Do It Yourself Tile Floors: Cutting Marble And Granite Tile

Because granite and marble tiles are costly, it is important to know how to cut them properly.

Granite and marble are the undisputed finest members of the tile family. These mined stones have distinctive veining that adds a regal touch to a room. Furthermore, they will last a lifetime once installed, requiring virtually no upkeep to maintain their exquisiteness. When homeowners remodel their houses, they can make no better choice than using marble or granite floor tile. Either choice will substantially increase the value of the property. However, these stones are as costly as they are desirable, by far more expensive than more common ceramic tiles. The cuts necessary for most installations can easily go awry if the wrong tools are used, ruining expensive tiles. For this reason, it is important to educate yourself about the proper equipment for trimming pieces to the appropriate size.

Tile Cutter

Because of the weight and thickness of marble and granite tiles, it is usually very difficult and time-consuming to use manual cutting tools. Experts recommend using an electric tile cutter, otherwise known as a wet saw, to make the majority of your cuts. Not only does it reduce the time spent trimming straight edges, but it is also the only accurate way of making complicated cuts. In other words, if you have to shape a tile to fit around a toilet base or plumbing fixture, handheld tools will be useless to you. For a one-time project, save yourself the high price of buying a wet saw. Most major home improvement stores allow customers to rent them for $35 to $40 a day, so consider this option. Read the instruction manual carefully before operating the machine, remembering to wear heavy gloves and eye protection while you work. Although this machine is designed to cut down on the amount of splintering that occurs during cutting, sharp fragments can and will scatter everywhere. Take the machine outside or into the basement to make cuts.

Once you have measured each piece that needs to be cut, lay it on the wet saw's tile platform. Water is necessary to wet the tile and blade, both of which can otherwise become dangerously hot when exposed to friction. The water will also keep the tile from cracking or kicking up excess dust during the cut. To prepare the saw, place the pump connected to the saw's hose at the base of a bucket of fresh water. To make sure that it is set up correctly, turn on the machine and watch for a spray of water around the blade. Next, consider practicing your cutting technique with a scrap of tile. Use the measuring bar on the platform to line up each cut and guide the tile into the blade. Remember to keep your fingers well away from the saw blade, since it can do serious damage even though it looks dull when the power is off. Once you have finished this, you can move on to trim work.

Small Tools

Once a tile is cut with the wet saw it will have a slightly jagged edge that needs to be smoothed out. Use a heavy grade sandpaper (80-grit, for example) to work out major kinks, working down to a fine grade (like 400-grit). To achieve an expert-quality finish, follow up with a polishing wheel. In this way, the cut edge will look very similar to the edges from the store-bought tile. If the tile has corners cut into it, there may be bits of tile remaining here. To remove this undesired excess, you will need a hand-held tool called snippers. Operate these like tongs to grab and pinch off the tile bits. These tools are also ideal for removing miniscule amounts of tile edging in areas too small for the wet saw or other tools to be effective. For example, consider using snippers to bite off bits of tiles that will surround small pipes of faucets. It takes more hand strength to cut tile in this way, but you will find it much less frustrating than trying to shave a sliver off the piece with the saw.

Scouring Tool

Finally, you are likely to find that none of these tools is appropriate for some necessary cuts. One example would be the area where the toilet plumbing connects to the drain beneath. If you take up the toilet to run tile underneath it, you may find that this hole falls directly in the center of a piece of tile. The wet saw cannot make this cut without starting from the edge, and the snippers have no way of reaching. In order to cut this hole without damaging the perimeter of the tile, you will need to use a scouring tool. This piece of equipment, similar in design to a glasscutter, is made to cut a weak spot into the tile. By scouring along the edges of the hold you need cut, you provide the tile with a seam to break on. You can remove the centerpiece by gently -- very gently -- tapping it with a piece of wood. Make sure that you provide support for the rest of the tile piece, or it may crack in the wrong places from the pressure.

By arming yourself with these tools and techniques, you can assure that your tile installation will be quick and easy. Furthermore, you will limit the risk of accidentally breaking pieces. In comparison to the waste of destroying expensive pieces of marble or granite by using the wrong equipment, spending money to rent and purchase appropriate tools is an excellent investment. Once you have laid, spaced, and grouted the tiles properly, your room will have the look of a professional job. Best of all, the time spent on making expert cuts will increase the beauty of the room and the value of your home.

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