How to cut tile around switches

Written by tami graves
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How to cut tile around switches
Cutting tile around a switch isn't difficult if you plan carefully. (tile layer image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Tile installations for areas such as kitchen backsplashes, bathroom walls, or accent walls usually require the tile to be cut around switches. Cutting tile for placement around switches can sometimes be tedious work, but with careful planning and the right tools, it can be a snap. Laying the tile out before installation and using a template of the switch box to assist in making the cuts around the switch can save a lot of time and aggravation.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Tile saw or tile cutter
  • Marker
  • Tile nipper
  • Sanding stone
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tile spacers
  • Masking tape

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Instructions

    Prepare for Cutting the Tile

  1. 1

    Turn the breaker off to the switch that the tile will be cut around. Using a screwdriver, remove the switch cover, exposing the switch box.

  2. 2

    Measure the wall dimensions where the tiles will be installed, using a measuring tape. Measure from the horizontal and vertical edges of the wall to the outer edges of the switch box. Using a pencil, translate these measurements to a piece of paper.

  3. 3

    Measure the height and width of the switch box with the measuring tape. Using a pencil, draw its outline using the measurements just taken, on a piece of paper. Create a switch box template by cutting out the outline, using the scissors.

  4. 4

    Replace the switch cover, using a screwdriver. Turn the circuit breaker back on.

  5. 5

    Lay the tiles down on a flat surface, as they will be installed onto the wall, using the wall dimensions. Lay out the tiles across, and down, from the outer dimensions, to cover the switch position. Insert the tile spacers between the tiles to simulate the spacing of the tiles as they will be installed on the wall.

  6. 6

    Attach the switch box template over the switch location, using the masking tape. Draw around the template with the marker. Remove the template.

    Cut the Tile

  1. 1

    Cut around the marked tiles, using a tile saw or tile cutter. Use a tile nipper to nip off any excess tile at an inside corner or edge. Use a sanding stone to sand any sharp edges.

  2. 2

    Lay the tile back down on the flat surface to make sure it is aligned properly with the rest of the tiles. Place the switch box template over the cut out area to ensure it is aligned properly.

  3. 3

    Install the tile if everything is aligned properly; if not, recheck to ensure all the measurements were taken accurately.

Tips and warnings

  • When marking a tile cut line, use a marking medium that doesn't permanently stain the tile.

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