Cutting Porcelain Tile into Shapes

  • 1-10 hours
  • Advanced
  • 0-1,000
What You'll Need
Porcelain tiles
Wet saw
Grease pencil
Straight edge
Electric drill
Diamond core drill bits
Cutting oil
Masking tape
Masonry file

Cutting porcelain tile is necessary to install it in certain areas. Tiles that go around piping, toilets, towel racks, or a toilet paper dispenser have to be shaped in order to accommodate the fixtures. Porcelain tiles have a very low porosity level which makes them extremely tough and hard to drill. However, you need not despair. With the help of a wet saw and diamond core drill bit, you can successfully cut your tiles into the required shapes without chips and cracks.

Step 1 – Set up the Saw

Select a level and stable surface and set the saw on it. The saws usually come with a pan underneath to hold the water as you cut. Fill the pan with water up to the required level. The water helps to cool the edge of the blade as it rotates. Make sure that your work table or surface provides enough room to allow you to spread the tiles before you cut them.

Step 2 – Mark the Tiles

Spread the tiles on the table with the unglazed side facing up. Use a grease pencil to mark curves and angled cuts on the tile surface.

Step 3 – To Cut Curves

Turn on the machine and align the cutting line against the saw blade. Hold the tile with your hands, on each side of the blade. Gently push the tile into the blade to allow the blade to begin to cut into the tile. Push the tile steadily into the blade. Keep your eye on the cut line to guide the cut until you complete your curved cut.

Step 4 – Angled Cuts

It is best to cut the tile up to the end of the marked line for corner cuts. Turn the tile over and make the second cut line till it meets the first line. This creates a perfect corner cut. It is easier to cut corners in 2 steps rather than attempt to make the cut in one single motion.

Step 5 – Circular Cuts

Attach masking tape on the unglazed side of the tile. The tape helps to contain the drill bit which allows you to drill holes efficiently through the tile. Draw the circle on the tape with a pen. Dip the bit into oil to keep it cool. Place the bit at one point of the circle and drill a hole into the tile. Begin at a low speed and gradually build up the speed until you drill through the tile. Dip the bit frequently into the oil as you drill to help keep it cool. Wipe excess oil with a rag. Proceed to drill several holes on the circle at small intervals apart until you’ve punched all around. Remove the tape. Place the tile on a piece of wooden block and hold it with one hand. Take your hammer and gently knock out the circle in the middle until it falls out. It will break along the drilled holes.

Use a masonry file to smooth out the rough edges. You can now proceed to install your shaped tiles wherever they are required.