How to Drill Porcelain Tiles? – 7 Step Guide

Tiles are one of the most used materials in construction. It provides a hard, smooth surface where it is laid. There are mainly two types such as porcelain and ceramic. When we are working with the tiles we need to cut and drill them according to the job requirement. Drilling porcelain tile is one of the tasks we have to do during the construction. So let’s see how to drill porcelain tiles?

You can follow the below, steps to drill porcelain tiles successfully.

Step 01- Identify the Tile For Drilling

ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles
Ceramic Tile vs Porcelain Tiles

Before you drill through porcelain tiles, you should identify the type of tiles. Because tiles are made under high thrust. Hence tile is a hard and brittle material. So using a regular drill bit will not work for this. So let’s know about the tiles types and their characteristics.

As I mentioned above, there are mainly two types of tiles. Those are

  • Porcelain tiles
  • Ceramic tiles

There is a slight difference between them. So let’s see, what are the differences between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles.

You can read this in detail guide for “how to drill tiles?

Ceramic Tile Vs Porcelain Tiles

Ceramic TilesPorcelain Tiles
DensityMaintenanceHarder and denser
PriceCheaper Expensive
UsageInteriorInterior / Exterior
DurabilityLessMore durable
ContinuousContinousLow maintenance
Available designsHuge designsFewer designs
Water resistancelessHigh water resistance
Best used forWall and floor
Low foot traffic areas
Commercial properties
Areas with high moisture
Ceramic Tile Vs Porcelain Tiles

How to Identify Ceramic Tile and Porcelain Tiles?

You can identify ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles by their weight-available designs, surface smoothness, and water resistance.

  • Weight – Ceramic tiles are lighter than porcelain tiles. Because porcelain tiles are denser than ceramics.
  • Designs – Ceramic tiles have more designs than ceramic tiles.
  • Surface smooth – Ceramic tiles are smothered and glazed that porcelain does not have
  • Water AbsorptionMore than 0.5% for ceramic, and it is less than 0.5% for porcelain

Step 02 – Know the Work Area

The most important thing is identifying the working area. During construction and rebuilding, we have to work in many areas with different site conditions. We should be careful when rebuilding and remodeling. Because gas pipes, electric cables, water pipes can be laid in the walls, floor, etc. hence we should know the work area very well.

We have to use a harder drill bit to drill tiles. So it is easy; these can hit the walls and damage the inside if we continue the drilling.

I think it is better to ask someone about the area or refer to the recommended drawing before you start the work. It will prevent gas leaks, electric shocks, water pipes damage, etc.

Step 03 – Select Proper Drill Bit and Drill

Diamond drill bits for porcelain tiles
Diamond drill bits for porcelain tiles

As I explained above, you can decide, that tiles are harder material. Among them, porcelain tiles are the hardest material. So it is obviously clear that we are not able to use a regular drill bit for drilling porcelain tiles.

So we should use a special, harder drill bit for drilling porcelain tiles. Normally tiles have PEI hardness ratings. It helps people to determine which type of tile will work best in a variety of applications. These ratings varied from PEI 0 to PEI 5. Mainly there is hardness and color variations can be seen.

So we should select the drill bit according to the PEI rating. Else we are not able to drill the tiles.

Select Drill Bit for Porcelain Tiles

Normally, we can explain this from Moh’s hardness rating. It is on a scale 1 (talc) and 10 (diamond). This rating explains the scratchiness of the material. According to that;

  • Porcelain tile ratings are – 7, 8, 9
  • Ceramic tiles – 5, 6
  • Natural granite – 6, 7

So we should use more than 9 ratings of Moh’s hardness ratings. In the market, we can find below drill bits for drilling porcelain tiles.

  • Tungsten carbide – 8.5 – 9 Moh’s rating
  • Diamond drill bits – 10 Moh’s rating

we can use a regular drill with no hammering or impact action with low RPM.

Step 04 – Measure and Mark the Place on Porcelain Tiles

drilling point marking
Mark the Place on Porcelain Tiles Before Drilling

After you identify the porcelain tiles and drill bit, you should mark the place before you drill it. When you mark make sure there is no plumbing and wirings that can damage.

And it is better if you can mark the place on the masking tape which is pasted on the tile. Because porcelain tile surface is a little bit smooth and it can move here and there when you start the drilling process. To avoid this start the drilling process on tape.

Several layers of masking tapes will stop the sliding the drill bit on the porcelain tile surface.

Mostly I used this method and it is one of the successful ways to correct and precision drilling methods.

Step 05 – Set up Cooling and Dust Removing

using water as coolant and dust removal of porcelain tiles
Use Water on Porcelain Tile for Cooling and Dust Removing

When we drill porcelain tiles, we can see, small dust is spreading to the air. If we do not wear face masks we are open to the dust. So it is very important to set up dust removal methods and drill bit cooling methods.

Normally porcelain tile dust is smoother than ceramic tile dust. Because porcelain tiles are harder than ceramic tiles, hence it provides smaller dust particles when we are drilling.

Normally, we can use a dust removal set-up. But it is not much worth it here. We can use Water as a successful way to reduce drill dust and cool the drill bit.

Water will dissolve the drilled particles, hence small particles will not spread to the environment. Due to the high thermal condensation, it will cool the drill bit. As well as we can supply it easily.

But make sure not to pour water into the drill or battery. It will gain a lot of problems more than drilling.

Step 06 – Use the Correct Way for Drilling Porcelain Tiles

When you drill porcelain tiles, you should follow the below correct ways always.

01 – Use a proper depth drill bit
02 – Use lower RPM with sufficient thrust
03 – Use water as coolant and dust remover
04 – Do not push much
05 – Do not incline
06 – Do not drill continuously with carbide-tipped drills
07 – Do not start with edges or corners

Step 07 – Remove and Clean

After you finish the drilling process, you had better clean it. Sometimes dust will spread all over the area if you do not use proper dust management. So you had better vacuum the area.

Sometimes, water can be spread over the area with dust mixing. when the water vapours out, dust can remain on the surface. So wipe the area with a wet cloth. Then clean the drill bit and drill if you do not continue the work.

Tom Mackency

Tom Mackency

Hi, I am Tom Mackency. It has been 10 years that I have been working as a professional woodworker since 2013. I am really enjoying my carrier by creating many kinds of projects in my workshop. But mostly I like for home improvement projects. Home improvement and DIY projects are the most interesting things for me. More than that, the coolest things are power tools. Those are very precious and efficient than a decade ago. So I try to introduce so many things about power tools, woodworking, DIY projects, home improvement and many more interesting topics here.