Sometimes laying tiles is a very easy and straightforward job and all the cuts are straight. But once in a while (for every job) you have to deal with odd shapes. And these shapes tend to be very important and time consuming. Important because you want the job to look good and odd shaped tiles have the potential to spoil the look. Also important because cutting them well is time consuming.
Here is a method to get perfect curved cuts in ceramic tiles while minimizing the time spent.

Tools you need

  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • a piece of paper
  • tile nippers
  • wet tile saw

How to measure

  1. Identify the precise location for the tile. This is relative to the surrounding tiles
  2. Tile Position

  3. Draw on a piece of paper the approximate shape of the tile after it will be cut. Don’t try to be an artist but try to use straight clean lines and make the drawing big enough to allow you to note 12 numbers on each side
  4. Mark the surrounding tiles every 1″ using the pencil
  5. Measure from the surrounding tiles to the odd edge using the measuring tape. Subtract from this number the size of the gap between the tiles and the gap you want to between the tile and the odd obstacle (wall or in this case stairs). Write the measurements in order on the edge of the drawing. Do this for every edge opposite to the odd obstacle (could be 1, 2 or 3 edges)

How to trace the tile

  1. Take the tile you plan to cut and mark it every 1″ on all the edges corresponding to the ones you measured. Draw guiding lines perpendicular to those edges.
  2. On each guiding line measure the corresponding distance (the one you noted on the piece of paper)
  3. Connect the dots to get the end shape marked on the tile
  4. Traced Tile

  5. Trace the rough cuts. The rough cuts are cuts you are going to make to remove the bulk of the material you want to cut off. You have to consider your situation. Usually you need to rough cuts to remove most of the unwanted material from the tile

Make the rough cuts

    Wet Tile Saw

  1. Using the wet tile saw cut from the edge to the point where the rough cuts meet. Be careful not to eat too much into the good part of the ceramic tile
  2. Rough Tile Cuts

  3. Now make a series of smaller cuts perpendicular on the edge of the rough cuts up to the line marking the final curved shape. These cuts should be close enough to allow you to remove the extra material with the tile nippers
  4. Tile Nippers

Make the final cuts

  1. Use the tile nippers to remove the strips of unwanted material created by the previous cuts. Be careful not to break the tile. Don’t be rough, apply steady pressure without moving your hand too much
  2. Using the same tile nippers clean and even the odd curved shape
  3. Tile Final Shape

Test the tile

Final Tile Position
Final Tile Position

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