How to Cut Wall Tiles
Cutting Border Tiles
For essential tools, see How to Tile a Bathroom Wall
Having finished the main field of tiles, it is necessary to cut border tiles one at a time to fit the gaps between the field tiles and the adjacent walls (since walls are hardly ever truly square, the margin is bound to be uneven). Protect your eyes with safety spectacles or goggles when snapping scored ceramic tiles.
- Mark a border tile by placing it face down over its neighbour, with one edge against the adjacent wall. Make an allowance for normal spacing between the tiles. Transfer the marks to the edge of the tiles using a felt-tip pen.
- Use a proprietary tile cutter, held against a straightedge, to score across the face with one firm stroke to cut through the glaze. You may also have to score the edges of thick tiles.
- Stretch a length of thin wire across a panel of , place the scored line directly over the wire and press down on both sides to snap the tile. Smooth the cut edges of the tile with a tile sander or small slipstone.
If you are planning to do a lot of tiling, it is worth buying a purpose-made tile-cutting jig. Inexpensive plastic jigs are perfectly adequate for relatively thin tiles, but you can also buy more substantial jigs that will cut tiles of any thickness. These jigs enable you to score tiles accurately and snap them with ease every time.
Cutting thin strips
A cutting jig is the most accurate tool for cutting a thin strip cleanly from the edge of a tile. If you do not want to use the strip itself chip away the waste a little at a time with tile nibblers.
Cutting Tiles to Fit Around Appliances
Cutting border tiles is relatively easy, but you will have to perfect different techniques to fit wall tiles around pipes and appliances.
Fitting around a pipe
Try to set out tiles so that you can cut semicircles from the edges of two adjacent tiles.
- If that is not possible, mark the centre of the pipe on the top and side edges of a tile and draw lines across the tile from these points. Where they cross, draw round a coin or something slightly larger than the diameter of the pipe.
- Make one straight cut through the centre of the circle and either nibble out the waste, having scored the curve, or clamp it in a vice, protected with softening, and cut it out with a tile saw. Stick one half of the tile on each side of the pipe.
Cutting a curve
To fit a tile against a curved shape, cut a template from thin card to the exact size of a tile. Cut ‘fingers’ along one edge; press them against the curve to reproduce the shape. Transfer the curve onto the face of the tile and cut away the waste with a tile saw (instead of a blade, this has a thin metal rod, coated with hard abrasive particles, that will cut in any direction).
Fitting around a shaver socket
You may have to cut a square or oblong piece from one corner of a tile in order to fit around a shaver socket. Mark it from the socket, then clamp the tile in a vice, protected with softening. Score both lines, then use a saw file to make one diagonal cut from the corner of the tile to where the lines meet. Snap out both triangles.
If you have to cut a notch out of a large tile, cut down both sides with a, then score between them and snap the piece out of the middle.