How To Drill a Hole in Tile

Whether you’re a DIYer from Darwin or a contractor from Cooktown, you have the same head-scratching predicament — how to drill a hole in tile and avoid it shattering and cracking before your eyes.

Unfortunately, so many Australian home-improvement amateurs and pros consider this challenge so insurmountable, that they’re reluctant to make an attempt — which is understandable, but disappointing.

Mate, let me tell you something.

If you utilise the correct tools, ensure you prepare sufficiently, and take your time — you too can successfully learn the secret of how to drill tiles without cracking them.

Why Is Drilling Tile Challenging?

Once you know what you’re doing — it’s seriously not. 

The issue is, compared to addressing other mediums — it demands a little more prep and care.

With wood and concrete, it’s simple. Stick in the bit, turn on your drill, power into the material, and you’re done. Open a tinny, light your durry, and shout the missus to show her your manly home-improvement skills.

However, with tile, you’re dealing with one obstinate and awkward medium.

Usually, standard home tiles are hewn from three materials:

  • Ceramic — typical, common home tiles.
  • Porcelain — very similar to their ceramic cousins, but glossier, heavier, and harder on your Aussie dollars.
  • Glass — normally utilised for decorative purposes and notoriously brittle. 

This triumvirate of formats has a common shared property — the outer glazing. Sure, a minority of tiles lack any top sheen, such as clay tiles, but aren’t used in modern housing unless you’re trying to recreate a nostalgic feel. And thankfully, they’re incredibly straightforward to drill.

Your first issue is successfully penetrating the lacquered face. Admittedly, it looks classy, is waterproof, and offers fuss-free cleaning — but it’s your drill’s Kryptonite.

Ever watched an emu ice skate? No, neither have I — although it is one of my dreams and a TV concept I’ve repeatedly pitched unsuccessfully via email to Channel 9. Anyways, despite this TV company’s narrow-minded vision of my groundbreaking idea, you can imagine exactly what it would look like. I know I have. Frequently. I’m thinking about it right now.

Anyways, just like the bird’s long legs would be slipping around in a multitude of random and humorous directions — the same thing happens when you try to drill into a lustrous tile.

It’s remarkably difficult to control, runs the risk of you drilling in a completely incorrect location, and elevates the chances of you driving the bit straight through your hand.

On top of this problem, there’s another key factor to consider when learning how to drill through porcelain tile without cracking it — its atomic construction.

I’m not just a DIY fanatic, I’m also an armchair physicist (I’m also an expert on world politics, the correct way to marinade shrimps, and the duties of the wife in the home).

All tiles share a common physical construction — weak molecular bonds with loosely packed atoms. This means they’re inherently fragile — give them too much of your world-respected Aussie brawn, and you’ll have a cracked, broken, or shattered tile.

In short, tiles are like Australian women — soft and delicate on the inside, and hard and unpredictable on the outside. Successfully drilling holes in porcelain tiles means you require an impressive tool, rhythm, and stamina. 


Why It’s Important To Know How To Drill Through Ceramic, Glass, and Porcelain Tiles

Comprehending how to drill into tile successfully turns you into a premier pro — meaning you’ve mastered perhaps the most difficult skill in home improvement. 

Once you know how to drill through tiles without cracking them, you’ll be capable of creating fixtures and fittings that are robust, secure, and unlikely to fall off — compared to the girlie solution of using suction cups.

Although there are 101 applications, your adeptness in grasping how to drill into tile wall means you can expertly complete the most common jobs of:

  • Attaching towel rails.
  • Mounting soap dishes.
  • Securing toothbrush holders.
  • Attaching wall lighting.
  • Fixing electrical light switches and sockets.
  • Positioning tile-mounted taps.
  • Locating extractor fan systems.
  • Installing shower cubicles and curtains.
  • Fixing showerheads.

Once you’ve become adept at how to drill into tile without cracking it, there will be nothing you’re scared of attaching to your walls or splashbacks.

How To Drill a Hole Through Tile — The Tools You Need

I know you’re keen to attempt the serious business of how to drill into ceramic tile without it breaking — but before you start, you must have the correct tools and equipment for the project ahead.

What Do You Require for Drilling Through Tile?

A Drill

Theoretically, there are two choices when it comes to drilling through bathroom tiles or kitchen tiles — a hammer drill or a drill driver. Never, ever, wield a rotary unit, unless you’re wishing to demolish the entire wall.

