How To Cut Tile with a Wet Saw

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Tiles are most commonly used to make bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room floors. It’s a great material for heavy-traffic and watery areas but cutting it can be very difficult if you don’t use the right tools and techniques.

Using a wet saw is the most efficient way to cut tiles without damaging them. In this article, we’ll discuss a detailed method that will help you learn how to cut tiles with a wet saw.

How To Cut Tile with a Wet Saw

A wet tile saw is a powerful tool that can cut different types of materials, most notably tiles.  While it is possible to cut tile without a wet saw, it is by far the best way. Use the following steps to efficiently cut a tile with a wet saw.

Not all tile saws are wet saws. Wet saws use water to keep the diamond blade as it cuts. 

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Wet saw
  • Diamond blade
  • Safety goggles
  • Thick work gloves

There are different levels of wet saws, but even cheaper wet tile saws will make decent cuts.

Step 1: Choose the Right Tiles

Tiles are made of different materials such as porcelain, ceramic, marble, glass, granite, and natural stone. Different tiles can have different hardness levels denoted by the PEI rating. 

The lower the PIE rating, the softer the tile, which also means it’ll chip or break easily. Use the following table to choose the right type of tiles depending upon your requirements.

PIE RatingUsage
5Best for heavy institutional and commercial foot traffic.
4Suitable for all residential applications. Most commonly used for light institutional and medium commercial locations
3Best for high residential foot traffic.
2Best for residential bathrooms and light-duty floors
1Suitable for both commercial and residential walls. Shouldn’t be used for flooring.
0Best for residential walls only.

Step 2: Prepare Work Area

Preparing your workspace before starting the tile cutting process is very important. We recommend you set up your wet saw in a backyard or garage if you don’t have a dedicated place for such projects. 

That’s because your work area will get extremely messy as you’ll need to deal with the mixture of tile dust and water spray. Similar to cutting drywall, you’ll end up with a lot of dust.

If you have to set up your workspace indoors, make sure that you use a plastic sheet to cover the floor. It’ll protect it from tile dust and water spray. 

Additionally, place your wet saw in a sturdy and stable place so that it doesn’t wobble during the cutting process.

Step 3: Set Up Wet Saw

Check the condition of your wet saw blade and replace it with the new one if it’s damaged or dulled. The obvious sign of damage is worn-out, chipped, or broken blades. 

Make sure that you equip your wet saw with a diamond blade to cut tiles. Not only will it allow you to cut a tile easily but it’ll also prevent chipping and breaking.

After that, check the water reservoir of the machine and fill it with water if needed. There is no point in using a wet saw without water. It prevents overheating of the blade and tile, minimizes dust, and allows you to cut the tile accurately. 

Make sure that the pipe in the reservoir is fully submerged in water.

Step 4: Mark Tile

After preparing your workspace and setting up your wet saw, the next step is to take measurements and mark your tile. 

We recommend you double-check your measurements before marking a cut line. It will allow you to make accurate cuts, keeping you from wasting the material.

Step 5: Start the Cutting Process

We’ve divided the cutting process into three different parts including making the shallow cut, creating a notch, and then cutting the tile completely. It’ll mitigate the risk of chipping or breaking the tile during the cutting process.

Make Shallow Cut

Place the tile on the wet saw table and make sure the cut line is perfectly aligned with the blade. Keep the tile in place by applying a little pressure on top with your hand, and then tighten the fence against it. It’ll allow you to feed the tile to the blade in a straight line easily.

Once your tile is in place, adjust the wet saw to a 1/8-inch depth so that the blade doesn’t cut through the tile completely. 

Turn on the wet saw and start feeding the tile to the blade. Your feed rate should be moderate to slow. If you feed it too fast, the tile will break or chip, and a too slow feeding rate will lead to overheating.

Important Note: If your blade is facing downward, you should place the tile with a glazed side facing down and vice versa.

Make Notch

It is important to make a notch before fully cutting your tile:

  • Turn on the machine and adjust its depth so that it can cut the tile all the way through. 
  • Flip the tile and adjust the fence again after aligning the shallow cut and blade. 
  • Turn on the saw and start cutting the tile. The cut shouldn’t be more than two inches long because you just need to make a notch.
  • Turn off the wet saw after making one to two inches long cut

Cut Tile Completely

After making a notch, you’ll need to change the side of your tile. Now the notch will be on the opposite side of the blade. 

  • Align the shallow cut with the blade and adjust the fence accordingly. 
  • Start cutting the tile until the blade reaches the notch that you previously made and your tile will be divided into two pieces. The cut will be accurate and you also won’t need to deal with chipped or broken edges.

Tips to Use a Wet Saw to Cut a Tile

The following tips will ensure your safety and help you cut a tile with a wet saw efficiently.

  • Wear a pair of cut-resistant gloves while using a wet saw to protect your hands.
  • Wear safety goggles to keep your eyes safe from the splashes of tile dust and water mixture.
  • Wear earbuds to protect your ears from the loud noise of the saw.
  • Lubricate your wet saw properly before using it.
  • Applying masking tape on top of your tile before cutting can reduce the risks of chipping and breaking.
  • Use a wax or charcoal pencil to mark the tile instead of a normal pencil or permanent marker so that you can easily remove the remaining parts of your marked line.
  • Make sure the surface around and beneath the wet saw is not slippery to avoid falling.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the spinning blade that can hurt you badly.
  • Remove dangling jewelry and wear tight clothes while cutting tiles using a wet saw.
  • Confine long hair to make sure they don’t get stuck in the machine.
  • Check the reservoir from time to time and keep it filled with water, especially if you need to cut tiles in bulk.
  • Turn the wet saw off if you need to leave your workspace.
  • Unplug the device if you need to change or adjust the blade.

FAQs

Do You Cut Ceramic Tiles Face Up or Down?

Regardless of the type of tile you want to cut, you should always place it with the glazed face down if your blade is facing downwards and vice versa. Not only will it provide you with a neat and straight cut, but it’ll also decrease the chances of chipping and breaking.

Why You Should Use a Diamond Blade to Cut Tiles?

You should use a diamond blade because it provides you with a more precise and cleaner cut. This type of blade doesn’t tear or rip the material. Instead, small diamond pieces located on the saw grind down the material, which also keeps the tile from chipping.

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Final Words

Cutting tiles using a wet saw accurately doesn’t have to be a challenging task. If you know the right techniques, you can cut the tile accurately. We hope the steps mentioned in this guide will help you understand the right method to cut a tile with a wet saw without chipping and breaking. 

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.