How to Cut Backsplash Tile on the Wall

Installing a beautiful backsplash tile can add style and personality to your kitchen or bathroom. However, sometimes you may need to cut those tiles to properly fit around outlets, corners, or edges. Cutting tile can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, you can get professional-looking results.

Getting Started with Cutting Backsplash Tile

When getting ready to cut backsplash tile, you’ll need to gather a few supplies:

  • Tile cutter – Choose a wet saw or manual snap tile cutter depending on the type of tile you’re cutting. A wet saw is best for porcelain or natural stone, while a snap cutter is suitable for ceramic or glass tile.
  • Tile nippers – These small pliers-like tools are used for nibbling away extra tile to fine-tune cuts around detailed edges or corners.
  • Safety gear – Wear protective eyewear and gloves when cutting tile. A face mask is also a good idea to avoid inhaling tile dust.
  • Marking tools – Have a pencil, tile marker, tape measure, and carpenter’s square on hand.
  • Adhesive and grout – Make sure you have thinset mortar and grout that matches your tile.

Once you have the proper cutting tools and safety gear, you’re ready to measure the tile and start cutting.

How to Measure and Mark Tile for Cutting

Carefully measuring and marking the tiles is crucial for getting precise cuts:

  • Measure the area you’re tiling and sketch out a layout to plan the tile arrangement.
  • Mark the tiles where you need to make cuts, keeping the blade thickness (1/8-inch for most tile saws) in mind so edges align properly.
  • To mark natural stone, use a wax pencil, regular pencil, or masking tape. For ceramic or porcelain, use a permanent marker or masking tape that won’t bleed when wet.
  • Avoid high-contrast lines or dots on the tile surface, which can make the mark hard to see.
  • Always mark tile on the back or edge – not the finished surface!

Cutting Tile with a Wet Saw

For porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone tile, a wet saw is the best cutting tool. Here are some tips for success:

  • Adjust the tile guide fence so your measurement mark lines up with the blade. Lock the fence in place.
  • Slowly feed the tile into the blade while the water is running to minimize dust and prevent overheating.
  • For straight cuts, keep the tile pressed flat and flush against the fence as you slide it through the blade.
  • To notch tiles around outlets, hold the tile securely and push the marked spot into the blade at the proper angle.
  • Check each tile after cutting to make sure cuts are straight and aligned correctly.
  • Immediately wipe the cutting table and rinse the blade when finished to prevent buildup of debris.

Using a Snap Tile Cutter

A snap tile cutter is a handy tool for quickly scoring and splitting ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile. Follow these guidelines when using one:

  • Position the tile on the cutter bed with the mark aligned over the cutting wheel. Secure the tile in place.
  • Run the cutting wheel firmly over the tile to score it. Apply consistent, even pressure.
  • After scoring, move the tile so the score mark is aligned with the cutter jaw.
  • Place one hand on each end of the tile and press down firmly and evenly to split the tile along the scored line.
  • For angled cuts, rotate the tile on the bed to the desired angle and score it before snapping.
  • The tile should split cleanly along the score line. Use tile nippers to trim any uneven edges.

Applying the Finishing Tile Cuts

To complete your tile cutting job, a few more steps remain:

  • Use a rubbing stone to smooth any rough edges on cut tiles.
  • Test each tile to ensure proper fit and straight edges. Recut any problem tiles.
  • Before installing, wipe away marking lines and pencil marks from tile faces and edges using a soft rag and mineral spirits.
  • Carefully clean the cutting tools and work area when finished. Remove all tile dust and residue.
  • Install the finished tiles using the proper adhesive, spacers, and grout according to manufacturer directions.

With the right approach, some careful measurements, and the proper tile cutting tools, you can achieve clean and accurate cut tiles for your backsplash project. Take it slow and don’t rush the cutting steps. Before you know it, that stunning new backsplash will be installed and ready to enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions About Cutting Backsplash Tile

How do I cut small slivers of tile?

For small tile pieces under 2 inches, tile nippers are the best tool. Score the cut line with the nippers, then grip the tile on both sides of the score and snap it off. File the edges smooth.

What blade should I use with my wet saw?

Use a diamond tile blade designed for your type of tile – ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone. Don’t use a wood or metal cutting blade. Check the blade for tightness and wear before cutting.

Can I rent a wet saw if I don’t want to buy one?

Yes, many home improvement stores rent wet saws by the hour or day. Be sure to reserve one ahead of time and opt for a full day rental to avoid rushing the job.

How do I cut L-shaped tiles?

Mark the two connecting cuts on the tile. Score the first line with a snap tile cutter, nipper, or wet saw. Then change the tile angle and make the second score line before snapping the L-shape off.

What’s the best way to cut circles or curves?

Use a tile wet saw fitted with a special tile blade designed for curves. Cut along the outline working slowly and carefully. A RotoZip rotary tool with a diamond cutting bit also works for detail cuts.


Whether using a trusty snap cutter, specialized wet saw, or just a basic tile nipper, cutting backsplash tile for a kitchen or bath takes patience and the right technique. With some thoughtful preparation and measurement along with the proper cutting tools on hand, you can achieve clean and accurate cuts that allow those tiles to fit perfectly on your backsplash installation. Don’t be afraid to cut tiles needed for corners, edges, outlets, and other tight spaces. The effort is well worth it for a seamless finished look.