Most people associate tile cutters with bathrooms and kitchens, but when it comes to improving your outdoor spaces (outdoor kitchens included) you’d be amazed at what the best tile cutters can achieve.
In this article, we’ve got reviews from around the internet including tile cutters for glass and tile cutters for ceramics, but also a few great tile cutting tips that might inspire some new DIY projects around the house.
Tiller Cutters Product Chart
What are Tile Cutters?
Tile cutters are designed to speed up tile fitting, enabling you to measure and cut accurate splits through tiles. Because tiles come in different materials, you’ll not be surprised to hear that you’ll probably need a different cutter for each job.
I prefer the look of porcelain tiles, with their matt finish, and more natural texture, so for me, it’s all about sile cutters, but you can achieve incredible things in outdoor kitchens with glass tiles.
Speaking of outdoor kitchens, be sure to check out our article on the Best Outdoor Kitchen Tips, Designs and Kitchen Installers in Australia.
Glass tiles tend to weather better outdoors, but there is loads of choice, from glazed ceramics to vinyl click, which can all look great in the garden when done well.
Why You Need a Tile Cutter
When we bought our first house, we tried to scrimp and save at every corner, using old fashioned tile saw attachments for hacksaws. It took ages!
So when we moved into our new place we decided that if there was one tool we were going to invest in, even if it was just to save time this once, it was a tile cutter.
For any tile fitting job, neat cuts mean neat joins. Tile cutters are the only way to achieve crisp cuts on any kitchen, bathroom, or garden fit-out.
Different Types of Tile Cutters
There are four types of tile cutters; tile saws, sile cutters, glass cutters, and vinyl tile cutters. For each job, you’ll need the right tool, for the right material, but the best ones in terms of versatility are tile saws as they are typically able to cope with most materials other than vinyl, which can split under the movement.
Sile cutters are what spring to mind whenever I think about tiling, because that’s what most of my experience has been with, and they’re the simplest tool to use. They are ideal for porcelain, and any ceramic or stone tile.
Sile cutters work by scoring the tile as finely as possible, creating a weak point across the length of a tile. Then, by placing the scored line on a hard ridge, and applying even pressure on either side, sile cutters are able to split tiles neatly without any loss of material.
The downside of sile cutters is that they are only capable of straight edges. There is no way to create acute angles in tiles with a sile cutter, so to go around sockets or posts, you will need a tile saw.
Glass cutters are relatively intuitive, applying sprung pressure to glass, which allows you to create incredible shapes in this brittle material. Traditional tools are the best here.
The glass cutters that were used to build ancient stained glass windows are still the same style we use to create contemporary mosaics today. Glass cutters work so well thanks to the arrangement of particles in glass, which is formed by heating silica (usually from quartz sand).
While quartz has a very defined particle structure resulting in geometric crystals, glass pushes and pulls that structure when it's heated, meaning the particles are joined together at incredibly uneven intervals, so there is no decided line for the glass to split along like most other materials.
By weaving hand-held tile cutters along the surface of the glass, and then gently tapping on the underside of the score, you open up those particle joins and can create any shape you want.
Vinyl Tile Cutter
Vinyl tiles are a trading name for PVC backed with fibreglass or felt. They are incredibly easy to cut once you score them and can be cut with a Stanley knife if you don’t have access to a tile cutter. However, vinyl tile cutters provide much neater cuts and are far more reliable.
Ceramic Tile Saw
Ceramic tile saws are the only option when you have intricate tile cutting to do. If you have plug sockets to tile around or install a tile floor around pergola posts, then you need a tile saw.
To create acute angles within tiles there is no other tool capable of those joins. Ceramic tile saws are designed to cut porcelain, terracotta and earthenware tiles, but the best tile saws can also cut glass.
Electric tile saws will always have a reservoir of water too, ensuring that your tile is cut evenly and helping to lubricate the blade without building up oils in the blade mechanisms.
