Some home improvement tasks are easier than others. And then, there are those which just sound easy, but in fact require skill and experience. Such is the example of drilling a hole in your tile without cracking it.

Indeed, it’s a rather different task compared to drilling holes in wood, the latter being a walk in the park compared to the first. But do not fear, as this post will provide you with all the necessary information about how to drill through tiles without breaking them and what kind of drill bit is best so that the risk of mishaps is out of the equation.

So, if you:

  • Need to install some bathroom accessories, and don’t know where to start from;
  • Only know you should drill slowly, but have no idea what kind of bit you need;
  • Want to learn the differences between the most popular drill bits on the market;

Then this post is just for you!

Table of Contents:
Needed materials
  • Electric drill
  • New drill bit
  • Masking tape
  • Marker pen or pencil
  • Wet cloth or sponge
Safety items
  • Safety goggles or glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Latex grip gloves

Prepare the surface

Before you start the “fun” part make sure to prepare the surface by following these steps:

  • Clean the tile. Nothing fancy, all you need is a rag soaked in mild soap water and a gentle touch.
  • Examine the tile. If you notice small cracks, then it needs to be replaced, otherwise it will most likely end up shattered no matter what drill bit you use.
  • Cover the area you plan on drilling with two pieces of masking tape forming the letter X. The tape will give more traction to the drill bit and thus, reduce the chance of it slipping. The tape will also prevent chipping on the outer rim.
  • Hold a nail over the centre of the X and tap it in gently with a hammer. The point is to make a small dent, so the drill bit wouldn’t slip when you start.
  • Make sure the area you’re drilling has no pipes or wires underneath. Use a stud finder to locate any pipes and electrical cables.
  • If you are planning on using a wall plug, make sure it’s the exact size as the drill bit.

Know your tiles

Different tile materials have different thickness. When you know your tiles, you will have a better idea of how much work would go into the project. Also, how long it would probably take. Porcelain tiles are very dense and thus, harder to break, compared to ceramic ones. Stone tiles are another good example of hard-to-drill tiles.

Choose your drill bit

When you have the right tool at your disposal, the task of drilling your tiles without cracking will not only be easier, but less time consuming as well. The default drill bit on your electric drill doesn’t count. With that said, here are the best drill bits on the market for drilling tiles:

  • Carbide tipped masonry bits – these are used for drilling very hard materials such as cast iron and concrete. That’s why they’re very durable, absorb heat more efficiently and run at higher speed rates.
  • Diamond bits – as the name suggests, these bits have little pieces of diamond powder embedded in them. This gives them extra cutting power and makes them excellent for making holes in very hard non-wood surfaces like: porcelain, ceramic, granite or marble. Mind you, they get off course quite easily because of their flat tip, so you would probably need a tile guide for drilling.
  • Masonry bits – These are used in combination with hammer drills. The drill’s percussive action combined with the right bit, pulverizes the stonework easily. They’re not as long lasting as the other two bits and won’t be able to penetrate your bathroom tiles.

Never use an old and/ or worn out drill bit to bore a hole through a tile of any kind. It’s quite possible that the bit will damage the surface of the tile because it’s not working at optimal efficiency.

Drill through

Set your drill to the right setting, that being “drill” and not “hammer”. Then, set the electric drill to low speed and apply modest pressure while drilling. Allow the bit to work its way in, rather than pushing it aggressively. If you use too much pressure, you will likely crack the tile and get a much larger hole than anticipated. The drilling process might take several minutes, but it will be worth it.

Lubricate the drill bit with water as you go. A great deal of heat is created while the drill is making its way through the hard tile material. This is due to the generated friction. The heat can scorch the bit and even break the tile. That’s why you need to dip the drill bit in some cold water every few seconds. Or, use a squirt bottle to squirt water into the hole. Every 15 to 20 seconds, pump the drill with a slight up-and-down motion to give the water a chance to reach the tip of the bit.

The drill bit should never feel very hot. If this happens, leave it in the water until it cools down.

Decrease drill pressure and speed

After the hole has been made and no tiles have been cracked, do not stop abruptly. Instead decrease the speed and pressure of the drill and pull it out slowly. Congratulations, you did it!

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Hire a pro

If you still feel unprepared to drill a hole through a tile, just let a professional handle the task. All the handymen, we work with at Fantastic Services, are experienced and fully equipped to perform any kind of home improvement and maintenance jobs. From standard to odd jobs, we’ve got you covered. You can also book a service, either by phone or online.

Takeaways

  • Always choose the right drill bit.
  • Clean the surface of the tile before drilling.
  • Always use masking tape for better traction of the drill.
  • Go slowly and let the drill work its way in.

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Was your drilling experience successful? Maybe you have something to add to our post? Let us know in the comments below and let’s start a conversation.

Image Source: Shutterstock/ by chonlasub woravichan

  • Last update: September 9, 2020

Posted in Home Improvement

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