Best Tile Saw
Cutting tile poses special challenges. Not only is this material extremely hard and abrasive which destroys normal saw blades easily, but it’s extremely brittle giving it a tendency to break and chip in unwanted ways. Because of this, special saws are required with special blades designed just for cutting tile.
Typically, diamond blades are used to cut tile which consist of diamond dust glued to a metal saw blade. There are also some abrasive blades used for cutting tile but they’re usually used when cutting tile with saws other than actual tile saws.
While most tile saws are stationary, there are some manufacturers who also provide handheld saws but these are mostly used for touchup work rather than cutting full tiles. They’re not as maneuverable as regular handheld saws such as circular saws, due to the need for a water bottle to cool the blade.
Before looking at the tile saws we've selected, we recommend taking a moment to look at our tile saw buyer's guide below which will help you choose from the variety of models available.
Lackmond WTS2000LN Beast, 10" Wet Tile/Stone Saw
QEP 83230 30" Bridge Tile Saw with Water Pump and Stand
MK Diamond 153243 MK-101 Pro24 Table Saw
Bosch TC10, 10 Inch Wet Tile and Stone Saw
DeWalt D24000S, Heavy-Duty 10" Wet Tile Saw
C.R. Lawrence NS4000 DRL, 12 Volt Cordless Diamond Notching Saw Kit
DEWALT DWC860W 4.5" Wet/Dry Masonry Saw
Hitachi CM4SB2 11.6 Amp 4" Dry-Cut Masonry Circular Saw
MK Diamond MK-70 / 157461 1/2 HP 4" Hand-Held Masonry & Tile Saw Kit
QEP 21643 120-Volt Professional Handheld Tile Cutter
Lackmond is a company known for building stone, concrete, pavement and tile cutting equipment and diamond blades. This saw comes with one of their famous diamond blades. The powerful 15 amp motor produces 2.4 HP at 4,200 RPM. It has a 24-inch rip capacity and 18-inch diagonal rip capacity with a 3-3/4-inch depth of cut. The motor is tilting, offering 22.5 and 45 degree bevel cutting.
The saw is unique in that it has both a LED work light to make it easier to see your work. There’s also a laser cutting light for accurate cuts. This saw is mounted to a heavy-duty, collapsible stand with wheels.
No, this isn’t the saw to drag out in the middle of your bridge game, nor is it designed for cutting up your local bridge over troubled waters. This model is called a bridge saw, because like the MK Diamond unit the saw travels on a “bridge” or rails, over the material to be cut.
The manufacturer’s web site doesn’t list the motor’s horsepower, but only mentions that it is 10.5 amps. I’d take that to mean that it’s about 1-1/4 HP. The rails allow cutting of up to 30-inches, which means you can diagonal cut a tile up to 22-inch square. This one also has plunge cut capability while the rail pivots for 45 and 90 degree cuts.
MK Diamond is largely accepted as the crème de la crème of tile saws. They produce more models and sell more saws than everyone else put together. MK Diamond makes a variety of tile saw models, including this 24-inch model. It comes with a 1.5 HP Baldor motor, with permanently lubricated shaft bearings.
Although there’s a 10-inch wet cut diamond blade included, this tile saw also accommodates 6-inch and 8-inch profile wheels. The multi-position motor post and cutting head allow for plunge cuts and the smaller sized wheels while a blade shaft lock makes changing blades fast and easy. This saw has been a favorite of rental companies due to its tough construction and long life. Lastly, this model comes with a stand.
Bosch’s tile saw comes equipped with a 1.4 HP motor, turning at 4,200 RPM. It has a 24-inch capacity, or 18 inches on the diagonal. The expanded rear and side water collection trays help prevent over-spray and optimize water retention. The table is rubberized for secure positioning of the tile, without moving and has sealed bearings for longer life. This one also has plunge capacity, a spindle lock for easier blade changes, and now comes with a stand as well.
Moving to a manufacturer that most all contractors will know, we have DeWalts entry into the wet tile saw market. This 1-1/2 HP unit drives a 10-inch blade. The 24-inch ripping capacity will allow you to cut 18-inch tiles on the diagonal. DeWalt has put dual water nozzles on this unit, which strikes me as a pretty good idea. It handles plunge cuts and the miter settings are indexed for 45 degrees and 22.5 degrees, the only one that has that 22.5 degree setting.
The C.R. Lawrence saw is a modified Makita cordless circular saw. The major modification is the addition of a water bottle and feeding mechanism as well as a change of blade. There is probably also an additional seal, to prevent the water from getting into the drive mechanism or motor. Being a Makita, you can count on this saw to be quality and to last.
The incredibly small size means this saw can be used to make cuts in place, including plunge cuts, even in tight spaces. The motor turns at 1,400 RPM and the shoe tilts up to 45 degrees. The Li-Ion battery pack provides long-service life, along with fast recharge times. This same saw is also sold for cutting glass.
DeWalt’s saw is a more traditional circular saw design, with the addition of a water line. The water line is attached to a sink faucet or garden hose for a continuous water supply. An on-the-saw valve allows you to turn off the water when not in use.
The saw’s motor turns the 4-3/8” diamond blade at 13,000 RPM for faster cutting. A lock-on button makes it so you don’t have to maintain the trigger pressed, reducing operator error. This saw not only cuts through tile, but granite, porcelain, concrete and stone as well. The shoe bevels up to 45 degrees for angled cuts, as well as allowing the depth of cut to be set.
