How To Cut Glass Tiles Two Ways

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website.

Glass tiles provide homeowners with a glossy, durable surface, making them an excellent option for shower walls, bathroom accents, and backsplashes. But cutting glass tiles to fit the desired space may look intimidating, as it requires a different cutting technique from other tiles. Also, DIYers and homeowners may not know about the right tools to cut glass tiles.

You can cut glass tiles both manually and electrically. Electric tile cutters like wet saws are more precise and time-effective. Manual glass cutters include glass scoring wheels and bar cutters. Before cutting the glass, measure and score it. Then snap the tile along the scored line.  

Unlike ceramic tiles, glass tiles give your walls and floors a beautifully unique shimmering effect. Let’s look at manual and electric ways to cut the tiles and the tools you’ll need for this project.    

Can You Cut Glass Tiles at Home?

Artist cutting sheets of stained glass into small mosaic squares. Close-up

Yes, you can cut glass at home, either manually or with the help of an electric machine. However, you’ll need to be careful as glass tiles break or shatter easily compared to ceramic or stone tiles. 

You can easily find a manual tile cutter in your toolbox, which resembles a car jack. However, if your project requires an electric tile cutter, you can even rent one from your local construction tool rental store.

Electric tile cutters are typically used for large projects, while manual tile cutters are cheaper and highly portable. The type of tile cutter that will be suitable dramatically depends on the project size and the specific tiles you’re using.  

Tools You Will Need

Keeping in mind the various types of glass tiles and their application, the following are the different tools that you may need:

  • Wet saw
  • Bar cutter
  • Manual scoring wheel
  • Wheeled mosaic nippers

To ensure the best results, make a dry layout of the tile pattern before you start the installation process. This will help you visualize the perfect placement of tiles before fixing them permanently.

How to Score Properly

The best way is to score upside down and then turn the tile over to cut it. This technique will ensure an excellent result for a clean, chip-free cut in a glass tile. However, a plunge feature is required with a tile saw. 

You’ll need to set the guide to ensure all the tiles are cut in precisely the same place.

  1. Place the tile upside down on the saw.
  1. Now loosen the knob on the tile saw. This will allow the saw to plunge up and down. 
  1. Now push your glass tile through the saw, so the blade lightly scores the back of the tile.
  1. Next, flip over the tile and place it next to the fence. 
  1. Secure your saw tile in the plunged position and push the tile through, making sure that the tile is cut from the same place where the original score cut is on the backside. This will provide a clean result.       

Cutting Manually vs. Electronically

Choosing between cutting glass tiles manually or electrically depends on the materials you’re using, the specific job at hand, the space where you’ll be working, and the time frame. 

Manual tile cutters are more convenient, easy to use, and require less time to cut your tile. On the other hand, electric tile cutters need more skill to operate, take longer to cut a tile, and can even cut tiles in intricate shapes. 

Let’s look at both the ways to help you decide which method is right for you: 

How to Cut Glass Tiles Manually

Master class on making mosaic panels for children

Artisans have scored and cut glass manually for thousands of years to create glass mosaics and stained-glass windows. Although this process takes longer than a wet saw, manual cutting is still done by professional tile settlers, especially when cutting small tiles.  

Glass Scoring Wheel

Manual glass scoring wheels are pretty economical and easy to buy. Their biggest benefit is that they’re small and portable, which makes them easier to store once you’ve finished working.   

When working with a manual glass scoring wheel, you’ll also need a pair of running pliers or grozing pliers. Before starting your project, it’s best to practice scoring and snapping a few glass tiles. This will help you realize the amount of pressure you’ll need to exert. In addition to a manual glass scoring wheel, you’ll need a:

  • Washable marker
  • Straight edge
  • Running pliers
  • Grozing pliers
  • Cloth
  • Rubbing stone for glass

The procedure for using a manual glass scoring wheel is as follows:

