Ceramic Tile Shower 6 - Cutting Tiles

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This article is the sixth installment of our series on building a ceramic tile shower. Read on to learn the steps for cutting your tiles.

Cutting Tile - Straight cuts

As you tile into the corners you'll need to be cutting tile as you go. Measure accurately with a tape measure. Most tile dealers can lend you a simple tile cutter. You can also rent a wet saw from your local equipment rental center. When cutting with a non-power tile cutter, score the tile only once. Multiple scores will dull the blade and create jagged edges on the tile. Place the breaking wings, located at the bottom of the handle, about 0.5-inches from either edge of the tile and slowly but firmly press down on the handle until the wings break the tile. Smooth any rough edges with a tile sander.

Cutting Shapes

Whenever you are cutting any tiles be sure to allow for the 1/8-inch grout line when getting your measurements. Cut the tiles to fit around pipes and faucets after all the field tiles are laid. Here are a few different ways to make more complicated cuts.

Use tile nippers to cut the tiles to irregular shapes. Scoring cutoff line with a micro cutter helps. You might need to cut a tile in 2 so that the tile wraps around the plumbing. With a wet tile saw, rented from your local equipment rental center, you can cut the tile with a series of cuts and then go over it with the blade to smooth it out.

If you are making a lot of complicated cuts it may be worth it to rent a diamond cut-off wheel like this at an equipment rental center or your tile dealer. You can also use a saber saw with a carbide blade or, for small holes for plumbing pipes, you can use a tile cuffing attachment for your drill.

Installing the Trim Tiles

All the edges of the tiled area need to be finished with quarter round edge and corner pieces. Simply butter the adhesive on the back of the tile and stick onto the wall the correct position.

Final Adjustments

Once you've laid the tiles and are waiting for the adhesive to set, make any adjustments needed for correct alignment. Check to see if the tiles are fully set by trying to pull up a tile. Clean any adhesive that got left behind on the face of the tile and allow the adhesive to dry for 24 to 48 hours depending on the adhesive you used. While the adhesive is drying, remove any spacers that you used.

Move onto Part 7 where we discuss grouting the tile.