Cutting porcelain paversTips & techniques for cutting porcelain pavers
Although Archatrak porcelain pavers are considerably thicker than conventional ceramic tiles, they are nevertheless not difficult to cut providing you are using the correct equipment. We always recommend using a wet saw fitted with a diamond blade designed specifically for cutting porcelain. The saw should be capable of safely cutting a 24″ wide paver. Bridge saws with a 10” blade and min. 1 1/2 HP motor are recommended for both accuracy of cutting and ease of use.
The notes below are observations and hints for cutting 3/4″ thick porcelain pavers based on personal experience.
We welcome hearing from anyone who may have additional comments or information to share.
None of the diamond blades we have tested so far in the intermediate price range (less than $80) have a particularly long life when cutting pavers but two blades currently stand out from the rest – the MK Diamond Hot Dog and Rubi Arrowhead.
MK Hot Dog – The longest lasting blade tested so far with over twice the life of most other blades except Razor and Rubi. Seems to cut with less effort than other blades and the claims of faster cutting are correct – at least when the blade does not show much wear. However the 10″ blade tends to rather aggressively self-feed until it starts to wear. Sold by e.g. ContractorsDirect.com.
Update alert! These blades are now made in Thailand instead of Indonesia and the Thailand sourced blades are terrible – we could only make about 12 cuts in 24″ wide pavers before the cutting speed slowed to an unacceptable snail’s pace.
Rubi Arrowhead – Despite being one of the cheaper blades, the 10″ blade had an exceptionally good life, cut with minimal chipping and required very little effort. We give it a similar rating to MK Hot Dog although we notice some variation between blades.
Razor – Very good life but possibly slightly less than Hot Dog blades. Cuts quite quickly. Probably leaves a slightly rougher cut edge than e.g. MK415 blades. Imported by RTC Trading and sold by e.g. ContractorsDirect.com.
Razor T3 – was reported to be even better than std. Razor but the T3 blade we tested had an unacceptable short life.
Porcellana – Quite good performance in terms of speed of cutting and clean cuts at the beginning, but fades very rapidly and then becomes impossible to cut pavers, even slowly.
Pearl – The only sample tested gave a poor performance with a very short life, yet online reviews generally seem to rate this blade quite highly.
Terminator – A thicker blade which did not work satisfactorily because it chipped the pavers very badly.
MK Model 415 – One of the better blades tested. Gives a nice clean cut without chipping but only about half the life of the Razor blade. (Seems to be subject to some potential quality control issues as the first blade used was not perfectly round). No other models in the MK range have been tested except for Hot Dog.
MK Model TX-30 – Sample we tested had an unacceptable short life.
Norton Clipper Slicer 7696 – Initially appeared to be a very good blade with a lifetime equivalent to the Hot Dog (although slower in cutting) and a smooth cut. But after receiving two blades which were not perfectly round and thus tended to chip the underside of the beginning and end of a cut, we have some doubts about their quality control. Also working with this blade needed more patience in cutting as attempting to cut too quickly, could seize the blade especially if the paver had been left exposed to hot sun.
De Walt or Bosch – blades not tested.
Imer 7635 CR – A thicker blade than some but still gives a clean cut with minimal chipping. But very slow cutting and short life.
Some additional hints:
A bridge saw is much easier to cut these heavy pavers than a cantilevering rail cart type saw since you are pulling the saw blade across the paver instead of pushing the paver into the saw blade.
An 8″ bridge saw with 1 1/2 HP motor works OK but a 10″ bridge saw with a higher horsepower motor would be preferable for large jobs and reduce the danger of blade seizing.
Thinner blades seem to be better than thicker blades, especially in terms of cleaner cuts.
When cutting darker pavers in particular, avoid cutting the pavers if they have been lying in full sunlight and are quite hot. If using a wet saw, it seems that the water causes some differential cooling across the paver as you are cutting. When the blade is half to 3/4 across the paver, the cut line tends to close up a little and can cause the blade to jam – and trying to extract a jammed blade from a bridge saw is not easy.
A blade that is becoming worn will tend to ‘wander’ across a 24″ cut resulting in a bowed cut rather than a perfectly straight line, probably due to one side of the blade wearing faster than the other.
It’s worth purchasing a dressing stone which is designed to sharpen and reactivate diamond blades. These stones cost about $10-$15 and do indeed appear to prolong the life of the blade somewhat.