Choosing the right blade for cutting tiles, paving slabs or other types of flooring can be a bit of a minefield. We ask our diamond blade experts about these high-spec blades, what they are made of, how they work and how to choose a quality diamond blade for cutting your tiling or paving materials.
What is a diamond blade?
A diamond blade is a high-alloy, toughened blade which has been bonded with fine metal and crystals of diamonds to cut hard and abrasive materials. Good quality diamond blades are sharp enough to offer clean and precise finishes when cutting tiles, paving slabs and other flooring materials.
Diamond blades are widely used by tiling and landscaping contractors in the construction industry. Many diamond blades can be used with angle grinders, battery saws, petrol saws and table saws.
What are the benefits of using a diamond blade?
A diamond blade can offer the safest, fastest and most efficient way of cutting construction materials, from granite to asphalt. When selected and used correctly, diamond blades last longer than other blades and offer users increased productivity.
What is a diamond blade used for?
A diamond blade can be used to cut the following construction materials with an angle grinder or cut off saw:
- Natural stone
- Vitrified tiles
There are many different grades and bonds of diamond blades available. When buying a diamond blade, choose one that is suitable to cut your materials. For example, the Pulvex Hard Materials Diamond Blade is specially designed to be tough enough to cut the hardest concrete.
What is a diamond blade made of?
A typical diamond blade has a high alloy, heat-treated steel core which is tipped with metal segments containing clusters of diamonds. The diamonds themselves can be natural or synthetic. Synthetic diamonds are generally much stronger than natural diamonds, and their characteristics are more consistent.
At the tips of a diamond blade, a mixture of metal powders have been fused together with the diamonds to create a bond. This bond can vary in hardness and characteristics.
Typically, these metal powders may contain:
Does a diamond blade contain real diamonds?
A diamond blade can either contain real or synthetic diamond grit, bonded with metal powders to provide fastest and most efficient cuts. Generally speaking, synthetic diamonds are much stronger and have more consistent characteristics.
Diamond grit is graded by size, shape, quality and strength. Normally a segment of a diamond blade will contain a mixture of grit sizes and grades.
How is a diamond blade made?
The edges – called the segments – of a diamond blade are made by fusing a mixture of metal particles together with varying sizes and grades of diamond crystals to form an exceptionally strong bond. Segments are either sintered or laser welded along the joints to the metal blank of the rest of the diamond blade.
Phil from diamond blade specialists Pulvex explains: “A laser-welded blade has the additional safety feature of the weld and is accepted as being the safest method of attaching segments to the metal blank of the diamond blade. A sintered segment is made in a similar way as a laser-welded blade and still complies with all the necessary safety features.”
How much does a diamond blade cost?
Diamond blades come in different grades for cutting different types of materials and can range anywhere between £50 and £250 or more each. As with anything, diamond blades also have varying degrees of quality.
Before purchasing a blade it’s important to know:
- The type of tile you are cutting, e.g. porcelain, sandstone or concrete
- The size, width and depth of your tile
- How many tiles you are cutting
- The type and size of saw you are using
- Whether you are cutting wet or dry
How do diamond blades work?
Different to most other blades, a diamond blade does not cut the material itself. It instead uses friction to grind through even the hardest of materials, offering safe, fast and precise cuts. The blade itself contains clusters of tiny diamond crystals, which have been bonded with fine metal powders to hold the crystals in place. As the blade spins, the diamond grit wears away the material. The diamonds also begin to wear away, revealing the next row of diamonds within the matrix.
What is the right way to put my blade into a wet saw?
There are right and wrong spinning directions for a blade. Each and every blade manufactured has an arrow that defines the correct direction for rotation. Look for the arrow when installing the blade to ensure it rotates around the tile saw correctly.
Why isn’t my wet saw blade cutting straight?
There could be many reasons why a wet saw blade is not cutting straight. Follow these simple checks to stop your blade from getting stuck and not passing through the tile evenly:
- Does the wet tile saw have enough water? A lack of water can cause the blade to heat up. Check the water pump isn’t blocked with silt or debris – if it is, remove the pump and clean it carefully.
- Are you pulling the saw too quickly, causing the blade to move off it’s path? Test out a broken tile to get used to the tension and speed needed for each cut so they are always even and precise.
- Is the back guide rail on the wet table saw aligned correctly? If it isn’t square, adjust it.
- Do you need to sharpen the blade? A blade will last longer when you look after it correctly. Sharpen the edge using a cleaning block.
- Cutting large format or thick tiles with only one pass of the blade? Try a couple of strokes for a neater cut. Normally cutting with less pressure will extend the life of your blade.
Why is my diamond blade bouncing during cutting?
Your blade may not be suitable for the cutting material if it is bouncing off the tiles during cutting. Try cutting through a softer material that can expose diamond particles. Otherwise, your blade may need to be cleaned and sharpened.
When using a blade to cut tiles and paving, always watch the speed. It’s important to provide a constant speed from start to finish, while applying the same amount of pressure throughout.
Should I apply the same speed and pressure when cutting porous and non-porous tiles?
No. When using a tile saw, it is very important to apply the speed and pressure according to the material you are cutting. Before making intricate cuts on expensive tiles, test one tile first to judge the speed and pressure your saw requires.
As a rule, soft porous stone, such as limestone and concrete, can be cut much faster and with less pressure than non-porous hard, natural stone or glazed porcelain.
Why does my diamond blade have dark spots?
If you see dark spots on your diamond blade, it could be due to:
- A lack of water for cooling the blade
- Applying too much pressure on the blade
- Cutting the materials too fast
What features should I look for in a diamond blade?
