How to Soften the Edge After Cutting Ceramic Tile

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  • 3-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • $50-80
What You'll Need
Protective eye wear
Work gloves
Sanding block
Emery cloth
Low-grit file
High-grit file
Cement/concrete slab

A complex design or just less-than-perfect dimensions might lead you to having to cut your ceramic tiles to install them properly, whether it’s in a shower, as part of a kitchen backsplash, or on your floors. But while manual score-and-snap tile cutters make the task easy, cuts will leave behind sharp and serrated edges. These edges may require smoothing for both safety reasons and aesthetic appeal, such as when you need to set the end of a tile against a bathtub. Here is how to soften the rough areas on your cut ceramic tiles.

Step 1 – Stay Safe

Since the edges of cut tile can be very sharp and filing them can produce nasty slivers, you will need some heavy-duty work gloves to ensure that you don’t injure yourself. Dust coming off the tile could also irritate your eyes or lungs, so you should put on a face mask and safety glasses too.

Step 2 – Smooth the Edges by Hand

When sanding by hand, avoid using simply sandpaper in your hand as the sharp, rough edges can cause it to rip. Instead, use a sanding block with a low-grit side or some emery cloth. Both of these solutions are much more durable than straight sandpaper and are more likely to yield a better result. If your edges are particularly rough to start, use the emery cloth first as it is made to be able to smooth rough metals, and then move progressively to a high-grit edge on your sanding block for the final touches.

Step 3 – File the Edges

You can also use an abrasive file to begin smoothing the sharp edges of the cut tiles. Just place your tile on a flat, firm surface, holding the end down with your non-dominant hand. Then, place the file on the edge, about an inch from the tip, and push downward in a single smooth stroke. Repeat this process until the edges are no longer sharp. Switch to a finer grit file to continue refining until the edges are smooth and polished.

Step 4 – Try Other Smoothing Techniques

Concrete and cement can be used to smooth straight edges if you are unable to get ahold of the aforementioned materials. Hold the tile securely and gently slide the edge along the concrete or cement several times. Check between every few strokes to see if the edge is as smooth as you need This process may not produce a polished texture, but it will work in a pinch to reduce any dangerous sharp edges.