You’ve agreed to do a bathroom refit, and before you know it you’re up to your eyes in boxes of tiles and you’re staring at an empty, plasterboarded expanse. Those tiles have to go on the walls, on the floor, and you will have eyebrows raised at you if you don’t do an exceptionally neat job of the decorative splashback around the sink and mirror.
If you’ve never done tiling before, this can seem like an overwhelming and stressful task, particularly if you're dealing with large tiles (of a foot square or more). It may be that you’ve chosen tiles which look beautiful but refuse to cooperate with the basic geometry of your bathroom. If this is the case, you’re bound to need tools which provide you with half or quarter tiles to fill in those annoying gaps.
Manual tile cutters can be very satisfying to use once you’ve got into a rhythm of work and you’re comfortable with technique. There is a huge choice of manual cutters for ceramic and porcelain tiles, which can be bewildering. To make it even more difficult, it appears that tilers aren’t big on leaving product feedback. DIY enthusiasts are, as expected, rather more vocal in their opinions on various cutters, saws and nippers, so we’ve explored the opinions of the experts and experienced hard-hat wearers and come up with a list of the five strongest-performing manual cutters for tile.
Following that, check out the brief buyer’s guide, which summarises some of the things you’ll need to take into account when you’re choosing which manual cutter is the best for you.
In a hurry? Let’s get straight to our first recommendation.
Top 5 Best Manual Tile Cutter
OUR TOP PICK
The VonHaus manual cutter features a tungsten carbide blade and double scoring wheel for straight or diagonal cuts of up to 430mm. There is also a larger version of the same product which can handle a 600mm cutting length.
This cutter can handle most ceramic or porcelain tiles for floor or wall, even if they’re glazed, so long as they’re 12mm thick or less.
The design is nicely ergonomic. It works by pushing the handle away from you and there's a rubberised handle for better control. The rubber surface keeps your tile still while you're making the score mark.
If you're not fond of carrying hefty tools, then you'll be pleased to know that the cutter weighs in at just 3kg—not even half a stone. Here are the dimensions so that you can prepare your working space: length 55cm; width 16.5cm and height (from base to double rails) 10cm.
It’s had good feedback about reliability and ease of use. Beginners have tackled batches of 200 tiles with nominal breakages and a clean snap on a single score.
That said, most of these experiences are set in the context where the tile is up to 10mm and only a single cut was required on each tile. With thicker tiles (9-12mm) you may need to score twice before you snap and work in short bursts so as not to pressure the guide rails for the cutter.
A downside of this cutter being so compact is that its slender width doesn’t provide much support for the tile after the snap. Some customers have mitigated this disadvantage by laying a rubber mat or towel alongside the cutter.
Overall, the VonHaus manual cutter is an inexpensive and uncomplicated tool, good for beginners with average or undemanding tiles. It comes with a two-year warranty.
- Lightweight and portable
- Reliable performance for thinner or fragile tiles
- Easy for beginners
- Very tidy to use
- The guide rails for the wheels tend to flex a little at the upper end of the thickness capacity for this cutter
- The inbuilt ruler across the width is a little on the faint side
The Vitrex 102380 Professional tile cutter has a particularly durable tungsten carbide wheel to aid scoring and can perform cuts 630mm across a vertical length or 445mm on the diagonal. Replacement wheels are available (kit code 102385).
It is hefty at 8kg (just over a stone) but it's a modest weight considering the rigid steel construction. In terms of size, you're looking at a 860mm length, 216mm width and 16mm height. The handle is rubber-coated and pushes away from the body.
It's a powerful cutter, handling hard tiles up to 13mm with ease and good consistency in results.
Customers have reported that this tool has significantly improved their work flow because so little pressure is needed (thanks to the rigid steel construction and solid support for the guide rails) and the wheel delivers a sharp, clean cut.
We do have a note of caution on this point: it requires so little pressure to score the tile that it is easy to use too much strength at first. A practice on left-over tiles of under 13mm might help to get used to the mechanical flow before you dive into your new tiles.
As a higher-end product, this model includes extendable "wings" to support the weight of the tile before the snap, and which are useful to stabilise a tile which is being cut diagonally. It's a slender device, but very much designed with a safely scored end product in mind.
