Cutting and Shaping Natural Stone Tiles

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  • 3-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-800
What You'll Need
Wet saw w/ diamond encrusted blades
Water grinder or grinder w/ wetstone
Safety glasses
Face mask

Natural stone tiles make a great finish to a backsplash, countertop, or even as a floor covering. The great natural stone look, the earthy tones, and the warm feel that it gives, is something that many people look for to present a level of elegance and character. Installing the natural stone tiles is usually something that many homeowners leave for a professional to do. However, the installation process can be done by any homeowner if they pay attention to detail and take their time. One consideration that should be taken into account is the actual cutting and shaping of the natural stone tiles.

WARNING: Stay safe while using any kind of mechanical saw by wearing gloves and safety glasses (and a face mask if you have a history of respiratory issues). Be careful while carrying and installing the freshly cut tiles to avoid cutting yourself or dropping them.

Cutting and Shaping

One of the problems that keeps many people from installing natural stone tile themselves is the act of cutting and shaping the tile itself. Unlike the glass, or ceramic, tiles, cutting the tile needs to be done with a different method in order to cut the tile correctly and without damaging the stone.

Diamond Blade Works Best

Unlike regular tile, using a tile cutter or tile snips are not going to do a lot when it comes to cutting the natural stone. The best way to cut the tile is with the combination of a wetsaw and a diamond encrusted blade. The wetsaw is important for the lubrication of the water that the diamond blade needs in order to cut through the tile.

Cut Slowly

One of the important aspects to remember when cutting the natural stone tile is to push the tile through the saw very slowly. Moving the tile through the saw too fast is going to cause the blade to bind up and either crack the tile, break the blade, or cause the saw to overheat.

Cut Rounded Corners

There comes a time when you will want to add a rounded corner to the natural stone tile, or simply cut off a small amount. You can do this, but it must be done in small increments at a time. Slowly push the edge of the natural stone tiles through the wetsaw and let the diamond blade eat through the material. Start at the corner and use straight lines to cut the corners and remove small bits of material.

Drilling Holes in Natural Stone Tiles

When installing the natural stone tiles in a bathroom, or in the kitchen, you may need to work around pipes and other elements. This can be easily done through the use of a diamond drill bit and diamond hole saw. Make sure that when you do the drilling you will want to use plenty of water to keep the drill from getting too hot. Put the safety glasses (and a face mask) on as well to keep stone dust out of your body.

Water Grinder is Useful

When there is a little bit of shaping that needs to be completed with the natural stone tiles, you can use a water grinder, or a grinder with a wet stone grinding wheel. You must be very careful when using this method so that you do not either remove too much material or cause stress fractures in the natural stone tile. However, for simple shaping of edges, or smoothing the edges of cuts, a wet grinder will work very well.

TIP: mechanical cutting tools and grinders are generally expensive to buy, so check your local Home Depot or similar department store and see if you can rent the wet saw, grinder and machine equipment.