How to drill through tiles

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Sometimes you may find you need to drill holes in your tiles to install additional fixtures and fittings. If done incorrectly you risk damaging your tiles but with the right tools and tactics you can successfully drill through your tiles without cracking them.

How to drill through ceramic tile

To drill a hole in ceramic tiles you can use a carbine and steel combination drill bit. Start by marking the centre of the hole, then cover with a strip of masking tape to prevent your drill from slipping.

Ensure you have a source of water to spray or apply to the drilling area; this will keep the drill bit cool and remove any debris that builds up while drilling.

Start drilling at a low speed with only a moderate amount of pressure – too much and you could crack the tile. Keep drilling until you penetrate the backing board – you can use a regular drill bit for this if you prefer. Keep drilling slowly to make sure you don't damage the material behind the tile.

How to drill though porcelain tile

Porcelain is a denser, harder material than ceramic, which makes drilling through them a slightly bigger challenge. Because of this, you should use a diamond tipped drill bit to drill your hole.

As with ceramic tiles, mark the centre of the hole to be drilled, then cover it with masking tape, and ensure there's a constant supply of cold water being sprayed onto the drilling area.

The easiest way to drill a hole in a porcelain tile is by using the ‘lean in’ method - drilling at an angle until the drill has cut into the tile, at which point bring the drill perpendicular to the tile. Start slowly and keep applying just enough force to keep the drill working; exert too much pressure and you risk the tile cracking.

Drilling large holes in tiles

A larger hole might be needed to fit radiators and other pipes. For this you’ll need to purchase a hole saw kit if you don’t already have one; the bits should fit your existing drill.

Place the correct sized bit onto your drill and start to slowly drill through. Keep the drill steady to avoid slipping on the tile’s surface. Build up speed slowly until you hear the drill break through the glaze of the tile, then carry on until it’s all the way through.