HELP!!!!!!!! Tiles Breaking, Going Crazy [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-24-2008, 06:26 PM
Ok everyone,
I'm tiling my kitchen backsplash and unfortunately have two outlets that fall directly in the middle of tiles. The tiles are 6" X 6" Rialto Terra tiles from Lowe's set in a brick pattern. I'm not sure about them being porcelain or ceramic....

I have broken 5 tiles trying, unsuccessfully, to cut 2" X 3.5" outlet holes in the tiles. Per the recommendations from this forum, here's what I've tried. I have marked the hole on both sides and drawn the X's on front and back. I bought a 4 1/2" angle grinder with a 4" Husky Turbo Diamond blade. I broke three tiles simply trying to plunge cut the X's. I then bought a $30 Bosch continuous rim diamond blade. Again the tile would fracture before I even got the X plunge cut completed. Finally I borrowed my dad's RotoZip with the 3" continuous rim diamond blade. The RotoZip cuts a lot smoother, but again the tile fractured before the X plunge cut was done. I am really going crazy on these two tiles so I'm begging for the missing link. What am I doing wrong? I am using the right tools (so I think), and I'm being gentle possible.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

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Steven Hauser
02-24-2008, 06:38 PM
Hi Rob,

It is frustrating some times, try taping the tile before cutting and then using the zip saw. Better yet tape and a wet cut can be the way to go.

If it becomes too impossible, just cut all the splashes the same way for consistency and put the outlets in with a grout joint.

Good luck.

02-24-2008, 06:38 PM
Do you have someone helping you who can keep some water going on the cut?
Another trick is to get a drill bit and drill the four corners. Prior to start cutting.
Good Luck

02-24-2008, 06:42 PM
I generally cut the rectangle out, slowly on both sides before doing any "X" cuts in the middle. Takes some practice, but go slow and don't get discouraged.

02-24-2008, 06:43 PM
I have actually installed those tiles for a customer and I feel your pain. They are a very beefy tile but do shatter easily. Both the responses were a good idea. Actually I would do all 3 and you should have no problem. Drill the 4 corners, tape the tile and cut it wet. Good luck

02-24-2008, 06:46 PM
Thanks Jerry. I thinking drilling the four corners is my next option. Maybe that will remove some of the tiles tendency to fracture as I get deeper with the X plunge cuts.

You know, I'd have no reason to get frustrated if I was trying what I know is the right method. That said, it is maddening that I cannot get the "right" method to work for me. I wonder if it doesn't help that it's cheap tile......who knows....

Does the water just lubricate the blade helping prevent the tile from breaking?

02-24-2008, 07:01 PM
Sometimes you can buy switch plates that are a little bigger and will extend over to the tiles edge. That way you can just make a U or L shape cut. :)

02-24-2008, 07:08 PM
Rob -

Yep, sometimes it's just the dang porcelain. Your best bet may be another blade, too. Not sure, haven't used the ones you're referring too. Diamond Products is my go to, about $60.00 for a 4" continuous rim.

Not sure what the forum suggests, but I lightly score the whole box that I've drawn on the tile. Then I'll go deeper until I just punch through and only go as far as I can without crossing the next corner line. Cut through the two long parallel lines and then the two shorter lines and you'll be left with nothing but the corners from the curve of the blade. Flip the tile upside down and carefully cut throught the same lines until those corners are cut clean. No X cuts for me.

Be sure you're placing your tile on a solid surface and hold the tile firmly. If this doesn't work for you, consider a better blade.

Drilling holes in this stuff will be a pain, being porcelain.

02-24-2008, 07:25 PM
Hi Rob....

Mark both sides of the tile, secure the tile either with tape or I lay the tile on a scrap piece of cbu and brace the corners with my feet (shoes on of course, I ain't no hippy)....cut slowly with your grinder on the back side of the tile plunging thru to the other side....but not ALL the way to the corners. Flip the tile over, trim it up on the front a bit....flip it to the back again and finish up the corners...hth.....

02-24-2008, 07:36 PM
Thanks for all the advice guys. I will definitely post later when I have successfully made the cuts. And finally, if I can figure out how to post pictures, I will post pitchers of the completed backsplash. I'm about 80% done, but hit a major slow down with these outlet holes. Prob lost about 3-4 hours fooling with just one. AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

02-24-2008, 07:55 PM
Another tile bites the dust, da da!!!

I was trying the long parallel cuts (skipping the X's) using the RotoZip....I had just flipped the tile and was slowly trying to breakthrough from the backside....SNAP!! It's late and I'm giving up now. I have no clue what's going wrong. I will now try the water, tape, drilling holes....whatever it takes...jeez.......

John K
02-24-2008, 08:08 PM
The drilling holes concept will probably work but without a special diamond bit, you will probably get just as if not more aggravated.

