Beginner’s Guide to Cutting Tiles

A Few Tips to Make Tile Cutting Easy!

Cutting tiles can be a scary and almost incomprehensible task if you’ve never attempted it before. However, it is an inevitable part of tiling. There will come a moment when your tiles are too big to fit into that space between the last tile and wall, or you need a hole in the middle of the tile for a pipe, or a mirror fixture, and you might panic. How do you get a hole in the middle of a tile?!

There are several ways to cut a tile, and once you’ve got the hang of it, it gets pretty easy.

Photo Courtesy of criminalatt/

Photo Courtesy of criminalatt/

A Straight Edge

To cut a straight line, you can use a relatively simple cutting tool like a snap or rail cutter. They leave quite a sharp edge, so they are suitable for use when the tile edge will be hidden from view, such as against a wall. Draw a straight line on the back of the tile with a pencil. Position a steel ruler on the line and score the tile with the tile cutter. Do this once with a strong pull, do it any more than this and you’ll end up with an uneven edge. Break the tile by holding the tile on both ends, placing the scored line facing up on an edge and applying pressure to both ends of the tile.

A Curved Corner

Curved corners may require more practice, as you’ll be doing it freehand. Draw the curve on the back of the tile you wish to cut, adding an extra 3mm for mistakes. Draw a straight edge on the circumference of the curve, and use a handheld tile cutter to cut it away. Then place the tile glaze side up and score the straight edge with the handheld cutter, and snap it as above. Score the curved edge and use tile nippers to cut away the remaining small pieces of tile.

Photo Courtesy of criminalatt/

Photo Courtesy of criminalatt/


Cutting holes in tiles requires a drill. Though any drill will do, the drill bit must be the right one, as tiles are prone to shattering under pressure. Core drills with diamond drill bits are the ideal tile drilling equipment as they can help reduce expensive shattering. To drill a tile you should first measure the diameter of the pipe or fixture. Mark the measurement and position of the hole on the tile, then find the center of the circle. Then, from the center, mark the radius, and remember to add about 6mm for the grouting. Mark the new circle using a compass. Drill into the center using a diamond drill bit on a low speed. Drilling through tile is not a matter of speed, but consistency.


This is a partner post from 2013. The content was not written by me.

Originally posted 2013-06-18 08:00:47.