Choosing a Tile Saw

The Right Tile Saw Can Make or Break a Ceramic Tile Installation Project

By Mark J. Donovan

Investing in a quality tile saw is the right thing to do if you are planning a ceramic tile installation project. Tile saws vary in price from less than $100 to several hundred dollars. Tile saw prices vary with the number of features included and the quality.

Once you have completed your first ceramic tile installation project, you will inevitably want to do many more. Ceramic tile provides a beauty and richness to kitchen and bathroom floors, walls and tub/shower areas that is unbeatable. Consequently it is worth investing in a tile saw for even your first ceramic tile project.

For my first ceramic tile project, which was tiling around a bathtub, I went the cheap route and used a tile cutter and tile nippers.

Though the finished tile looked fabulous I spent an inordinate amount of time cutting tiles. In addition, I spent a small fortune on broken tiles due to not using the tile cutter properly.

Inexpensive Tile Saws

For my next ceramic tile project, I broke down and bought an inexpensive tile saw. The tile saw had a ¾ horse power motor with a 7 inch diamond saw blade. The blade and motor sat below a cutting table surface. A water reservoir tray also sat underneath the table surface as well, and as the blade turned it ran through the water, which cooled and cleaned the tile saw blade.

The tile saw also included a fence for making straight cuts. The tile saw only cost me $75 but did one heck of a job cutting tile, at least for a few tile projects. Not only did I not need the tile cutter, I hardly ever needed to use even the tile nippers.

The problem however with these inexpensive tile saws, is that they don’t last long and the motors can burn out easily if not used carefully. You can also trip the circuit breaker fairly regularly with them.

The reason for this is that small bits of ceramic tile fall down into the well where the blade sits and wind up jamming up the saw at inopportune times. This jamming action can wear out the blade and the motor fairly quickly, so it is important to try to remove any ceramic tile chips from the blade well quite regularly.


In addition, the water in the reservoir gets dirty fairly quickly and thus does not do a very good job of keeping the tile saw blade clean and sharp.

More Expensive Tile Saws

More expensive tile saws that will set you back a couple of hundred dollars or more have a tile saw motor and blade that sit above the cutting surface and a large tray for holding water. In addition they have a large table surface that slides forward and underneath the tile saw blade. They also include fences for making straight and angled tile cuts.

Inexpensive tile saw

Higher end tile saw

These types of tile saws typically have a more powerful motor, e.g. around 1-3/4hp or more and thus make short work of cutting ceramic tile. In addition, since the motor and blade sit above the tile and table surface they are not prone to jamming. This helps to extend the life of the tile saw blade and motor.

Make sure when investing in one of these more expensive tile saws to include a water pump. The water pump sits inside the water tray and pumps water up onto the tile saw blade.

Some less expensive upper end tile saws rely on water to be provided by a water hose. With these models, in addition to turning on the saw you need to also turn on a little valve to allow the water to flow over the blade. Bringing a garden hose on the tile project may not always be feasible or very convenient, so it is wise to either make sure you buy a tile saw that includes a water pump or offers an optional water pump that you can place it in the water tray.

So before you start your ceramic tile installation project, visit your local home improvement center and check out tile saws. A tile saw is well worth the investment as you will save a significant amount of time and achieve more professional results. In addition you will save money on less tile breakage.

For information on installing a shower pan membrane liner for a ceramic tile shower, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation Ebook from  The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

See’s Ceramic Tile Calculator

See my “How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower” Ebook to learn how to tile your own shower:  For a detailed set of instructions on tiling a shower floor and walls, including pictures for every step in the process, see my “How to Tile Custom Ceramic Tile Shower Ebook”.

Related Information

Additional Ceramic Tile Resources from


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