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What is and how to use a wet tile saw?

Tile and materials like it require special saws to be cut. Of course, tile can be cut using a manual tile cutter, but a wet tile saw is more suitable for beginners, is generally faster and produces better looking results. A common question that do-it-yourselfers have is, why are tile saws wet? Why do you use a wet saw to cut tile? Well, there are a few reasons why, but they’re all fairly simple to understand. Plus, all the same reasons apply to cutting similar materials using other types of wet saws, like masonry saws, brick saws and even road saws!

But first, let’s take a look at what is a wet tile saw.

What is a wet saw to cut tile?

A wet saw to cut tile is a tool that uses a diamond blade to cut tiles faster, simpler and more  efficiently. Cutting tiles with a wet saw is also pretty safe, because its wet refreshing system prevents dangers such as burning or dusting as long as the user cares about always maintaining the blade wet (in most cases, by manually throwing water into the blade).

And now that we know what is a wet saw to cut tiles, let’s see why you should use them!

Reason #1: Wet tile saws reduce dust

This might sound like just a matter of mess and inconvenience, but it’s actually reason number one for a reason. What many people inexperienced working with tile, stone, granite, concrete, etc. don’t realize is that all of these materials contain the mineral silica. Silica in and of itself isn’t a problem, but when a diamond blade is grinding through it, it creates silica dust that contains microscopic crystals of the mineral. When inhaled, they get embedded in your lung tissue and can cause serious and permanent lung disease. In some cases, it is possible or even necessary to dry cut these materials, but special respirator masks must always be worn in these instances. The water that flows over the blade and tile in a wet saw to cut tile reduces this dust so much that you can work safely without a mask.

Reason #2: Wet saws to cut tile make cleaner cuts

If you’re after professional looking results on a DIY budget, then a wet tile saw is exactly what you need. Water acts as both a lubricant and a coolant for the blade and tile, so if you tried to dry cut, the friction would cause the tile to heat up very fast, which often causes cracking and chipping. It’s also not great for your diamond blade (see below). If dry cutting is absolutely necessary, 1) make sure you protect yourself and bystanders from dangerous silica dust, and 2) work in short, shallow passes to prevent overheating and chipping.

Reason #3: Diamond blades last longer on wet saws

The diamond blades that are needed to cut through materials like porcelain, ceramic, stone and marble tile don’t come cheap – not the high quality ones, anyway. So it’s in your best interest to make each blade last as long as possible. This is another reason why tile saws, masonry saws etc. are almost always used wet. The friction can quickly cause the blade to overheat, which can cause it to warp, crack, or cause the metal bond to melt over the diamond pieces, leaving you with a dull blade. Even if you use perfect technique when dry cutting to prevent that from happening, you’re still going to drastically reduce the number of cutting hours you can get out of the blade.

Those are the three main reasons why a wet saw is used for cutting tile, whether it’s ceramic, porcelain, natural stone or some other similar material, although they probably aren’t the only ones. Whether you’re concerned about saving money, getting a clean cut, or even your personal safety, a wet saw to cut tile is the best way to go.

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