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Illustration by Harry Bates
Illustration by Harry Bates
Illustration by Harry Bates
Illustration by Harry Bates

Once you've laid all the tile in the middle of the room, you're up against the wall, literally. And so begins the slow work of cutting to fit. To save time and improve accuracy, take the approach favored by the pros: Use the tile itself as your marking guide. The technique works for tile of any kind, including wood parquet, linoleum, rubber, cork, even ceiling tiles. (Note: If you need to allow for an expansion gap, put a spacer between the tile and the wall before making your marks.)

To fit around outside corners

Step 1. Place a full-size tile on the field tile nearest the wall. Butt it up against the wall; align the side edge with the side edge of the neighboring tile. Mark the tile where it touches the corner.

Step 2. Without rotating the tile, place its side against the adjacent wall. Align the tile's back edge with the exposed edge of the field tile closest to the wall. Mark where the tile meets the corner.

Step 3. Use a square to draw perpendicular lines from the marks. The L-shaped cut line defines the waste to be cut away.

To fit against straight walls

Step 1. Lay the full-size tile to be cut on top of the nearest full tile in the field. Line up the front edge with the field tile's exposed edge.

Step 2. Place another full-size tile on top of the tile to be cut. Butt one edge against the wall and use its back edge as a guide to mark the tile underneath.

Step 3. Cut the tile along the mark with a tile saw or snap cutter. Check the fit; it should be perfect.