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Mastering The Art of Ceramic Cutting: Tips and Essential Tools

In the world of ceramics, precise and skilled cutting is the hallmark of a true professional. Imagine trying to cut 7/8" thick ceramic with just tile nippers  -- a real nightmare for any amateur! It's no secret: using the right tools is crucial.

Here are the key tools and practical tips that will improve your ceramic cutting method.

Power or hand tools?

Hand tools are easy to use and perfect for quick cuts of small to medium-sized tiles. Among these options, the manual tile cutter, tile nippers, and the hack-saw are the most used.

Power tools offer superior force and precision, suited for more ambitious projects or thicker and harder materials. Among these tools, we have the grinder, the electric saw, and the drill-mounted hole saw.

Let's take a closer look at each of these tools.

Tile nippers

Ideal for small touch-ups, straight cuts, and cutting tile corners, this is an economical and practical option for any type of project. There are several models of tile nippers, but the most popular remains the parrot-nose.

If you want to cut all types of stone, choose a model with tungsten carbide tips and scoring wheels. You'll be able to cut ceramic thicknesses up to ½ in.

Manual tile cutter

Also called snap cutter, this tool is probably the most used for ceramic laying projects, as it allows for easy straight and diagonal cuts. Their price varies depending on the length of tiles they can cut and the thickness of the tile.

Note: Most can cut tiles from ½ in to ? in thickness.

Angle Grinder with diamond disc

It's your true Swiss Army knife for all ceramic laying projects. Equipped with a diamond blade, this tool is versatile and capable of making various cuts.

Tile saw

Available with or without a water feed system to minimize dust, it is ideal for large jobs and cutting large tiles. There are several types of ceramic saws, but the table top saw with the blade inside or outside remains the most popular option, as it allows for straight, precise, and consistent cuts.

Hole saw bits 

Perfect for round cuts within the tiles, this option is economical and ideal for more technical needs during installation. Most often used for tiling in showers to make holes for shower heads and taps.

How to choose a tool suited to your cutting style

Now that you know the most popular tools, let's see together which would be the best tool suited to your needs. Whether you aim for the precision of a straight cut or the complexity of a bevel cut, selecting the right tool is essential to succeed and avoid frustration.

Straight or diagonal cut

Essential in all ceramic projects, this cut is the most frequent. Here's a selection of the greatest tools.

  • Tile nippers with scoring wheels: Ideal for breaking thin strips of small and medium size tiles. Recommended for kitchen backsplash projects and wall mosaics.
  • Snap cutter: Handy for straight cuts on tiles, working on a similar principle to tile nippers but offering a considerable saving in time
  • Tile saw: Excellent for precise and quick cuts on large tiles or for projects requiring a large number of cuts. The advantage of the electric saw over other tools is that it allows partial cuts to create specific shapes like corner pieces.

Bevel cut

The bevel cut, or chamfered cut, involves cutting a piece with an angled edge, offering aesthetic finishes. This technique is ideal for shower and wall corners.

  • Angle grinder: An effective tool for ceramic cuts, but its use requires advanced technique. To facilitate this task, the use of a 45° guide can be a practical option. These guides ensure precision and stability during the cut.
  • 45° table top saw: An easier and more precise option than using a grinder to make bevel cuts on ceramic tiles.

Pro tip: to avoid the bevel cut that requires more advanced technique and tools, use a finishing tile angle trim. This can not only simplify installation but also improve the aesthetics of the project. A variety of models is available, including round and square shapes, as well as a diverse colour palette.

Round or square plunge cuts

This technique allows for creating openings for pipes and electrical outlets. It is commonly used in bathroom and kitchen renovation projects. The round cut inside ceramic or porcelain tiles offers a practical and aesthetic solution to meet the architectural needs of each project.

  • Hole saw bits: Effective for making precise and controlled circular cuts, this tool is perfect for creating openings around pipes like in bathroom projects.
  • Angle grinder: Particularly suited for interior square cuts, such as openings for electrical outlets. Its use requires advanced technique but offers great precision.

Square or round notch cuts

Opposite to the interior cut, which focuses on centred cuts like those made with a hole saw, the notch cut refers to cuts made on the outer edge of the tiles. This method is often used to create circular shapes or specific angles.

  • Tile nippers: Simple, quick, and effective for making round cuts on tile corners, ideal for floor corners or small pieces of wall mosaic. However, it may have limitations for more complex shapes.
  • Angle grinder: A powerful and versatile tool that can make a variety of cuts, including external circular cuts. Suitable for more complex cuts, but requires some technical expertise.

Choosing your tool based on the thickness of the ceramic

The thickness of the ceramic tile is a determining factor in choosing the cutting tool. For tiles up to a half-inch, a manual tile cutter or ceramic pliers suffices.

For thicker or more resistant materials, favour power tools like the grinder or a saw with a larger diameter blade.


Mastering the techniques and tools for ceramic cutting is a pillar for successful renovation projects. Remember to plan for a percentage of loss when cutting your tiles. For straight laying, it's advisable to add 5% for loss, while for diagonal laying, plan between 10% and 15%.

To learn more about the big world of ceramics, we invite you to consult our other articles on the subject: learn more about the best floor coverings for underfloor heating in Quebec and find out if installing new ceramic on an existing floor is possible.

For more detailed information on your projects, contact us!