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Cutting Tile with a Wet Saw: The Basics

By September 29, 2022August 24th, 2023Blog Posts

Installing all new tile in your kitchen or bathroom can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. The job isn’t as easy as replacing a light fixture, but it is also not as complicated as it looks. Along with a bit of knowledge, the next most important thing is having the right tools. A wet saw immediately comes to mind.

A glass cutter and a pair of pliers works well enough when you are only working with one or two pieces and straight cuts. But for a complete job that includes angles and circular cuts, you really need a wet saw. Wet saws with tile blades are what the pros use. But don’t think you have to go out and buy a wet saw to do your DIY job at home. In all likelihood, you can rent a saw at one of your local hardware stores.

Why Use a Wet Saw?

So, why use a wet saw rather than a dry saw? Well, cutting tile doesn’t actually involve cutting. Tile blades are generally diamond blades that grind away material rather than cutting through it. Grinding creates debris. It generates heat. It causes blades to wander.

A wet saw is primarily designed to minimize heat. This prolongs the life of the tile blade and provides a cleaner cut. At the same time, the coolant also helps to reduce wandering and naturally washes away debris as you cut. Your overall experience with a wet saw is a lot better. And for DIYers, the wet saw almost always produces a more precise cut.

Angled and Circular Cuts Are Possible

It is pretty common for people who have never used wet saws and tile blades to assume they are only good for straight cuts. That’s because a wet saw, at first glance, looks a lot like a standard table saw. Yet a wet saw in the hands of a skilled user allows for a whole host of complicated cuts.

1. Straight Cuts

Straight cuts are as basic as they sound. You cut along a straight line that runs perpendicular to two opposing edges. You simply mark the tile with a lead or grease pencil, adjust the guide on the saw, and cut away.

2. Diagonal Cuts

Diagonal cuts are also straight lines, but they are cut at an angle across the tile surface. Some wet saws allow you to adjust the guide in such a way as to accommodate diagonal cuts. Others require you to make the cut freehand.

3. Circular Cuts

Things get tricky when you want to do a circular cut. After marking the tile with your lead or grease pen, you start with two angle cuts to remove excess material on both sides of the curve. Then you cut notches into the tile every half inch or so. Finally, you use a glass cutter and pliers to break away the tile fingers. An angle grinder with a tile blade smooths up the edge.

Go Slow and Steady

If you have never used a wet saw to cut tile before, the key to your success is going to be your speed. Go slow and steady. Let the blade do the work for you. If you hear the saw slowing down as you cut, it means you are forcing the tile. Back off and let the saw tell you how fast it wants to go.

A wet saw with a diamond tile blade can make your DIY tiling job a lot easier. Do not be afraid to give it a try. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish.