6 Best Tile Saws | March 2017
- high torque machine
- suitable for cutting marble too
- nonslip neoprene table surface
- allows for manual speed control
- includes a miter block
- powerful 2 hp motor
- splash guard eliminates back spray
- can make miter cuts
- nearly a 3-inch depth of cut
Tile: A Surprisingly Versatile Material
Tile has been one of the most popular building materials for centuries. In fact, the earliest use of glazed brick, a forerunner to more advanced engineered tile, was used as long ago as the 13th century BCE. Tile adorns the walls of ancient mosques, churches, and palaces, and it lined the floors of forums, the roofs of homes, and everything in between.
Tiles can be made of ceramics, stone, glass, and a range of other materials. Most types of tile are hard and durable, providing excellent water resistance. Thus the common use of tile on top of buildings and in spaces where water is prevalent, such as in and around swimming pools and in showers and bathrooms. Tile is a time honored flooring material as well, thanks to its durability. Few materials can stand up to the constant foot traffic of a busy lobby, kitchen, or public space better than tile. Tile is also one of the easiest materials to keep clean, as most variations are not porous and resist staining.
When handled by a skilled craftsman using the right tools, tile can be cut and trimmed into almost any shape, making it a perfect material for decorative use. Thus its popularity in the mosaics of antiquity and for use by architects and interior designers even today. Beyond use as wall covering, roofing or flooring material, tile can also be used to create durable and attractive countertops, tabletops, or other surfaces both fixed and mobile. Tiles are often used as an object in and of themselves, such as a tile used as a coaster for a beverage or a trivet to protect a surface from a hot dish or pot.
Decorative tiles also need not be permanently installed in a wall or floor. Tiles, often hand printed or digital printed, can be framed and hung or perched on a stand just like any other two dimensional artistic medium. Decorating tile is no easy task; cutting tile also takes a degree of skill and experience, but the right tools can help make that work easier.
Choosing The Right Tile Saw
There are two basic approaches to choosing a tile saw that's right for your needs. The first approach is to choose a tile saw that's small enough to move around a work site, bringing the saw to the location where the tile will be installed. The other option is to choose a large tile saw that will be set up in one place and have the tiles to be cut brought to it. Both the smaller, more portable tile saw and the larger fixed saw carry positive and negative aspects.
Placing a mobile saw right into the room, patio, or pool where the tiles are to be installed, you can immediately ensure that each tile you trim is a proper fit for the design since all the mechanics are within range of one another. Not to mention, it saves time from trundling heavy tile up and down stairs or back and forth across a work site.
However, a larger tile saw is often more powerful and efficient than its smaller counterpart, and the speed with which you cut through a stack of tiles may compensate for the time you spend transporting them to the site of installation.
If you're considering a tile saw to be permanently installed in a shop, then size is no issue. Choose the largest, most powerful tile saw you can based on budget constrictions. However do also take into account the water supply needs of your prospective new saw.
While many tile saws have water reservoirs, others saws hook up to a common garden style hose, so using a tile saw in a shop may require some adapters or placement near a door or window with access to an exterior tap. Thus even when you are considering a tile saw to be used at a shop, you might still consider a smaller one that can be temporarily set up outdoors if you will only be using it occasionally.
Using Your Tile Saw
Cutting tile can be messy business. There is dust, debris, and flowing water to be dealt with in tile cutting, and so whenever possible, it's a job best done outdoors and away from other tools and building materials. Make sure to at least spread out a waterproof tarp under your tile saw if you must use it indoors, and watch out for any drywall, paint, or other nearby materials that could be compromised by exposure to liquid.
As with any power tools (and saws especially), the responsible tile saw operator will always wear gloves and glasses or safety goggles as a minimum level of protection. One should also consider wearing ear protection during use of such power saws, and protective clothing, such as a thick apron or overalls, is never a bad idea if you want to stay clean and safe.
Cutting tile can be tricky work: tile is strong and durable once properly installed and grouted in place, but it is brittle and prone to cracking and shattering when mishandled. Take the time to practice using your tile saw and getting to know how to cut tile by using damaged, discarded, or excess pieces of tile. As tile is also often one of the more expensive building materials around, you don't want to risk damaging the inventory intended for installation.
To make the cleanest, straightest cuts through tile, you should work slowly and steadily. Feed the piece of tile to be cut into the blade at a constant speed and let the blade "pull" the tile through. You should never feel like you are forcing the tile past the blade, but rather easing it along with minimal effort. This patient approach provides smooth cuts and minimizes damaged or ruined tile.