If you’re a DIY kind of person and you are planning to do your own floors, then one of the things that you’re going to need to decide is what kind of material that you want your floor to be made out of. One of the most popular and most durable materials out there, not to mention one of the best looking, is tile.
That being said, if you plan on tiling your own floors, you are going to need to be able to cut them down to size first. There are two tools that you may use to do so, and these include wet saws and tile cutters. So what exactly are they, and what are the differences between them?
Wet Saws and Tile Cutters: The Basics
Before we get into talking about the differences between wet saws and tile cutters, let’s first take a closer look at what both of them are.
What is a Tile Cutter?
A tile cutter is a very inexpensive tool that is, as its name suggests, used to cut tiles. These machines do not require any form of electricity and are completely manual in nature. Tile cutters use a two-step process that involves first scoring the tile and then snapping it by hand. The tile cutter features a base where the tile rests upon, as well as a special scoring knife which is used to create a deep cut in the tile. Once the tile has been scored, it is then snapped by hand.
Tile cutters are considered great for beginners because they’re very easy to use, they’re relatively small and portable, they don’t require electricity, and they’re great for making straight cuts. With that being said, what you need to be aware of is that tile cutters are best used for soft tiles and for small applications. Tile cutters won’t be able to handle extremely hard tiles such as outdoor porcelain tiles or glass tiles.
What is a Wet Saw?
The wet saw is like a step up from the tile cutter in the sense that this is an electric power tool. In terms of the shape, the wet saw usually looks like a smaller version of a circular saw, one that features a diamond blade combined with a water hose that sprays water on that diamond blade in order to reduce friction.
Due to the fact that wet saws are able to reduce the friction when making a cut, as well as the fact that they have a very fast-spinning blade that is able to penetrate even the hardest of materials, they are ideal for the hardest kinds of tiles such as glass tiles and those with high PEI ratings. If a tile cutter cannot handle it, then a wet saw should be able to.
What also needs to be said is that wet saws usually allow you to adjust the angle of the blade, so you can actually create a miter cut. On that same note, if you have enough skill, you should also be able to cut curves into tiles using a wet saw.
There are some drawbacks to using a wet saw, however, with the main one being that it requires a whole lot of skill and knowledge. This is not something you will easily be able to do if you don’t have practice. Moreover, due to the fact that these saws spin at high speed and spray water all over the blade, they do make quite the mess. Water and tile dust spray everywhere, and this means that wet saws are best used outdoors.
Wet Saw vs. Tile Cutter: What Are the Differences?
Now that we know what both wet saws and tile cutters are, let’s figure out what the main differences between them are, so you can figure out which one is best for you.
The most basic difference between these two tools is that one of them requires electricity, whereas the other one does not. Yes, this does make the tile cutter more convenient in certain situations, especially when you don’t want to have to deal with extension cords. That said, of course, due to the fact that the wet saw is a power tool, it is a much faster and more efficient tool to use.
What also needs to be said here is that because the tile cutter is a manual tool, it does take quite a while to score and snap a whole lot of tiles. Simply put, a wet saw operates much faster and allows you to move at much greater speeds. Therefore, while the tile cutter may be ideal for small jobs, it’s not going to be fast enough for very large flooring jobs. For very large jobs it is a wet saw that you want to use.
Type of Tiles
Perhaps the largest difference between these two tools is that manual tile cutters are really only ideal for soft tiles. The simple reality is that the scoring knife on tile cutters can only cut so deep and only penetrate materials that are of a certain density. If the tiles are too hard, have way too high of a PEI rating, or are glass tiles, then a tile cutter will not be able to score and snap it. For very hard tiles and for glass tiles, you will need a wet saw.
Difficulty of Use
In terms of the ease of use of both of these tools, what is definitely true is that tile cutters are easier to use. Yes, it might take you a couple of tries to get the scoring and the snapping process right, but other than that there is really not much to master.
On the other hand, with a wet saw, due to it being a dangerous power tool, it automatically brings certain risks and challenges with it. If you plan on cutting very intricate cuts and being very accurate with a wet saw, then professional skill is required.
Types of Cuts
The tile cutter can make small and straight cuts. That’s it. On the other hand, a wet saw can be used to make straight, curved, and miter cuts, and even for cutting intricate patterns and shapes.
Because wet saws are high-quality power tools that include diamond blades and water spray systems, you can expect to spend well over $500, if not thousands of dollars on them, especially for the high-quality models. On the other hand, you won’t need to spend more than a couple hundred dollars on a high-quality tile snapper, at the most.
A wet saw can really only be used outdoors due to the amount of dust and water that gets sprayed everywhere. On the other hand, a tile cutter can be used indoors without making a massive mess.
Which of the Two Should You Use?
The bottom line here is that if you want a very easy to use tool that does not require electricity, is portable, and is ideal for snapping soft tiles in straight lines, then a tile cutter is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you are doing very large flooring jobs, you need to cut hard and glass tiles, you need to make straight, curved, and miter cuts, and you need a tool that is going to be able to work fast, then a wet saw is the way to go. Just remember that a wet saw does require a good deal of skill to use properly.
There you have it people, now that know what the major differences between tile cutters and wet saws are, you can make an informed decision as to which one to pick for your next floor tiling project.