What is a wet tile saw?
A wet tile saw is a specialized tool used to cut ceramic, marble, glass, and porcelain tile. It’s sort of like a cross between a miter saw and a table saw. The blade can be raised or lowered like a miter saw. But, instead of pushing the blade through the material, the material is pushed through the blade like a table saw.
Tile saws use a thin diamond-encrusted, steel blade that is rinsed with a continuous supply of water during cutting.
The flow of water protects the blade by keeping it cool during cutting. This process is twofold; water reduces friction between the blade and the tile and the water cools the blade by removing the heat. This makes it important to select a wet tile saw with an adequate water flowrate.
A budget-friendly alternative to a wet tile saw is a manual tile cutter. These work by scoring the tile, which you then break along the score. They’re smaller and more portable than a wet tile saw, but they’re really only advisable if you have a small number of tiles to cut. For larger projects, it’s better to use a wet tile saw.
Why use a wet tile saw?
Wet tile saws can make extremely smooth and accurate cuts in a variety of materials.
If you’re redoing a backsplash, tile flooring, or a bathroom, it’s probably a good idea to invest in or rent a wet tile saw. Whether you buy or rent is up to you; just remember that if you rent, you’ll want to work quickly in order to reduce the cost associated with the rental.
Many tile saws have adjustable fences that allow you to make multiple cuts without having to measure and mark each tile. This is great for jobs where you need many tiles of the same size.
Tile saws greatly reduce dust versus using other types of saws to cut tile. The water flow continuously traps and removes debris. This makes it possible to cut tiles without wearing a N95 breathing mask.
By keeping the blade cool during cutting, the water flow also prolongs the life of your diamond blade.
What features are important?
The blade diameter (size) will determine the maximum thickness of tiles that you can cut. Be sure to check whether a saw uses a blade that is large enough to accommodate your tiles.
The maximum cutting capacity of the tile saw is determined by the structure of the machine. Most saws have a maximum capacity between 12 inches and 30 inches. Keep in mind that if you’ll be doing angled cuts (say, you want to cut a tile at a 45° angle), then you’ll need to take this in to account when calculating your required cutting capacity. A saw with a 25-inch capacity can only up to an 18-inch tile at a 45° angle.
Most tile saws include an adjustable fence that allows you to cut tiles at angles. But not all tile saws are capable of producing bevel cuts. If your job requires bevel cuts, make sure to select a tile saw with this capability.
Saws with more horsepower will generally make quicker work of a job. A stronger motor will prevent the saw from bogging down or overheating when cutting harder tiles, such as porcelain.
Water flow rate and drainage
We’ve already discussed just how important water is when cutting tiles. Be sure to select a saw that has a great water flowrate; this pays dividends by protecting your blades and making smoother cuts.
But it’s also important to pay attention to the water management. Some saws have very small water collection pans; this results in a lot of spilled water. Worse still, some saws have fixed drain pans that require you to take the saw apart in order to drain the water.
Our favorite saws have wide pans and easily accessible drains so that you can catch most of the water and easily dispose of it during a job.