If you’re considering a tile project or repair, the idea of working with this durable material might seem intimidating. After all, tile is tough and often expensive, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Outfitting your tool kit with the best manual tile cutter for your project helps simplify the job and achieve top-notch results.
The best manual tile cutters make cutting a tile a snap—quite literally. They have hardened metal wheels that score the surface of the tile, a foot that applies pressure to each side of the score mark, and a lever for applying the force required to snap the tile. The result is a clean, straight cut.
Ahead, get tips on navigating the available options and choosing the best manual tile cutter for your project needs—and don’t miss our roundup of top-favorite picks!
- BEST OVERALL: QEP 35-Inch Manual Tile Cutter
- BEST FOR PROS: VonHaus 24 Inch Tile Cutter
- ALSO CONSIDER: Goplus 36-Inch Manual Tile Cutter
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Manual Tile Cutter
The best manual tile cutters can save lots of time compared to setting up more expensive wet saws. They’re easy to use, and the end result can be flawless. But not all manual tile cutters fit this bill. This section will identify what to look for when choosing the best manual tile cutter for your project.
Cutter Wheel Material
The term “tile cutter” is actually a little misleading. These manual tools don’t necessarily cut the tile; it’s more of a score-and-snap method. They have small, sharp wheels that run across the top of the tile, leaving a sharp scratch on the surface which then becomes the perfect spot for a clean snap.
The tool’s wheel material can affect its performance. While most wheels can score a tile enough to snap it, tungsten carbide-tipped wheels will last quite a bit longer than steel wheels. Even if you’re only using your tile cutter for one project, achieving the same level of accuracy from start to finish with the same wheel matters.
Tile Cutter Bed
Another important part to consider is the tile cutter’s bed. While it might seem like a simple, arbitrary part of the cutter, there are actually some specific features that can help improve the usability of your manual tile cutter.
Tile cutters feature straight ridges that run down the center. On either side of this ridge, the best manual tile cutters have a foam or rubber material. This foam or rubber creates a nonslip surface that keeps the tile in place while you’re scoring or snapping, providing better accuracy and less waste when installing tile.
The foam or rubber also supports the tile while providing enough give to absorb the pressure you’re applying while snapping. Without that give, you’d have a hard time snapping tiles and snapping them cleanly.
Base of the Tile Cutter
While you’re searching for the best manual tile cutters, you might not notice the features and nuances in the bases of the different models. Features like rubber feet and folding sidebars can make a big difference, particularly with larger tiles.
When you’re scoring larger tiles, it can be difficult to apply consistent downward pressure. If your manual tile cutter’s base doesn’t feature rubber feet, it can slip around on smoother surfaces. That can be frustrating, and it can scratch the surface.
Folding sidebars attached to the base help support wide tiles, but they also provide stability while scoring and snapping. If you’re cutting a wide tile far off to one side or the other, the tile’s weight creates uneven leverage. The sidebars create a wider footprint, allowing you to make a more accurate, less awkward cut.
A Horizontal Ruler and an Angle Guide
Many of the best manual tile cutters feature built-in measurement tools to help speed up the cutting process, increase accuracy, and promote consistency. You can often use these features to make repeated cuts without measuring each time.
When it comes to trimming tiles to size, many of the best tile cutters feature built-in horizontal rulers. Some of those rulers slide to extend, allowing you to measure tiles that overhang the base.
Built-in angle guides are all about convenience and consistency. Once you know the angle you need to cut, you can position these adjustable guides and lock them in place. You’ll be able to register the tile against the guide, providing a stable and accurate base to score and snap against.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know a bit more about what goes into choosing the best manual tile cutter, you’re ready to compare some of the top products on the market.
If you’re searching for a tile cutter with almost all the features you need for nearly any tile project, check out QEP’s 35-Inch Manual Tile Cutter. This tool’s large capacity will allow you to tackle floor tiles, wall tiles, glass mosaics, and backsplashes with one tool. Placing those materials against the rubber pads on either side of the snapping ridge will ensure they stay in place while scoring and snapping.
This QEP features a titanium-coated tungsten-carbide scoring wheel, offering sharp scores and long-lasting durability. It also has two folding sidebars for providing more stability with a wider footprint. The built-in ruler extends, allowing you to make consistent cuts without constantly breaking out your tape measure. The ruler also features a built-in angle guide, so achieving that perfect cut is much easier.
You don’t have to be a professional tiler to achieve professional-level results. The VonHaus can help. It has a 24-inch straight cut capacity as well as a 17½-inch 45-degree cut capacity, so it can handle most common floor or backsplash projects with ease.
The VonHaus features lots of stay-put features, like rubber feet on the base to keep the cutter in place and nonslip pads on the bed and sidebars that provide extra stability. The rubber-padded grip will allow you to use it all day while minimizing slipping and fatigue. It also features an easily read built-in ruler and angle gauge as well as a tungsten carbide-tipped scoring wheel.
Making accurate snaps across long tiles can be a serious challenge. The Goplus 36-Inch Manual Tile Cutter helps reduce that difficulty. Not only does it have a 36-inch capacity, but it also has an I-shaped rail that provides strength and accuracy while scoring, even in the middle of the rail.
While the capacity and accuracy are the main draws, the Goplus is long on features as well. It has nonslip rubber pads on the feet and the bed, a heavy-duty steel base, and a comfortable grip. There is also a built-in sliding ruler with an angle gauge. It has two folding sidearms to provide stability—something you’ll need when cutting an inch or two off the end of a 36-inch-wide tile.
FAQs About Manual Tile Cutters
If you haven’t decided on a particular tile cutter because you still have some questions, this section may help. Some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about tile cutters are just ahead.
Q. What materials can be cut with a manual tile cutter?
Tile cutters can cut floor, wall, and backsplash tiles. They work best on glass tiles, as well as ceramic and porcelain, though you may be able to use them on some stone tiles like marble.
Q. How do you keep tile from chipping when cutting?
Chipping is a concern for powered wet tile saws; it isn’t a concern for manual tile cutters. However, there are three things you can do to ensure a clean snap when cutting tile manually.
- Ensure your wheel is sharp and free from chips.
- Make just one pass when you score the tile, using even pressure.
- Don’t allow the tile to move once you score it. This will help to ensure the score is directly over the snapping ridge for a clean cut.
Q. How do you change the blade on a manual tile cutter?
In most cases, a screw and a bit of friction are all that hold the cutting wheel or blade in place on a tile cutter. Simply back out the screw and grab the edge of the old wheel with a pair of pliers to remove it. Place the new wheel in the slot, and replace the screw.