Using a Tile Breaker to Make Perfect Straight Cuts in Floor Tiles


When dry laying floor tiles, you will almost certainly require some that are cut to size before laying the mortar bed, and this is especially true when working with a tiny nook or alcove in any area. If you’re only working with ceramic tiles, you can use a tile breaker to make clean, straight cuts; then, you can move on to preparing the tiles that need angles eliminated.

However, before you go ahead and mark them, you should double-check the fit of your straight-cut tiles. You may need to cut some of these floor tiles in two directions to get a straight line while working outward from your foundation floor tile or chalk line.

For a room’s corner, you might need to halve a 12-inch floor tile to acquire a 6-inch tile that fits your projection. If your dry-laid tile projection, like that in a room corner, meets an opposing wall running perpendicular to it, you may need to trim the end of the final tile to make it fit.

The ceramic tile breaker is still the best tool for the job, but you’ll want to deduct 1/8″ from your final measurement to account for the grout line you’ll need between the floor and the wall. Tiles should not be placed flush against the wall. It’s also essential to account for the grout lines that will separate your tiles, so subtract the width of the grout lines from the total tile size.

After the tile has been cut, it must be checked to ensure it is in the correct location. During a dry installation run, use grout spacers to ensure the distance between the tile and the wall is as close to 1/8 inch as possible. Depending on the thickness of the baseboards you plan to install, the small under-sizing of the tile may not be a problem.

However, if the tile is too big, you have two choices. Trim the edge of the already-cut tile with a wet tile saw, or cut a new piece slightly smaller than the first to account for the gap. Even a skilled professional tiler will have trouble breaking tiles thinner than 1 inch (or 2 inches if they are a beginner).

When laying cut tiles, always remember to face the factory-finished edge inward. The rougher cut edge of any tile should always be put next to the walls, as your baseboards will again hide this for the best effects in a finished floor.

Similarly, there is a simple approach to avoid making additional measurements when making straight cuts in floor tiles comparable to one another and following a straight line, such as against the length of a wall or a fixed furnishing like a bathroom sink unit. If you carefully measure and cut the first-floor tile, you can easily replicate its dimensions for the rest.

In some cases, you may need to flip the tile 180 degrees to mark the rough edge towards the vertical face of the wall or obstacle. After gaining experience and competence with floor tiling, you will undoubtedly develop your methods for speeding up the process; until then, you should stick with whatever works best for you.

Matt has a kid who is two and a half years old and another child on the way. He and his wife now reside in a house built in the 1950s and renovated by him in his “spare time” over several years. He has a dual interest in floor tiling and extreme activities, which don’t go together but contribute to his confident demeanor and willingness to take on challenges.

As the subtitle to his book suggests, “A Unique Step-by-Step Guide: Making Floor Tiling Easier” was over three years in the making. He intended for it to be user-friendly for readers of all skill levels.

Visit to order a copy of the book, or enter to win a free DVD on floor tiling. To learn more about the exclusive offer he is making, select the FREE DVD.

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