One note of caution is that You can also order this cutter in 900mm or 600mm versions.
- Good value for money
- Strong performance with thicker tiles
- Strong and durable cutter
- Support for the tile’s weight
- The price
- Difficult to work out how much pressure to apply
The Sigma 3B4 series tile cutter is an investment tool, considerably more expensive than the alternatives offered on this list.
It's highly rated by professionals across the Atlantic, and although not as well known in the UK, it's almost universally well-reviewed in terms of functionality. It's the price which proves the sticking point for most.
This is a pull-bladed cutter which can handle 670mm cuts on the straight line and 470mm on the diagonal.
It can score and cut tiles of up to 20mm, making this beast one of the toughest manual cutters on the market.
This is also one of the best cutters for guided accuracy. It features a rotating measuring bar which swings using a handle. You can rotate your tile up to 45 degrees either side of the blade.
To prevent any need for awkward mental gymnastics, the measuring scale is set to zero where it lines up with the blade and the number sequence continues to both extremities.
The handle will lock when you've got the tile into position. Sigma do not advertise any particular grip feature on the tile-cutting surface, but the width of the device and the support from the right-angled extension to the measuring ruler will help you to secure the location while you cut.
It's a fabulous tool for large, thick tiles which might defeat other manual cutters, but this means that it is large. It weighs in at 92.kg (just under 11/2 stone), is just over 900mm long, 35mm wide and 22mm tall.
- Stable and reliable
- Durable blade and consistent performance
- Highly accurate and easy measuring
- Good support of the tile being scored
- Powerful but easy to control
- Priced for professionals
- Requires careful and spacious storage as no case has been provided
Sigma make tough products, but this is the other heavy-duty manual cutter on our shortlist of favourites. This is the cutter which can handle monster tiles of up to 1200mm, as you might see on floors or a shower enclosure.
The high strength cutting wheel on this product can handle up to 15mm tiles, and not just porcelain or ceramic tiles (glazed or unglazed).
The Mophorn is one of the most versatile tools we've seen, also suitable for cutting stone material (providing they're within 15mm) and vitrified tiles. This is very good news for tilers trying to create an outdoor sitting area.
The other unique selling point on this manual cutter is the adjustable infrared laser guide, which vastly takes the stress out of the constant, low-lying worry that you've shaved a millimeter off in the wrong place.
The extended wing arms to support the tile's weight are also very helpful. The precision you get with the Mophorn is very reassuring given the amount of money you've no doubt invested in the tiles themselves already.
The cutter's dimensions are 1400mm long, 300mm wide, and 210mm tall. It weighs in at 12kg (a shade under 2 stone), which is light for its function. Even so, we recognise that this does not make it the most portable of tools.
But so long as you can find a comfortable working position and storage room in your garage, this could be an exceptionally powerful tool to keep hold of for a number of tiling jobs over the years.
- Versatility with materials
- Strength and size
- Ease of use
- Good tile support and clean cutting
- Good value for money
- Awkward while working in confined spaces
- You’re going to need a bigger shed
Our final listing is a neat and powerful cutter for tiles on the larger side (up to 720mm). It comes with its own case and weighs in at a hefty 26lb. Corona products are better known in the USA, but they have a good reputation for durability and cutting control and precision.
It's a push-scoring device with a sleek and robust metal alloy slide assembly, assisted by extra-wide and self-lubricating bushings around the guide rails, which are chrome-plated solid steel. The cutter itself is powerful, handling porcelain and ceramic tiles up to 15mm.
There is an inbuilt rectangular support for tiles which are larger in the width, and a clear cutting guide to make those repetitive motions (and 45* angles) easier and quicker.
However, what makes this cutter really stand out is that it's for ambidextrous use. Lefties and right-handed people can use it with equal comfort because there is a separate breaking level to the side of the scoring mechanism which means that you don't have to block your own view before applying pressure.
It's the second dearest cutter on this list, but designed for durability, using replaceable #6 and #10 carbide cutting wheels.
