How To Drill into Tile Without Cracking | Machine Handyman (2023)

Wondering how to drill into tile without cracking it to install shelves, bathroom accessories, or other fittings? Drilling into tile may be a slightly difficult task, but it isn’t impossible as long as you use the right tools and apply the appropriate method. Plus, it needs to determine the type of tile and consider the safety measurement.

But don’t worry! Reading the guide, you can learn how to drill into tiles effectively and successfully without causing any cracks or damage. Along with describing the easiest tile drilling method, we have mentioned the required tools and safety measurements to help you handle the task efficiently.

How To Drill Through Tile Without Cracking it

Before planning to drill into the installed tiles, you have to properly understand the type of tile. Ceramic tiles are the most common and are less sturdy than natural stone or porcelain tiles. Thus, drilling through porcelain tile will require a little more effort. despite drill into tiles requires an especially designed drill bit to dig into the body material and hard glaze of the tile.

Collect the appropriate tools

Nevertheless, to say, a versatile and powerful drill is a must-needed for handling this task. But the vital factor is to use the right drill bit to effectively and successfully drill into tiles. Don’t ever insert an older or dull drill bit into the drill when it comes to tile drilling projects.

Drilling into tiles also produces debris particles, and investing in a dust mask and safety goggles will protect you from being injured. Protective gloves are also helpful to wear.

Drill bit for tiles

Since regular drill bits aren’t strong enough to conquer the hard surface of a tile, you have to use a specialist bit. For efficient drilling into tiles, you can use either diamond-tipped bits or carbide-tipped bits. Between these two, a diamond-tipped bit may be more expensive, but it will withstand drilling into the hardest tile. Even the drill bits for ceramic tiles won’t burn quickly compared to the typical masonry bit.

(Video) How to drill into a tile wall without cracking it

Conversely, carbide-tipped masonry bits are commonly used to drill into glazed tiles and ceramic tiles but aren’t ideal for porcelain stoneware. For drilling through harder tiles like porcelain, vitrified porcelain, and full-bodied porcelain, you will require elbow grease along with a diamond-tipped bit.

Measure and mark the spot

The glaze on the surface of the tile makes it challenging to keep control of the drill bit while drilling. Thus, the project requires gripping the tile to prevent slippage. Apply some masking tape over the surface of the tile where you desire to drill to create a little tension. After that, carefully measure the place and re-check the measurement before marking it. create an X over the tape to offer some grip to the drill and get a hole at the exact spot.

If you require plenty of holes, then you can create a template using a small wooden block for convenient operation. To do so, create the same diameter hole in the wooden block and use the block as a guide to drill into the tiles by placing them at the exact spot every time.

Another alternative is drill guides, which are made of the plastic casing. By attaching these accessories to the tile, you can have a precise hole. Another worthwhile attachment is a steel plate with guide holes that is handy for creating vertical and horizontal holes of a certain diameter. Though these accessories are more expensive, they are suitable for frequent use for accurate and faster drilling over tiles, making them a worthwhile investment for enthusiastic DIYers.

Start Drilling into Tiles

Once you have done all the preparation, you are ready to drill. As you know, tiles come with a hardy design, so they can endure commercial and domestic use. Thus, you can complete this tough task successfully without patience. Drilling into tiles can cause the drill to catch fire and damage it completely. Despite that, it will surely overheat the bit and produce a vibration that can crack and break the tile down.

Therefore, start with a lower speed and gentle pressure, especially until you complete drilling into the top layer. After penetrating the glaze layer, you are allowed to slowly increase the pressure and speed to finish the drilling task.

(Video) How to drill into tiles (without cracking)

Once you get through the tile and hit the wall surface, keep the drill slow and steady so as not to blow apart the wall, as doing so may mean your wall anchor or Rawl plug will not properly hold. You may want to change the drill bit to suit the material the substrate is constructed from.

