How to Cut Terra Cotta Tile

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Terra cotta tiles are a lovely shade of red and made from clay that has very high concentrations of iron oxide, which, when fired, gives the ceramic its bright and attractive color. Terra cotta tile, although beautiful, can also be very fragile. When cutting it you’ll need to follow a couple of rules for the best and most effortless cuts. You can cut terra cotta tile by hand or with a power tile cutter.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-cooled powered tile cutter
  • Hacksaw with a 48-tooth blade
  • Bucket of water

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Move slowly and deliberately. The key to cutting terra cotta tile is to keep it cool. If the blade and tile overheat, the terra cotta will crack and chip when cut. Therefore, you want to cut slowly and coolly, which means no fast movements.

Make sure your water reservoir on your power tile cutter is full of cool water before you begin the cut. This will help keep the tile cool.

Move the blade into the tile, rather than vice versa. Do not force the tile into the spinning blade, let the blade cut the tile. Gently feed the tile onto the blade, making sure plenty of water is covering both blade and tile.

Cut the tiles by hand using a 48-tooth blade. If you cut the tile by hand, you’ll need a very fine-toothed cutting blade on a hacksaw. Check to make sure your hacksaw blade is at least that fine.

Dip your hacksaw into the bucket of water every few strokes when cutting, to both cool the saw and lubricate the tile. If the water gets to room temperature or becomes lukewarm, you will need to replace it with cooler water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Patience is key to cutting terra cotta. If you need to, stop and take a break in between every few tiles or count slowly to yourself as you work to keep yourself moving evenly.
  • You may wish to wear safety glasses when cutting the tile in case some chipping or splintering occurs.
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