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How to drill through tile

How to drill through tile

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

247 guides

It's easy to drill through tiles without cracking them – provided you have the right tools. If you only need to drill a small hole, use a drill with variable speed control and a diamond or carbide-tipped drill bit; if you want to install a tap or socket, you'll need a hole saw. Read on for our tips on drilling tiles.

Important features

  • Variable speed drive
  • Diamond or carbide tipped bits
  • Water
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You may find yourself needing to drill through tile for any number of reasons and in any room of the house. For example:

  • installing a flush-mounted switch on a tiled wall;
  • installing a shower set or shower curtain in the bathroom;
  • installing a kitchen unit or strip light on a tiled splashback, and so on.

Drilling through tiling without cracking the material or slipping over the surface requires a bit of basic know-how.

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Glass and tile drill bits

As mentioned, just about any DIYer should be up to the task of drilling through tiling to install a tap, light switch, electrical socket, spotlight, shelf and so on. Usually, the tile to be drilled is already in place so there is little to no room for error. You will need to complete the task using a drill equipped with a variable speed drive. Never attempt to drill a tile surface in hammer mode.

Drilling tile correctly

Identify where you need to drill your holes by taking measurements or by positioning the object you want to install against the wall. Next, apply some masking tape over the area you want to drill and use a marker pen to mark out your drill holes. The role of the tape is to prevent the drill from slipping and to protect the tile.

If you are drilling using a basic drill bit, drill at a slow and steady rate. Be sure to keep your drill absolutely straight when drilling. 

If you are using a hole saw, mark the tile first with the centre bit and the hole saw. Drill slowly and steadily, being sure to distribute light and even pressure over the surface of the hole saw.

Remove the masking tape and wet the tile with cold water to prevent the hole saw from overheating. The tile should be kept wet at all times. Drill at a slow and steady rate.

If you are drilling into tile that has not yet been laid, turn over the tile before drilling all the way through and continue drilling from the other side. The centre drill bit will pierce the tile before the hole saw, so you simply need to line up the mark on the other side.

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Required skills

No serious technical skills are required: you simply need to be able to use a drill and take correct measurements.  

Time required

10 minutes per hole

Number of people required

1 person

Tools and equipment

  • Drill with a variable speed drive; a flat surface (e.g. chipboard or plywood) for drilling if the tile has not yet been laid.
  • Carbide-tipped drill bit.
  • Diamond-tipped drill bit for small diameter holes.
  • Carbide-tipped hole saw or a diamond hole saw.
  • Measuring tape and pencil or felt-tip pen.
  • Masking tape.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Please note: this is a non-exhaustive list; be sure to match your personal protective equipment to the job at hand.

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Glass and tile drill bits

To drill into glazed or through-body porcelain tiles, you will need a diamond-tipped drill bit. To drill through ceramic tiles, a carbide-tipped drill bit will usually suffice.

Hole saw for electrical sockets 

It is possible to find hole saws with a diameter of 63 mm. These drill attachments are ideal for installing electrical sockets.

More information

Shop our drill bits for tile

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 247 guides

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

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