When it comes to tile cutters, there are essentially two major types, the non-electric manual tile cutter, and the electrically-powered one. Here at DIY-High, we like to focus on the powered versions of tools so this review of tile cutters will only focus on the most popular power tile cutters on the market today and we’ll leave the manual tile cutters for another time. But first, let’s delve a little into the various features of electric tile cutters that we need to understand before we can pick the best tile cutter for our needs.
What to look for in a Power Tile Cutter
Blade – Tile cutters come in different shapes and sizes and so do their blades. All tile blades that come with today’s consumer electric tile cutters are circular diamond-tipped, continuous blades that range in size from 110mm in diameter and upwards. Another metric to watch out for is the bore hole diameter (the part of the blade that fits over the motor’s spindle). The two most common bore hole sizes on today’s consumer devices are 22.2mm and 25.4mm.
Water cooling – The majority of power tile cutters incorporate a blade cooling system that usually consists of a reservoir of water located underneath the cutting surface in which the blade is partially submerged. After the blade has moved past the cutting interface it is cooled in the reservoir. At the same time, the water acts partially as a lubricant to facilitate better cutting action. The presence of water around the cutting area also has the added benefit of trapping and reducing the amount of dust that is released into the air when cutting through the rock-like materials of tiles which have the tendency to release a lot of dust when pulverised. Some more expensive tile cutting systems, like bridge saws (which will not be discussed here), use a submersible pump to run water more effectively over the cutting interface.
Angled cuts – Most electric tile cutters will usually provide the option to make mitred cuts so that the edge of a tile can be cut with a bevel. This is useful when tiling over an edge or ledge structure and by bevelling the adjoining edges of the tiles, a better overall finish is obtained.
Depth of cut – Power tile cutters have different sized motors and, for the most part, the higher the wattage or power of the motor, the thicker the tiling material which can be cut with the machine. Different tile types have different thicknesses and knowing the maximum thickness of tile that you are likely to be cutting will determine how powerful (and expensive!) a machine to go for. It is also important to remember that when cutting at an angle (ie. mitred cuts), the blade will actually have to pass through more of the tiling material, therefore the actual perpendicular thickness of a material that a particular machine is rated for cutting should be reduced if it is to be used for tile bevelling.
Portability – Are you moving from job site to job site on a regular basis, or is this just for home DIY use? Once you have determined how you will be using your tile cutter, you will then be in a position to determine your needs with regards to portability. How heavy should it be? Will it fit into the area or vehicle that you will need it to? Does it need a case for protection? and so on…
How easy is it to clean? – Cutting tiles with an electric wet saw is a messy business due to the amount of dust that is generated when a blade passes through ceramic, porcelain or other tile material. Most electric tile cutters these days use water to continuously wet the blade as it is cutting, which lubricates and cools the blade but also traps a lot of the dust. As a consequence, this dust-water suspension gets everywhere on the machine, and one needs to give a little thought about how it will perform at clean-up time. For instance, having a ridged cutting surface rather than a completely flat one can make life more difficult when trying to remove caked-in tile dust.
Popular Electric Wet Tile Cutters in the UK
|Vitrex 103420||16 or 22|
** table size is not exact since dimensions were not available from the manufacturer
Plasplugs Tile Cutters DWW100 and DWW200
At the most economical end of the electric wet tile cutter spectrum are machines that are, for the most part, made out of plastic. The tile cutters, DWW100 and DWW200 by Plasplugs are two such machines that are designed for the Do-It-Yourself-er rather than the trade professional. Although the plastic used is quite durable, they will not likely stand up to the test of time over many years and over many jobs typical of use by a professional tiler. They hold a relatively small 110mm diamond-tipped blade which together with a lower power motor, also limits tile cutting depth to 20mm. However, like bigger tile cutting machines, they do cut tile well and accurately as long as care is taken and the tiles are pushed across the cutting surface at a slow pace. The units can even handle tiles of almost any width and length if physical support is provided to the tile where it overhangs the unit. Of course, too wide a tile would prevent use of the fence so alternative methods would need to be devised to ensure a straight edge.
