How to Drill Through Tile Without Cracking It?


There is something fascinating about Tiles. Mankind started using tiles at least a couple of millennia ago. But we still are in awe of its beauty and allure. We use tiles in our bathrooms and kitchens. One question we all have is: How to Drill Through Tile?

This is because tiles are delicate. It is scary to drill through tiles. If you drill without care, you will crack the tile. In this guide, we will see how to drill holes through tiles. Also, we will take a look at some precautions and helpful tips you can follow.

Working with Tiles

Tiles are very simple to manufacture and use. Take some clay. Press it into a shape and put it in a kiln. That’s it (this is an ultra-simplification of the actual process). Some popular types of tiles are Ceramic, Porcelain and Terra-Cotta.

Two places where we often use tiles are floors and walls. Floor Tiles, apart from being beautiful, must also be strong. We put heavy furniture on them. We walk on them. Things fall on tiles. They have to bear this stress. So, floor tiles are thick, heavy and expensive.

Wall tiles on the other hand doesn’t have to deal with all these stresses. They are often thin, lightweight and inexpensive. But what if you want to drill holes through these tiles? Will they bear the impact of a drill without breaking?

The reason to drill holes in tiles can be anything. You want install towel rails or toilet paper holders. Or add accessories to your bathroom or kitchen walls. These could be toothbrush holders, shelves or any other fittings.

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As wall tiles are thin and delicate, you could easily damage or break them while drilling. Can we use floor tiles as wall tiles? You can use but remember they are heavy and expensive. The cost of tiling increases and also installation becomes difficult.

Don’t worry. We will show you how to drill through tile in the next section. You have to be a little bit careful, get the right tools and can easily drill holes in tiles.

Things to Consider Before Drilling Through Tiles

  • Porcelain tiles are tougher and heavier than ceramic tiles.
  • Between Ceramic and Porcelain, people use ceramic tiles on walls and porcelain tiles on the floor. Some people use porcelain tiles on wall. It is very rare to see ceramic tiles on the floor.
  • Do not use a hammer drill on either of the tiles. You can turn off the hammering action in most drills. Also, try to use a cordless drill instead of a big corded drill.
  • Make use of masking tape while drilling the tile. Masking tape can provide extra grip on the slippery tile’s surface.
  • If there is plasterboard behind the tile, use wall anchors or plugs.
  • Sometimes, you will find wood/timber behind the tile. In this case, you can use a wood screw once you drill past the tile. Similarly, if there is a brick wall behind the tiles, use masonry bits after drilling through the tile.
  • Drilling through porcelain tiles is slightly tricky. Due to the nature of the tile, it will take a longer time. The drill bit and the contact point on the tile can get very hot. Keep a water spray handy so that throw water to keep things cool.
  • Last but not the least, measure twice and drill once.

Some Tools You Might Need

  • Cordless Drill
  • Carbide Drill Bits (for ceramic tiles)
  • Diamond Tipped Drill Bits (for porcelain tiles)
  • Wood Drill Bit
  • Masking Tape
  • Screws
  • Wall Anchors or Plugs
  • Level
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil / Marker
  • Safety Goggles
  • Latex Grip Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • Tiny plastic sheet
  • Vacuum

How to Drill Through Tile?

The first step is to find out the type of tile you are dealing with. As we mentioned earlier, ceramic and porcelain are the popular choices. Glass Tiles are becoming a new trend for the past decade or so.

Once you figured out the type of tile, the next step is to select the proper drill bit. Regular masonry bits will not work on tiles. You need two types of drill bits depending on the type of tile you are drilling.

In case of ceramic tiles, you have to use a Carbide Drill Bit. Diamon Tipped Drill bit is suitable for both Porcelain and Glass Tiles. If you don’t have them, then purchase the diamond-tipped drill bits. They are expensive than carbide drill bits but you can use them on all the tile materials.

Also, keep some wood bits nearby. They come handy if you have wood behind the tile.

Drilling through tiles, whether in bathroom or kitchen, will leave a lot of dust. Tape a plastic sheet at the bottom so that all the dirt and dust falls on this sheet. After drilling, you can easily fold the plastic sheet and discard the dust.

Safety should be utmost priority whenever you are working with power tools. Use eye protection, dust masks and gloves.

Let us move to the actual drilling. Identify the places where you want to drill holes in the tile. Use a tape measure and double check all the measurements.

Fix a masking tape on the tile. Use a pencil or marker to mark the location of the hole. The masking tape will not let the drill bit slip from the surface of the tile.

Take the cordless drill and place the bit on the mark you made on the tape. Start drilling very slowly. Once you drill past the top layer of the tile, you can gradually increase the speed.

Always keep the speed of the drill at low or medium. This will ensure that the bit wont damage the tile and also doesn’t heat up that much. Main a constant pressure at all times. Once you drill through the tile, you can use a wall plug (anchor) or directly the screw itself depending on the material on the back.

For longer accessories like towel rods, you need to drill at multiple points. Use a level to keep things straight.

Once you drilled through all the necessary tiles, clean the tiles with water and vacuum the dust.

Conclusion

How to Drill Through Tile? It is a common question everyone faces when they are working in kitchen or bathroom. Whether you want add a shelf or fix a towel rack, you have to drill through tiles. In this guide, we saw the basics of working with different types of tiles. We listed out some useful tips while working with drill on a tile. Finally, a step-by-step guide on how to drill through tile (both ceramic and porcelain).



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