Keep the drill bit cool

Keeping the bit cool is a secret tip to successful drilling into the surface of the tile. To reduce the drill bit’s temperature, frequently apply water to the bit. Another effective tip is to hold a wet sponge under the drill bit while drilling. Doing so will prevent overheating and catch the debris that is produced due to drilling. But carefully apply the water so it can’t expose the motor.

Chance the bit based on the substrate material

When you start hitting the wall surface after drilling into the tile, lower the drilling speed and keep the bit steady. It will not only prevent blowing apart the wall but also avoid loosening the wall anchor. Apart from these, changing the drill bit will be a smart idea according to the substrate material where the tiles are attached. So if the substrate material is stone or concrete, you should use a masonry drill bit.

But if you find it is timber or fibreboard, then use a wood drill bit. Some homeowners use cements backer boards behind the tiles, especially in the wet areas like the shower, where you can use a regular drill bit. Though tiles aren’t installed on top of alloys or metal, they may have some support or metal struts. If you have to create a hole through those surfaces, use an HSS drill bit.

How to Drill into Ceramic tile

You will require a special drill bit that is made of a combination of steel and carbide to drill into ceramic tiles. Firstly, mark the desired spot and cover the area using masking tape to get some grip and prevent slippage.

Keep some water in a bottle so you can spray it while drilling to keep the bit cool. Start drilling with moderate pressure and slow speed as the opposite can crack the tile. Continue drilling until you get through the tile and get the desired hole.

(Video) How to drill into tile without cracking it! Ceramic/porcelain tile or glass drilling tips

How to Drill into Porcelain tile

Porcelain tiles are tougher and thicker comparing ceramic tiles, making them more challenging to drill. Therefore, you will require a diamond-tipped drill bit. Likewise, the ceramic surface, mark the desired spot, use masking tape to cover the surface, and consistently spray water to successfully drill into porcelain tiles.

Applying the lean-in method will be the easiest way to drill through porcelain tile. You have to drill at an angle until the bit gets into the point, which makes the drill perpendicular to the porcelain tile. It also requires slower speed and gentle pressure to lower the risk of cracking.

FAQs on How To Drill into Tile Without Cracking

Do I need a special drill bit for tiles?

Drilling into tiles is quite a harder task compared to drilling into wood or plastic. The drill bit needs to be sturdy enough and should have the ability to withstand excessive heat. Thus, there is a need to use a diamond-tipped drill bit or carbide-tipped drill bit to create a hole in tiles.

(Video) How to drill through tiles without cracking - tiling tips from

How to find out whether the tile is porcelain or ceramic?

The quickest and easiest way to determine the type of tile is to check the edge of the tile. In general, ceramic tile is used for walls or floors, and it has glass on the surface that offers a bright finish. Conversely, porcelain doesn’t frequently have a glaze.

Is drilling through tile a time-consuming task?

For a reliable driller, drilling through each tile may take around 3 to 5 minutes, but it takes longer for a beginner. Despite the durability of tiles, drilling operations also depend on the type of drill and drill bit you are using and the process you are applying.

Final words

Drilling into tiles is a common yet risky task, and most DIYers make the mistake of trying to complete the task quickly. As with installing tiles, drilling holes into them is also a sensitive task as you are working on the same brittle material. Hopefully, now you know how to drill into tile without cracking it.

Apart from these, you have got plenty of ideas about which tools to apply and the method to follow. Finally, consider those safety measurements and make sure the battery is fully charged if you want to go for a cordless drill for versatility.

(Video) How To Drill A Hole In Ceramic Tile


Can you drill through tile without cracking it? ›

Drilling through tiles can be more complex than at first glance as they are extremely strong and have little tensile strength, making them prone to cracking if you're not careful. Luckily it's possible to drill through tiles without any unwanted cracks or damage.

How do you drill into porcelain tile without breaking it? ›

Use a Diamond-Tipped Drill Bit

Instead, use a diamond-tipped drill bit, which you can find at any hardware store. Aptly named, diamond-tipped bits feature a tip coated in diamonds that can safely grind away your porcelain tile to create a neat and clean hole.

Why do tiles crack when drilling? ›

This is because the tile surface is very hard, and drilling into it will heat up the drill bit, which can cause both your drill to overheat and the bit to not drill any further.

