How to Cut Backsplash


Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can instantly upgrade the look and feel of the space. However, sometimes you may need to cut or alter an existing backsplash to accommodate changes in your kitchen design or layout. Learning how to properly cut ceramic, glass, or stone backsplash tiles takes some skill and the right tools, but it can be done as a DIY project. Follow this guide to learn the basics of how to cut backsplash tiles like a pro.

Assess the Backsplash and Gather Tools

Before you start cutting, take some time to assess the backsplash area and determine exactly where you need to make cuts. Look at the size and layout of the tiles and identify any outlets, fixtures, or edges that the tiles will need to fit around. This planning will ensure accurate cuts.

You’ll need to gather a few essential tools:

  • Tile cutter – A wet saw is ideal for making straight cuts. A tile scribe or nipper can make curved or irregular cuts.
  • Safety gear – This includes goggles, a face mask, and ear protection.
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife – For cleaning up cuts or notching tile around outlets.
  • Grout saw or rotary tool – For removing existing grout.
  • Sponges – For cleaning up tile after cutting.
  • Rags

Cutting Tile with a Wet Saw

A wet saw is the best tool for making straight, clean cuts through ceramic, porcelain, or stone tiles. Here are the steps for using a wet saw to cut backsplash tile:

  1. Mark the tile where you want to make the cut using a tape measure and pencil. Draw lines across the entire tile so the cut line is visible.
  2. Adjust the saw blade height so it extends just slightly farther than the tile thickness.
  3. Position the front edge of the tile face down at the front edge of the saw table. Line up the cut mark on the tile with the saw blade.
  4. Hold the tile firmly in place above the blade and turn on the saw.
  5. Slowly feed the tile forward through the blade at an even pace for a straight cut.
  6. Turn off the saw when the cut is complete. Wait for the blade to stop fully before removing the tile.
  7. Clean the newly cut edges of the tile with a damp sponge to remove any debris.

The wet saw makes it easy to custom cut tiles to fit around outlets, fixtures, or edges simply by aligning the mark on the tile with the blade and feeding it through. Always handle tiles carefully on the wet saw and use caution – the blade is very sharp!

Cutting Curves and Notches with Hand Tools

For curved cuts or notching small pieces to fit around outlets and fixtures, hand tools like a tile nipper or scorer/breaker give you more control. Here are some tips:

  • Mark the overall shape of the required curve or notch on the tile with a pencil.
  • Use the nippers to nibble away small pieces of the tile up to the pencil line. Take care to not nip off too much.
  • Use the curved breaker tool to grip the tile edge and snap off pieces along the line. Applying pressure close to the score line will create a cleaner break.
  • Use a rubbing stone to smooth any rough edges.
  • Test fit the modified tile to ensure proper fitting in the space before permanently attaching it.

It takes some practice to get smooth curves with the nipper and breaker tools. Always work carefully and gradually remove only small sections at a time until the notch or curve fits as intended.

Remove Existing Grout Before Cutting

If you are cutting out a section of an existing backsplash, you’ll need to remove the grout around the tiles first. This prevents crumbling and allows you to remove tiles intact.

Use a rotary tool or oscillating grout saw to cut through the existing grout lines surrounding the section to be removed. You want to cut out about 1/8 inch of grout on either side of the tile edges. Take care not to scratch or damage the surrounding tiles.

Once the grout is cleared, you can use a utility knife to help pry and pop off the unwanted tiles. Cutting the grout first means tiles should come off cleanly. Follow up by scraping off any remaining grout material from the edges and wall surface.

Now you’ll have a clear work area to measure and cut replacement tiles to achieve your new backsplash design.

Tips for Cutting Different Tile Materials

The tile material impacts what cutting method works best:

  • Ceramic or porcelain – Score and snap tile cutters work well. Use a wet saw for straight cuts.
  • Glass – Due to fragility, it’s best to use a glass cutter. Follow up by snapping the cut section off using the tile cutter.
  • Natural stone – Use a wet saw for clean cuts through materials like marble, granite, or travertine.
  • Mosaics – Line up the sheet in your cutter and score firmly to cut multiple tiles at once. Use a wet saw for mesh-backed sheets.

Always work carefully when handling cut tile; edges and corners become very sharp and can cause cuts. Take precautions and work slowly for best results.

Cut Tile Like a Pro

With the right approach and tools, cutting backsplash tile is totally DIY friendly. Follow these pro tips:

  • Use painter’s tape on wall edges as a guide to position tiles for accurate marking and cutting.
  • For outlets, trace the opening onto the back of the tile and extend the lines to mark a square or rectangle to notch out.
  • Cut tiles face up when using a manual tile cutter for better visibility and control.
  • Work slowly and take care to measure twice and cut once for a perfect fit.
  • Leave a small 1/16″ gap between cut edges of tile and walls or outlets for grout lines and room for adjustment.
  • Use rubbing stones and wet sponges to smooth and soften cut edges of tiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I cut glass backsplash tile?

Yes, glass tile can be cut for a backsplash, but it takes some extra care due to the fragile nature of glass. Use a glass cutter to score the tile, then snap pieces off with tile nippers. Always wear thick work gloves when handling cut glass tile; the edges are very sharp.

What tools do I need to cut a tile backsplash?

A wet saw is ideal for straight cuts in most tile materials. For notches and curved cuts, use a handheld tile scorer, tile nippers, and tile breaker tools. Safety gear like goggles, gloves, and a mask are a must.

How do I cut porcelain backsplash tile?

Mark the cut lines with a pencil, then score the tile firmly along the lines with a tile cutter. Place the scored line centered over the tile cutter’s breaking jaws, apply pressure, and snap the tile along the score line. A wet saw also works for porcelain.

Can I cut backsplash tile with an angle grinder?

It’s not recommended. An angle grinder can shatter tile. For angled cuts, use a wet saw or score and snap tiles using a tile cutter for a cleaner edge. Use a rubbing stone to soften cut edges.

What is the easiest way to cut mosaic sheets?

Line up the mosaic sheet in a manual tile cutter and firmly score the area to be cut to break through multiple tiles at once. Use a wet saw with a diamond blade for mesh-backed mosaic sheets. Take care to keep water spray off the paper.

Cut Backsplash Tile Like a Pro

Installing a kitchen backsplash can seem daunting, but with the right approach and tools, how to cut backsplash tile is very DIY friendly. Use a wet saw for straight cuts and nippers or a scorer for notches and outlet cutouts. Work slowly and carefully for the best results. With precision cutting and attention to detail, you can achieve a backsplash with a professional built-in look.


Cutting ceramic, porcelain, glass, or stone backsplash tiles is easily accomplished with some planning, the right tools, and careful technique. Assess the layout, remove existing grout if needed, and use a wet saw for clean straight cuts. For curves and notches, turn to hand tools like tile nippers and a score-and-snap cutter. Work gradually and test fit pieces for a perfect fit. With practice and patience, DIYers can cut backsplash tiles like a pro to achieve stunning results and customize their kitchen’s look.