Cutting Natural Stone Tiles

Cutting Natural Stone Tiles.

There are a number of methods and tools used in the installation of tiles. For softer tile like ceramic tile and some types of glass the most common methods involve scoring and snapping or using a pair of nippers with a carbide tipped pencil.

Cutting natural stone tiles around a pool.
Cutting natural stone tiles around a pool.

However, these methods are inadequate when cutting  natural stone tiles.   Unlike ceramic tile, soft glass, and ever some softer porcelains, using a tile cutter or tile snips are not going to do a lot when it comes to cutting natural stone. Most natural stone tile are too hard and dense to be snapped, without extreme pressure. The few stone tile that might snap without that amount of pressure may not fracture cleanly.  For example, slate tiles will fracture along many different layers, resulting in a jagged cut. Similarly, standard nippers do not have the jaw strength necessary to cut through natural stones like granite. And, they crush more brittle or fragile stone.

The most widely used tool for cutting natural stone tile is a wet saw in combination with a diamond encrusted blade.

A wet saw uses water for lubrication and cooling.  And the diamond blade is needed to cut through the tile cleanly. A wet saw cuts the stone without undo pressure, removing a small amount of the stone.  And, the water keeps the blade cool enough to avoid overheating.

The clean cutting diamond blade produces a cut that can be tightly fit together. If the stone needs to be drilled, a diamond tipped drill bit dipped in cooling oil can quickly grind through the stone.  It will make the necessary hole without smoking, overheating, or breaking the stone.  Larger holes can be drilled using a diamond drill bit and diamond hole saw.

Stone mosaics can be cut in sheets on a wet saw as well.  But if individual stones need to be cut, stone nippers should be used. Stone nippers have a large enough jaw to be able to snap the mosaics cleanly without crushing them.

Proper use of the right tools will help ensure a good stone installation every time. Always use tools designed for cutting natural stone tiles to get the best results.

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