Drilling in ceramic tiles – easier than you think!

Drilling in ceramic tiles is often a concern for many people undertaking independent projects. One wrong move and a cracked tile – it’s an extremely stressful situation. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you follow the recommended steps and go slow, you can install towel holders and bathroom accessories with confidence.

Tile drilling requires special tools and techniques. Introducing the tile drilling process that will allow you to work like a pro. Of course, remember that even experienced professionals sometimes make mistakes!

What kind of tiles do you have?

Knowing the type of tile material you are dealing with is crucial. Understanding the properties of the materials used in your newly laid bathroom will allow you to choose the right tools and drill bits. Certain types of tiles require specific drills. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations for successful tile drilling.

Porcelain tiles are harder than ceramic tiles. If you are drilling into porcelain tiles, you will need to apply more force. You will also need special drills that can handle both stone and porcelain surfaces. The same principle also applies to natural stone tiles. Ceramic tiles are slightly less hard, but at the same time slippery. If you are drilling into glazed ceramic tiles, you will need the right drills and some tips to prevent the drill from slipping on the surface of a regular ceramic tile. Glass tiles are also a challenge due to the slippery surface. The glass plate material is also more likely to scratch if the drill bit slips.

Use a suitable drill bit

drilling in tiles

Before you start drilling, it is important to choose the right tile drill bit. It is recommended to use brand new drill bits. Old drills or the wrong type of drill can cause the tiles to crack. Worn drill bits may be less effective and more likely to damage the tiles. Never use standard wood drill bits – they just aren’t strong enough. Suitable types of tile drill bits are diamond-tipped or carbide-tipped drill bits.

Diamond-tipped drill bits are usually more expensive, but also very durable. You can rely on these drill bits to cut through hard tiles. They are suitable for porcelain tiles and do not wear out as easily as carbide burs. Carbide tipped drill bits are the most common type used for drilling in ceramic tiles. They are suitable for standard ceramic tiles and natural stones, but not for porcelain tiles. Carbide drill bits are not as durable as diamond tipped drill bits.

Prepare the right tools

In addition to the right drill bits, you’ll need one tool – a decent drill/driver. You will also need to have the following items on hand, including appropriate personal protective equipment.

  • painting tape
  • level
  • measure tape
  • marker
  • sponge or cloth
  • dust mask
  • goggles
  • protective gloves

Measure and mark the drilling locations

drilling in tiles

Before drilling, you can ease and stabilize the situation. Try this trick: Apply painter’s tape to the surface of the tile where you want to drill the holes. Measure the holes to be drilled and mark them with a cross. The masking tape will create some tension while drilling and prevent the bit from slipping enough. It’s also a good idea to use a spirit level to make sure that the markings on the painter’s tape are positioned correctly. If you need to drill more than one hole, you can also make a template out of wood. It is enough to drill a hole with the same diameter as the drill bit. Then, by holding it in place as a drill guide, you can more easily maintain the correct position. The same rule of measurement accuracy applies to both cutting and drilling tiles.

Drill holes in the tiles

It is best to start drilling slowly at low speed. Drilling in tiles is not like drilling holes in wood. If you use too much force or too much speed, the bit can overheat and cause enough vibration to break or damage the insert. Once you start drilling slowly, gradually increase the pressure. Too much force at once will break the tile. After drilling a hole in the surface of the glazed tile, you can drill a little faster. You can also increase the pressure to drive the rest of the tile into the wall. When you reach the surface of the wall behind the tile, keep the drill speed low so as not to breach the wall. You want the wall anchor to be well placed in the hole. Many experts also recommend changing to a standard drill when you reach the wall.

Protect the drill from overheating

Drilling in ceramic tiles is different from other tasks in that you need to keep the drill bit cool. As the drill bit passes through the insert, it heats up and can overheat. Carbide drill bits will stop when overheated, but diamond tipped drill bits will continue to work as long as you cool them down.

Clean up the tiles

drilling in tiles

You marked and drilled the holes. But before you attach the toilet paper holder or towel rack, make sure the tiles are clean. Tile drilling is a dusty job! Remove any painter’s tape you used. Using a damp cloth, wipe the tiles to remove any dust particles or debris that have arisen during drilling. Finally, put dowels or screws into the wall and fix the bathroom accessories.


Without a doubt, drilling in ceramic tiles can be stressful, especially when installing bathroom accessories. Incorrect execution may result in cracked tiles and the need to replace them. However, drilling in tiles is not a difficult process, provided you have the right tools and patience.

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