How to cut outdoor porcelain paving slabs

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It wasn’t too many years ago that all we ever seemed to lay was Indian sandstone patio slabs but over the last couple of years we’ve seen a huge increase with the number of customers asking for porcelain outdoor paving slabs. In fact, we lay more outdoor porcelain tiles now than we do natural stone and they only seems to keep growing in popularity.

Providing that you will be laying the 20mm thick porcelain slabs then there aren’t many differences between laying these or natural stone. That is until you start making your cuts!

When cutting natural stone patio slabs we just use our 9″ grinder with a diamond masonry cutting disc. These cutting discs cut through natural stone and concrete with no problems and leaves a nice finish. If you try using this cutting disc on outdoor porcelain tiles then you’ll see that if your lucky enough to make the cut without the porcelain paving slabs cracking then there will be a horrible chipped finish along the edge of your new porcelain.

What tools do I need to cut through 20mm thick outdoor porcelain paving slabs?

Click here to purchase your Bosch 4.5″ corded angle grinder from the Amazon store

Over the years we’ve tried everything to try and get that perfect finish when cutting outdoor porcelain tiles but in the end we gave up and stuck with our angle grinders. Ofcourse you’ll still need the correct cutting disc to do the job properly but it all starts with the grinder.

If your doing a one-off DIY job then I’d recommend staying away from the more expensive petrol powered, water fed angle grinders and sticking with a simple, cheap but effective electric one. We actually use 2 different sized angle grinders for different sized cutting discs, a 4.5″ (115mm cutting discs) grinder and a 9″ (230mm) one.

Click here to purchase your Makita 9″ corded angle grinder from the Amazon store

The smaller grinders are perfect for awkward cuts and are what seem to be most recommended when researching how to cut outdoor porcelain paving slabs and although they can be great, we do still have the odd porcelain slab crack no matter how careful we are. We actually have more success cutting our outdoor porcelain tiles with the 9″ grinder which also takes alot less time to make each cut too. Although this is better for those long straight cuts.

Which cutting discs are best for cutting outdoor porcelain paving slabs?

Click here to purchase your Abracs 115mm (4.5″) tile and porcelain cutting disc from the Amazon store.

The first thing you are going to want to do is stay away from any cheap cutting discs. Honestly I’ve tried them all and there have only been a handful that have actually made a good quality cut without too much risk of cracking the porcelain slabs. You are also going to want a diamond blade cutting disc made specifically for porcelain.

Click here to purchase your Abracs 230mm (9″) tile and porcelain cutting disc from the Amazon store.

The angle grinder discs that I’ve had most success with has got to be those manufacturerd by Abracs which is often available from popular DIY stores such as Toolstation, although I often get mine from Amazon. I’ve included links above which if clicked on, will take you to the Abracs diamond tile & porcelain cutting disc on the Amazon store. As an Amazon affiliate partner we receive a commission for any purchase made when being directed via a link on this website.

How to cut through 20mm thick outdoor porcelain paving slabs

Unlike cutting natural stone patio slabs, there is a little more to it when cutting through porcelain outdoor tiles and especially if you want a nice finish.

It’s worth noting that depending on the quality of your outdoor porcelain paving slabs will depend on how fragile your tiles are. Sometimes we are able to cut the slabs with little to no problems but with other batches we have absolute nightmares trying to cut the porcelain without them cracking before the cut is made.

If you have fragile porcelain paving slabs then I would recommend using the 9″ grinder as this seems to reduce the risk of breaking the slabs compared to using the smaller cutting discs. This being said, if you have small, awkward cuts then you will have more control using the smaller angle grinder.

Another thing worth noting is that your outdoor porcelain paving slabs may have a chipped edge once cut. Using the appropriate diamond porcelain cutting discs like the ones above will give the best chance of a nice finish, but it’s also best to add a small amount of water as you cut the porcelain.

The diamond cutting disc will get hot when cutting through a hard material such as porcelain and will encourage the chipped edge. Using a larger cutting disc (9″ grinder) will keep cooler for longer compared to the 4.5″ disc as each full rotation goes further.

Make sure you don’t add a huge amount of water either, especially when using electrical tools. We literally fill a small drinks bottle with water which my business partner uses to squirt just a little into the cut to help keep the porcelain cutting disc cool.

My best advice when cutting outdoor porcelain paving slabs is to cut each side of your cut (all the way through) by a few inches before running your angle grinder along your marked line. I usually run the cutting disc back and forth slowly with little pressure, between my 2 cuts, until I work my way all the way through. Without doing this, there is a high chance of your porcelain paving slab cracking by the time you get to the other end of your slab. This way, if your porcelain does crack and you are fortunate enough for the crack to run down your cut line then you will still have a nice finish at each end.

In short, and to finalise this article, I would recommend following these steps when cutting outdoor porcelain paving slabs.

  1. Draw a line on your porcelain tile for where your cut is to be made
  2. Using your porcelain cutting disc and angle grinder, make a small cut on each end of your paving slab/marked line (all the way through)
  3. Taking your time, run your angle grinder with little pressure up and down your marked line, between each cut whilst having someone squirt just a small amount of water along the cut. Slowly work your way through the slab until your cut is made.

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