How To Drill Through Tile Without Damaging It

November 21, 2022

Discover how to drill through tiles without damaging them.  Which drill should you use when drilling tile and which fixtures and fittings are best? 

Best fixtures and fittings when drilling tile

If you’ve found yourself looking into doing some DIY to get your new fixtures installed, it’s likely that you’re cringing a bit at the thought of drilling into your brand new wall or floor tiles for fear of causing damage. 

After all the planning, saving and designing, there’s nothing quite like that feeling of accomplishment when your latest interior renovation is finally complete, especially when it’s a big job like a brand new kitchen or bathroom. 

How To Drill a Hole in Tile Without Cracking it

If done incorrectly, drilling into tile can cause damage both cosmetically and structurally, try not to worry - we’ve written this blog post specifically to guide you through the process without any cracking. 

Whilst you’ll find that most fitters will take the time to add accessories such as mirrors, cupboards and loo roll holders, you might find yourself wanting to make a couple of extra additions once the job is done. Whether it’s a new shelf, extra storage space, or something as simple as a fitted toothbrush holder, it’s extremely likely that extra fixtures, when done correctly, will require at least some drilling. 

Drilling Through Porcelain & Ceramic Tiles

With so many different designs to choose from, it’s very likely that you chose your new tiles for aesthetic reasons. Some of the most common and versatile tile types include ceramic and concrete tiles, though more and more people are opting for ones with a more natural appearance, such as porcelain or natural stone which are tougher to drill through. It’s for this reason that the drill and drilling technique you use should be adapted to suit the type of tile you have to ensure that you can penetrate through the tough surface and body material without causing breakage. 

Equipment for Drilling Tile

We need to talk about safety. We know we can bang on about this a bit sometimes but, ultimately, safety is our number one priority in both the work we do and any advice we give. Even if it’s just one small hole that you’re drilling, we’d always recommend following the correct procedures to ensure your safety. 

This means that you’ll need the correct protective gear - including safety goggles, latex grip gloves and a dust mask to keep any harmful dust away from your mouth and nose. 

What is the best Drill Bit For Ceramic Tile?

Using the correct drill bits for the job is the key to success. Due to the glazed surface and tough material of the tiles, regular and masonry drill bits likely won’t be tough enough to do the job - it’s for this reason that we’d strongly recommend using diamond-tipped drill bits. 

Being a drilling company, you’ll find that we’re always keen to talk about the benefits of diamond-tipped drill bits - but this is simply because they’re the tools best suited to drilling through tough materials such as tiles, brick, concrete and marble. 

However, whilst the diamond drill bits are the best tools for drilling through the tiles, you will likely need to change your drill bit when you reach the substrate that the tiles are mounted on. If it’s solid wall made of concrete or brick, you can carry on using the diamond drill bit or swap to a masonry bit, whilst fibre board, timber or any other sort of wood substrate will require a wood drill bit. This is to ensure that the structural integrity of the wall isn’t compromised when drilling to fit your new fixture. 

Check, check and check again 

Okay, we’re back again with the safety tips - but this one is very important when drilling into surfaces such as walls and floors. Tiling is most commonly used in kitchens and bathrooms - both of which are extremely likely to have essential plumbing pipes or wires behind them. Before you grab your drill and go in on your tiles, it’s very important to be sure that you’re not drilling into a surface that’s hiding any pipes or wires as this can be extremely dangerous. If you’re not sure how to check this, it’s best to find the blueprints for the structure to be safe. 

Once you’ve checked the area you’d like to drill into, it’s time to mark the area to achieve the precise, clean hole you’re hoping for. This is because, once your drill is in action, it’s easy to find yourself unknowingly moving away from the correct area. We’d recommend marking the area with a pen or marker that can be wiped away once you’re finished drilling, to avoid damaging beyond the area you’re looking to cut into. Due to aesthetic and longevity reasons, it’s not uncommon to find that many tiles are glazed - meaning they can be a bit difficult to drill into. If this is the case, we suggest placing masking tape over the area you’re planning to drill into to make it less slippery. 

Start Drilling into Tile

Right - you’ve got your gear, you’ve checked that the area is safe for drilling, and you’ve marked out a guide for where you’re headed. It’s finally time to start drilling - but to ensure that you achieve the results you’re hoping for, we’ve just got another couple of tips for you. Whilst it’s tempting to go in with full speed, high pressure drilling to get the job done quickly, unfortunately this isn’t the best way to do it - and can only lead to damage to your tiles. Keeping it slow, steady and maintaining an even pace as you drill will make sure that your desired results are achieved, with no harm to the tiles or structural integrity of the wall or floor beneath. 

Keep Your Tile Cool

If you’ve read our blog posts before, it’s likely that you’re aware of the necessity of keeping your drill bits cool during the drilling process. Drill bit wear and tear can occur due to the amount of friction produced between the two hard materials as the diamond slices through the tough surface of the tile and substrate, so keeping the area as cool as possible is essential. For bigger jobs, this normally means adding water to the area as a lubricant - and despite tile drilling being a smaller job, this rule is also applicable here. However, as this is likely a much smaller space and hole to drill, we’d recommend dabbing the area with a slightly dampened cloth or sponge to keep it cool. 

Still Not sure?

Whilst we hope that this blog post has been a helpful guide for your project, we understand that DIY isn’t for everyone. If you’re unsure if you can achieve the result you’d like on your own, we understand - and we offer domestic drilling services such as tile drilling across the North West and East Midlands. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you.