How to Cut Porcelain Tile for Flooring, Walls, and Backsplashes


Porcelain tile is a popular choice for flooring, walls, and backsplashes due to its durability, water resistance, and aesthetic appeal. However, cutting porcelain tile can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. With the right tools and techniques, you can accurately and safely make clean cuts in porcelain tile for your project.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before you start cutting, make sure you have the proper tools and materials on hand:

  • Porcelain tile
  • Tile cutter with diamond blade
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear protection
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Straightedge or ruler
  • Pencil
  • Wire cutters
  • Wet saw (for intricate cuts)
  • Sponge

Make sure to use safety gear like glasses, gloves, and a mask to protect yourself from debris. A standard straight cut can be done with just a manual tile cutter, while a wet saw is needed for detailed cuts like L-cuts, U-cuts etc. Have a bucket of water nearby when using a wet saw to keep the blade cool.

Prepare the Workspace

Clear a flat, level area to do the tile cutting on. The floor is ideal. Avoid cutting tile over carpet or uneven surfaces. Clean the area thoroughly and check for tripping hazards like cords and tools.

Have the required tools and tile nearby. Make sure the tile cutter blade or wet saw blade is sharp and clean for optimal cuts. Set up a workspace with good lighting and ventilation to see the cuts clearly and avoid breathing tile dust.

Measure and Mark the Cuts

Place the tile on the cutting surface. Use a straightedge to align the cut line and a pencil to mark it. Mark the line where you want the cut to be made. Remember to account for the blade width (usually 1/8” or less) from the edge of the tile.

Mark straight lines across the tile for simple cuts. For L-cuts, U-cuts, and intricate shapes, outline the entire shape to be cut out on the tile surface with a pencil. Take your time marking neat, accurate lines for the best results.

Score and Snap Tile on Manual Cutter

Position the marked tile on the tile cutter’s bed. Align the cut line over the cutting wheel. Place one hand on the lever handle and use the other hand to hold the tile safely in place.

Steadily apply pressure on the lever to lower the cutting wheel and score the tile. Run the wheel over the line 2-3 times to get a deep score.

After scoring, move the tile off the cutting wheel. Place it over the cutter bar with the score line just above the edge. Press down firmly and evenly on both sides of the score line until the tile snaps cleanly along the cut mark.

Make Intricate Cuts with a Wet Saw

For specialty cuts, use a wet saw with a diamond blade. Keep the tile piece steady on the saw table with the cut line aligned over the blade. Turn on the saw and allow the blade to reach full speed.

Slowly feed the tile into the blade while pouring water over the blade and cut line continuously. Go slowly and steadily for the cleanest cut, allowing the blade to do the work.

For corners and shapes, pivot the tile carefully as you work around the curves. Continue cooling and cutting until the piece is fully separated.

Smooth Rough Edges

Examine the cut edges for any roughness. Use a rubbing stone or wet saw blade edge to lightly smooth any imperfections. Be very gentle to avoid over-grinding. Wipe excess dust off the tiles with a damp sponge.

Safety Tips

  • Wear eye protection – shards can fly when tile is scored and snapped
  • Use dust masks and proper ventilation
  • Keep fingers away from the cutting wheel and wet saw blade
  • Support large tiles to avoid cracking during cuts
  • Never force a cut – go slow and steady

With the right precautions, you can safely make specialized cuts in porcelain tile. Take your time, plan the cuts carefully, and use the proper techniques for flawless results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need a wet saw or can use a manual cutter?

For straight cuts along only one axis of the tile, a manual tile cutter is fine. But for L-cuts, curves, holes, and specialty shapes, you’ll need the precision of a wet saw.

What blade should I use for porcelain tile?

It’s best to use a diamond-tipped blade specifically designed for cutting porcelain. This will cleanly cut the hard material without crumbling or chipping the edges.

Can porcelain tile be cut with a grinder or angle grinder?

It’s not recommended. The high speeds and lack of water cooling can damage the tile. Stick to using a proper tile cutting tool like a manual cutter or wet saw.

How long does it take to cut porcelain tile?

It depends on the number of cuts, tile thickness, and tool used. Simple straight tile cuts can be done in 1-2 minutes each with a manual tile cutter. Intricate wet saw cuts take 5 minutes or longer per tile. Plan accordingly.

How can I cut small or narrow pieces of porcelain tile?

Use a pencil to mark margins larger than the cut you need to allow room for the blade. Align the actual cut line in the middle of the margin. After cutting, the small piece can then be separated from the margin.

What should I look out for when cutting porcelain tile?

Work slowly and carefully to avoid cracking the tile. Let the cutter do the work, don’t force the blade. Keep fingers safely away from the cutting path. Use water to cool and lubricate the blade. Watch for sharp edges after cutting.


Cutting porcelain tile allows you to install whole tiles for seamless look, while custom-cutting them to fit your layout. With the right tile cutting tools and proper precautions, you can accurately and cleanly cut porcelain for flooring, walls, backsplashes, and any tiling project. Remember to use the appropriate manual tile cutter or wet saw based on your cut type. Take it slowly and make safety a priority for best results.