How to Use a Tile Saw [The Accurate and Safe Way]

A person cutting a tile using a wet saw blade

​One of the most common and valuable home improvement projects is re-doing the flooring in a bathroom, kitchen, or common area of your house. Updating and replacing the flooring adds value to your home, and updates the look and feel of the space.

Aside from picking out the best grout for your walls and floors, if you're opting ​to add a tile floor, you'll need to learn how to use a tile saw to cut your tile. Using a tile saw is not rocket science, but it is important you know the steps to follow. This way, you will be able to make accurate, precise tile cuts, while also staying safe.

How to Use a Tile Saw

We've listed the steps for how to use a tile saw. In general, using a tile saw is not hard, but it takes a little time to get the hang of it.

Practice makes perfect, and make sure to have some extra tile on hand as you do the project. 

Related: Need a quality corded drill for your projects? Check out our buying guide here.

1. Gather Your Supplies

You will need to make sure you have all the supplies ready before you begin the process of using a tile saw. Having everything ready can help you make sure there are no delays in your tile work.

Plus, most of these supplies will already be a part of your toolkit, so it will be easy to get them ready. You will need the following supplies ​when you use your tile saw:

  • ​Plenty of clean water
  • ​Tile saw with tile cutting ​blade
  • ​Safety glasses
  • ​Tape measure
  • ​Marking pencil
A portable tile saw is set up on a lawn

​2. Set Up Your Tile Saw

Before you can begin to cut, you need to set up your tile saw. You will want to place it on a flat and level surface.

​A high quality wet tile saw will have a series of hoses to connect to a water source. Your outdoor hose will work well. You also need a power source to operate the tile saw.

Here are a few safety considerations related to setup:

  • As you set up your tile saw it is important to pay attention to the water hose and power cord location.
  • You don’t want the two sources to mix as this could create a dangerous situation.
  • In most instances, for safety, your tile saw will use a drip loop that prevents water from dripping on the power cord and creating a safety hazard.

​Spend a few minutes to ensure you have the right blade - your tile saw will also need to be equipped with a blade that is rated for ceramic tile cutting.

You don’t want to use a regular wood blade as this will damage your tile as you cut it. You would not be able to get a fine cut that is precise and smooth. A tile blade can provide this accuracy and should be used with your tile saw.

​3. Wear the Right Safety Gear

As you cut your tile, it will create somewhat of a messy situation to contend with. There will be dust from the cutting and also shards of tile that will chip off during the cutting process.

These tile shards can be dangerous, so it is best to wear safety glasses as you cut. This will protect your eyes from any stray tile chips that can kick back toward you.

​4. Measure and Mark Your Tile

Before you can begin cutting your tile, you need to do some measuring. In every tile job, there are a series of tiles that need intricate cuts to fit around existing structures.

You may have to work your tile around the toilet or vanity or even a pillar. In these instances, you need to measure the exact dimensions needed to make your tile piece fit properly.

Mark these measurements on the tile with your marking pencil. This will provide a guide for you to follow with the blade of the tile saw as you cut. It will also help you to get the exact cut you need. This ensures the tile fits properly without restriction.

​5. Start Cutting Your Tile

Now that your tile is measured and marked, you are ready to start making some cuts. You will need to turn on both your tile saw and the water source. Here are the steps to follow for cutting tile with a saw:

  • ​If the blade comes down from the top, load your ceramic tile face up on the table of the wet tile saw. If the blade is embedded into the saw table, then put the tile face down. In other words, you want the blade's first contact with the tile to be the top portion.
  • Allow the blade of the tile saw to get saturated by the water. This helps keep the blade cool as it cuts the tile. When a tile saw cuts through ceramic tile, a great deal of friction is created. This causes heat, which can break, chip, or crack a tile if water is not used to keep the blade from heating up.
  • Keep your water source running the entire duration of the cutting process. Do not cut without water running over the blade. As stated above, this will get a little messy as tile fragments will run off into the water collection pan. There may also be some splashing.
  • As you cut with your tile saw, it is important to not force the tile into the blade by pushing. You need to gently guide the tile into the blade and allow it to work its way through the tile. It will seem like it is actually burrowing its way through the tile piece as it cuts.
  • Be patient and allow the blade to do its job. You are basically there to control the straightness of the tile and make sure the blade stays on the guidelines you have marked on the tile.
A person cutting a tile using a wet saw blade

Here is a recap of the steps for using your tile saw properly to cut tile:

  • check
    ​Keep the tile saw blade wet at all times
  • check
    ​Keep your water source running
  • check
    ​Gently push the tile into the tile saw blade
  • check
    Be patient as your cut your tile

​6. Make Steady and Accurate Cuts

To get the most precise cuts out of your tile saw, you need to let the saw blade do the work for you. Forcing or pushing your tile into the blade will crack and damage it unnecessarily.

  • Allow the blade to direct you as to how fast you need to guide the tile toward it.
  • You will want to make sure that you keep your hands away from the blades at all times.
  • Follow the mark that you have made on your tiles to help the blade to exactly where you need it to cut.
  • It is best if you allow the blade to rotate at full speed. This will ensure you get a clean, uninterrupted cut each time.
  • Use the tray that has been provided on your tile saw to move your tile through the blade.
  • When it gets close to the end of the tile, be prepared with a push stick to help the tile cut end-to-end without your fingers being in the way.

Make sure you let the blade cut all the way through your tile piece and do not rush it at the end. This could produce a jagged edge if you are not careful.

​7. Clean the Water Continually

After cutting a few tiles, you will notice the water collection bin has filled up and contains a lot of tile fragments. This can make it difficult to see as you hold the tile in the tile saw’s blade. You’ll want to empty the water frequently to keep it clean. This will also prevent tile splinters from getting in the way of the blade and hitting you as the saw cuts.

You will need to repeat the cutting process again, until you have cut all the tile you need to complete your tile work project.

Related: ​How to Cut Tile with a Wet Saw​​​

Contractor cutting ceramic tile with water cooled saw, updating customers flooring, getting ready to sell home

​Why Use a Wet Tile Saw

A wet tile saw is the preferred tool to cut ceramic and porcelain tile with. The reason that you use water overtop of your saw blade is due to how hard tile is. 

Tile is much harder than wood, which is what you would typically use a saw to cut. Because of how dense and hard tile is, the blade heats up rapidly when cutting.

The water keeps the saw blade from heating up too quickly and smoking while cutting. This keeps your blade from dulling as quickly, along with allowing the blade to cut more accurately. 

Cutting Alternatives to a Tile Saw

You can also use a tile cutter to cut tile, also known as a snap cutter. However, that process is a lot more laborious, less accurate, and has an increased likelihood of breaking tile.

Some woodworkers will use their table saw to cut tile with. This isn't recommended, as a table saw doesn't have the benefit of water running over its blade. ​Even a really good table saw will break and chip more tile than a wet tile saw, along with wearing out your blade faster. 

The same can be said by trying to use a miter saw to cut tile with. If you do opt for either of these options, make sure to use a diamond or carbide blade, and cut the tile at an angle.

If you have to make curved cuts in tile, a tile saw should not be used. Opt for a​ top notch angle grinder with a diamond blade to cut curves in tile.

​Conclusion

​When learning how to ​use a tile saw, slow and steady is the name of the game. When you are first starting, it is important you go slow so that you can maintain accurate cuts. These instructions will help you cut the tile you need to tile any room in your home. ​Using a tile saw is relatively easy if you keep these steps in mind to remain safe and create detailed tile work in your house.