Measuring and marking the tiles
When cutting tiles, wear safety glasses as the ceramic surface can produce sharp splinters.
The tiles around the edge of the main area will need to be cut, as will tiles to fit the contours of other items like washbasins and pipes.
There are several ways of cutting tiles.
When measuring tiles to be cut, remember to allow for the grout line between it and the next tile.
Where walls are reasonably square, a quick way of measuring them is to hold it back to front, one edge against the wall, and mark it a grout line width from the adjacent whole tile.
Straight cuts in tiles
Use a tile cutter to score the surface along the cut line. Hold a straight edge along the line to be cut and run the cutter along this. Then, holding the tile over a small wooden batten, snap the tile along this line.
Where the offcut is narrow, the snapping process will be very difficult. In this case, use a pair of pliers to gradually nibble away the offcut working slowly towards the scored line.
Tile cutters and saws
If you have several cuts to do, you may find a cutting jig easier. This consists of a cutting wheel mounted on a runner to score the surface, a bed on which there is an adjustable guide and also, usually, a system for snapping the tiles.
Measure the size of tile required.
Set the tile in the jig and adjust the guide to the appropriate measurement.
Score the tile surface by running the wheel along its guide.
Snap the tile using the lever.
At the top end of the range is a diamond wet saw . This is capable of accurate and efficient cutting.
Curved cuts in tiles
Remember to mark and cut tiles before applying the adhesive to the area. This way, you’ll be able to check they fit without getting adhesive on them.
When cutting a curved shape, score the surface along the trim line, then nibble away the excess in small pieces using a pair of pincers.
Or use a tile saw, which has a round blade to trim the tile.
L shape cut in tiling
Where a tile needs a to be ‘L’ shaped – for example around a switch – mark and score the lines, then either use pincers as before or, holding the tile firmly, cut with a tile saw.
The tile can be held in a vice provided it is protected on both sides with cardboard to prevent damaging it.
Using a jigsaw to make shaped cuts
If you have an electric jig saw, check the availability of blades for cutting ceramics.
These make light work of cutting awkward shapes.
Make sure however that the tile is held firmly supported on a flat surface so that it does not break due to the saw’s vibration.
Cutting tiles around pipes
Remember to mark and cut tiles before applying the adhesive to the area. This way, you’ll be able to check the fit without getting adhesive on them.
Mark the centre line of the pipe on the tile and cut.
You now have two pieces of tile which need to be shaped to fit either side of the pipe.
Cut as for curved shapes.
Templates for accurate tile cutting
Some shapes of cut are difficult to measure accurately.
Take a piece of paper or thin card and cut it out to the size of a tile.
Cut strips into the paper at 1/2″ intervals to enable it to be contoured around the item.
Fold each strip back so that the paper tile fits perfectly and trim to the fold line.
Lay this template on the tile and mark. Then cut as for curved shapes