Adding a tile backsplash is an excellent way to enhance the look of your kitchen. Often, when installing a simple tile backsplash, you’ll need to make cuts to fit the tile around switches and outlets. There are various options and methods for making these small cuts, and they don’t necessarily require expensive or fancy equipment. In fact, you may already have the tools you need to cut tile.
Choosing the Right Tools
Before we dive into the different tools and methods, it’s important to note that we have our preferred approach. However, we’ll start with our top choices and then cover alternative ways you can get the job done. We also make a couple of assumptions when it comes to cutting the tile. The first assumption is that you only need to make cross-cuts at the corners and ends of the tile run. The second assumption is that any longer cuts should be made against the bottom of the wall cabinet. This allows for more aesthetically pleasing cuts, even if they’re not perfectly straight.
We’ve also included some tips at the end of the article that we believe can help you achieve a great result regardless of your budget.
Manual Tile Cutter or Spring Cutter
For professionals, a straightedge is often the tool of choice. However, as a homeowner, we understand that you may need to use whatever tools you have on hand. A good compromise is a manual tile cutter or spring cutter. These tools make cutting tile a breeze and allow you to make diagonal cuts as well. The size of the tool determines the maximum cutting length.
Cutting a Tile Backsplash with a Wet Tile Saw
The professional way to go about cutting tile is by using a diamond wheel wet saw, like the Ridgid wet tile saw. Alternatively, you can opt for a tool like the iQ Power Tools Dry-Cut Tile Saw. While this method is more expensive, it provides the cleanest and dust-free cuts. Wet sawing is particularly beneficial if you have a lot of cutting to do. If these saws are beyond your budget, you can usually rent them from a local equipment rental store.
Diamond Wheel Angle Grinder
Another option is to use a diamond cut-off wheel with a small angle grinder. These blades can cut tiles dry, which does generate some dust. However, they allow for quick and easy cuts. Personally, this is one of my preferred methods when I need to complete tasks quickly. It’s also ideal for making curve cuts or corner cuts when necessary.
Dry Cutting Tile Saw
Dry-cut tile saws have been gaining popularity as go-to tools for cutting various types of tile. The main downside is the price, as there is only one company, IQ Power Tools, manufacturing this type of saw. For professionals, it’s considered a worthwhile investment. However, for more occasional use, a dry-cut tile saw can be a bit cost-prohibitive, especially when cutting tile backsplashes.
Interestingly, for smaller jobs, the IQ Power Tools 7-Inch Tile Saw offers similar dry cutting performance. It has a smaller capacity and comes at a lower price, making it even more appealing for those on a tight budget.
Diamond Blade Puzzle
One of the more unconventional ways to cut tile is by using a jigsaw with a diamond blade. This type of jigsaw blade allows for relatively quick straight and curved cuts in tile. To protect the delicate tile surface, it’s advisable to place masking tape on the bottom of the jigsaw shoe. Set the jigsaw to medium speed, and if it has orbital motion, make sure to turn it off.
The major challenge with this method is protecting the tiles while cutting. You need to ensure you have enough space and leverage to make the cut. However, in a pinch, this method can be incredibly useful and saves you the trouble of buying specialized tools if you only need to make a few cuts.
Hand-held snap cutters use small diamond blades to score the tile and snap it off, resulting in a relatively clean cut. These cutters are best used with tile, as porcelain tiles don’t work well with this simple score-and-snap technique. The advantages of this tool include its small footprint, ease of use, and affordability.
While we have our favorites, such as dry-cut tile saws, we understand that budgets and needs can vary. If you only need to make a few straight cuts or have a single job to tackle, hand scissors can work wonders. We prefer the rail model to the handheld version because it can be used on larger tiles too. Some larger versions even allow cutting of tiles up to 18 inches or larger. Additionally, it’s possible to make diagonal cuts, although this can be more challenging with larger tiles.
Remember that you can also use a rock to clean up tile edges, especially sharp edges. These rocks can be purchased at your local hardware store, home improvement warehouse, or online from platforms like Amazon.
By choosing the right tools for cutting tile backsplashes, you can achieve professional-looking results without breaking the bank.