed, you can safely chip out the damaged tile using a cold chisel and hammer, without disrupting the neighboring tiles.

  • 03 of 05

    Snap Tile Cutter

    Snap tile cutter

     

    stock_colors / Getty Images

    You Want To:

    Cut a few tiles, without spending a lot of money on a specialized tile tool. 

    Best Tool:

    Snap tile cutter, such as the QEP 24-Inch Tile Cutter

    Why:

    Snap tile cutters work like glass cutters, with carbide wheels that score into the surface. Also known as rail cutters, they are used by putting the tile in place, zipping the wheel across the tile surface to score it, and pressing the handle for a satisfying "snap" to break the tile along the scored line.

    The downside is that snap cutters do not give you flawless lines (as a wet tile saw would), but this is acceptable if the ragged edge will be covered by something like baseboard. You can also clean up a cut edge with a tile rubbing stone.

  • 04 of 05

    Tile Nipper

    Tile nipper

    Amazon.com

    You Want To:

    Nip off small portions of an individual tile or make curved cuts.

    Best Tool:

    Tile nipper, such as the ​M-D Compound Tile Nipper

    Why:

    Call it a tile nipper, nibbler, or whatever, this is the most dead-simple tile cutting tool you will buy. It looks like a set of spring-loaded pliers, except the "jaw end" of the tile nipper has two hardened carbide blades. These blades are very dull and allow you to systematically nibble away at the edge of​ the tile to make curves and notches.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Rotary Cutting Tool or Hole Saw

    Tile hole saw

     

    Valeriy_G / Getty Images

    You Want To:

    Create a hole or other cutout in the center of a tile.

    Best Tools:

    RotoZip or other rotary cutting tool, or a drill with a tile-cutting hole saw

    Why:

    Sometimes you have to make cuts within a tile, such as circles for pipes, or rectangles for outlets. A RotoZip has a blade like a rotating drill bit, except it moves exceedingly fast, and the sides of the bits are covered in diamond grit that bites through ceramic tile. A RotoZip can cut curves and holes as well as straight lines.

    A tile-cutting hole saw fitted onto a portable drill makes a clean circular cut. It works just like a drill bit and cannot make straight cuts or curves other than complete circles.