Other Tools for Cutting Tiles
Once you’ve cut your tiles, there are a few other tools you’re going to need. Remember, these materials are brittle, so they need extra care and attention, but there are some really clever tools you can use to make light work of drilling holes, and even whittling away small nicks in ceramics.
But before we talk about those tools in more detail, one tool that has made my life easier this year for tiling projects has been our corner gauge, which accurately flexes into corners to provide a cutting guide. Before these tools, we had to spend ages creating paper templates to follow. Now those shapes are created in seconds.
Tile drill bits
If you’re cutting glass or standard ceramic tiles you’ll need a glass and tile drill bit, but make sure it has a carbide tip so it doesn’t wear out too quickly. For porcelain, you need a diamond-tipped drill bit, which effectively sands a hole through the tile.
Diamond tipped drill bits for porcelain are designed to delicately wear away holes in tiles that are incredibly likely to crack under located pressure.
End cutting pliers, and nibbling pliers are relatively similar tools, but they each have slightly different jobs. The shared purpose of both is for intricate tile nibbling (as the name suggests). Tile end cutters are useful for breaking away scored parts of awkward corners, but also for scraping-out notches in softer materials.
Tile nibblers are used for expanding holes and trimming corners once you’ve drilled your initial holes through the tile. Because of that, both types of tile pliers need to be kept incredibly sharp, so should always be sharpened before use.
Best Tile Cutter Reviews
The hand tile cutter, or sile cutter used even pressure from a simple handle to apply pressure to scored tiles. By positioning your tile according to the measuring guide, you simply hold it in place using the tile positioner on the right and run the scoring wheel across the surface until it has left a significant mark. On porcelain, this will need a few passes.
Once your tile is scored, simply press down, and it should crack perfectly along the scored line.
For any DIY enthusiast wanting to fit their own kitchen or bathroom, or for a professional tiler who doesn’t always want to use huger power tools for every job, this is by far the best one we’ve found, with a wide base and incredible 14mm cutting depth for extra thick tiles too.
I’ve had this Spear and Jackson tile cutter for a few years now. We’ve fitted our kitchen, and bathroom with it, and used it for a few craft projects in the garden (mosaic birdbaths, and some paving inlays using leftover tiles).
It’s not the best cutter in the world by a long way, with a narrow cutting base that increases the risk of unnecessary breaks, and means uneven pressure if you move the tile away from the scored edge, but it gets the job done on a budget.
One caution with this tile cutter is that it does require regular oiling along the guide bars, which can seize up after a few uses.
The Makita Glass and Tile saw is a battery-powered wet tile saw, suitable for small projects and detail work for commercial kitchen fitters, indoors and outdoors.
The easy to fill bottle makes tile cutting incredibly easy, and takes the stress out of the job, by reducing the risk of chips and cracks while cutting through tiles without the need for pre-scoring, or pressure snapping them at any point.
Thanks to its small blade it can cut intricate corners, and can even create a curved edge for more unique tile finishes.
There’s much less risk with vinyl tile cutters as they are built for one purpose, and one purpose only; cutting vinyl tiles.
Vinyl tiles are PVC with a fibreglass backing for strength, so can be cut through with a hand blade, but for quick (and neat) results, you need a vinyl tile cutter that acts as a guillotine, reducing stress on the material, and reducing the risk of splits when you snap-break the tiles.
Robert’s always makes great tools, and the storage box included with this tile cutter is a handy addition to keep it stored away safely in the garage when it’s not in use.
Mantistol isn’t a well-known brand in tile fitting, but their laminate tile cutter does the job at a significantly lower price than most.
The one thing that does worry about the long term use of the Mantistol vinyl tile cutter is that it’s on a raised surface without a flat bed, so you’re cutting without any distribution of pressure, which is much more likely to lead to cracks.
The old fashioned guillotine-style cutter is a good way to reduce the stress on the vinyl though.