Just as with almost all power tile cutters these days, the machines can also cut at fixed angles necessary for the bevelling of tiles. All-in-all, the basic Plasplugs tile cutters are quite capable machines. One slight negative to note, however, is the inadequacy of the operating manual which is not particularly impressive especially considering which demographic the machines are aimed at. The explanation in the manual of how to set the machines up and operate them is quite poor. However, with a bit of trial and error and a couple of YouTube videos like the one below, one can quickly get the machines up and running and into the action! Considering the price of the Plasplugs tile cutters, they are good value for money especially for the DIY-er who just has a tilling project or two that needs doing.
Vitrex Power Tile Cutter 103402
Next in line is the Vitrex 103402, also known as the Torque Master Power Tile Cutter, which is one of the most popular consumer tile cutters on the market today. This is partly because it is a good basic cutter with a relatively powerful motor, but which is also very reasonably priced. Indeed at the time of writing, this Vitrex out-priced almost any other basic wet tile cutter on the market. The 103402 uses a small 110mm blade on a plastic cutting surface. The motor is quite powerful at 450W allowing the machine to gracefully chew through up to 25mm thick tiles. However, once again for best cut accuracy, tiles should not be forced through the tile saw. Slow and steady also has the added advantage of prolonging the life of the small blade.
Of course, a lower price means that corners have had to be cut and the machine suffers from a few minor issues. One disadvantage with the machine compared to other tile cutters is in the high level of sound it emits when operating, so ear defenders are a must, especially when working for an extended length of time. Another quibble is that adjusting the fence can be a bit tedious since both ends have to be positioned and clamped for accuracy. In addition, due to its low weight, the cutter is also susceptible to being accidentally moved making it necessary to clamp it down to a workbench or similar. The Vitrex tile cutter also suffers from some of the same minor issues that are common to most other basic tile cutters. For instance, watch out not to overfill the water reservoir since, as with many of these consumer machines, it can lead to excessive spraying of water as the blade turns, soaking the operator and everything around it even with the blade guard in place. Unfortunately, not filling the reservoir too much causes a different issue, as the reservoir then needs topping up on a much more regular basis than one might consider convenient. Another inconvenience with this and with other tile cutters that have ‘drainage’ channels incorporated into their cutting surfaces are that the channels are susceptible to clogging up with dust from previous tile cuts and cleaning them out can be a tedious process. However, despite these shortcomings, overall for the price, the Vitrex 103402 does get the job done and is great value for money.
Clarke Tile Cutter ETC8
Moving on from the plastic-based tile cutters, we have our first wet tile cutter with a metal cutting surface, the Clarke ETC8. The ETC8 is the smallest of the Clarke range of electric tile cutters. It is a robust little cutter which can cut a range of tile types. It has a powerful motor for its size which allows it to cut up to 33mm in thickness for a 90° cut and 22mm for a 45° mitre cut. Of course for its modest price, not everything is going to be perfect with the most complaints surrounding its plastic blade-guard. The blade safety cover is a bit on the flimsy side, and doesn’t easily lift up sufficiently as the tile tries to push past it requiring a little help from the operator. This is a common problem with many-a-table saw and usually operators get round this inconvenience by removing the guard altogether – a practice that is very much discouraged when using any sort of table saw. As with all the basic tile cutters, another common problem is the rapid emptying of the reservoir as the tile blade spins, sometimes only allowing two or three cuts to be made before the reservoir needs filling again. Part of the reason for the need to refill the reservoir frequently is that, like other basic machines, the reservoir on the ETC8 can not be excessively filled without having water spray a large mess around the machine. Another reason is that the ETC8 is not designed to recapture the water that ends up on the cutting surface since it has no drainage channels like those found on basic plastic-based machines. Another common issue has to do with the quality of the fence-locking mechanism which needs a bit of tinkering to get operating well. All-in-all, most buyers tend to be happy with the Clarke ETC8 electric tile saw and would recommend it as a value for money proposition.
Rubi Electric Tile Cutter ND180
The Rubi ND180 is very similar to the other electric tile cutters in its category, such as the Clarke ETC180 and the Sealey TC180 (reviewed next), most likely because Rubi has sourced the machine from a manufacturer which uses many of the same parts suppliers. As a result, the ND180 performs very similarly to them and suffers from many of the same niggling issues. So read up on their reviews to get the best idea of how this somewhat ‘generic’ wet tile cutter performs. However, as they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so also check out the video below to get the best feel for the set up and operation of the ND180 tile saw.
