A Hole in the Middle
Cutting tile accurately is one of the challenges of installing it. Whether it’s around the tub, toilet or your shower faucets, nearly every bathroom has some cuts that need to be done. Sometimes a situation occurs when you need to make a hole in the middle of a tile, for example, the smaller opening where the faucet comes through the shower wall. Having the skill to cut a square hole in the tile using an angled grinder is useful for when there is a fixture that lands in the middle of the surface. It’s not as difficult as you think; all that is required is a steady hand, a little creativity and patience.
Tools You Need
The tools you will need include a 100mm (4inch) diamond blade fitted to an angle grinder, protective safety glasses, ruler, and ear muffs/plugs (if you have sensitive ears). A wax pencil is better than a regular HB pencil because it doesn’t rub off as easily while you’re cutting.
Cover up The Gap
To illustrate how to make this hole, we will look at the faucet/valve openings for a shower enclosure. Since larger 12″ tiles were used, it increased the likelihood that the hole would land in the center of a tile. One thing that you want to do is to make sure that the opening will be covered up by the fixture after it’s installed. This really shouldn’t be a problem if you keep your cuts tight since most shower head/faucet combos have a small cover that goes around the protruding pipe to cover up the gap between the tile and the fixture.
The first step is to measure very carefully and mark the section of the tile where you want the cut to occur using your pencil and ruler. Do this on both sides of the tile so when you flip it over you will know exactly where your incision points are to get the most accurate cut. Put on your safety gear and make sure your tile is on a stable surface.
Compensate For The Blade
The type of cut you will be using is called a “plunge cut” which involves a light downward motion with minimal pressure. Cut inside the line about 5mm to compensate for the blade. Do not cut all the way through to the other side of the tile, just cut until the incision is the width of your hole. Turn the surface and do this for all four sides of the square opening and then flip the tile over and finished cutting the hole out from the back. If you need to, you can gently tap out the section with a rubber mallet or other tool.
Dry Fit Your Pieces
As you can see, this is a simple process for cutting a square hole using a handheld angle grinder with a tile cutting blade. At first it may be hard to control the depth of your cuts, but with a little practice it should effectively get the job done. Just be prepared to do a few test cuts on a scrap piece before you tackle the real job. And as always, make sure you dry-fit your pieces before you mortar them into place because you don’t want to find out later that the gap is not concealed properly by the fixture and your shoddy work is exposed for all to see. Mind you, this could all be avoided if you just do your due diligence.