Cutting glazed porcelain tiles can be a herculean task. If you’re not careful, you might end up with chipped tiles and an uneven surface. What is more: quantity is affected which in turn creates an impact on your budget. But don’t worry; with a little bit of know-how, you can easily cut porcelain tiles without any chips or cracks.
Starting the Cutting Process
To start, make sure that you have the right tools for the job.You’ll need a wet saw to make the cuts and a diamond blade specifically designed for cutting porcelain tile. Be sure to read the instructions that come with your blade – there are specific ways to hold the tile and make the cuts that will help prevent chips and cracks.
Once you have your tools ready, it’s time to get started. Always cut porcelain tile in short bursts – no more than 10 seconds at a time.This will help keep the blade from getting too hot and causing chips or cracks in the tile. And remember always to use water when cutting porcelain tile – it helps cool down the blade and prevents chipping.
But before we dig deep into the cutting technique, let us briefly look over its unique features that draw us to porcelain as well as its weaknesses. This will keep you in the know as to what to expect of porcelain tiles when cutting.
Porcelain Tiles- The Good and the Bad
Porcelain tiles are a type of ceramic tile that is made from porcelain clay. They are harder than other types of ceramic tiles, such as earthenware or stoneware.This makes them more durable and resistant to wear and tear. Porcelain tiles are also more impervious to water and stain than other types of ceramic tiles.
One downside to porcelain tiles is that they are harder to cut than other types of ceramic tiles. This can be done with a wet saw, but it takes a little more time and effort.Many people are drawn to porcelain tile when looking at flooring solutions because it is durable, easy to clean and maintain, and comes in a wide variety of designs.
The use of fine clays and a process that fires them at a very high temperature creates a strong tile that can hold up under the heavy foot traffic of the busiest rooms in your home. This process also makes it resistant to scratching, chipping, and staining.
In the rare case that a tile is damaged, choosing a through-bodied porcelain tile can help hide the imperfections. In these types of tiles, the color runs through the tile instead of just the glazed top layer.
Porcelain tile is also easy to clean and maintain. Any spill can be simply wiped up, as it will not permeate into the tile due to the material’s 0.5% or less absorption rate. The low absorption rate prevents the tile from becoming stained as well. Due to porcelain tiles’ ability to be glazed over, there are innumerable designs to choose from.
We have detailed the article about Exploring Techniques to Keep Your Tiles Clean and Maintained in the previous article, if it is helpful to you, you can click here to learn about it.
What are the tools for cutting porcelain tiles?
Although chip-free cutting is hard with porcelain glazed tile, it is possible with the right tools and handling. For your ease, we have compiled below the general list of tools that will give you chip-free cutting.
Below we will discuss the various tools you may use when cutting porcelain tiles and their benefits, including
Manual tile cutters
Diamond blade wet saws
We also suggest you have the following tools available to use when cutting porcelain tile
Now, we will discuss five pieces of equipment used for cutting porcelain tiles and their cutting method.
An angle grinder is a great option for cutting porcelain tiles because it can complete several different cuts of various sizes and shapes. These include L cuts, circle cuts, straight cuts, square cuts, and more.
However, angle grinders are best for cutting special shapes into the center of a tile and rounded cuts. These are ideal for bathrooms where you will need to be able to cut round objects of irregular shapes and structures, like a toilet or a bathtub.
Manual Tile Cutter
This tool is typically used to cut ceramic tiles, but depending on a tile’s shape and size, it may also be used to cut porcelain tiles. It is a popular choice because it tends to be the quickest option for cutting porcelain tile and is cheaper than other power tool options.
It is also versatile, and accurate, and can be adjusted to make many different cuts. The downfall of a tile cutter is that it can only do straight cuts.Unlike angle cutters, it is not capable of cutting irregular shapes and structures or cutting across objects or barriers.
Another way of cutting porcelain tile is through Tile Nipper.Tile nippers are a perfect choice when you need to make rounded cuts in porcelain tiles. Their ease of use makes them a very popular choice for cutting porcelain tiles.
However, tile nippers are typically only used to cut off small pieces of tile, and you will likely need to use one of the other options if more extensive cuts in involved. If you are going to buy a tile nipper, we suggest getting one with replaceable teeth as these will wear down and break over time due to how hard porcelain tile is.
Diamond Blade Wet Saw
There is no better option to cut porcelain tile than with a diamond blade saw. It is the easiest option to learn, and it leaves a nice, clean cut with a smooth edge. However, they are expensive and not always economically feasible when being used on a limited basis.
The good news is, they can be rented. If using this type of cutter, be sure to get a wet saw with an adjustable blade to help avoid chipping the porcelain tile. Diamond blade saws are an excellent option for just about any type of cut you will need to make.
Method Of Cutting Porcelain Glazed Tile Without Chipping
To conclude this section, we write below a basic step-by-step guide to follow when cutting porcelain tile as well as safety precautions during the process.
Notch the tile. Before fully cutting the tile, use your saw to make a small notch in the tile to start your cut. This will help prevent the tile from cracking as it will apply less pressure when starting the initial cut.
Ensure your blade is sharp. We’ve all tried to use scissors that aren’t sharp; they end up tearing the paper instead of cutting it. This same concept applies to the tools you use to cut porcelain tiles. They will cut well if they are sharp.
Lay the tile on a soft cloth. This will help prevent your work surface from damaging the tile.
Mark and score your cut. Using your grease pencil, mark the tile where you would like to cut it. Next, score the tile using an angle grinder or another similar tool. Your cut should be about 1/16” deep
During the cutting process of porcelain tile, you should make sure you are taking the proper safety precautions. Don’t forget to wear protective gear, including gloves, goggles, and ear protection. Wear appropriate overall or work attire fitting for the job.
Avoid horse-play. Make sure to stay focused when making your cuts, as any power tool can become dangerous if not used correctly. Avoid getting distracted while operating any of the cutting tools. Lastly, use a piece of scrap wood if using a wet saw to keep your fingers away from the blade.
Best safety practice recommended includes wearing a mask and cutting porcelain tile in a well-ventilated space, preferably outside, as it will create a lot of dust that you do not want to get into your lungs which could constitute health hazards.
Beware of Health Hazards when Cutting Porcelain Tile
Since tile-like porcelain are made from natural materials, silica is found in natural stone, engineered stone, bricks, tiles, glass, mortar, cement, concrete slabs, and blocks in varying degree. There are different forms of silica but ‘crystalline silica’ can cause serious health problems if the dust is inhaled or swallowed.
When silica dust particles become trapped in the lung tissue, it can cause inflammation and scarring. The particles also reduce the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. This condition is called ‘silicosis’. Silicosis could result in permanent lung damage and is a progressive, debilitating, and sometimes life-threatening disease.
To learn more about safe practices and materials, visit George Ceramic, a trusted resource in the ceramics industry.
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