How to Cut Kitchen Backsplash Tile

Installing a new kitchen backsplash can instantly upgrade the look of your space. However, cutting the tile for your backsplash can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to accurately and safely cut kitchen backsplash tile.

Choose the Right Tile Cutter

Having the proper tools is essential for a clean tile cutting job. Here are some recommended tile cutters based on the material of your backsplash tile:

Porcelain, Ceramic, or Glass Tile

  • Wet saw: A wet saw continuously sprays water to keep the tile and blade cool while cutting. This prevents cracks or chips.
  • Manual tile cutter: Quick and easy for straight cuts. Position the tile on the cutting wheel and score it.
  • Nippers: Use for removing remaining thin pieces of tile after scoring with a manual tile cutter.

Natural Stone Tile

  • Wet saw: Again, a wet saw is ideal to keep the stone from overheating while cutting.
  • Manual tile cutter: Can be used for simple straight cuts. Ensure the cutting wheel is designed for natural stone.
  • Diamond blade grinder: Useful for curved cuts. Water prevents stone dust buildup.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Carefully measuring each tile cut is crucial for even spacing and getting the right fit. Follow these tips:

  • Use a tape measure or ruler to find the precise size needed. Measure twice to confirm.
  • If cutting multiple tiles at the same length, stack and line them up neatly to cut together.
  • Mark the cutting line with a pencil, wax crayon, or stylus. Be as accurate as possible.
  • For L-shaped cuts, measure and mark both sides of the line.
  • Add a 1/16″ clearance gap to the measurement when cutting around fixtures.

Prepare a Cutting Station

Set up a safe, level, and waterproof cutting area before starting:

  • Work outside or in a well-ventilated garage or basement. Wear a respiratory mask.
  • Cover the cutting table with a waterproof rubber mat or plywood.
  • Absorb vibration using a foam mat underneath the plywood.
  • Have a bucket of water and rags handy to make cleanup easier.

Cut the Tile

Now it’s time to make those cuts cleanly and accurately:

With a Wet Saw

  • Adjust the blade for the tile thickness. Firmly secure the tile on the sliding table against the fence.
  • Turn on water flow to lubricate and cool. Start the saw blade.
  • Slowly push the tile through the blade without twisting or forcing it.
  • Cut off any rough edges with nippers if needed.

With a Manual Tile Cutter

  • Position the tile with the pencil line matched up to the cutting wheel.
  • Place one hand close to the cutting wheel to hold tile firmly.
  • Use the other hand to smoothly score the line in a single motion with medium pressure.
  • After scoring, snap the tile downward to break cleanly along the cut line.

With a Grinder (Curved Cuts)

  • Mark the curved line. Use spray paint for visibility on stone tile.
  • Fit the diamond blade for curves and the right tile thickness.
  • Cut slowly along the line with steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting.
  • Dip the blade in water every 10-15 seconds to reduce dust and overheating.

How to Achieve Common Cut Shapes

Cutting customized shapes is easy with the right techniques:

  • Diagonal: Mark the angle. Score with manual tile cutter. Snap off smaller triangle. Nip away leftover.
  • Circle: Drill a pilot hole on the inside. Use a grinder to follow the outline, cutting outward.
  • Rectangle: Score two parallel lines with cutter for desired width. Snap off ends. Nip remaining sides.
  • Notches: Mark notch size. Make parallel scores, then several perpendicular scores. Knockout notch fragments.

Finish Strong

Once all your tiles are cut, it’s time for a strong finish:

  • Clean off any cutting residue or dusty film from tiles with a damp sponge.
  • Inspect all edges for chips and fractures. Use nippers to clean rough areas if needed.
  • Organize tiles and label with placements if cutting a complex pattern.

With these tips, you can cut any kitchen backsplash tile with precision and ease. Just remember to double-check measurements, utilize the proper cutters, and work carefully. Your beautiful new backsplash will come together flawlessly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best practices for kitchen backsplash tile cutting?

The best practices are to measure meticulously, prepare a proper cutting station, use the right cutting tools for the material, cut slowly and evenly while lubricating, and nip any uneven edges after cutting. Working carefully and patiently is key.

What tools do I need to cut a ceramic subway tile backsplash?

For ceramic subway tiles, a simple and inexpensive manual tile cutter is all you need for straight cuts. Use a wet saw for specialty cuts and a tile nipper for clean finishing. A ruler, pencil, and cutting mat also come in handy.

How do I make precise curved cuts in marble backsplash tile?

For curved cuts in marble, a 4-inch grinder with a quality diamond blade specifically for stone is ideal. Mark the curve with spray paint beforehand. Cut slowly along the line while dipping the blade in water every 10-15 seconds to prevent overheating and cracking.

What should I do if my backsplash tiles chip when I cut them?

If tiles chip from cutting, first ensure your cutting wheel or blade is sharp and the right one for the tile material. Cutting too fast can also cause chipping. Finally, use tile nippers after cutting to snip off any small chips or uneven edges for a clean finish.

How deep should I cut into glass backsplash tile?

Cut just deep enough to score the surface. Cutting too deep can weaken glass tile. Test on a spare piece first to find the right depth, usually around 1/16 inch. Let the cut glass tile snap downward naturally along the scored line for a clean break.


Installing a kitchen backsplash tile does not have to be intimidating if you follow the right steps. Have patience, utilize the proper cutting tools, and work cautiously. With practice, cutting custom backsplash tile shapes becomes quick and easy. Be sure to employ safe practices, double check all measurements, and nip away imperfections for gorgeous results. With a beautifully cut tile backsplash that fits your space perfectly, your kitchen will get that fresh new look you’ve been desiring.