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Planning & preparation

  • Whenever you’re tiling a surface, you will need to cut some of the tiles – either because an exact number won’t fill the space, or you need to fit them around an obstacle, such as a toilet or pipe
  • The cutting method you need to use will depend on the type of tiles you choose. For ceramic tiles, which tend to measure less than 15mm thick, there are a number of options for cutting straight lines, including a tile scorer, a combined scorer and snapper and, when lots of tiles need cutting, a tile-cutting machine
  • For porcelain and natural stone tiles, which are usually more than 15mm thick, a diamond blade wet-saw tile cutter is the best option
  • In both kitchens and bathrooms, you’re likely to need to cut curved tiles to fit around pipes and other obstacles, such as toilets. For this, you can choose between a tile nipper, a tile saw, or a hacksaw with a tungsten carbide rod, which is a thin wire covered in abrasive particles
  • For step-by-step guidance on fitting tiles, see our online guides or leaflets ‘How to tile a wall’ and ‘How to tile a floor’

Do it right

  • Create a template or draw a clear guideline to ensure your cutting is accurate
  • It’s a good idea to keep any leftover tiles in case any need replacing in the future

Staying safe

  • Shards of tile could fly off when cutting, so always wear protective goggles
  • Always take care not to get fingers too close to the blade when cutting
  • Wear protective gloves when cutting tiles and be sure to clear up any tile fragments
  • Whilst not essential, we’d recommend wearing kneepads, as tiling involves kneeling for long periods of time
  • This leaflet is designed to guide you safely through the process of cutting tiles. If you’re in any doubt, please seek advice from a professional and always follow manufacturer’s instructions

Aftercare

  • Once the tiles are cut, carefully fit them as per the manufacturer’s instruction. Take care not to apply pressure or walk on the tiles until the adhesive has completely dried
  • Be sure to always use cleaners, sealers, adhesives and grouts that are suitable for the material of the tile. Using the wrong products may have detrimental effects on the longevity and appearance of the tile

How to use a tile scorer

Step 1

Use a metal ruler and pencil or felt tip pen to mark a line across the tile where you want to cut.

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Step 2

Scrape along the mark once using the tile scorer and a metal ruler to prevent it from breaking in the wrong place.

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Step 3

To snap the tile, place a pencil or felt tip under the line and apply downward pressure on either side. You could also place the tile on the edge of a workbench and press down.

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How to tile around an obstacle

Step 1

To tile around an obstacle, such as a toilet or pipe, you'll need to create an accurate paper template. To do this, first cut a piece of paper or card the same size as your tile.

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Step 2

In the area of the tile that will come into contact with the obstacle, cut a series of slits about 5-10mm apart that are slightly longer than the obstruction.

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Step 3

Place the template into position with the cut slits against the obstruction, remembering to take into account a 5mm gap for grout.

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Step 4

Press each slit against the obstacle, drawing a line along its base where the slits are bent.

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Step 5

Remove the template from the obstacle, cut along the line and then check it fits exactly around the obstacle.

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Step 6

Lay the template on the tile and mark along the irregular edge with a pencil or felt tip pen. Then scratch over the line using a tile scorer; this will help the tile cut cleanly.

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How to use a tile nipper

Step 1

Tile nippers are used to cut curved or irregular lines. Use the steps above to create an accurate template of the obstacle you need to cut around, and then use it to mark a line on the tile.

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Step 2

Start cutting small chunks from the tile, working towards your line. When you get close to the line be extra careful, taking tiny pieces so you don’t over-cut or shatter the tile.

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Step 3

Once you’re on the line, you’ll need to smooth the edge down with a tile file or a piece of very fine sandpaper.

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Step 4

Wipe the tile down with a damp cloth to get rid of dust and any remaining splinters.

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How to use a tile cutting machine

Step 1

Mark up the tile and insert it into the machine so that the mark is in line with the guide.

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Step 2

Lower the handle to bring the scorer into contact with the tile and either push or pull (depending on the cutter) to score once along the line.

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Step 3

Lower the handle fully so that the snapper touches the tile and apply pressure to snap it in two.

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How to use a combined scorer and snapper

Step 1

Scrape along the mark using the tile scorer and a metal ruler to prevent it from breaking in the wrong place.

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Step 2

Insert the tile into the jaws of the tool, aligning the scored mark to the centre of the tool.

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Step 3

Squeeze the handles and the tile will snap in two.

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How to use a tile saw

Step 1

After marking your cut with a pencil, use the tile saw on a work bench and choose a slow cutting speed. Turn the tile rather than the tool to make the cut.

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Step 2

Smooth off the edges with a tile file or fine sandpaper and wipe down with a damp cloth.

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How to cut porcelain and natural tiles

Step 1

You’ll need to use a diamond blade wet-saw tile cutter that can cut tiles up to 25mm thick, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember to keep the water topped up or the blade might overheat.

 Guide Step

How to use a hacksaw with a tungston carbide rod

Step 1

Securely hold the tile on a workbench and gently cut along the line, pulling the saw backwards and forwards.

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Step 2

Smooth off the edges with a tile file or fine sandpaper and wipe down with a damp cloth.

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