How do you drill a hole in ceramic without cracking it? ›

Go slowly, particularly at first, to make sure the hole ends up where you want it. Once the hole is started, you can increase the drill speed, but don't run it at full speed. Steady pressure and a medium speed will drill the hole without overheating and damaging the drill bit.

Can you drill a hole in ceramic without cracking it? ›

Yes, you can drill a hole in a ceramic pot without breaking it as long as you use the correct drill and maintain a firm pressure while drilling. You also need to note if your ceramic pot is glazed or not.

Is there a special drill bit for porcelain tile? ›

If you're drilling porcelain tile, either on the wall or floor then you'll need to use a Diamond Tipped drill bit as these are suitable for harder, denser materials, including natural stone. Some drill bits are water cooled whilst others are filled with wax to stop the bit overheating and damaging the diamonds.

What is the best drill bit for porcelain tile? ›

Typically, diamond drill bits and carbide-tipped bits do well at handling porcelain projects, from hard ones to softer ones.

How can you tell if tile is ceramic or porcelain? ›

  1. Porcelain tiles will have low water absorption. ...
  2. Porcelain tiles are considerably harder to cut than ceramic. ...
  3. They are denser and you can often tell from just holding a porcelain tile that it feels heavier than a ceramic of identical size.
  4. Check the price. ...
  5. If a tile is described as polished it is likely to be porcelain.
Jun 28, 2016

What is the best way to drill hole in ceramic tile? ›

Outfit your drill with a carbide-tipped masonry bit of the appropriate size. Set your power tool to the lowest speed. Apply moderate pressure as you proceed, working slowly to avoid splitting the tile.

Do you need water to drill ceramic tile? ›

If you want to increase the lifespan of your tools, then you need to drill slowly, don't put too much pressure, and lubricate the drill with cool water.

Do you use a hammer drill for tiles? ›

Do not use a hammer drill setting when drilling tile. This rapid pounding will crack the tile in almost all cases. Keep nice steady pressure on the drill and before you know it, you'll have created your hole. Large-diameter holes can be created in ceramic tile using diamond-tipped hole saws.

Is it common for tile to crack? ›

Although tiled floors are incredibly durable, heavy items being dropped or placed on the tiles can lead to cracks. This is a common issue when ceramic wall tiles are used within floor tile applications, as they are often not suitable for supporting items such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.

How do I stop my walls from cracking when drilling? ›

To prevent cracking, it's essential to drill your holes to the correct depth. Some drills have a depth stop attachment you can set to stop the drill once you get to a certain depth. Masking tape can be used as a depth stop if you don't have a drill with a depth-stop attachment.

How can you tell if a drill bit is for tile? ›

Regular drill bits can make a rough and ugly hole, and they may cause the tile to crack. Tile bits with ground tungsten carbide or diamond tips are the best for this purpose. They are both designed to drill into hard surfaces, and both of them puncture the tile with a cone-shaped hole.

What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic drill bits? ›

Types of Drill Bits

Glazed ceramic tiles often require a carbide bit, while porcelain and glass tiles call for a diamond-tipped bit because they are much harder. Don't worry if you don't know which type of tile is installed in your house.

How do you drill through thick porcelain tile? ›

If you're drilling through a soft material, you can usually use a basic masonry drill bit. However, if you're drilling through a harder material, such as porcelain, you may need to use a drill bit with a diamond coating.

What drills are best for tiles? ›

Instead, you should opt for either carbide-tipped or diamond-tipped drill bits. Diamond tipped drill bits are the more costly of the two options but will stand up to the rigours of drilling through even the hardest tile surfaces and will not burn out as quickly as standard masonry drill bits.

What kind of drill bit do you use for marble tile? ›

Carbide Tipped Bit

They're commonly used in industrial applications and can cut a hole through tile, concrete, masonry, and marble.

Why are some porcelain tiles so cheap? ›

A tile will be less expensive if its clay body is more brittle or not colored to match its glaze. Through-body and color-body porcelains are usually more expensive than glazed porcelains, as the clay is dyed to match the glaze on the surface.

