Capable of cutting 27 inches in length and 20 inches diagonally for tricky, oddly shaped walls. Wide base has heavy-duty rubber pads. Large handle makes it easy to apply consistent pressure during use.
Known to leave a small "tail" on some cuts that may require further cutting or grinding.
Large 24 inches cutting area is perfect for most tile sizes. Will rip cut diagonally up to 16 inches for tricky corners and angled walls. Cutting wheel is long-lasting.
Creates mixed results on long, narrow tiles that are easier to chip or crack while cutting.
Comes with a heavy-duty, rolling cutter head for extra longevity and bite. Grip is comfortable to hold for long periods of time. Easy to maneuver around obstacles.
Not suitable for long, straight cuts on non-ceramic tiles normally done with a wet saw.
Makes clean cuts in cork and vinyl. Rubber feet keep it stable while you work. Casters make it easy to manipulate.
Buyers should read the specs first to make sure it will cut the right size and material for their needs.
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If you have to tile an entire wall or floor, you really can’t do without a proper tile cutter. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from.
If you’ve just got small areas of tile to repair, you can probably make do with a glass cutter, an angle grinder, or a multi-tool. The problem is, they’re not really designed for the job, so while they’ll probably get it done, it will take forever.
For those bigger jobs, you’ll need a serious tile cutter. While most look quite similar, there are important differences to consider before you buy. Our recommendations highlight the variety of price and performance options available. This guide looks at those in more detail, and offers advice to help you find exactly the right tool for your tiling task.
Here, we’re talking about tile cutters, as opposed to tile saws, so it’s important to understand the difference before we look at specific features.
A tile saw uses an electric motor to power a rotating blade. Most are similar in appearance to a woodworker’s table saw. They cut right through the tile. Water is generally used both to cool the blade, and to wash away the dust that builds up. This creates a slurry which is collected in a tray underneath the machine and disposed of later.
Because of the electric motor, tile saws are noisy. The addition of water to a spinning blade also makes them pretty messy! Their big advantage is that with the right blade they will cut through just about every type of tile material.
A tile cutter is a manual device. A cutting wheel runs along two guide rails and scores the surface of the tile. A ‘breaker bar’ or ‘foot’ is then used to snap the tile in two.
Although you might think a hand tool would be slower than a machine, after a little practice they’re actually faster. Many argue it’s easier to keep the cut straight and to maintain accuracy. They’re also very quiet and create less mess.
The downside is that while they are very good with ceramic and porcelain tiles, the score-and-snap technique isn’t good with most glass, marble or masonry. For those, you really need the tile saw.
Neither of the above devices will cut vinyl tile. You need a different device that has a shearing or guillotine action. You have a reasonable choice of stand-alone tools, or you can look at laminate flooring cutters, most of which also handle vinyl.
Though most components might look similar, you need to pay special attention to capacities and features.
On the vast majority of manual tile cutters, the cutter wheel is guided by a carriage that runs on parallel rails. The need to support these at both ends of the tool restricts the maximum length of the cut. Cheaper tile cutters are often 14-inch models. In the mid-range you have a selection at 20 inches, and the largest are 29 inches.
Be careful with these measurements. While a 14-inch model will cut through a 12-inch tile at 90 degrees, the same tile is 16.97 inches on the diagonal. That cut can’t be made on a 14-inch cutter.
You also need to consider the tile thickness the machine is capable of cutting. It’s often 1/2”, and that’s enough for a wide variety of ceramic and porcelain tiles, but with so many different types available, you need to check. Pro-grade tile cutters increase this to 5/8” – a small, but sometimes vital difference.
You’ll find entry-level tile cutters with a 14” capacity for as little as $30. They’re fine for occasional DIY tasks, though they may struggle with harder porcelain tiles. For another $10 or $15 you’ll get similar 20” versions.
Around $100 will buy you a good all-around model with a 24-inch capacity and a tungsten carbide cutting wheel. Most homeowners will find this kind of tool adequate for their needs.
If you’re going to be doing large areas of floor or wall, it’s worth choosing a pro tool. However, you will need to invest between $250 and $550.
A: No. If you’re tiling a floor, you probably want the cutter beside you on the floor anyway – it will be a nuisance to keep getting up and down. For walls, the opposite is true, and it’s tempting to use any old table to place it on. That’s fine, as long as it’s sturdy. It needs to support your weight as you score the tile. If it wobbles, it will affect your accuracy and lead to more waste. A folding workbench is a convenient and very versatile solution.
A: In the past we’ve seen models with circle-cutting attachments, but we weren’t able to find any during our recent research. The favored method now seems to be either diamond hole saws (which aren’t as expensive as that sounds), or multitools such as the Dremel – which are particularly good at cutting unusual shapes.
A: Yes, but there’s very little to it. Tile dust is quite abrasive, so wipe down the tile cutter after use with a damp cloth or wash with soapy water. Let it dry, then give the guide rails and any joints a very light spray of WD-40 or similar oil so they work smoothly.