How To Cut Small Ceramic Wall Tile

Laying out small tiles in your bathroom or kitchen sink can help provide depth to your walls or floors. Some would even lay out small tiles in a mosaic pattern. However, cutting small ceramic wall tiles might not be as easy as cutting larger tiles. For one, large tiles can easily be cut by a platform tile cutter. Smaller ones will have to be cut using a hand-held tool, which can be more tedious, but more accurate.

What you need

  • Ceramic tiles
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Platform tile cutter
  • Handheld tile cutter
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout

Lay out full-sized tiles. Before doing any cutting, you will need to lay out the full-sized tiles on the wall or floor first. This way, you will only need to cut the tiles that are not exact in fit. When laying out tiles, start from the center of the wall, going toward the edges. This way, your cut tiles will have to be lined up along the edges.

Measure the gaps. Once you have almost reached the edges, you will need to measure the gap between the end of the wall and the last full tile. From this measurement, subtract ¼ of an inch to give allowance for grout and the wall (particularly if you are also tiling the other side of the wall).

Mark the measurement tile. Measure from the edge of the tile and place a pencil mark on the spot where you will be cutting. You don’t have to draw a line from edge to edge. You will just need markers where your tile cutter will be cutting from.

Use the platform tile cutter to make a cut
. Lay the small ceramic tile on the platform tile cutter, lining up the cutting mark with the blade. Make sure the tile is laid straight and is sitting firmly on the cutter’s platform. Set the circular blade on the cutting mark (which should be nearest to you) and begin pushing the blade forward in a firm, but smooth motion. This should draw a line along the tile.

Use the handheld cutter. Large tiles can be safely cut in two by the platform cutter by using metal prongs along each side of the platform. For your smaller ceramic tiles, you will need to use a handheld tile cutter. Remove the ceramic tile from the platform cutter, and hold the uncut end in one hand. With your free hand, take the handheld cutter and firmly clamp it on the cut end. Squeeze the handheld cutter. The cut end of the tile should then snap off cleanly.

Lay out the cut tiles. Once you’ve finished cutting all the small tiles, you can now lay these out at the edges of your wall or floor. Position the cut edges along the edge of the wall, so that the factory-cut ends connect with the tiles you mounted earlier.

For smaller cuts or irregular cuts, you will need to use tile nippers, which are shaped like pliers. You can clamp these on corners or edges of the tile, and clip off excess ceramic to shape the tile.


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