How To Drill into Tile Without Cracking

Wondering how to drill into tile without cracking it to install shelves, bathroom accessories, or other fittings? Drilling into tile may be a slightly difficult task, but it isn’t impossible as long as you use the right tools and apply the appropriate method. Plus, it needs to determine the type of tile and consider the safety measurement.

But don’t worry! Reading the guide, you can learn how to drill into tiles effectively and successfully without causing any cracks or damage. Along with describing the easiest tile drilling method, we have mentioned the required tools and safety measurements to help you handle the task efficiently.

How To Drill Through Tile Without Cracking it

Before planning to drill into the installed tiles, you have to properly understand the type of tile. Ceramic tiles are the most common and are less sturdy than natural stone or porcelain tiles. Thus, drilling through porcelain tile will require a little more effort. despite drill into tiles requires an especially designed drill bit to dig into the body material and hard glaze of the tile.

Collect the appropriate tools

Nevertheless, to say, a versatile and powerful drill is a must-needed for handling this task. But the vital factor is to use the right drill bit to effectively and successfully drill into tiles. Don’t ever insert an older or dull drill bit into the drill when it comes to tile drilling projects.

Drilling into tiles also produces debris particles, and investing in a dust mask and safety goggles will protect you from being injured. Protective gloves are also helpful to wear.

Drill bit for tiles

Since regular drill bits aren’t strong enough to conquer the hard surface of a tile, you have to use a specialist bit. For efficient drilling into tiles, you can use either diamond-tipped bits or carbide-tipped bits. Between these two, a diamond-tipped bit may be more expensive, but it will withstand drilling into the hardest tile. Even the drill bits for ceramic tiles won’t burn quickly compared to the typical masonry bit.

Conversely, carbide-tipped masonry bits are commonly used to drill into glazed tiles and ceramic tiles but aren’t ideal for porcelain stoneware. For drilling through harder tiles like porcelain, vitrified porcelain, and full-bodied porcelain, you will require elbow grease along with a diamond-tipped bit.

Measure and mark the spot

The glaze on the surface of the tile makes it challenging to keep control of the drill bit while drilling. Thus, the project requires gripping the tile to prevent slippage. Apply some masking tape over the surface of the tile where you desire to drill to create a little tension. After that, carefully measure the place and re-check the measurement before marking it. create an X over the tape to offer some grip to the drill and get a hole at the exact spot.

If you require plenty of holes, then you can create a template using a small wooden block for convenient operation. To do so, create the same diameter hole in the wooden block and use the block as a guide to drill into the tiles by placing them at the exact spot every time.

Another alternative is drill guides, which are made of the plastic casing. By attaching these accessories to the tile, you can have a precise hole. Another worthwhile attachment is a steel plate with guide holes that is handy for creating vertical and horizontal holes of a certain diameter. Though these accessories are more expensive, they are suitable for frequent use for accurate and faster drilling over tiles, making them a worthwhile investment for enthusiastic DIYers.

Start Drilling into Tiles

Once you have done all the preparation, you are ready to drill. As you know, tiles come with a hardy design, so they can endure commercial and domestic use. Thus, you can complete this tough task successfully without patience. Drilling into tiles can cause the drill to catch fire and damage it completely. Despite that, it will surely overheat the bit and produce a vibration that can crack and break the tile down.

Therefore, start with a lower speed and gentle pressure, especially until you complete drilling into the top layer. After penetrating the glaze layer, you are allowed to slowly increase the pressure and speed to finish the drilling task.

Once you get through the tile and hit the wall surface, keep the drill slow and steady so as not to blow apart the wall, as doing so may mean your wall anchor or Rawl plug will not properly hold. You may want to change the drill bit to suit the material the substrate is constructed from.

Keep the drill bit cool

Keeping the bit cool is a secret tip to successful drilling into the surface of the tile. To reduce the drill bit’s temperature, frequently apply water to the bit. Another effective tip is to hold a wet sponge under the drill bit while drilling. Doing so will prevent overheating and catch the debris that is produced due to drilling. But carefully apply the water so it can’t expose the motor.

Chance the bit based on the substrate material

When you start hitting the wall surface after drilling into the tile, lower the drilling speed and keep the bit steady. It will not only prevent blowing apart the wall but also avoid loosening the wall anchor. Apart from these, changing the drill bit will be a smart idea according to the substrate material where the tiles are attached. So if the substrate material is stone or concrete, you should use a masonry drill bit.

But if you find it is timber or fibreboard, then use a wood drill bit. Some homeowners use cements backer boards behind the tiles, especially in the wet areas like the shower, where you can use a regular drill bit. Though tiles aren’t installed on top of alloys or metal, they may have some support or metal struts. If you have to create a hole through those surfaces, use an HSS drill bit.

How to Drill into Ceramic tile

You will require a special drill bit that is made of a combination of steel and carbide to drill into ceramic tiles. Firstly, mark the desired spot and cover the area using masking tape to get some grip and prevent slippage.

Keep some water in a bottle so you can spray it while drilling to keep the bit cool. Start drilling with moderate pressure and slow speed as the opposite can crack the tile. Continue drilling until you get through the tile and get the desired hole.

How to Drill into Porcelain tile

Porcelain tiles are tougher and thicker comparing ceramic tiles, making them more challenging to drill. Therefore, you will require a diamond-tipped drill bit. Likewise, the ceramic surface, mark the desired spot, use masking tape to cover the surface, and consistently spray water to successfully drill into porcelain tiles.

Applying the lean-in method will be the easiest way to drill through porcelain tile. You have to drill at an angle until the bit gets into the point, which makes the drill perpendicular to the porcelain tile. It also requires slower speed and gentle pressure to lower the risk of cracking.

FAQs on How To Drill into Tile Without Cracking

Do I need a special drill bit for tiles?

Drilling into tiles is quite a harder task compared to drilling into wood or plastic. The drill bit needs to be sturdy enough and should have the ability to withstand excessive heat. Thus, there is a need to use a diamond-tipped drill bit or carbide-tipped drill bit to create a hole in tiles.

How to find out whether the tile is porcelain or ceramic?

The quickest and easiest way to determine the type of tile is to check the edge of the tile. In general, ceramic tile is used for walls or floors, and it has glass on the surface that offers a bright finish. Conversely, porcelain doesn’t frequently have a glaze.

Is drilling through tile a time-consuming task?

For a reliable driller, drilling through each tile may take around 3 to 5 minutes, but it takes longer for a beginner. Despite the durability of tiles, drilling operations also depend on the type of drill and drill bit you are using and the process you are applying.

Final words

Drilling into tiles is a common yet risky task, and most DIYers make the mistake of trying to complete the task quickly. As with installing tiles, drilling holes into them is also a sensitive task as you are working on the same brittle material. Hopefully, now you know how to drill into tile without cracking it.

Apart from these, you have got plenty of ideas about which tools to apply and the method to follow. Finally, consider those safety measurements and make sure the battery is fully charged if you want to go for a cordless drill for versatility.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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