And, should you go for the hammer option, ensure that this setting is unselected — otherwise, there will be nothing left of your tiling medium.

The best Australian drill for drilling into bathroom tiles or kitchen tiles is one that features variable speed settings — being crucial that you can adjust the velocity intensity to suit your medium.

My machine of choice is the Makita DP4001K — a tool that not only allows you to select speeds from 0 to 900 RPM, but also includes dual handles to increase accuracy and dramatically reduce the risk of slippage.

Best-Drill-Bit-for-Ceramic-Tiles in Australia.

Best Tile Drill Bit

I’m sure you’ve Googled, do you need a special drill bit for tiles and found a plethora of contradictory answers. The truth is you do, but the correct attachment is dependent upon your tile medium.

The successful way of drilling tile without it cracking requires you to fit the correct boring accessory, generally speaking:

  • Masonry bit — for ceramic, avoid use with porcelain and also with glass.
  • Carbide-tipped — ideal for wielding on glass and porcelain as it prevents shattering.
  • Diamond-tipped — excellent for hard ceramics and glass, but hard on your wallet. 

Masking Tape

Cheap, easy to get hold of, and useable in a variety of situations, yet invaluable for the DIYer who knows how to drill into tiles without cracking them.

Positioning the tape where you wish to penetrate elevates traction — ensuring the bit doesn’t slip as you commence boring.

Safety Equipment

It would be negligent of me to create a How Do You Drill a Hole In Ceramic Tile Guide and omit any reference to safety gear.

It’s important that you should, as a minimal requirement, don safety glasses, industrial-grade gloves, and a mask.

How Do You Drill Into Tiles — What You Need

In addition to the above, your project will flow much smoother if you can locate the following items prior to drilling holes in tiles:

  • Marker pen.
  • Extension mains cable — for corded drills.
  • Tile-medium compatible bit.
  • Miniature hammer.
  • Punch or bradawl.
  • Safety gear.
  • Water, ideally with a spraying bottle.
  • Moist cloth.
  • Soap.

How To Drill a Hole in Tile.

How To Drill Through Tile — Ultimate Individual Step Instructions

Finally, time for the serious business of how do you cut a hole in ceramic tile.

Readying Your Wall Area for Drilling Through Porcelain Tiles, Ceramic Tiles, and Glass Tiles

  1. Often, tiles are located in hazardous environments that are close to water — for example, overlooking sinks, around bathtubs, and inside shower cubicles. So, ensure that your working area is dry…there’s nothing worse than slipping over while wielding a spinning drill.
  2. While it’s tempting when drilling into glass tiles or ceramic tiles to think only about the material surface — you need to consider what lies beneath. Typically, there can be hidden pipes and mains wires, so utilise a hardware grade metal-detector for hazard checking.
  3. Prior to drilling through porcelain, ceramic, or glass tiles — clean with a cloth and soap to eliminate oil, limescale, and grease. Then thoroughly dry.
  4. When your tile is clean — carefully examine for cracks and splits. However much care you take when drilling, a prevailing imperfection dramatically increases the risks of further damage when you address the material. If you find faults, exchange the tile.
  5. Your final preparation responsibility when you know how to drill through tile without cracking is to mark the tile with a whiteboard (not permanent) marker at your desired point of penetration. Cover with a small slip of masking tape to heighten the drill bit grip. Don’t worry, being fairly translucent, you will still be able to observe the drilling mark beneath the tape.

How To Drill Into Porcelain Tile Without Breaking It — Setting Your Drill

  1. Whichever one of the many Australian tile drill bits you’ve chosen for your project — guarantee it’s secure in the chuck. 
  2. Using a corded electric drill combined with an extension lead? Ensure that the amp ratings are compatible.
  3. Conversely, if you’re going to wield a lithium-cell powered machine — check that the battery pack is fully charged.