- Good accuracy
- Easy to use
- Good support for tiles
- Easy to store
- The price
Best Manual Tile Cutter Buying Guide
There's a huge variety of jobs which involve tiling, from the standard bathroom refurbishment to creating classy little seating pockets in the garden. Here are a few things to think about when choosing the most suitable cutter for your purposes.
Type of tile
Thin-bodied porcelain tiles can be on the delicate side, so you will want a cutter which helps you to support the weight of the tile after the score has been made.
Glazed tiles (prone to being scratched) require particularly careful handling, and ideally with a smaller manual cutting machine (with a diamond or tungsten cutting tool) to give you better control. The guys at Tiledevil.co.uk have a very helpful information section for those who have never had to tackle tiling before as part of DIY.
As a rule of thumb, porcelain tiles tend to be thicker than ceramic ones. If you're dealing with porcelain, your cutter should be able to handle tiles up to 3/4 of an inch. Ceramic tiles tend to be 1/4 or 3/8 of an inch.
How much room do you have to work with? If you're in a little cubby hole of a bathroom, you might need to plan ahead to fit up your workstation. The larger of these tile cutters are around a meter long to accommodate the bigger tiles.
It might make your life easier to 'rehearse' the angle at which you're going to be sitting and working so that you can knock any kinks out of your work flow from the outset.
At the risk of preaching to the choir, we'd like to leave a gentle reminder here that working at close quarters leaves you vulnerable to injury from flying debris. Porcelain is tough, but brittle. Keep your eyes protected at all times, and here's an inexpensive option which could be with you before your saw has arrived.
This isn't such a huge problem as it used to be. Though they can be large and unwieldy, manual tile cutters do not need to be heavy in order to provide a stable base—not even for the bigger tiles. None of the cutters in this selection exceed 25lb. Don't feel that it has to be heavy to perform heavy-duty work.
Handles which apply push pressure form an extension of your arm, allowing you to control your weight and momentum while scoring the tile. They may be less painful to use than cutters using a pull mechanism.
How To Use A Manual Tile Cutter
Before starting, it is advised you soak ceramic tiles in water before being cut. To make the cut smoother and easier, add a small drop of machine oil along the mowing line of the cut.
The first thing you need to do is to position your tile cutter on a solid, flat, and stable surface.
It is vital you check how sharp the cutter is along with the fastening strength of each component.
All parts have to be undamaged while the cutting wheel can rotate without jamming. Its surface should be rounded properly without any dents or grooves. You should also clean the surface to get rid of any residual dirt.
Draw a fishing line along the cut you want to make with a pencil or a marker.
Now place the tile on the base of the cutter for lining up.
Ensure the tool cutter is perpendicular to your working surface by focusing on the furthest corner of the device. Then, correct the position of the surface, making sure you’re taking into account the earlier made marking.
The distance to the cut from the tile cutter’s edge needs to be at least 10mm. If not, you may end up with a messy edge.
Remember that your reference point is at the central line on the working surface of your unit.
Next, you hold the handle and bring the cutter to the tile.
This should come to the edge of the product, closest to the master.
You need to make sure you are pressing down firmly on the handle. This will ensure the cutter touches the tile’s surface sufficiently.
If so, the hole should then be stuck between the metal section of the cutter and the rollers of the machine.
The carriage will be guided along the line with some slight pressure. You should refrain from too much pressure so you don’t push through the tile too quickly.
This is where you make the cut.
To do so, the handle of the tile cutter will turn to the working position. The field of this is lowered and you need to make a sharp, confident and precise movement.
This will make a small groove from yourself to the opposite side of the surface and gently break along the earlier obtained cut.
The roller can only go over the tile’s surface once as any more times could result in an uneven surface.
When this is achieved, you need to break off the cut piece of the tile.
Simply press the handle firmly. The tile will drop off along the drawn mowing line from earlier.
This will result in two even parts of the tiles as the cutting line will be crystal clear without any rough edges.
If you need to make any repairs, this will now be a lot easier to do so without the risk of any defects.
NOW YOU SHOULD HAVE WELL CUT TILES FROM USING A MANUAL TILE CUTTER.
Best Manual Tile Cutter FAQ's
Can I use a manual cutter for glass tiles?
