Cutting small ceramic tiles (+ backing question +grout design)

cinnamonsworldApril 24, 2007

Someone's helping us put in a small amount of tile around the corners of a hot tub wood frame, and I'm hearing back about difficulties experienced.

I bought several square feet (they come in square foot squares) of 1" tiles on a net-like backing, some spacers, and some grout. The person cutting the tile is saying he has to cut the tile wet and when he does the rest of the tiles slide off the backing - plus it's difficult to cut the small tiles.

So my questions are:

- What's the best way to cut small ceramic tiles (I think he's using a saw... but there aren't that many that really have to be cut - it's just along the hot tub edge... I wonder if some kind of nippers might be easier)?

- Rather than trying to cut the tile wet while it's on the backing, doesn't it make more sense to fit what tiles you can, dry, while they're on the netting, using good scissors to trim the other tiles away - and then cut with nippers those tiles that you trimmed away, to fit them?

- Lastly, do you ever see decent-looking applications (pictures welcome) where there is, say, a wide (1"?) swath of grout at the edges of a design (filling in the zig-zag that would occur at an edge if one was not planning to cut tiles into pieces)? This is an older hot tub amd enclosure and I'd consider this if I could be convinced it would look decent but not bad.


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We now installing small tiles and it irks me that the manufacturer uses such cheap backing! DS found that covering the larger areas of the tile sheet with plastic (while cutting) helped keep the whole sheet from getting wet and falling apart. Drying off the saw tray between cuts also helped.
So........I can understand the difficulty the guy is having if he's trying to cut a 1" tile that has no stability!

Ideally, you should have a design that requires no cutting of 1" tiles.
I think you should buy some stone/ceramic molding that will fill in the gap you have left at the edge. You could even take it around all the edges if you want a more decorative design. Check out 1/2 rounds and chairmolding........we're using travertine molding with granite........looks great.

I would try to avoid a 1" wide grout line since it will end up cracking.

Buy the molding and lay out the design before he starts.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 12:04PM
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annz has some excellent suggestions. The stone/ceramic molding is your best choise style-wise. If you find that you MUST cut the small tiles, why not cover them with a sheet of clear contact paper on the top side? That might have superior grip over the mesh on the back and provide more stability while cutting.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 12:52PM
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"Someone's helping us put in a small amount of tile around the corners of a hot tub wood frame..."

I hope he's not setting tile directly on the wood; it's not a suitable substrate for tile. Wood shrinks and expands with changes in humidity and exposure to moisture. Tile doesn't. The bond won't last.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 5:50PM
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Different sheet materials cut differently. Some well, others not so well.

In your case I'd pull the 1" squares that need to be cut off the mesh and cut them individually. Then set them by hand.

1" of grout is too much. You'll likely end up with shrinkage cracks.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 8:00PM
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