Hitachi weighs in with a saw that they're referring to as a masonry saw. Tile qualifies as masonry, but they’re making a statement that this saw can be used for more than just tile. It has an 11.6 amp motor, which produces a no-load speed of 11,500 RPM for great cutting efficiency.
This saw has a very short blade to base edge distance, for cuts in tight areas, and a one touch lever or adjusting the depth of cut. The armature coil and ball bearing motor bearings are sealed to keep dust out and help ensure long life. Low vibration and an elastomeric covered handle help with operator comfort.
MK Diamond, Produces a wide range of stationary tile saws, and this one handheld unit. This is the same style as the Skil tile saw and could possibly even have been made by them. The differences between the two are somewhat insignificant. The motor is a little smaller than the Skil unit, at 8.75 amps, compared to 11. However, this is a dry saw only, with no provision for adding a water feed, either from a bottle or from a hose. That will drastically reduce blade life.
QEP is one of the largest manufacturers of tile saws, with a broad product lineup. That made it very surprising to find that they have the least expensive handheld tile saw on the market. If you don't use one all the time, this is a great bargain. It comes with a 1-3/5 HP motor that draws 10 amps. Depth of cut and shoe bevel are easily adjustable and the motor is double insulated to prevent water damage. A rubber grip has been added for comfort and the on-off switch is a push button.
Best Tile Saw Buyer's Guide
Tile saws are specialty saws, designed specifically for cutting ceramic tile. These saws look like a standard circular saw that has been mounted over a sliding table with a large water pan underneath. However, while the saw head itself looks like a circular saw, this is where the similarities end.
Tile cutting blades used in tile saws are diamond blades, the same as are used for stone and concrete. These blades create a cut by rapidly chipping at the material rather than what is normally considered cutting. To give longer life to the saw blade, it is continually cooled by a stream of water. The same water also prevents the dust from building up in the blade, helping to keep it cutting efficiently.
Since water is used in the saw, it’s necessary to seal the bearings and electronics to prevent the water from getting into the body of the saw where it can cause damage as well as against tile dust as which can destroy seals and bearings.
Most tile cutting is done with stationary saws, whether stand-mounted or bench-mounted. That’s because these larger saws make it easier to provide the water stream to the saw blade. While there are several designs for these, the most common design has the saw table moving past a stationary overhead circular saw blade. The tile is laid on the saw table and cut by the blade.
It is theoretically possible to cut tile without a tile saw, using a table saw or radial arm saw with a special fiber blade which I’ve done myself. However, it’s extremely slow and the blades don’t last as long due to the lack of cooling provided to the blade.
Plunge cutting of tile is tricky, but both stationary and hand-held saws are designed with this in mind. It’s not uncommon to have to plunge cut tiles for the installation of light switches and electrical outlets. To accommodate this, most tile saws are designed with some plunge capability. A tile saw without plunge capability severely limits what the user can do with the saw.
Stationary (Tabletop) vs. Handheld Tile Saws
The vast majority of tile saws are stationary saws, intended to be used on a stand or sitting on a table or workbench. This saw design allows it to circulate water efficiently, reduce water consumption, as well as cut down on the resulting mess. Stationary saws make it much easier to cut a straight line, as the saw blade is stationary and the tile is on a sliding table.
Handheld tile saws look a lot like a small, modified circular saw. Typical blade sizes are 4" and 4.5". These saws really aren't designed for major cutting, as the water bottle holds a limited amount of water. However, when small cuts need to be made, cleaning up a tile, or notching it to go around something, a handheld saw works well.
Typically, handheld tile saws are only used by professional installers who do enough volume to warrant a second saw. That mostly means situations where they are working as a team doing large projects. Most projects can be handled just as well with a single stationary saw.
What to Look for in a Tile Saw
Most tile saws look pretty much alike, making it hard to select between them. However, there are some differences which should be considered. Some of these might limit the work you can do, especially if you’re thinking of using tiles which are larger than standard.
As with most saws, the bigger the motor, the better. A lot of friction is produced when cutting tile, so it’s important to have a motor which can overcome that friction. If the saw has a smaller motor, it will cause you to cut slower, so that the saw doesn't bog down.
Keep in mind that pushing material through the saw too quickly will reduce saw blade life. Considering the cost of these blades, reducing their life by overheating them would be a considerable waste of money.
Blade size wouldn't seem to matter much on a saw that is cutting thin material, but it actually makes a difference. The major difference isn't in the capacity of the saw, but rather in the life of the blades. Larger blades have less in contact with the tile, allowing them more time to cool on every revolution. This in turn helps to extend the blades service life.
When we are talking about the saw's capacity, we're talking about the size of tile it can cut. The largest common size for tile is 16” square, although some types of tiles can be larger. Most stationary tile saws provide a 24” cutting stroke, ensuring that they can cut these tiles, even at a 45 degree angle. A few larger tile saws exist with capacities up to 36”.
If all you’re ever going to cut is standard sized floor or wall tile, then a standard size stationary tile saw will be sufficient. However, there are some applications such as cutting stone which require a larger capacity. If you do that type of work, you may want to look at larger saws.
Cutting Architectural Stone
The same saws used for cutting tile can also be used for cutting stone architectural cladding. This is commonly used in commercial buildings, to give the appearance of having a stone wall or column. In reality, the stone is only 1/4” thick, mounted onto a wood column with a special mounting system. Since glazed clay tile and stone cladding are almost the same thing with the same cutting requirements, tile saws can also be used for that purpose.