Brittle Porcelain Tile

Discussion in 'Ceramic & Stone Sales and Installations' started by Matt Lister, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Matt Lister

    Matt Lister Pro Member

    The installer on one of my shower jobs ran into something he had never seen before, and neither had I. While trying to cut the tile it would break or snap wrong. He tried a hand grinder, and wet saw, and score and snap. All methods would not produce a cut he was use to. If cutting on the wet saw, it would cut fine, and then about half way through it would break the rest of the way. The score and snap method, it would veer off at the end at a strange angle. The hand grinder it would do the same thing as the wet saw, it would just snap.
    He made some adjustments to his wet saw, and would cut both ends before going all the way to the middle, and he was able to make it work. Until he got to the mixing valve and body sprays, where holes were needed in the middle of the tile. Using the grinder, I watched as he began to make a cut in the middle of the tile, he was 2/3 through the thickness of the tile, and the whole tile popped. He went through 6 tiles, until he finally had a tile that did not break. He sat it down on a stack of tile in the box, while he spread his thinset. While it was sitting on the boxes, it too snapped. He is so frustrated. He had some success with flat troweling thinset on the back of the tile the night before, and then cutting the hole the next day, but it does not always work. The tile is a 12x24 Florim Tile. Anyone ever dealt with this kind of issue?

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  2. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    We've dealt with it before on large square tile to the point of not having extra pieces. I would call manufacturer or NTCA, they are aware of either production or batches not being able to be cut. Our situation didn't get to that extreme of needing to raise the issue.

    My last two tile saws are able to plunge cut putting slight pressure on entire run pushing table back and forth gradually cutting from the top all the way across deeper and deeper till it cracks.

    For the circles, haven't done any but wonder about a core drill on a press. Extra effort not usually compensated for.

    I think a couple years ago for a glass tile seminar they were saying score both sides.

    I think myself it's a quality issue, a glass blade may help slightly.

    Only 1" glass squares, but I cut 1/8" wide pieces, maybe 5% of 5 ft cracked. High quality manufacturer and cut technique.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  3. Matt Lister

    Matt Lister Pro Member

    Thanks for the response Mike. We even tried drilling the 4 corners of the square, and while the tile lasted longer, it did eventually snap as well. He was able to successfully use a hole saw for the small shower head pipe. I am ordering 4 more boxes to make sure he has enough tile. I just want this job to be finished.
  4. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Ordering? I'd lean toward free when an experienced tile setter runs into a batch of tile that cracks easily when tools/methods are used with unsatisfactory results. I'd call Mark Heinlen with NTCA though you may not be a member they will steer you to their recommendations, if no one complains, no changes are made. How bout it installed on floor or wall, any slight movement and it will crack.
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  5. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member Senior Member

    Porcelain can be that way sometimes, its always a hard product. It takes patience on the cuts to only feed as much as it wants to cut. I know some tile guys change their blade for it to a better blade.
  6. Kman

    Kman Tile Expert I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    Ran into that one time with some 6x6 porcelain tile while trying to cut a hole out of the center. Very frustrating. It was like there was tension built up in the tile that would release when it was cut.

    I had better luck snapping them, so I finally had to score and snap one, then cut the two halves of the hole out of each piece, then put it back together. Fortunately it was not visible when installed.

    There are a couple of things I would try: score the tile with a wet saw in successively deeper cuts, say 1/16 - 1/8" at a time until you get all the way through. Start on the face side.

    Also, for tiles just needing a hole cut out, one could install it first, let it set up for a day, then drill it.
  7. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I was thinking set it on a board with quickset then drill it and remove all thinset within the timing. I've done it with regular thinset to reduce vibration.

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