Tile Cutters FAQ

Need a tile cutter? With so many different types of tile cutters, from economy DIY to professional, quality manual tile cutters you’ll need the accurate information and choices to select the one most suitable for you!

There is no “best” tile cutter for all but there is a best tile cutter for you! This will mostly depend on your trade profession, amount of usage and type of tile to be cut. Considerations include:

  • Manual Tile Cutter
  • Electric Tile Cutter
  • Professional Tiler
  • DIY Occasional User
  • Apprentice (Starter Level)
  • Type Of Tile (i.e. Ceramic or Porcelain)
  • Size Of Tile
  • Push Type Tile Cutter
  • Pull Type Tile Cutter
  • Personal Preference
  • Recommended
  • Price
  • Quality

Sigma & Rubi Manual Tile Cutters

Our expertise lays with both Sigma and Rubi manual tile cutters so a comparison between these popular, quality brands will give you an insight into the differences to help you make an informed decision.

For Rubi, Sigma and other tile cutter brands available it’s also worthwhile checking the tiling forums which give informative views and discussions from professional tilers on different types of manual tile cutters and which work best for different applications.

For example: Ceramic, porcelain or specialist tiles, length of tile and wet cutter or manual cutter.

Sometimes it can just be a personal choice, if a tiler has always used a push type tile cutter that may always be his preference, whereby a pull type tile cutter will be preferred by others.

Tile Cutter Frequently Asked Questions

We regularly receive telephone calls or emails from prospective customers wanting advice on both our Sigma and Rubi tile cutters so we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to answer some of the most commonly asked queries.

1) What is the difference between Sigma and Rubi

Rubi Tile Cutters are operated by pushing the scoring wheel, by means of a long handle along twin guide rails. Once the tile has been scored, the scoring wheel is moved clear of the tile and a second lever is used to operate the breaking anvil. Some models have a fixed breaker which is located at the end of the tile, while others have a moving breaking system that allows the tile to be broken at any point along the tile.

In contrast most Sigma Tile Cutters are operated by pulling the scribing handle towards you and then changing the position of the handle, to bring the integrated anvils into play. The anvil presses down and the sprung plates give way to reveal a central breaking bar, over which the tile snaps. Sigma does also produce the Klick Klock Series tile cutters that score by pushing the handle away from you and break the tiles by flipping the handle over and pushing down to apply the breaker to the tile.

2) Best tile cutter for cutting porcelain/ ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are the easiest to work with so can be cut using any tile cutter including entry level models such as the Rubi Star. While they withstand a lot of compression they break easily when bent so the tile cutter does not need to have a very high breaking strength. It is important to understand the limitations of each model and not attempt to cut tiles that are thicker than the maximum thickness or made from a different material. This is likely to result in damage to both the tile cutter and tiles.

By contrast porcelain tiles are more difficult to cut as they contain crystallized silica that can cause them to break in conchoidal fracture and not following any natural planes of separation. Cutting porcelain tiles will require using a professional tile cutter with a high breaking strength. We recommend the Sigma Max Series models which combine a high breaking strength with a spring loaded scoring wheel that is able to score with less effort and higher accuracy especially on thicker tiles or those with relief surfaces.

3) Basic entry level

For DIY users there are several entry level tile cutters available for basic ceramic tile cutting. Sigma produce the 7F and 2G which both have sprung loaded base plates and a 37cm cut length for ceramic tiles. The 2G also comes with a swiveling measurement bar for cutting tiles at an angle.

In our Rubi range the STAR series tile cutters are for DIY and light duty use when cutting ceramic tiles. These come with foam padding to help absorb shock and folding side arms to support the tile. The Star MAX includes a lateral stop with 45° square for repetitive cuts and is supplied in a padded carry bag with shoulder strap.

4) Which size tile cutter is suitable for larger tiles (maximum cutting length)

With the increasing popularity of large porcelain tiles, especially in commercial installations, manufacturers are including tile cutters for large format tiles in their ranges. Sigma produces models with maximum cut lengths over 100cm such as the 3P3M and 3E3M, while the Rubi Slim System contains 3 guides that connect together to allow a maximum cut of 310cm on porcelain tiles between 3-8mm thick.

5) Why the first score matters

The first score matters when using your tile cutter! You should score the tile using a firm and continuous motion. In most situations only one pass across will be needed to allow the tile to be snapped under light pressure from the breaker.

At most only score twice as repeated scoring will cause multiple fracture lines and result in a jagged break. You should also avoid excessive pressure when scoring as this creates internal cracks that will make the tile shatter when attempting to snap the tile.

6) Which replacement wheel do I need and when to replace

The scoring wheel will wear out after repeated use so it is important to replace this when you notice the tile cutter is not scoring as well as it was.