What is the difference between tile and ceramic tile? ›

The main difference between tile and ceramic is its strength. Tiles are worked on the body due to more finesse and less press weight, but ceramics are worked on the floor due to heavier presses and higher strength.

Which is harder to drill ceramic or porcelain tile? ›

Porcelain is the hardest, followed by ceramic and then glass tile. Never use a carbide-tipped drill bit for porcelain tiles; instead, use a diamond drill bit. But, for ceramic tiles, a carbide-tipped drill bit does a good job. Thirdly, keeping the drilling area wet will also prevent breakage.

How long should it take to drill through tile? ›

Drill through the tile slowly.

Set your drill to the lowest speed and apply modest pressure to the surface. Work slowly, as this will help prevent the tile from cracking. This may take three or four minutes.

Will a hammer drill break tiles? ›

Do not use a hammer drill setting when drilling tile. This rapid pounding will crack the tile in almost all cases. Keep nice steady pressure on the drill and before you know it, you'll have created your hole. Large-diameter holes can be created in ceramic tile using diamond-tipped hole saws.

Can you drill into tile to hang something? ›

Drilling into tile requires special drill bits. Using a carbide-tip bits sized for your plastic anchors, drill straight through the tile carefully. Be sure to apply steady pressure with patience (not too much pressure) so you don't break your tile. Gently tap the plastic anchor into the drill hole using a hammer.

What kind of drill bit for porcelain tile? ›

If you're drilling porcelain tile, either on the wall or floor then you'll need to use a Diamond Tipped drill bit as these are suitable for harder, denser materials, including natural stone. Some drill bits are water cooled whilst others are filled with wax to stop the bit overheating and damaging the diamonds.

What speed do you drill ceramic tile? ›

Ensure that the drill is in "normal" mode and set the drill to between 1000 and 1500 rpm. If you have marked the tile with a marker it is best to drill into the tile using a method called "leaning in". "Leaning in" ensures that the drill will not slip and wander off centre as you begin to drill into the tile.

Do you use hammer setting when drilling tiles? ›

Ensure the drill bit is not worn-out or blunt. Never apply too much pressure; let the drill bit do the work. Never use a percussion or hammer action drill – plain rotary only.

Can a rotary hammer break tile? ›

The best way to bust loose tile is with a rotary hammer or demolition hammer. After removing the old tile, you'll need a circular saw and impact drive to repair and prep the subfloor for the new flooring. A wet/dry vacuum provides the quickest way to clean the subfloor of all dust and debris.

How do you hang things on a tile wall without drilling? ›

It's always handy to have some hooks in the bathroom for hanging up towels, dressing gowns, shower puffs and other bathroom accessories. But drilling a hole into your tiles to fix a hook to the wall is not exactly ideal. So here's the solution - use VELCRO® Brand HANGables® Adhesive Hooks instead!

How do you hang a mirror on a tile wall without drilling? ›

Once you've marked where your mirrors go, use the caulk gun to squeeze a large glob of Liquid Nails in 3-4 spots on the tile where the mirror will hang. Hold your mirror up to the wall and gently press it into the globs of glue, until it sits flush against the wall.

Why can't I drill through tile? ›

As mentioned earlier, drilling through tile requires a specialist drill bit – regular or even masonry bits simply won't do the job as they're not strong enough to penetrate tiles' hard surfaces.

Can you use diamond drill bit on ceramic tile? ›

Diamond drill bits are perfect for drilling holes through hard materials such as these: Glass, sea glass, beach glass, fused glass, sheet glass. Stone, gemstones, rock, pebbles, minerals. Ceramic, porcelain, tiles, glazed pottery, plates, china.


1. How To Drill Tile Without Cracking It
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2. How to drill in ceramic tiles
3. How to drill into tiles DIY tutorial
4. How to Drill Tiles Without Breaking
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5. How to Drill a Hole in Tile
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6. Drilling screw holes through ceramic tile
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