Tools for cutting porcelain ceramic tile

Updated February 21, 2017

Many do-it-yourselfers assume that the durability, hardness and strength that set porcelain tiles apart from nonporcelain tiles make them more difficult to cut. However, with the proper tools, cutting porcelain tiles is quick and easy. Tile setters use specialised tools to cut porcelain ceramic tile to fit around toilets, sinks, thresholds and more. Whether you're tiling walls or ceiling, bathroom or kitchen, become familiar with the tools for cutting porcelain ceramic tile, and choose the right ones for your job.

Manual Tile Cutter

The manual tile cutter, sometimes called a "hand" or "score and snap" tile cutter, employs muscle power and a sharpened cutting disc to create straight cuts across porcelain tiles. The tool features a stationary base beneath a set of straight, tubular rails. A sharpened cutting disc, also called "cutting wheel," slides back and forth across the rails and is raised or lowered against the base by a lever. A tile setter places a porcelain tile upon the stationary base, lowers the cutting disc onto the tile and runs the disc across the tile's surface. The disc scores a straight line through the tile's surface, along which the tile is snapped by placing it over the base's edge and pushing with an attached pad.

Tile Wet Saw

The flooring industry standard for cutting all types of tile, the wet saw spins an abrasive, circular blade to slice through porcelain tiles. The wet saw's blade either protrudes from a stationary base, like a carpenter's table saw, or hangs suspended above the base, like a chop saw. The wet saw's distinguishing feature is its water pump and circulation system. This machine distributes water over the blade, cutting surface and cutting material. Water cools components and materials, lubricates surfaces and reduces the creation of dust. To use a tile wet saw, a tile setter must push porcelain tiles through the tool's spinning blade.


The jigsaw, also called the "saber" saw, accepts a mineral-grit coated blade capable of slicing through porcelain ceramic tile. The jigsaw rapidly reciprocates its blade from a flat bottom plate. A tile setter pushes the reciprocating blade through a tile and, because the blade is relatively thin and flexible, the tool creates both straight and curved cuts. Because tile-cutting jigsaw blades are less resilient than tile cutter or wet saw blades, they are most suitable for small-scale, specialised cutting, such as creating curves for tiling around plumbing fixtures and cutting access holes for utilities.

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About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.