NB: One point of note is that the ND180 model has multiple selling variations and does NOT always come with a carry case nor a spare cutting blade as shown in the video – so do take notice of which variation you are buying!
Sealey Tile Cutter TC180
The Sealey TC180 electric tile cutter is similar to a number of other tile cutters in this category possessing a 500W motor that can cut up to 35mm in a range of tile materials. However, unlike the basic plastic-based tile cutters discussed previously, the rotational speed of the TC180’s blade has been cleverly lowered to make the machine quieter. Like some other electric tile cutting competitors, the TC180 uses a sliding mechanism to rotate the whole metal cutting surface up to an angle of 45° for making bevelled cuts.
Overall the machine gets positive reviews, although it does have a couple of niggling issues. First off, the tile guide fence can be a little tedious to slide about and get exactly level, while the thumb screw attachments that secure the fence in place can sometimes suffer from lax manufacturing tolerance. A second quibble that experienced tilers have often complained about is the design of the water reservoir tray. Although it works as it should, when it comes time to close up shop for the day and clean the machine, if the reservoir still contains any water, it can make it difficult to remove the tray without spilling the remaining water all over the place. However, it should be noted that this is not a problem limited to the Sealey TC180 – it is also common to a number of other similar machines reviewed here.
Clarke Tile Cutter ETC180
The Clarke ETC180 is one step up from its base ETC8 model discussed above, however, it is very difficult to differentiate between the two models under the hood. The machines have similar power motors which can cut to similar depths in a range of tile materials. They both use 180mm diamond-tipped blades which can also be used to make bevelled cuts up to 45° by angling the cutting table upwards. However, the one overriding difference between the two Clarke models is in the cutting table size. The ETC180 has a significantly larger cutting surface than its smaller sibling.
Clarke sources machines to bring under its own brand and usually does a reasonable job of ensuring a decent level of quality. However, sometimes manufacturing quality can be a little inconsistent which can be a problem for parts that need to be absolutely accurate. This is the case with the parallel fence which have suffered from manufacturing inconsistencies in the past making it difficult to get it to work properly. In addition, as was the case with the Sealey TC180, a small design flaw has been made with the water reservoir, which cannot be removed easily after it has been filled without spilling the water contained within it. However, this is not such a big problem since the machine tends to empty the reservoir as it is cutting, so there should not be much left in the tank anyway. In addition, the machine has been designed to work in an area where water spillage is not an issue (eg. outside). This is evident by the lack of any attempt to re-capture the run off of water from the cutting surface meaning the water tends to run off in all directions. One final warning with the machine, although some parts are rust-resistant (eg. the table top is chrome-plated), this does not mean, it wont rust, especially as it becomes scratched with regular use. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to dry down the machine throughly once one has finished, to minimise rusting and prolong its life.
Einhell Tile Cutter TC-TC618
The Einhell TC-TC618 is a German-designed machine that is meant for the mainland European DIY market but being sold in the UK. This is immediately obvious when one looks at the accompanying operating manual and power plug. The manual is not in English (instead it is in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch) and the plug is a European-style one instead of a UK one. Neither of these discrepancies is a deal-breaker for the internationalised British consumer, especially since the little bit of assembly required during set-up relies mostly on common sense, and the machine works fine on UK voltage once the plug has been changed.
The TC-TC618 is certainly a powerful machine and is able to handle almost any tile that is thrown at it cutting up to 35mm thick tiles although the cutting table size is on the small side so external support will have to be provided for bigger tiles. Like other tile cutters for the DIY market, the machine does suffer from a couple of drawbacks, some of which are a bit surprising considering its German pedigree. The most problematic feature is the blade guard bracket which is quite flimsy and can easily work loose after a bit of cutting, not something you want to happen on any sort of table saw. The other problematic feature is the parallel guide rail or fence used to ensure a straight cut. The locking nuts require a lot of effort to tighten so as to ensure the rail does not move, and this also makes ensuring the rail is exactly parallel to the blade a bit of a tedious process. In addition, when it does come time to move the fence again, the over-tightening of the thumb-nuts only makes life just that little bit harder. As with other machines, the water spray over the cutting surface can make for a very messy work environment, and since the machine is not really designed to recapture the water it ‘uses’ up, one once again has to keep refilling the reservoir every couple of minutes or so – something quite common within this category of electric tile cutter. Overall, a powerful machine for the price but with a couple of shortcomings.