I do it like mud guy. Mark the same lines on front and back. Start on front and lightly make your long cuts with minimal pressure. After you get some of the 'meat" out, start cutting some of the meat on the short sides.

Flip it over and do the same. Lightly with minimal vibration. If it keeps breaking on you. Just make it in two pieces. Some porcelains just won't behave.

On another note. I have done it on a wet saw using the same principle, with the benefit of water.

02-24-2008, 08:10 PM
The end of the day cuts never go right...Sometimes you gotta just walk away and start fresh in the morning

02-24-2008, 08:17 PM
I would still check it with the switch plates you have. Draw a line on the wall where the edges of the tile will be, then hold up the switch plate and see how close it is to the line. You might be trying to take it out of the middle of the tile when you don't need to. :)

02-24-2008, 08:22 PM
Another tile bites the dust, da da!!!

I was trying the long parallel cuts (skipping the X's) using the RotoZip....I had just flipped the tile and was slowly trying to breakthrough from the backside....SNAP!! It's late and I'm giving up now. I have no clue what's going wrong. I will now try the water, tape, drilling holes....whatever it takes...jeez.......

Now you know why us tile guys make the big $$. :D

d00de, bag the Roto-deal-e-o and try it one more time with the "GRINDER". If it breaks on you, it is the blade, the tile or your frustration. :)

And yes, it's getting late. Tomorrow is another day. :D

02-24-2008, 08:24 PM
Davy brings up a good point. The cut you're trying to make may not be possible if your box is too close to the edge of the tile....?

So...where does the box line up on the tile?

02-24-2008, 08:26 PM
You will have a rainman fit trying to drill holes through porcelain so i wouldnt worry with that.

02-24-2008, 08:37 PM
The tile is 6" square...the left edge of the proposed hole is 2 1/8" from the left edge of the tile. The right edge of the hole is 4 1/8" from the left side of the basically, the hole is right in the middle. If there was anything I could do with the layout, I would do it...just not possible.

I could split the tile at the outlet, but I just feel it looks like a compromise....and I too much of a perfectionist.

This tile could be the end of my sanity......

02-24-2008, 08:50 PM
I do basically what Jonathan suggests in Post #8. Gently score completely around the cut out and then progressively go deeper until the blade goes through.

I know it's easier said than done but you're getting more experience with each broken tile. :D I just hope they don't cost a fortune each.....

02-24-2008, 08:53 PM
If you can find someone with a waterjet, and it is worth the money to you, they could make a neat cut in the tile.

02-24-2008, 08:57 PM
Thankfully they're only $.88 a piece....kudos to me on the tile selection given my definite inexperience cutting holes in tile.

If they were a lot more, I would already be off a bridge.......

02-24-2008, 09:10 PM
Rob -

I could split the tile at the outlet, but I just feel it looks like a compromise....and I too much of a perfectionist.

Good on ya'! :D

Lets blade right? When the diamond blades are new, the outside edge is squared off until you get a few good cuts in and the blade rounds out. Being that you have a lot of scrap tile layin' around now (:D), run a few passes all the way through some of that tile until that blade rounds off. It will cut smoother once this phenomenon takes place.


02-24-2008, 10:01 PM
if that's the tile i'm thinking of it's 3/8" thick and very hard. you're never gonna get that cut out from a whole piece of tile with anything but a waterjet. without the waterjet you'll probably have to cut the tile into two pieces. do it across the top of the outlet cutout, basically lopping off the top triangle of the tile, then make a cut to remove the tile for the outlet box with two simple straight cuts for the sidescand a plunge cut for the bottom.

02-25-2008, 06:13 AM
Yes, it's 3/8" thick with a square grid cast in the back with a "Made in Italy" stamp. It's pretty standard at Lowes's and they sell the "Rialto" tile in numerous colors. The front has a kind of rustic look with pits and varying textures. Mine is the terra cotta color.

02-25-2008, 07:52 AM
Rob, dont give up. it can be done. Same tile different color. here is proof:

02-25-2008, 06:33 PM
I've found with some things it sometimes works out better by going low tech. Have you tried a coping saw?


02-25-2008, 08:39 PM
cmon guys the roto zip is the ticket

BUT not with the continous rim diamond blade he mentioned

buy the "x-bit" that roto zip makes and you can do it my friend, its real pricey $40 at my local hd, but i use it all the time for my small circular cuts, lasts a long time, its essentially a router bit with high grade diamonds, it looks like a piece of jewelry the diamonds are so big, go slow and steady and it will work for sure, i've worked with that type of tile and it will take a long time to make that cut though 'cause the tile is sooo thick

even though its rated for dry cutting, i'll occasionally dip it in cool water during long cuts, don't know if it helps but it makes me feel better 'bout my $40 bit hehe