How to Buy the Best Tile Saw: A Complete Guide
Different types of tile require different tools and techniques to make clean cuts. If you try to cut tile with a wood or metal saw blade, you chip and crack the tile beyond repair. This article guides you through everything you need to know about how to buy the best tile saw.
How to Buy the Best Tile Saw: Notable Features
The blade with which you cut must be made from a harder material than the tile. That is why the best tile saw blades are made with diamonds. Diamond blades cut materials that are too tough for metal cutting blades.
To choose the right diamond saw for cutting tile, you should understand the differences in how they are forged and to which type of tile they correspond.
Wet vs. Dry Saws
Cutting any material with a power saw presents certain safety hazards to those in the vicinity. Materials cut on a tile saw produce fine particulate matter into the air. So, the best tile saws have a built-in water jet that runs over the material being cut.
As water runs over the blade and tile, the particulate coming off of the cut area is captured. You can cut some tile materials dry, but not all of them. Wet saws keep the blade from overheating.
And, be especially conscious of the diamond blade type that you are using, since not all blades accommodate dry cuts.
To make clean, professional cuts in a wide variety of tiles, you need a wet tile saw.
Matching Your Tile to Blade Type
If you are inexperienced with cutting tile take some time to get familiar with the different types of tile blades. There are three types of diamond blades that work for cutting tile: Segmented; Continuous rim; and Turbo blades.
Segmented blades feature a medium to hard metal matrix bond, so they are great for a wide variety of construction materials. Segmented blades work with, both, wet and dry saws, and cut with a medium smoothness.
Segmented blades run at high speed without overheating, which is great for cutting ceramic, porcelain, decorative, and terra-cotta tiles.
Continuous rim blades cut through very hard, abrasive materials. The unbroken edge of the blade is designed to make a clean cut in the toughest tile materials. It is also the right blade for cutting fragile tile materials.
Continuous rim blades have a soft metal matrix bond which is best for cutting through granite, natural stone, glass, slate, and marble. Do not make dry cuts with a continuous rim blade, or it will overheat very quickly.
Turbo blades have a medium metal matrix bond with a serrated edge. Turbo is the best tile saw blade for limestone, brick, cement, and softer metal tiles. Turbo blades can make wet and dry cuts.
Types of Tile Saws
When it comes to choosing the best tile saw for your needs, you must pick between mobility, accuracy, and simplicity. You have the choice of a handheld wet tile saw, two types of table saws, or a manual dry tile cutter.
Handheld Wet Tile Saw
If your work requires cutting tile on job sites a handheld wet tile saw is the most convenient and mobile option. These tile saws are about the size of a standard handheld circular saw, so you can work with it on-site.
These handheld tile saws hook up to a water source through a line. When the blade is active, water is sucked through the saw to run over the material being cut.
Handheld wet tile saws are great for making inlaid tile cuts. These tile saws are not acceptable for dry cuts.
Tabletop Wet Tile Saw
A tabletop tile saw mounts on a workbench and is great for a stable work area. These saws can be transported to a work site, but are difficult to carry around. The motor of the unit resides underneath the saw, so it functions similarly to a standard table saw.
Some tabletop wet tile saws are designed with a water reservoir in the unit, while most others hook into an existing water source. The diamond blade spins through a pool of water located beneath the cutting surface.
Tabletop wet tile saws, also, accommodate other attachments, such as a bevel or miter saw.
Overhead Motor Wet Tile Saw
An overhead motor wet tile saw is a combination between a table saw and a chop saw. Like the table saw, your tile material pushes through the blade area. But, unlike a table saw, the blade is located above the cutting surface. Like with a chop saw, you can easily manipulate the angle and directionality of the blade by hand.
The motor powering the blade is, also, located above the cutting surface. Overhead motor tile saws are available with, or without a hookup for water. But dry cuts are only acceptable for softer tile materials.
Overhead motor tile saws accommodate bevel attachments and other tools, like LED lighting. And, most include a collapsible wheeled stand, so they are easy to move around on job-sites.
Score and Snap – Manual Tile Saw Cutter
A score and snap tile cutter has no motor or powered parts. This method of cutting tile is only suitable for soft tile materials and does not accommodate tile beyond around two to three inches thick.
You place your tile in the cutter, below the scoring wheel. Align the scoring wheel above the cut area. After scoring the cut, use the snapper to make a clean break where you want the tile cut.
These are not suitable for all tile materials but are very handy for softer masonry.
And, these units don’t produce nearly as much fine particulate in the air when cutting. These tile cutters are inexpensive and lightweight. There is no good reason not to have one in your contractor’s toolkit.
If you are new to masonry and stone cutting, start with a handheld wet tile saw. Eventually, move to a table saw, and grab a manual tile cutter along the way when it is needed most. At the end of the day, the best tile saw for your project will change depending on the material to be cut and your worksite.
The correct tile blade is essential to make the best cuts with your saw or tile cutter. Hard materials must be cut with a turbo or continuous rim blade. For softer tiles, you can use a medium bond turbo or segmented blade.
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