Tile is a popular choice for many home accents—think shower surrounds, backsplashes, and floors—and it's fairly easy to install on your own. That said, the trickiest part of tile installation can often be cutting the tiles to size. Few spaces are so perfectly proportioned that only whole tiles will fit. And even if they are, there are still outlets, vents, and other obstacles to work around.
Luckily, cutting tile isn't as scary as you think. Though a wet saw—the traditional tool for cutting tile—may look intimidating, it's surprisingly simple to use. A wet saw has a pump that sprays water onto the tile as you're cutting. This keeps the tile cool and prevents cracks. The blade does not have teeth, which allows it to be used for delicate materials. A wet saw also makes quick work of a large project, versus a snap cutter, and can be used for specialty cuts.
We'll show you how to fill the saw with water, prep for the cut, and even feed the tile through the blade. After a few tries you'll be cutting tiles with a wet saw like a pro.
Position the saw on a level, sturdy surface in a work room or garage. The saw will spray water when it runs, so you'll want to be in a room that can get messy. Make sure that the saw is set at a level that's comfortable for your height—you want to feel in control when sawing. Once positioned, open the the reservoir and fill with water.
Measure and mark your desired cut on the tile with a pencil. Then adjust the fence until the blade aligns with your drawn marks. To do so, simply squeeze and drag the fence until it's in position.
Place the widest part of the tile between the fence and the blade. This helps your hands avoid contact with the saw blade. Press the guard over the blade and turn the saw on. Let the blade reach full speed and make sure water is spraying onto the blade before proceeding.
With both hands feed the tile slowly into the blade. Do not force it to go faster as this could cause the tile to fracture, chip, or break. Once your intended cut is complete, turn off the saw and let it come to a full stop before removing the pieces.
In addition to straight cuts, you can also use a wet saw to make diagonal and partial cuts:
For a diagonal cut, create a 45-degree angle by placing a miter guide between the tile and fence. Align the tile flush against the fence and push through the blade at a steady speed.
To make a partial cut, feed the tile only as far as needed to reach desired depth. Repeat on second side. This type of cut is particularly helpful for working around outlet boxes and other tiling obstacles.