FERM Tile Cutter TCM1010
The TCM1010 tile cutter from Netherlands-based company, FERM houses a mid-range 600 watt motor that turns the tile cutting blade at 2950 RPM. It can cut tiles up to an ample 34mm in thickness on a modestly sized cutting surface of 33cm x 36cm and it can also make bevelled cuts of tiles up to 18mm in thickness when the cutting surface is angled at 45°. The tile cutter takes blades of 180mm in diameter with a bore size of 22.2 mm and although it comes with a cutting blade included, the blade typically does not last very long before becoming too blunt to effectively cut with. Consequently, buyers of the FERM tile saw should also factor in purchasing in short order a more durable blade specific to the tile material they are cutting.
To aid with cutting accuracy, the FERM tile cutter is equipped with a parallel guide that is bolted down to the tile cutter surface using thumbscrews on either end of the guide, while the surface itself has integrated ‘ruler’ markings to facilitate more accurate tile cutting. As for the accessories side, FERM have included ear plugs and safety goggles with the tile saw, which is a nice touch as it is always nice to get the little accessories that one needs anyway for work using power tools.
Structurally, the FERM tile cutter weighs about 9kg making it quite stable on any work table but it is also designed with brackets that allow it to be bolted down to a benchtop for even more stability. The FERM machine is manufactured in People’s Republic of China at the behest of the Dutch company and is actually a very similar machine to the Einhell TC-TC618 (reviewed above), clearly using many of the same parts, and possibly even being manufactured in the same factory. Unsurprisingly then, the FERM machine also suffers from similar niggling issues with the blade guard and the water reservoir as the Einhell tile cutter. Firstly, the opaque blade guard tends to obscure the cutting line so users cannot see exactly where the blade is going through the tile forcing users to rely solely on measurements and the position accuracy of the parallel guide. As for the water reservoir, it is quite small which means that it needs very regular topping up with water and which is exacerbated by the flat chrome cutting surface which is not designed to channel any water splash back into the reservoir.
Overall with the FERM tile cutter, you are getting a very similar machine to similarly-priced Einhell TC-TC618, both of which tend to be mid-level tile cutters which are good for tiling DIY-ers or new professionals that want a decent inexpensive starter machine prior to purchasing something more professional.
Vitrex Power Tile Cutter 103430
The Vitrex 103430 is one of the tiling and flooring company‘s more powerful models in its 6-member line-up of electric tile cutters. The machine has a 650W motor which allows it to cut tile up to 30mm thick. Like its siblings, it is also able to do fixed mitre cuts at 22.5° and 45°. The Vitrex 103430 is unique in that it has integral support for larger tiles built into its design through a table extension, a feature you don’t often see on tile cutters. The designers of the machine have also listened to customer feedback and tried to design the water cooling system so that it minimises splashing around the machine while at the same time eliminating the need for frequent reservoir filling. However, their attempts have only been partially successful, as it still seems to make quite a mess. Operating the fence is also a little tedious as setting it at a particular location involves lining up both the front and back attachments individually to ensure it is perfectly parallel to the cutting blade. A better design would have required the setting of just one end of the fence with the other end moving perfectly square to it, possibly with some way to calibrate it when necessary. Finally, it would also have been better to incorporate some sort of locking mechanism on the extension arm to prevent it from inadvertently being pushed back in when its being used. Other than for these few niggling issues, the Vitrex 103430 is a good machine to get and is generally liked by owners.
Powerplus Tile Cutter POWX230
The POWX230 is a powerful machine using a 750W motor allowing it to easily slice up to 34mm thick tiles. Its construction is similar to the Clarke ETC180 and the Sealey TC180, clearly using several parts from the same suppliers. As with its similar competitors, the POWX230 suffers from the same problem of the reservoir being impossible to remove without spilling the water inside it, but on the PWX230, this is made worse by the need to completely fill the reservoir in order to submerge the tip of the cutting blade. Other than that design oversight, the machine works very well. Once again, the best way to get a feel for how good the tile saw is is to see a video of it in action. To see the POWX230 at work, check out the video below – unfortunately it is in German so if you don’t understand German it might not be as useful as it could be, but it’s still well worth seeing the machine at work beforehand if you are considering purchasing it.