Old fashioned tile cutters are still the best way to cut glass. Tile saws create frosted edges that can be hard to polish, while glass cutters create natural breaks in the glass meaning they still reflect light back out from all angles even after cutting.
The Yakamoz cutter comes as a two-pack too, which adds to the value, but the best thing about it is the oil reservoir in the hollowed-out handle that is slowly fed to the cutting wheel.
There are two really important differences between this and a modern glass cutter that makes the traditional style more efficient; the oil feed, and the weighted cap. The cap on the end of the handle is for tapping against the glass (rock it in your fingers gently until you notice a fissure from front to back along your scored line).
I wanted to include the EMSea glass cutter as an example of the difference between glass cutters for craft, and glass cutters for tile.
For cutting glass tiles, you need a much more substantial glass cutter with a weighted head, and an oil feed, but that’s not to say that this is a bad glass cutter.
If you’re looking for a glass cutter for glass crafts, using thinner glass for DIY stained glass, or mosaics, then this style is great. It needs fewer refills, and the wooden handle is weighted enough to create splits without risking extra cracks.
So for beginners to glass cutting, it’s worth trying it out with something like this by EMSea, but for bigger jobs like mosaic tiling your kitchen or bathroom, you’ll need a glass cutter with a proper oil feed.
Best Tiller Cutters Australia
Our Top Pick Tiller Cutter
Having used a much narrower tile cutter in the past, I love that DTA have thought about the width, and the strength of DTA Boss Hand Tile Cutter, which uses a wide, flat bed, to apply even pressure and reduce the strain on tiles.
Any ceramic tile once scored only needs the slightest amount of pressure to crack along the score, so the raised platform is clever innovation that allows you to guide your cutter and score it, and crack it without moving the tile at all.
Best Value Tiller Cutter
Sometimes, the basics are enough. Spear & Jackson are better known for their garden tools than their DIY accessories, so I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by how long-lasting, how sturdy, and how efficient the Spear & Jackson Tile Sile Cutter is.
The padded sides create an even base for scoring, and the breaker handle gives even pressure against the softer edges to help break tiles with minimum risk.
Premium Choice Pick Tiller Cutter
When it comes to big tiling jobs, it’s pretty rare to come across a space that doesn’t need a socket cutting out, or an angle cutting around a windowsill, or something awkward. Makita is one of the most trusted tool brands in the world, and their tile cutter keeps up with that reputation.
Makita CC02Z Cordless Tile/Glass Saw is not a cheap tile cutter, but it’s a lot less than a table saw, and can handle most jobs that a table saw can.
If you need to cut angles, or curves, or have harder ceramics like porcelain to cut then purchasing a good quality tile saw like the Makita tile & glass saw is a very wise investment indeed.
Tile Cutters FAQs
Can you cut tile without a wet saw?
Most tiles can be cut without expensive wet saws, but it’s not possible to create curves or internal angles in ceramic tiles without wet saws. For straight edges, simple sile tile cutters are the most efficient, but they won’t work on harder materials.
How do you cut tile without chipping it?
To cut tiles without chipping them, make sure you sharpen your blades or scorers and add lubricant to the blade. Some tile saws have water automatically fed in to reduce chipping, but it’s still useful to use a dressing stone, which effectively just reduces friction.
Can you score and snap porcelain tiles?
Porcelain tiles can be scored and snapped just like any other ceramic tile, but they are much harder to break and more likely to crack in the wrong place.
It’s much safer to use a tile saw with porcelain, but if you are stuck with a sile cutter, make sure to score more than you normally would before trying to snap porcelain.
Grab the Best Tile Cutter for 2022
Tile cutters are very, very, useful tools for DIYers and professionals alike. No matter how many times you practice cutting tiles with hand saws, you will never beat the speed and precision of a tile cutter.
Just remember that there are plenty of different tiling materials, and not every tile cutter cuts every tile. However, as we’ve discussed, if you want a “one-size-fits-most” tile cutter, then wet tile saws are the best tile cutters you can buy.