Ceiling tiles are typically made out of fiberboard, a synthetic material made out of plant fibres and chemical resins that seal the tile into a solid. Ceiling tiles typically come in only a few sizes, often 12x12 inches, so homeowners and installer need to cut the tiles to fit most ceiling shapes. While fiberboard is generally easy to shape, several tools are used to speed up the process.
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A utility is a simple-edged knife, typically a razor blade suspended in a plastic sheath for protection, which is one of the most common tile cutting tools since utility knives are simple, inexpensive, and are used for a variety of tasks. Typically installers draw a chalk line on the tile and carefully cut down the line with the knife deep enough to fully cut the tile.
Shielded cutters are designed especially to cut off the edges of ceiling tile. This type of cutter also uses a razor blade but has a more complicated system, with metal panels on either side, allowing the installer to rest the blade on the tile with a section of the cutter hooked over the tile edge for support. The installer can exert much more force down on the tile without worrying about accuracy or the sharp razor blade.
Snips are simple tools, similar to pliers and designed to make small cuts in the tile. Snips are useful when ceiling tiles have only small flaws or to cut corners off to make a fit. Installers can save a lot of time by using snips instead of taking the tile down, measuring and recutting with a razor blade.
A saw is a common tool when cutting tile. Although rougher than a razor blade and not always as accurate, saws are useful when installers want to make long cuts in many different tiles. Typically installers support the tile against a table or cutting board and use a hand saw to quickly make the cut.
Hole Saw or Rotary Tool
Hole saws and rotary tools (attached to the head of the drill) both accomplish the same task: cutting holes in tile for light fixtures and other electrical components. The holes are difficult to correctly measure and cut, but hole saws are designed to drill accurate circles easily in the tile.
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