How to Drill Through Tile Without Cracking Them?


We need to drill through tiles for plumbing, wiring, anchoring, or plugging, and many more. Tile is one of the major construction materials. Tiles are really hard, and it is made under high pressure. Working with tiles needs more strength tools and more powerful tools. Therefore drilling through tile is a really hard and careful job by small mistake that can be cracked. So let’s see how to do this step by step.

If we are not able to drill properly through tile, it can be cracked. There are types of tile such as porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone tiles. All are different in strength and quality. So when we are drilling that we have to pay attention to this step by step. So keep reading on until the end.

Step 01 – Study About Tile and Drilling Area

The most important thing is the case study. Before select drill bit, drill, or any other tool, you must inquire about the drilling area and materials. When you carefully visit that, you can observe the tile types and inner construction, etc. let’s see what you should study.’

01. Tile-type

There are 2 main types of tiles. Those are ceramic and porcelain. Both are used for the construction process. As I mentioned above, tile is more strong and hard. You can observe the compressive strength of the porcelain and ceramic tiles as well as regular using concrete and stone as below.

Porcelain tile – 25000-50000 psi
Ceramic tile – 40000- 120000 psi

Concrete – 2500 – 4000 psi
Marble to Granite – 1800-19000 psi

According to this, you can observe tiles are more strong than concrete or stone. Therefore you should have an idea about the drilling material. According to that, you can select suitable tools.

02. Inner Material

When you are drilling through tile, you may be looking for a mounting plug or use an anchor. For this, you need to drill about 2-5″ inside the material. Tiles are most about 5-10 mm thickness. So you have to drill only 5-10 mm through the tile and then drill into the inner material.

Inner material can be wood, concrete, brick, or any. So you should have a second drill bit that can drill inner material easily. You may not use a tile bit for drilling that material.

03. Find Plumbings and Wiring

Plumbings and wirings should be protected during the drilling process. You can use a material detector for detecting any material inside the wall. Sometimes plumbings and wirings may go through the wall if we drill through those, they can be damaged as well as we are also shocked by the electricity.

So it is better to make sure there is no plumbing and wiring inside.

04. Reach the Drilling Area

When we drill, we should reach that area. Tiles are very strong. So we have to apply a bit more force to the drill. Therefore we need more space to move drill here and there. The diamond hole bit needs angled drilling starts, and then it needs to straight forward. So check the available space.

  • Do not select the drilling between the joints
  • Do not drill at edges

Step 02 – Select the Suitable Drill

There are many types of drills available in the market. In this step, you should select a suitable drilling machine. You can find a drill, hammer drill, combi drill, and SDS drills. So when you are drilling into the tile, you should have both hammering and spinning mechanisms. Hammering action is needed for drilling inner materials.

Suitable drilling speed is 500-800 RPM for 1/8″ to 1/2″ and 100-200 RPM for 2-3/4″to 3″. You can use mid-range value for drilling holes between the 1/8″ to 3″.

SDS hammer drills are not suitable for this. because its hammer action is much power, and sometimes tile can be cracked due to this. And also, it is a bit difficult to handle. So using SDS is not a wise solution.

Step 03 – Select the Suitable Drill Bit

Suitable drill bits should be selected. There are types of drill bits in the market. But you should select a suitable drill bit for drilling the tiles. There are masonry, carpentry drill bits. Those may not be used for the drilling tiles because of the strength.

Drill bits for tiles

You can use the drill bits for glass and tile ceramics and diamonds.

  • Glass and tile (Tungsten carbide tip) – For drilling into the glass, mirror and tiles up to class3
  • Ceramic (Asymmetrical tungsten carbide tip) – For drilling into ceramic and porcelain tiles up to class 4
  • Diamond (Diamond embedded core) For drilling into tiles up to class 5 including granite.

Step 04 – Mark the Place and Pilot Hole

When you are going to drill, you should have the pilot hole if you are expecting to drill more diameter holes. As well as if you use a diamond drill bit, you must have the pilot hole. The tile is very fragile. So punching a drilling point is not a suitable method. When you punch, the tile can be cracked.

So you can angle the drill and make a small pilot hole with the spinning drill bit. This is essential for diamond hole drilling. Else it will move here and there.

Step 05 – Start Drilling

  • Mount the drill bit to the drilling maching. When you are mounting you must consider the inner materils also. You can use the diamond or carbide drill bits for drilling the tile.
  • But if you need to drill further you should use with any other drill bit. Some time diamond bits or glass and tile bits will not perform well. If there is wood select the carpentry drill bit as second one.
  • When you are drilling you should follow this. There are two options in a hammer drill. Regular drill option and hammering mode. Make sure you have switched off the hammering action. If the hammering action is activated the tool can be a break and the drill will move here and there.
  • Start the drilling in gentle ways slowly. Do not use high speed. Start slowly until drill bit damage the tile outer layer.
  • Do not push into drill too much. When you push the tile can be cracked easily. Do not rush
  • Make sure there is no plumbings or any electrical conduits behind the tile.
  • If you use a small drill bit for pilot hole use a larger diameter drill bit.
  • Do not drill continuously as the drill bit heated more and more. Use water for cool the drill bit.

Step 06 – Remove Dust

When you drill, the dust is the debris of the drilling. So you can use any method for removing the dust. If you can spray some water into the drilling hole, you will not have the dust. All dust will be mixed with water. So water is a real solution.

Step 07 – Mount the Plug or Anchor

After you finish the drilling tile, you have to drill the inner material. In this step, you can use the same drill bit with hammer mode. Do not angle the drill with hammer mode. It will break the tile. Inner materials can be easily drilled with hammering mode.

When you use the same drill bit for this, you can do it easily. After the drilling process is over, mount the plugs or anchor as you wish.

Tom Mackenzy

I am Tom, I am really interested in DIY projects. I have my own workshop and I spend my free time with so many projects. So I would like to share my experience with you regarding power tools, woodworking, metalworking, etc.

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