Scoring Cutters Have Their Place
Score-and-snap tile cutters can work fine for smaller, thinner ceramic tiles. However, larger, thicker tiles may often not cut properly on a conventional scoring-type cutter like the one pictured to the right.
A Tile Saw That Cuts it All
When it comes to cutting large format tiles (12” x 12”, 16” x 16” and above), Saltillo patio pavers and some porcelain tiles, the tile wet saw is what you’ll want to use.
Wet saw tile blades typically have diamond crystals captured in a metal matrix which is bonded to the blade edge. The cutting action takes place when the diamond particles scratch out thousands of small chips in the tile.
The blade is kept from overheating by pumping water over the spinning blade and recapturing it in a pan that sits below the saw itself.
The tile is placed on a sliding table, aligned with the blade then pushed through the rotating saw blade at a consistent speed. Only moderate pressure is required for the blade to cut smoothly and evenly through even the thickest or hardest tile.
Buy or Rent
Decent quality tile saws start at around $300. If you have a lot of tile to install over a period of several days or weeks, purchasing on of these units may be the way to go.
On the other hand, for smaller to moderate-size jobs that can be completed in a day or two, renting a tile wet saw probably makes more sense. Tool rental companies that are members of the American Rental Association usually keep several saws on hand since they are one of the most popular tools to rent.
In addition to being able to cut cleanly through even the thickest tiles, the tile wet saw can also be used as a grinder to quickly and accurately cut out curved shapes, notches or slots. You can see an example in the video.