Rubi produce scoring wheels in a range of dimensions from 6mm up to 18mm. It is important to use the correct diameters scoring wheel depending on the type of tiles you intend to cut and whether they are wall or floor tiles. Also check that the scoring wheel is compatible with your model of Rubi tile cutter as the shaft dimensions do vary.

For Sigma Tile Cutters there is only one size of scoring wheel suitable for each model. This eliminates the need to have scoring wheels of different diameters for the same cutter. It also ensures that you get a consistent score regardless of the tiles you are cutting.

7) Best way to clean and maintain

To keep your tile cutter in optimum condition regularly clean the tile cutter with a soft cloth and use lubrication fluid such as WD-40 on the guide rails to remove dust and ensure that the scoring unit can move freely along them.

You should also regularly inspect the scoring wheel as after repeated use this will become dull, reducing the quality and accuracy of the score. Be sure to replace worn out scoring wheels to restore your tile cutter to its original performance.

8) What accessories are available

For certain tile cutter models we stock accessories such as a lateral stop, adjustable square or additional scoring wheel. Some models may include these as standard so it is worth checking the description before buying. You can also check out our Tiling Tools for a range of tiling products to accompany your tile cutter, including tools for setting out, laying, grouting and cleaning.

9) Maximum thickness of tile

The maximum thickness of tile that can be cut depends largely on the breaking strength of the tile cutter. The clearance between the base of the cutter and the scoring wheel will also affect how thick the tile can be. In the product description for each model you can find the maximum tile thickness that the tile cutter is suitable for. On some models the position of the scoring wheel or the height of the bar which the scoring handle moves along can be adjusted. This allows you to ensure that the scoring wheel is at the correct position for the thickness or tile, so with a thin tile the position may need to be lowered while on thicker tiles it can be raised.

10) Minimum thickness of tile

Some manufacturers such as Rubi may include the minimum thickness of tile that can be cut for certain models. The product description will include this information if the manufacturer has provided a minimum tile thickness. As with the maximum thickness, the minimum tile thickness depends on the position of the scoring wheel or height of the bar that the scoring wheel moves on. On models where either of these can be adjusted it is advisable to ensure that the scoring wheel is adjusted to ensure adequate contact with the tile.

11) How do Rubi models differ?

Rubi produce a large range of manual tile cutters and the majority of these have twin guide rails which you push the handle along to move the scoring wheel across the tile surface. The entry level Rubi STAR models for light duty cutting of ceramic tiles up to 12mm thick and have a movable breaking system. Rubi’s FAST Series are similar in design but have an aluminium base, reinforced guide supports and side arms plus a lateral stop for repetitive cuts.

Rubi TS models have a wider base and fixed breaker allowing them to have a higher breaking strength then the STAR and FAST series models. The latest version Rubi TS Max models have an 800kg breaking strength for greater cutting performance.

The Rubi TR is suitable for high quality cutting of ceramic wall and floor tiles with a mobile breaking system, swivel square and angular measurement system that makes it ideal for accurate “point to point” diagonal cuts.

The Rubi TX can be used for intensive cutting of ceramic and is also suitable for porcelain tiles. It features a 1000kg mobile breaking system, two scoring wheels, plus a pivoting square for accurate measurement of angular cuts.

For the very large format tiles increasingly being used in commercial installations Rubi now produce the Rubi Slim System. This is ideal for cutting porcelain tiles with a thickness between 3-8mm and contains 3 guide rails which fit together to provide a cut length of up to 310cm.

12) How do Sigma models differ?

Most Sigma models are operated by pulling the handle across the tile to score and then pushing down on the handle to break the tile. We stock a range of Sigma tile cutters with cut lengths from 37cm right up to 1.2m. The Sigma Standard Series tile cutters are compact models ideal for bathroom and kitchen tiling when working with ceramic tiles and accommodate most common tile sizes up to 37cm.

The Sigma Series 3 Tile Cutters are tried and tested models based on Sigma’s original designs that have been used by tilers for decades. An improved version is the Sigma 3 Series Max which benefits from having a ball bearing mounted scoring wheel and a spring loaded breaking foot that makes it suitable for use with tiles having a rough or textured surface. These models are suitable for cutting ceramic or porcelain tiles and available in a range of sizes to suit large format tiles in excess of 1m in length.

We also sell the Sigma 3 Series Klick Klock models which are operated by pushing the handle across the tile to score and then flipping the handle over and pushing down to break the tile. These are suitable for cutting ceramic or porcelain and are increasingly popular with tilers from mainland Europe. Once you get used to using them the scoring and breaking process can be done in a very quick movement.