Installing tile flooring, backsplashes or countertops requires precise cuts, even grout lines, and a perfectly level surface. Completing a weekend tile project isn’t hard when you have a tile cutter or wet saw to help you achieve those precise cuts. Deciding which tool is best for your project begins with understanding the design of each one and considering the overall scope of the job.
Measurements and Preparation
It can seem tedious but taking careful measurements of the area and planning out a layout are essential to achieving a professional-quality result. Measure the total area of the flooring to help determine how much tile is needed to complete the project.
Once careful measurements are documented, prep the walls or the floors receiving tile. Make sure that the surface is thoroughly scraped and cleaned of all debris. Any dirt or particles left behind will prevent the tile from properly adhering and will lower the lifespan of the new floors or walls. A little extra time spent on preparation can drastically improve the overall durability of your project.
Plan Out the Project
Taking the size of your tiles into consideration, draw out a schematic of the layout for the tile chosen. This basic layout will act as a map or guide throughout the installation process. With so many different tile sizes and layouts to choose from, it is easy to find one that suits every style of interior décor.
Tile cutters are an inexpensive and precise way to get clean cuts. They are a manual machine that utilizes a two-step process of scoring and then snapping the tile. The scoring and snapping method is definitely easier on softer tiles rather than harder tiles, making it more difficult on tile flooring materials with a higher PEI rating. This is not a suitable tool for use on glass tiles.
Because they don’t use electricity and are clean to use, tile cutters can be a convenient choice for use around the home. Carry them directly into the area being tiled for convenient cuts. Although they are very effective in making straight cuts, tile cutters are not able to achieve curved cuts.
When you want to take your tile cutting abilities to the next level, wet saws make a great option. This electric alternative to a tile cutter features a rotating diamond blade designed to slice through a variety of different tile materials. Often, the design allows for the blade to be angled, making it easy to achieve precise miter cuts.
Wet saws utilize a consistent spray of water to help to reduce friction as the cuts are made. The durable design of the diamond blade makes wet saws suitable for use with tiles featuring a higher PEI rating and for glass tile, which can’t be cut with a manual tile cutter. Because it makes such fast and precise cuts, a wet saw is a great choice for larger tiling projects.
The two main drawbacks of using a wet saw are the mess and the skill needed. The water spray and dust created by a wet saw makes outdoor use recommended. It can take more time to walk from the saw to the project so consider measuring multiple tiles for cutting at a time and working in larger batches. Tile cutters are ideal for beginners, but a wet saw requires a little more practice and care. Read the instructions carefully before getting started and always keep hands clear of the blade. When using a wet saw with a little experience, curved cuts can also be achieved.
Which One Is Best for Your Project?
Understanding the primary differences between a tile cutter and wet saw makes it easier to determine which tool is best for your project. Take a moment to consider the overall scope of the project and the likelihood for future projects down the line. If it is a quick project, it may be better to keep the budget low and opt for a tile cutter. If a whole room is being retiled and there are options for future tile projects, a wet saw can be a very convenient investment.
Of course, there are certain materials that require a wet saw to prevent damage to the material, such as glass tile and harder tile materials. If that is the case, and the cost of a wet saw is a drawback, consider renting the tool at your local home improvement store. Review a fast glance of each tool:
Taking on a do-it-yourself tiling project doesn’t have to be intimidating. Proper prep work and gathering the right tools will help you achieve the consistent grout lines and precise cuts that the pros provide. Both tile cutters and wet saws are go-to tools of the trade and both come in a variety of different styles and price points.
Choose the tiles first and use the material content as a main deciding factor in which tool is most appropriate for your project. No matter which one you choose, make sure to clean it properly when finished for proper storage. A little maintenance after use will help prolong the life of the tool and ensure it is in tip-top shape when you need it next.