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Cutting and Drilling

Cutting tile is an easy process as long as the steps for making proper cuts are followed and the right tools are used for the job.  Cutting porcelain tile is different than cutting glass tile and this factor should be taken into account.  There are also different steps to follow depending on whether a straight cut or a curved cut is preferred.


Cutting Porcelain Tile

Remember, some production runs of porcelain tile are a bit harder or denser than others.  This can make plunge cuts even more difficult.  A wet saw equipped with a new diamond blade for cutting porcelain tile is strongly recommended.  Make a straight cut on porcelain tile by placing the tile face up on the tile saw.  Any prep work that can be done to keep the tile cool and stationary while cutting will help the process greatly.  In addition, soaking the tile in cold water before and after making a cut helps keep the tile cool.  Pausing for 30 to 60 seconds between cuts is also beneficial.

Make a series of steady slow cuts, working deeper into the tile body with each cut will ensure a proper cut.  Draw the shape of the cut on the front and back of the tile.


Drilling Porcelain Tile

To drill into the porcelain, use a diamond core bit designed to penetrate porcelain.  To cut a shape out of the porcelain, drill ¼” to ½” holes in each corner of the shape and one hole in the middle of the shape to weaken the center.  Be sure to maintain a continuous supply of water to cool the hole and the drill bit during cutting.


Cutting Glass Tile

Making smaller cuts on glass mosaic tile or thin glass field tile can be made using mosaic tile nippers designed for glass tile cutting.  These can usually be ordered from a tool supply house or building supply companies.  For any other cuts, a wet saw equipped with a diamond blade for cutting glass tile is strongly recommended.  A blade for cutting glass tile has smaller diamonds than a ceramic or porcelain tile blade, has a continuous rim, and runs at a slower speed.  A blade designed for cutting ceramic or porcelain tiles is coarse and will chip the glass.


Making Straight Cuts to Glass Tile

Make a straight cut on glass tile by placing the smooth surface of the glass face down on your tile saw.  Straight cuts generally do not cause additional stress on the glass tile but you want to be sure to move the glass slowly through the cutting area of the tile saw.  Avoid adding stress to the last portion of the cut by cutting slowly and by pushing the glass with a scrap piece of wood placed across the entire rear surface of the glass.  This will keep your glass tile even and straight and will produce as straight a cut as possible.


Cutting Curves in Glass Tile

For smaller, less complex cuts mosaic tile nippers may do the trick depending on the degree of the curve required.  However, in most cases, a ring or band saw designed for cutting curves on glass tile is probably the best choice.


Drilling Glass Tile

Drilling a hole in glass tile requires a drill bit or coring drill that is designed for glass.  If the glass tile has not yet been installed, mark the spots in each piece that requires drilling and then clamp the glass so it is secure and immovable.  If glass tile has already been installed then mark the tile using a level.  Keep the drill bit and hole lubricated by connecting a water swivel to the drill motor.  Prior to drilling, a shallow pilot hole should be pre-drilled.  If glass has not yet been installed, drill the pilot hole in the back of the tile, then complete the hole by drilling from the face of the tile.  Attempting to drill all the way through the tile from one side might cause the glass to chip off on the exit side of the hole.  If glass has been installed, drill a shallow pilot hole by drilling slowly.  Continue the drilling process by drilling slowly until the desired depth has been achieved.

Important note to remember when drilling a hole in glass tile to accommodate any anchor pieces:  drill the hole 1/8” larger than any anchors you plan to use.  This prevents the stress transfer from the fixture to the glass tile.  Do not allow the fixture to rest on the glass at all.