Penetration — How To Drill Into Tile Without Cracking It

  1. Put on your safety equipment.
  2. Position the bradawl point on your drilling mark. Very gently, tap it with a lightweight hammer to forge a relatively small yet accurate pilot hole.
  3. The serious business time — how do you drill through tile? Steadily and incrementally.
  4. Grasp your best Australian drill in your hand and set the speed to low and the torque to high.
  5. Using both hands to stabilise the drill, locate the point of the bit into the pilot hole — checking that it’s at right angles to the face of the tile itself, and begin to softly squeeze the power trigger.
  6. Patience is key. Apply pressure gradually until you feel the bit ‘bite’ into the tile — continue with slow, steady operation.
  7. After 30 seconds of continuous drilling, moisten the penetration area with water to reduce heat levels — high temperatures can impair progress, burn the backing of the tile, and even demolish it completely.
  8. One of the fundamental skills of knowing how to drill through ceramic tile without it cracking is understanding when to up the tempo. When your bit has penetrated around 3/16 -inch into the material, heighten the rapidity a little. If it’s the case you need a substantially sized hole, change the bit to one with a larger bore diameter.
  9. Soon, you will feel the bit pass through the tile backing and hit the masonry, plaster, or drywall underneath. If required, you may then exchange the bit for one suited for this backing material (always ensuring it’s either the same or smaller in diameter).
  10.  Continue drilling up to the point where you create sufficient depth and width for the fitting or fixture. 
  11. Remember — understanding how to drill a hole in ceramic tile is crucial, but knowing how to remove your cutting bit remains equally important. Check the bit has stopped spinning and carefully pull backwards, ensuring that it remains horizontal.
  12. Clean the tiles and your drill bit, and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You now know how to drill a hole into tile without any disasters!

Prefer a less text-heavy run-down of how to drill into ceramic tile without breaking it? Watch this video:

How To Drill Glass Tile, Ceramic Tile, and Porcelain Tile Conclusion

Although it demands some patience, prep, and thought — drilling into tiles isn’t a skill that’s beyond the conscientious Australian DIYer.

Remember the key points — use the correct drill format and bit type, use masking tape to elevate bit bite, proceed steadily, and keep the address horizontal.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide to drilling tiles. If you have a mate that you think would also benefit from this How To Drill a Hole in Tile Guide, by all means, share!

How To Drill Through Porcelain Tile, Glass Tile, and Ceramic Tile FAQs

If you still have further queries and questions, below are a few more hints on how to drill through tile wall and tile splashbacks.

What’s the Best Drill Bit for Porcelain Tile?

If you need the best drill bits for tile Australia can offer in the porcelain arena — I recommend opting for a super accurate diamond bit.

What’s the Best Way of How To Drill Through Floor Tile?

There are few skills more useful than understanding how to drill into tile floor. It permits you to complete a plethora of jobs such as fixing pillars, building soakaways, and securing cabinets.

While the process is virtually the same as that for how to drill through tile on walls — you need to consider the change of address angle. Since you will be boring vertically, as opposed to horizontally, I recommend the utilisation of a drill clamp to enhance stability.

What’s the Best Drill Bit for Ceramic Tile?

Knowing how to drill into ceramic tile means understanding what is the ideal bit to use.  

A typical masonry bit is sufficient, taking care to address the material at a slow and steady pace.

Tell Me How To Drill Into Glass Tile?

The procedure is the same as that for a ceramic-based tile — but ensure that you utilise a diamond tip to shield against cracking and shattering.

How To Drill Into Tile Backsplash?

Depending on the medium of the backsplash, follow my guide on how to drill through ceramic tile or porcelain tile.

Preparation wise, check that there are zero hidden pipes located behind the backsplash and that the drilling surface is moisture-free.

What’s the Best Way of How To Drill Into Marble Tile?

To be honest, drilling marble tiles isn’t challenging, as long as you have the correct bit fitted to one of the best Australian corded or cordless hammer drills.

Drill bits for tiles that are made of this inherently dense natural medium need serious brawn to penetrate the stone and prevent damage to the bit itself. Ideally, use a diamond-tipped format.

How To Drill Through Bathroom Tiles?

Grasping the skill of how to drill into bathroom tiles permits you to install towel rails, fit showers, and position electrical sockets without using temporary suction fittings.

Follow the above step-by-step guide detailing how do you drill a hole in tile without cracking it, ensure the drilling area is moisture-free, and thoroughly investigate for hidden wiring or piping behind the tile faces — make sure it’s all clear before you start.

How Do I Drill Through Tile Without a Drill?

You can’t. To make accurate holes in tiles, you require one of the best drills Australia can offer.

What Kind of Drill Bit for Porcelain Tiles?

As this medium can be quite delicate, use a sharp bit such as carbide or diamond-tipped.