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jeffnc 01-11-2013 05:39 PM

How to cut tile around a toilet flange
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This How To shows how to cut a circle in your tile around your toilet flange when tiling a bathroom. This example uses Ditra. You don't need to use Ditra of course. Instead of using the Ditra template shown below, simply cut your circle out of paper or cardboard.

Here the toilet flange is in place and Ditra is down. Before thinsetting the Ditra, I dry placed it over the toilet flange. Then I cut out a hole for the flange with a utility knife. The 2 little notches in the Ditra are just to make it easier to slide in the toilet bolts. This isn't necessary if you use the slip-in slots for the bolts. However the straight 90-degree slots are a little stronger, so I install the toilet flange exactly parallel to the wall and use them.

jeffnc 01-11-2013 05:44 PM

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Next, figure out your tile layout. Alternatively, you can tile first up to the flange and figure this out when you're ready. In this example, I've determined my tile layout for this small bathroom and am preparing to cut all the partial tiles. I have the first piece of tile laid over the flange where it will go. You have at least 1/4 - 1/2" of leeway so this doesn't have to be perfect

Notice that I've kept the circle I cut out of the Ditra. Again, if not using Ditra, then just make a template out of paper or cardboard that matches your toilet flange.

jeffnc 01-11-2013 05:47 PM

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Now just lay the template exactly over the toilet flange, and trace the outline with a wax pencil or felt pen or whatever works for you. You'll want to trace well outside the edge of the template - give yourself a quarter inch wider.

Then put the next piece of tile in place over the flange, line it up with tile spacers against the first piece, and continue tracing the circle over that piece of tile.

jeffnc 01-11-2013 05:53 PM

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Now using a grinder with a diamond wheel (preferrably 4 1/2" - easier to maneuver around the curve), while angling the grinder inward toward the center of the hole, just rotate it slowly in a semi-circle as you grind out the shape.

Grinding with a dry wheel creates a lot of dust (more than you'll notice at the time) so wear a mask and do it outside or where you don't care if it gets dirty.

The result is a near perfect fit and very clean line - something neither a tile saw or nippers can do. Under a toilet, it's not crucial, but it will make you feel good.

In this photo, the tile has already been cut fully through. I'm just "posing" with the grinder in hand and with the cutout piece in place. I'm cutting on top of an old carpet foam pad. If you look very closely you can see the carpet pad in the tile crack, and also the edge of the cutout piece doesn't line up with the edge of the tile. So that is the finished piece of tile.

The same technique can be used around other obstacles where you have less room for error than under a toilet, but a hole saw is still needed for small holes.

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