There are many different features of diamond blades which help to determine the best blade for a cutting task. Getting an overall balance of these features is the real key to choosing the right diamond blade.
These four main features to consider are:
|Feature to look for||Example|
|Concentration of diamonds||Segments with higher concentrations will cut more efficiently|
|Quality and size of diamonds||Larger grit is more suited to soft materials; smaller grit suits cutting hard materials|
|Strength of the bond between diamond grit and metal powder||Choose a hard bond for abrasive materials and soft for hard materials|
|Surface area of cutting edge||Less surface area generates faster cuts whereas blades with more surface area may last longer|
What are the main types of diamond blades?
There are four main types of segments available in diamond blades:
|Type of diamond blade||Ideal for cutting|
|Segmented||Varies depending on shape and size of gullets|
|Turbo rim||Harder materials, e.g. granite and baked clay|
|Continuous rim (wave cutter)||Fragile materials, e.g. tiles|
|Electroplated (segmented/continuous rim)||Very hard materials, e.g. marble or ceramic tiles|
Segmented diamond blades can be longer lasting, however it does depend on the concentration of diamonds. Turbo rims generally cut faster as there is less surface area in contact with the material. A continuous rim diamond blade has no gullets and can be prone to overheating when used extensively to cut hard materials.
Blades specially designed for cutting harder materials will contain ‘cooling holes’ so the blade does not overheat. These holes improve the air flow, dissipate heat and even help to remove slurry during the cutting process.
The strength of the bond between the diamond grit and metal powder in the segments also Diamond blades are also placed into four categories:
- Medium to hard
- Medium to soft
How do I choose the right diamond blade?
First off, identify the type of material you will be cutting and choose the correct blade using the table below. As a rule, harder materials require softer blade segments. Likewise, abrasive materials require harder segments.
If you will be cutting more than one material, when choosing your blade select the material you will cut the most. While general purpose blades can be a compromise, they will not cut hard materials as efficiently or last as long as blades made specifically for those materials.
Price is another important consideration. More expensive diamond blades should cut faster and last longer than cheaper blades. Cutting corners when buying a blade can actually cost you more in the long run. Cheaper blades will also fail to cut as smoothly or efficiently.
|Diamond blade||Types of material|
|Pulvex Hard Materials Diamond Blade||Granite kerbs and paving, heavily reinforced concrete, bricks, tiles, pipes and steel|
|Pulvex Natural Stone Diamond Blade||Sandstone, Yorkstone, natural stones with medium hardness and general construction materials|
|Pulvex PG-DP Diamond Blade||Concrete pavers, kerbs, sandstone, Yorkstone, slabs, lintels and concrete roof tiles|
When choosing a blade, you also must ensure it is suitable – and the right size – for your machine. Most of the Pulvex diamond blades come in different sizes to suit different machines, including angle grinders, battery saws, petrol saws and table saws.
What diamond blade should I use for cutting tiles?
The Pulvex Hard Materials Diamond Blade is a versatile blade that can be used to cut tiles. With an extremely fast cutting speed, it can also cut granite kerbs and paving, very hard concrete, bricks, pipes and steel. Three different product specs of this diamond blade are available with differing diameters, bore sizes and segment heights.
How do I choose the right diamond blade for cutting tiles or paving slabs?
Choosing which type of circular blade you need for cutting tiles or paving slabs depends on:
- Type of materials you will be cutting
- Width of the cut you require
- Machine you are using, e.g. bridge saw, angle grinder or battery saw
- Pressure and cutting speed
- Quality assurance from the manufacturer
Pulvex offer high quality diamond blades and also provide great advice, good servicing and warranties. Their blades are formulated with Rapier Diamond Blade technology and are manufactured to EN 13236.
If you would like specific advice about choosing the right blade for your project, give our team a call on 0845 862 1099 so we can talk you through the different options. We’re available weekdays from 8.30am–5.30pm.
How do I cut tiles with a diamond blade?
Once you have chosen your diamond blade based on the materials you are cutting and the machine, follow these steps to cut tiles or paving slabs with a professional finish:
- Check the tile saw machine is in good condition and free from dust and debris
- Start the machine and check that it runs smoothly
- Mark a tile with a wax pencil to the correct dimensions
- Apply masking tape across the tile or slab edges to reduce the risk of chipping
- Place the tile on the bench ready to be cut – the top of the tile must be in contact first with the diamond saw
- Begin cutting – the weight of the machine itself provides adequate pressure
- Use several passes to cut the tile – never go all the way through in one go
- If dry cutting, remove the blade from the cut periodically, rotating it to cool for several seconds
- If wet cutting, ensure the recommended amount of water is used – never too much or too little
Essential tile cutting tips
- Always wear personal protective equipment when using diamond tools – ear defenders, eye protection, steel toe cap boots, a suitable dust mask and suitable clothing are all essential.
- Never force the blade across the tile as this will damage and chip the tile. Be patient and cut the tile at a slow speed to minimise chipping.
- Notice blackened or scorched marks on the side of your tile? Slow down as you are cutting way too fast.
- You can remove any burn marks or cutting imperfections by passing the diamond blade carefully and slowly across the tile again.
What are the different types of tile cuts?
There are four types of tile cuts that you can make to your tiles or paving slabs:
- Bullnose or round edge
A mitre tile cut requires two pieces of tiles to be cut precisely at a 45 degree angle. When joined together, the corner created will be a 90 degree angle.
A bevelled cut is a tile which has a slope or slant down to a thinner edge.
A bullnose or round edge is a tile cut that has one side slightly curved. You can also cut a double-round edge which has two sides curved in an “L” shape.
A rustic tile cut is a non-uniform cut with fairly random edge. Rustic tiles are designed and cut to offer a more handmade look.