Why a Wet Tile Saw is Necessary | Wet vs. Dry Comparison
When cutting tile for your next home improvement project, you probably noticed that the machine had to be wet while working. But is that always necessary? Do all tiles need to be cut this way? Are there other options out there?
Today we’ll be looking at why you use a wet saw for cutting tile, as well as tips and tricks to make the process easier and better for your needs. We’ll also compare cutting wet vs. dry and see if that’s an option for your next project.
Choose Your Tile
Because wet saws are used to cut most tiles, many people believe that it’s the only way to go. However, just because all tile can be cut with a wet saw doesn’t mean that they have to be. That being said, your first step should be picking out the kind of tile you want to cut in the first place. From there, you can determine if a wet saw is necessary.
Here are some of the elements to consider when choosing tiles.
Size and Thickness
When shopping for tiles, you will see that there is a seemingly endless variety of shapes and sizes. Tiles can come in large blocks, or they can be pre-cut to smaller sizes to make them more manageable.
As a general rule, the thicker the tile, the more likely you will have to use a wet saw. However, if the tile is thin (less than an inch or so), then you can probably cut it with a different method altogether.
The other thing to pay attention to is the size of the tile. For example, if you are cutting small 3x3 inch pieces, then a massive wet saw won’t be required most of the time. Conversely, if your tile comes in massive 2x2 foot blocks, then a power saw will have to cut through it.
Tiles can come in a variety of materials to suit your needs. As you can imagine the harder the material, the more likely it is that you have to use a wet saw. Since water acts as both a lubricant and a coolant to prevent overheating, many materials will benefit from this additional care and attention.
Some options that must always be cut with a wet saw include-
Stone (i.e., marble or granite)
Overall, if the material is brittle or prone to chipping, then a wet saw can ensure that you get smooth cuts every time. Otherwise, if you tried a dry cutting method, the tile may shatter, or the edges could get rough in the process.
Benefits of Using a Wet Tile Saw
No matter what kind of material you choose, you can always utilize this kind of machine to cut it to the proper size. But if it’s not necessary, then why would you want to do that? Here are the top reasons why cutting with a wet tile saw is beneficial, regardless of whether you have to do it or not.
Although you are going to generate a lot of dirty water, it’s usually easier to clean up afterward than it is with tile dust. If you are going to use a dry power saw, you will cover almost everything in a thick layer of the stuff, which can get into every nook and cranny.
The other downside of dust is that it can go all over the place. Water is thicker and heavier, so it doesn’t usually wind up coating the walls or the ceiling. However, dust can float through the air, settling on almost anything you can imagine.
Overall, you will have to cover everything in plastic to keep the dust out, whereas you can probably get away with just covering the floor when you use a wet tile saw.
Although some materials can have clean lines no matter how you cut them, a wet version will always look better. Because the blade and the tile are lubricated, you don’t risk damaging the edges and creating a rough line.
Also, most wet tile saws have diamond edges, which are always going to produce better results than standard metal.
Some materials like porcelain or glass have to be cut with a diamond-tipped blade. However, if you do this without water, you are going to put a lot more wear and tear on the edge. Think of it like your car. When you have oil running through the engine, it keeps everything working in pristine condition. Without it, you are going to damage your components a lot faster.
Other Cutting Methods Besides Wet Saws
If you decide to forgo the water, then there are a few other options available to you. Here is an overview to get you started.
These resemble large scissors, and they operate the same way. You have two blades connected by a handle, and you cut the tile manually by snipping it. This method only works on soft and thin materials, and it can get exhausting after a while. We only recommend it if you don’t have many pieces to cut.
In this case, you score the tile by creating a cut with the tip of the pencil. Once you reach a certain point, then you can snap the tile along the edge. Snapping ensures a smoother finish, but if you didn’t go deep enough, it could have jagged results.
Like the nippers, this process can get tiring after a while because you have to apply pressure with each pass.
Dry Power Saw
With some tile materials, you can get away with using a regular table saw to make your cuts. As long as they aren’t brittle (or too thick), you can make smooth cuts without chipping or damage to the blade.
Thanks for reading our blog! We hope that you found this information useful. Regardless of the cutting method you choose, we want you to be satisfied with the results. Overall, wet tile saws are the best option, but that doesn’t mean you have to bust it out for every project.