How to drill holes in tiles successfully

drill holes in tiles

If you are looking at a perfectly tiled wall and wondering how to hang shelves, curtain poles, towel rails, toothbrush holders and other accessories, our tiling experts are here to help. With the following tips you will be able to drill holes in tiles successfully, without having to worry about cracked tiles.

1. Consider the tile material

Before you dive straight into drilling through tiles, it is important to consider the tile material, as porcelain tiles will be much stronger than ceramic tiles. If you are drilling through natural stone or porcelain, you will need a specialist tile drill bit which is capable of drilling through the tough tile material.

2. Gather the best tools for the job

The first thing you will need is a drill, which should be used with a new drill bit to ensure you are able to drill neatly and efficiently without cracking the tile. Next, you should gather safety gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask, as there will be debris and dust thrown up into the air as you drill.

If you are drilling ceramic tiles, a carbide tipped drill bit will be sufficient, but for porcelain or stone tiles you will need a diamond-tipped drill. This will help to break through the surface glaze, whilst keeping a steady pressure on the drill. The diamond-tipped drill bits are more expensive, but they are capable of drilling through very hard surfaces. Another great tip is to use a layer of masking tape over the area, as it will help to create extra tension when drilling.

3. Double check your measurements

Always measure and then re-measure, as you need to be sure that the hole you are making is 100% accurate. If there are multiple holes to drill, consider making a template on a piece of wood with holes drilled that are the same size as the holes needed in the tiles. Not only will this give you a chance to double check your measurements, but the wood will act as an accurate guide when drilling through the tiles.

There are drill guides available which will help to improve accuracy, which allow a plastic casing to be attached to the tile before it is then drilled into. If you are a professional tiler, it may be worth investing in a steel guide plate which can be attached to the tile surface using a suction cup. It is important to remember that even a few millimetres difference between holes will leave you with a noticeable slant, especially if you are fitting a shelf or towel rail.

4. Drill through the tiles

Tiles are designed to be tough, so they will be able to stand up to careful drilling. However, you will need to apply a steady and even pressure at the slowest speed possible, which will help to reduce crack causing vibrations. Start slowly and you will gradually drill through the glaze layer, at this point speed and pressure can be gradually increased.

5. Do not let your drill bits overheat

Keep a wet sponge to hand as you are drilling, so that you can take regular breaks to cool the drill bit down with the sponge. You may prefer to hold the damp sponge against the drill bit whilst drilling, which is also a great way to catch any debris, however take care not to allow any water into the drill motor.

6. Change your drill bit

Once you hit the surface below the tile keep drilling at a slow speed, so that you don’t damage and crack the surface below. If you are drilling into stone or concrete, you will need to change the drill bit to a masonry drill bit. Alternatively, if you are drilling into a fibre or timber board, a wood drill bit will be suitable.

This will ensure that the fixings needed to support the accessory you are installing will be properly supported. Once the hole is drilled, insert the fixing plugs, clean the area with a wet cloth and you will be ready to insert the screws.

Quantum Group NI – Suppliers of professional tiling tools

We hope that our tips will help you to drill holes in tiles successfully, and if you are looking for the best tools for your project, we have an excellent selection of hand-picked professional tiling tools available. Our product range is available on a wholesale basis, so if you are interested in stocking our range or would like to find your nearest stockist, please contact our team today.