Glass tile has become a trendy way to update your kitchen or bathroom, with a variety of colors, styles, and sizes to choose from. Because the tile is made from glass, it is easy to damage it while cutting it into the correct sizes for your project.
If you use the proper tools and the right techniques, though, glass tile can be a great DIY project to spruce up your home. Here are the necessary steps on how to cut glass tile.
Before gathering the tools necessary for the job, make sure you read the instructions in the tile manual. These instructions may have information about what tools or methods to use or not to use. You also want to inspect the tiles before installation to ensure there is no breakage and the tiles meet your expectations as far as color, size, and style.
While learning how to cut glass tile, you want to wear protective gear to protect your eyes and hands from tiny glass shards. Wearing heavy cloth or leather gloves also protects your hands from the sharp edges of the tiles after they are cut. Another important step to complete before actually cutting the tile, is laying out the pattern of the tiles. This gives you the chance to see what the tile will look like, so you can adjust the position of the tiles before you begin cutting.
Since there are options for cutting your tiles, decide which one you want to use prior to starting the project.
1. Wet Saw or Tile Saw Method
Cutting glass with a wet tile saw, or tile saw, is ideal when doing a large area of tiles or when you need a lot of tiles with straight cuts. Wet saws cause less breakage than manual methods because the steady water stream causes less friction. The water also cools the cut edge of the tile to ensure a smoother edge than manual methods.
Before cutting glass with a tile saw, make sure you have a blade that is glass-compatible and diamond encrusted. Fill the tray of the wet saw with an adequate amount of water. If the water runs out, the glass heats up too much and will explode. Once your saw is ready, measure out the cuts to make on the tiles and mark them with a washable marker.
Once your tiles are measured and the wet saw is ready to use, turn on the saw and allow the water to run for about 15 seconds before cutting. You want to ensure that the blade is sufficiently wet before cutting. Place a tile face down on the saw with the line you measured aligned with the cutting guide on the saw. Adding a piece of electrical tape, or other kind of tape, along the cut line prevents chipping along the tile’s edge.
When the tile is lined up properly, begin slowly feeding the tile through the saw. Move tile away from you with a steady, but light, pressure on the glass tile. After your tile is cut, you can use a damp cloth to remove the marks you made on the tile.
Steve Johnson on Flickr / CC BY
2. Manual Method Using a Scoring Tool
Cutting glass tile with manual tools, such as nippers and scorers, takes longer than a wet saw and may result in more damage to the glass. However, if you have small cuts to make or a thinner glass tile, such as 4 millimeter sized tiles, the manual method may be the way to go.
Use a straight edge to measure out your cut line and mark it with a washable marker. Marking out the cut line allows you to make a single, continuous cut using the scoring tool. Before cutting, make sure the cut line runs from one edge of the tile to the other. Make a cut along the line you marked out using the scoring tool. To make sure the line is accurate keep the straight edge along the cut line.
When scoring, hold the scoring tool at an angle and apply enough pressure to make a visible scratch in the surface of the glass.If you hear a gritty sound while scoring, this means you are pushing down too hard on the scoring tool. Applying this much pressure to the tile can cause damage to the glass. Practice on a few extra tiles before you start so you can gauge how much pressure is the right amount.
Place your thumbs on either side of the scored line and apply pressure equally to both sides of the mark. Quickly make a snapping motion using your wrists to break apart the glass. The glass should break cleanly along the line you scored. If the glass tile does not break, you may need to use a piece of wire or other thin object along the score line.
Once this additional material is in place, try to break the glass again using your thumbs. Another option is to use a pair of running pliers that have a slightly curved head to apply gentle pressure to the score line. To use these pliers, place the center of the tool on one end of the score line, and then apply pressure on the pliers. After cutting the glass tiles manually, use a rubbing stone to sand down the edges of the glass if they do not come out cleanly.
3. Manual Method Using a Nipper
Nippers are the ideal tools for cutting small pieces out of tile if you need an irregularly shaped tile or if you are doing a mosaic look. Practicing using the nipper is even more important than when using the scoring tool because it is not as exact. Just as with a scoring tool, the nipper requires you to make cutting lines in the tile before starting.
It is also extremely important to wear protective gear on your eyes as the nipper can send shards of glass flying. To use the nippers, hold them in you hand just like pliers and line up the wheels with the cuts you want to make. Put pressure on the nipper’s handles to cut the glass tile.
4. Manual Method Using a Bar Cutter
If the previous manual way of cutting tiles seems too labor intensive, the bar cutter may be a good alternative. This tool both scores and cuts the glass by making use of a pressure foot. First, measure out where you want to cut the tile and make a mark using a washable marker. Put the tile on top of the cutting pad on the bar cutter, making sure it is aligned with the cutting guide on the tool.
To score the tile, pull the knob or scoring handle away from you along the cutting line. Using the pressure foot on the bar cutter, snap the tile where you made the scored line. You may need to use a rubbing stone to smooth out the edges and to ensure there are no leftover glass shards.
5. Combined Method
If you need a curved piece of tile, you can combine the methods and tools mentioned. This allows you to get a smooth curved piece of tile to place around a pipe or any other curved object.
The first tool required to cut curves into glass tile is a scoring tool. Make marks on the tile where you need to make the curved cut, then use the scoring tool to etch a score into the tile along the line. You are not able to use the straight edge in this method, so make sure to go slowly and carefully when scoring out the cut.
Next, use a wet saw to create several straight cuts beginning at the edge of the unused tile to the scored line. After trimming perpendicular up to the scored line, you should be left with multiple narrow shards of glass. Using a pair of running pliers, snap off the narrow pieces of glass until you are left with just the curved line. Take a rubbing stone to the edge in order to smooth your cut and even out the edge.
Read more about different options for cutting glass tile
[lyte id=’h6AABdEfpwI&ab_’ /]
Although cutting glass tile seems like a difficult process, most handy homeowners can pull it off with a few specialized tools. The wet saw is the easiest and most effective way to cut the glass tile accurately without causing too much damage.
But, if you need to make small cuts to create a mosaic look, or if you are using thin tile, you may need to use some manual tools, such as nippers, scoring tools, and running pliers.
Once your glass tiles are cut, you can install and grout them as a backsplash in a kitchen, as a shower wall, or as bathroom accents. Glass tiles are easy to wipe off, durable, and versatile, making them a great choice for the kitchen or bathroom. Once installed, glass tiles create a shimmery effect that brings light and shine into your kitchen or bathroom space.