How to cut ceramic tile around outlets

Written by kimberly johnson
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How to cut ceramic tile around outlets
Cutting tile around outlets requires special tools. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Installing tile on a backspace or wall is one way to transform the look of any room. Ceramic tile comes in a wide variety of colours, shapes and designs, and is a durable waterproof material when installed correctly. One challenge when installing tile is cutting it to fit around electrical sockets. While it may seem confusing, the proper tools allow you to cut and install the outlet tiles just as efficiently as the other tiles on the wall.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Straightedge
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile nippers
  • Drill
  • Tile saw or angle grinder
  • Carbide-tipped cutting blade
  • Rubbing stone

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  1. 1

    Install all of the tiles on the wall surrounding the outlet boxes, leaving an open space for the tile that you need to cut.

  2. 2

    Place a tape measure against the open space on the wall and measure how far over and down the outlet box is. Measure from the top and bottom screw holes on the box, not the metal rim.

  3. 3

    Transfer the measurements onto a ceramic tile using the tape measure and a pencil. Use a straightedge to make straight lines, if needed.

  4. 4

    Lift up on the top handle of a tile cutter and slide the ceramic tile under the blade until one of the pencil lines is positioned under the blade.

  5. 5

    Lower the handle of the tile cutter and push down firmly on it to cut the tile along the line. Reposition the tile to align another pencil line under the blade and cut it in the same manner. Continue until the tile is cut to the proper shape. Smooth the cut sides with a rubbing stone.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have a line that is too short for the tile cutter or positioned at an awkward angle, cut it with tile nippers. Tile nippers are handheld tools that work like scissors to cut the tile.
  • If the outlet hole falls in the middle of a tile, drill a hole in the pencil line with a drill. Then insert a carbide cutting blade into a small angle grinder or tile saw. Insert the blade through the hole and carefully cut around the inside of the hole. Clean up the edges after cutting with tile nippers.

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