Plasplugs Tile Cutter DWW180
Erbauer Tile Cutter ERB337TCB
The Erbauer ERB337TCB electric tile cutter from Screwfix is, at its heart, a sturdily built machine that is well-designed using materials of a decent quality. It is a fairly weighty machine which works well to keep it from inadvertently moving when pushing larger tiles through it. It has a hard-wearing aluminium cutting surface that is ridged and an extension table that allows it to handle larger tiles than its compact size. Although it has a powerful 750W induction motor that is capable of cutting through even the toughest of tiles with relative ease, it is still a relatively quiet machine. One other nice touch with the Erbauer electric tile saw is that it has a concealed water reservoir that is easy to empty by simply pulling out the plug. This is unlike other competitor machines that require you to remove the whole reservoir and where emptying a full tank of water can sometimes be a messy process.
Unfortunately, however, all is not perfect with the Erbauer tile saw as it has a number of drawbacks that will annoy more avid users of electric tile cutters. First of all, when you first receive the wet saw, a small amount of assembly is required including the installation of the splash / blade guard and the cutting blade, and the instructions provided together with their accompanying pictures are quite poor. Fortunately, the assembly of the machine is quite a straightforward process so it should not be too difficult to figure out on one’s own. Once the tile saw is up and running, the first negative that becomes apparent is that the splash / blade guard, which is opaque rather than transparent, gets in the way of visually keeping track of the cutting line. In addition, the laser cutting guide, that should compensate for this inconvenience, is housed within the splash / blade guard which is attached to the wet saw via a flimsy bracket. This means that it can be easily moved out of alignment with any pressure or vibration on the blade guard making the laser light guide pretty much useless. Adding to the inaccuracy, the parallel guide fence and the graduated markings on the main body of the tile cutter used for measurement are also not as accurate as we would have liked, and for truly accurate cuts, one needs to use other external means to exactly line up tiles before any precision cutting is attempted. Another negative with the Erbauer electric tile cutter is with the included cutting blade which is not ideal for cutting porcelain or glazed tiles as it tends to create a rough chipped edge rather than a clean cut. As a consequence, it is recommended to upgrade the blade when cutting these types of tiles in order to produce a nicer looking end result.
Finally, there appears to be some occasional quality-control issues with Erbauer tile cutters as some units have greater manufacturing discrepancies than others, so it can be a bit of a lottery as to how perfect a machine one gets from Screwfix. For instance, several users have observed that the motor can sometimes be not perfectly balanced resulting in the cutting blade oscillating slightly making a less than perfect cut. Alternatively, it has been observed that on occasion the stopper that plugs the reservoir drain hole can be a poor fit sometimes resulting in water leakage which is made worse by the vibrations coming from tile cutting. Fortunately, to remedy these problems, customer service at Screwfix is second to none for exchanging a faulty machine or, in the worst case, getting a refund.
Ultimately, the Erbauer ERB337TCB tile cutter is a better built tile cutter than its more economical competitors but, perhaps unsurprisingly at this price level, it still has a few issues that require a bit of tinkering around to sort out if it is to be used more professionally.
Norton Clipper (formerly Flexovit) Tile Cutter TT200EM
Finally, we come to the Norton Clipper (formerly Flexovit) TT200EM, which is a large heavy duty tile cutter for the true trade professional. Unlike many other power tile cutters available, the TT200EM uses a 200mm diameter diamond-tipped blade, and together with its powerful 800W motor, it is able to cut up to 40mm in depth. The cutting surface is large compared to its competitors within this electric tile saw category and as with other machines, the whole cutting surface can be angled up on one side for mitre cutting.
The TT200EM is an excellent all-round electric tile cutter that trade professionals swear by but then again that is to be expected with its high price tag. However, when you are working with tiles day-in and day-out, and with what could be expensive tiles, it is important to have the best tools at hand so that tiles are not wasted unnecessarily. As one might expect with a professional tool, it comes with its own carry case which is important to trade professionals who have to carry it around from job site to job site while at the same time keeping it protected. If you are a tiling professional or an aspiring one, the Norton Clipper TT200EM is probably the electric tile saw for you!