  1. First, put your glass tile on a flat surface facing upwards and draw the cut line with a washable marker. Next, place the straightedge over your cut line.     
  1. Place the wheel at the tile’s far end. Start pulling the wheel towards you along the straightedge for an even cut. Hold the tile firmly as the scoring wheel rolls until you hear a cracking sound. This will result in a weak line on the glass surface. 
  1. Keeping the tile facing upwards, use grozing pliers to hold the section of the tile you want to break and snap downwards. Or you can use running pliers to compress the tile gently at the scored line. 
  1. If you’re using running pliers, position them directly over one end of the scored line. Make sure the pliers are perpendicular to the scored line, and press down. This will allow you to apply even pressure to both sides of the line, causing the glass to split into two pieces.          
  1. Use a rubbing stone to smooth the edges of the cut glass tile before installation. Like a knife-sharpening stone, a rubbing stone has a larger grit that helps smooth away the tile’s sharp edges.  

Bar Cutters

Another method to cut glass tiles manually involves using bar cutters. This is a more efficient machine compared to scoring wheels and pliers, as it both scores and cuts the tile. Again, you can easily find various models online and invest in one according to your budget.  

When using a bar cutter, you’ll need the following materials and tools:

  • Bar cutter
  • Washable marker
  • Grozing pliers
  • Running pliers
  • Cloth
  • Rubbing stone for glass

Now for using the cutter bar:

  1. Carefully measure and mark the lines with a washable marker according to your requirement, then place the glass tile on the bar cutter’s cutting pad. Make sure the marked line and the cutting guide are aligned. 
  1. Score the tile with the bar cutter.
  1. Pull the scoring handle along the tile, moving it away from you to score the tile.
  1. If your bar cutter features a pressure foot, use it to break the tile along the scored line. You can also snap the tiler manually with the help of grozing pliers or running pliers.     
  1. Remove shards and smooth the edges with a rubbing stone before installing the glass tiles. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe off the marker. 

Wheeled Mosaic Nippers

Artist cutting sheets of stained glass into small mosaic squares. Close-up

Another way to cut glass tiles manually is by nipping them with wheeled mosaic nippers. This method is typically used to cut small shapes of glass tiles used in artistic designs.

However, nipping isn’t as precise as cutting with a wet saw. That’s why practicing on spare tiles is better before starting your project. 

Like regular pliers, wheeled nippers are equipped with sharp upper and lower carbide wheels that help cut through the glass. To cut glass with this method, you’ll also need:      

  • Washable marker
  • Goggles
  • Cloth

Now for using the nippers:

  1. Make guidelines on your glass tile with the help of a washable marker.
  1. Be sure to wear protective eyewear. Avoid nipping tiles while others are around, as the nipped glass can shoot across the room. Instead, keep a firm grip on your nippers and position the wheels along the marked line. 
  1. Squeeze the handles of the nipper to cut through the tile.   

How to Cut Glass Tiles Electronically

You can also cut glass electrically with the help of a wet saw. These machines are handy when working in a large area with many straight cuts, like the shower area. 

With this method, you can’t only save time but also achieve clean edges while significantly reducing the risk of damage to your tiles. 

As you operate this machine, it steadily releases a stream of water, which decreases friction and helps to cool the cut edge. This ensures a smoother cut with minimal breakage.   

Wet saws can be a bit expensive. If you don’t want to spend too much money on a machine you’re not using very often; you can rent one from your local construction tool rental store. 

Cutting Glass Tile with a Wet Saw

In addition to a wet saw, you’re going to need the following tools when using a wet saw to cut glass:

  • Washable marker
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cloth

For using a wet saw:

  1. Draw cutting guidelines on the tile’s surface with a washable marker after measuring it carefully. Once you’ve finished cutting the glass tile, these lines can be easily removed with a damp rag. 
  1. Pull on rubber gloves before turning the wet saw. Leave it on for almost 15 seconds, so the blade gets nice and wet.    
  1. Keep the tile aligned with the cutting guide and carefully cut along the marked line. Be sure to apply light but steady pressure when moving the tile through the saw. After making the cuts, power down the wet saw and use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining marker traces. 

Leave a Comment