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Cut Tile with a Wet Saw

For large tiling projects, use a wet saw to get better control and more precise cuts than a manual tile cutter.

Cutting Tile with a Wet Saw.

Tools & Materials

Product costs, availability and item numbers may vary online or by market.

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Wet Saw Basics

A wet saw is a power saw — similar to a table saw — with a rotating blade that can cut tile. It uses water to cool and lubricate the blade and tile, allowing for clean, straight edges. The water also minimizes dust.

On many small, DIY models, the operator slides the tile across a stationary table. You can also find larger wet saws that use a sliding tray to move the tile past the blade.

An adjustable cutting guide or fence keeps the tile precisely positioned for straight cuts as the work piece passes the blade. An angle guide attachment secures tiles for diagonal or miter cuts. A tilting table / tray surface or blade lets you make bevel cuts along the edge of the tile.

Caution

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for connecting the saw to a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected outlet. Keep cords and connections dry and away from wet areas. Make sure your hands are dry before operating the saw.

Good to Know

Check with your local Lowe's about tile-cutting services and the availability of wet saw rentals.

Instructions

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for setup, use and safety. Use a blade that is suitable for the saw and the material you're cutting. Below are general steps for cutting tile with a wet saw:

  • Basic cuts let you size tile.
  • Corner notch cuts are useful for installing floor tile around the corners of an obstacle such as a kitchen island.
  • Bevel cuts let you create clean corners with wall tile.
Good to Know

Begin with a few practice cuts on waste tile to get an idea of how the saw cuts.

Making Basic Cuts with a Wet Saw

Step 1

Set up the saw on a stable, level platform at a height that will allow you to work without hunching over or reaching up. Work in an area with plenty of space and enough light to give you a clear view of the table or tray, the tile and the saw blade. If necessary, use drop cloths to protect the work area.

Step 2

Fill the saw reservoir with clean water (don't overfill). Change the water frequently as you cut. Debris in the water can affect the quality of the cut. If the saw uses a pump to circulate the water, changing the water often will extend pump life.

Step 3

Depending on the saw, you may be able to adjust the height of the blade in relation to the table surface or tray. Smaller saws have a fixed blade and table. If your saw has a movable tray, slide it past the blade. The slot in the tray should fit neatly around the blade.

Good to Know

Different saws can cut different thicknesses of tile. Make sure the saw can handle the tile you need to cut.

Step 4

Measure and mark the tiles. Use a square or straight edge to draw the cut lines. You can mark the top of the tile with a china marker. The water won't wash the marks away, but you can wipe them off after cutting the tile. Mark all tiles in advance so you don't have to continually stop cutting to mark the next tile.

Step 5

Cutting a Tile Diagonally.

Place the tile on the table or sliding tray so that the largest portion of the tile is between your hand and the blade. Press the tile firmly against the guide fence. If you're cutting diagonally across the tile, position it securely in the angle guide. Adjust the guide so the cut line aligns with the blade. Pull the tile back from the blade.

Caution

Wear eye protection, hearing protection and a dust mask / respirator when using a wet saw. Don't wear loose clothing or items such as jewelry that could get caught in the blade. If you have long hair, tie it back.

Step 6

When you near the end of the cut, use a push stick or push guide to direct the last bit of tile past the blade.

Caution

Don't cut tile with a dry blade. Turn the saw off and let the blade come to a complete stop before removing or repositioning the tile or removing the cutoff tile pieces.

Cutting Corner Notches with a Wet Saw

Step 1

Measure and mark the edge of the tile on each side of the notch you're cutting. Use a straight edge to extend the marks until they meet.

Step 2

Using the instructions above, cut along each line until the two cuts meet. If needed, stop just short of the intersection point and use a coping saw or jigsaw to complete the cut. You might need to smooth rough edges near the inner corner of the notch with aluminum oxide sandpaper or a tile file.

Making Bevel Cuts with a Wet Saw

Step 1

Measure and mark the tile you're beveling.

Step 2

With the saw off, adjust the table or blade to cut at the desired angle.

Step 3

Check the tile against the stationary blade to make sure the blade will remove only the necessary amount of material.

Step 4

Making a Bevel Cut on a Tile.

Using the instructions above, cut the tile at the cut line.

Good to Know

If the tile you're beveling has a design, make the cuts so that the design will be correctly oriented when the beveled edges of adjacent tiles meet.