It’s absolutely not recommended. Glass is far too brittle. These cutters are designed for ceramic or porcelain tiles. More than a handle of negative reviews for all products mentioned come from the users trying the manual cutters on granite, marble and other natural materials. For glass, you’re best off with a wet saw with a diamond blade.
Can I buy legs or supports for my manual cutter?
They tend not to be provided because this is more likely to result in unevenness. There are too many parts involved, which increases the chances of introducing a slope beneath your cutting surface. If you’re tiling on the floor, then it’s worth getting some knee pads. If you’re tiling a wall, then have a workstation or sturdy, even table on standby so that you can treat your back with proper respect.
How do I maintain my manual cutter?
Tile dust can be quite abrasive. If you want to be really thorough, then use the fine nozzle on your vacuum to remove as much dust as possible from the entire device first. Use a damp microfibre cloth to clean the blade, and then give the guide rail/rails a light spritz of WD40.
Are two guide rails better than one?
The laws of physics say “yes”, but it really does depend upon the quality of the build. If a single rail is sufficiently supported at both ends then there isn’t a significant advantage to two rails. Additionally, there is an adjunct to Murphy’s law which declares that the more parts a device has, the greater opportunity for something going wrong.
Will A Manual Tile Cutter Cut Porcelain?
This typically depends on the model of tile cutter you may own and the type of texture of porcelain you wish to cut. Porcelain is more brittle but harder than your regular ceramic tile meaning it can be more difficult to cut using a tile cutter.
Porcelain that doesn’t have a deep texture can be cut with a precise method. Simply make an incision in the porcelain and repeat to make a deep incision.
Porcelain can sometimes have a very deep texture that is too complex for a manual tile cutter to make incisions. If this is the case, it is recommended you start cutting from the back of the tile (have the tile face down).
Sometimes, the only way to cut porcelain is through this method and making consecutive deep and complete incisions.
A tile cutter only does straight cuts and needs to be used with extra care if cutting porcelain. Too much pressure can easily damage the surface creating jagged edges or even disintegrating the entire piece altogether.
It is recommended you use a wet saw (tile saw) when cutting porcelain as its smaller, diamond blade cuts smoother than the toothed blade of a manual tile cutter.
Can You Cut Travertine With A Manual Tile Cutter?
If you have a DIY project coming up with the use of travertine, chances are, you are going to need to cut it to shape.
Whether it’s for bathroom flooring or kitchen counters, travertine will need to be cut to fit the required dimensions. Luckily, it is possible to cut travertine with a manual tile cutter and it is pretty simple.
It is recommended you use a wet saw to complete the job. Manual dry cutters are more likely to break the travertine. If yours has this, you should make sure the water reservoir is full up before use.
You then need to adjust the cutting guide to your required measurement to make the necessary cuts. Once the cutter is fully on, the disc needs to be wet.
Travertine needs to be laid on a secure surface and held at the edges you need cutting up against the cutting guide.
The tile cutter should then cut through the travertine smoothly. You may need to cut an L shape but this can also be done by simply turning the tile once you get to the end of one pencil mark and then cut along its remaining pencil line.
Can Manual Tile Cutter Be Used For Marble?
Unlike ceramic, marble cannot be snapped and carved as easily. It needs to be wet-cut using a table cutter or dry-cut using a grinder.
Manual tile cutters can be used to cut natural stone tiles but only with tungsten carbide blades. These are more durable and offer more strength when cutting harder materials such as marble or other natural stones.
Marble is not very easy to cut with any manual tile cutter. Marble is a soft rock so scoring marble won’t have the same effect as scoring a product that is glazed.
Marble can easily crumble and break when being cut so a lot of care and attention to detail needs to be used. Its edges can become very uneven when trying to cut parts off, ruining the marble surface. It is recommended you use an electric tile cutter when tackling marble.
Marble is best cut with a wet cutter or an ordinary circular saw which is made with a diamond blade. Whatever you use, cutting marble is always a messy job so it’s important to cut it outdoors with a garden hose nearby to clean up the debris.
It is advised you place your marble on a piece of 2” thick rigid foam to protect it from any potential damage.